It’s sad that due to popular culture, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Amsterdam is the prolific red light district and legalized recreational weed consumption. But once you arrive, the city actually does not scream lewdness and promiscuity. There’s a chill kind of romance may it be in the countless bridges and passable canal networks, to the adorably crooked and uniquely gabled houses, or to the narrow cobblestoned alleys occupied by the rushing bicycle-obsessed Dutch people – Amsterdam has a personality to fall in love with that far transcends the carnal entertainment it is famous for.
Maroon looks like the unspoken official color of the city since it seemed like almost all homes are wrapped in this shade of brick (although in reality, we know that it is bright orange from their football fanatics). When we came there it was cloudy and foggy so the photos look a bit gloomy but trust me, Amsterdam felt more alive in person especially with the numerous bikers swooping their way through the pedestrian streets chiming with the ring of the bike bells and every now and then, the sound of trams’ friction on the rails. You would never fail to notice the bike-mageddon in the parking spaces. It seemed like there were more bikes than people. And this is really cool since the city successfully involved its people to adapt more active and environment-friendly lifestyles.
Then of course there is the famous Anne Frank House which is a poignant homage to the inspiring victim of the vicious Nazi era. It is a simple museum which tells the story of Anne Frank and the happenings through every room with eerie voiceovers. Of course, there is not much to expect in terms of visually stunning works of art and historical artifacts but this museum relies more on its effect on the emotions rather than vision and quite frankly, they do succeed in this manner. Anyone who comes out of the house without wet moved eyes is just not human.
There is also the famous Van Gogh museum which features probably the largest collection of Van Gogh’s ‘selfies’. Apparently, he tries new brush strokes and techniques with his self-portrait as template and this museum quite hoarded a handful of those. At least his selfies require a bit more effort. But yes, the huge collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in this museum is very overwhelming.
There is also a maritime museum celebrating more than 500 years of Dutch maritime history which has led to explorations to as far as Indonesia. It is a modern museum with child-friendly exhibits which means full of lights and colors but yes, it is quite entertaining so to speak. There is also an exact replica of the ship East Indiaman Amsterdam from the 18th century complete with the captain’s lounges and even the crew’s hammock beds and a turning steering wheel all built to scale to live your sailor dreams.
Amsterdam is indeed more than the hustle and bustle of the red light businesses. Actually, it is quite surprising that the people there treat it somewhat like a normal job seemed to be void of prejudices. In fact, across glass windows of flirtatious women in glow in the dark bikinis are chapels, cafés and restaurants. I am not into promulgating this trade but the level of freedom and openness exercised by the Dutch while still keeping a sense of synergy and harmony among the diversity of its people and their beliefs is quite unmatched. I don’t know how they were able to make it work, but it did, and now everybody has a safe bachelor and bachelorette party destination (and that is because of the romantic ambience of course!)