|One of the many canals|
For those of you who haven't been I totally recommend it. It is genuinely a beautiful place. Out of all of the cities I have been to it is the only one where I think I would feel comfortable if I lived there. When I say city, I only consider major cities as cities. In that sense I've been to all of England's, Cardiff, Paris, Seville and Malaga (the latter a bit loose in my definition). It felt as busy as most of the others, however as everyone was on a bike the whole place seemed to be at a much nicer place. With all of the canals it felt so serene, and the limited amount of road vehicles meant the air quality was really good.
In the two days I was there I didn't see all of the attractions but here are the ones I did see:
|Annoyingly I didn't get |
a photo of my own
Anne Frank's House
This really was a humbling experience. At first it didn't seem too bad as you were walking through what was the factory. But then once you walked up the staircase behind the bookcase it really was almost shocking just how small their living areas were. I had been anticipating that it would be rather small but this was even more than I had imagined. Rob (my friend) is a rather chatty person (in a good way) but even he was subdued and in a sombre mood when we were leaving. It was incredible that they had lived in such a small place for so long and really put into perspective the suffering that people were put through. I had never known that Anne actually died thinking she was the last one left, however her father had survived her, I found reading about this particularly heart breaking.
|No photography inside but this was|
outside - not as impressive as the real
Van Gogh Museum
After the emotional visit to Anne Frank's house we decided to do the thing we had both been looking forward to to pick up our spirits a little bit. The Van Gogh Museum has over 200 pieces by the man himself and I have to say they were very impressive. I am not exactly an art critic but I have always been a Van Gogh fan so it was really incredible to see it all close up. My particular favourite has always been the wheatfield with crows so I was particularly pleased to see that there.
The Heineken Experience
As we were over in that part of town we wandered across to the Heineken Experience. Now I'm not a lager, beer or ale drinker. I drink pretty much anything else however my pallet has never developed a liking for these. Even so the tour was particularly enjoyable, even the tasters of Heineken were not as bad as other lagers I'd tried over the years (I still didn't drink more than a half though). Particularly good fun was the simulator where you 'become the bottle' and Rob was also really pleased that he was able to buy a bottle with his own name on!
The Amsterdam Dungeons
With lots of time to kill and money off vouchers on our final day we decided to give the Dungeons a try. This was not what I was expecting at all, I had hoped to see real Dungeons (the gothic side of me coming through) however it was more of a haunted house sort of feel. You went from room to room with various actors trying to scare/intimidate you. I was disappointed by my misconception, however given what it was it was actually a good way to spend an hour or so, though the ride at the end could have been better. I'd still do it again for the price we paid.
Overall, it felt really great to be in such a liberal city. One doesn't have to partake in activities just to believe that others should be able to. Despite the fact people could smoke inside there wasn't an overall smokey smell in most pubs we went into - though the coffee we went in for there was a different smokey smell. The red light district wasn't as bad as I was expecting either (when you're there curiosity makes you walk through). I tried to keep an open mind, I may have worry about the women in the booths, however you have to think this is a lot safer for them than standing on street corners and being taken away by random strangers.
I know it's dangerous to make sweeping generalisations based on two days and nights in a place but I found the whole atmosphere to be so much more welcoming (and now I'm not talking the girls in the booths) than in the UK and I really want to go back one day - which given I want to eventually see the world I wasn't planning on doing too many repeat journeys!