Amsterdam... Don't Forget To Live Here.



While the majority of my personality leaves me carefree & decidedly oblivious to structure,
few  people ever witness the possessive, controlling streak I feel towards certain areas of my life.

Buying food for a party will never be trusted upon another.
Planning a vacation should never exclude my opinion.
Shopping for clothes is reserved to me & myself alone….
Even my mother can’t crack the code on my personal tastes.

And write on my blog?

 Well, you better forget it 
if you think I could let someone post a single sentence 
without me checking, editing & re-sculpting it to read in a way
 that fits my mental frame of reference.

But today, I’m breaking my own rules…

I’m handing the blog over to Tyler 
to write about the first destination of our mystery trip, Amsterdam.

Since I know all of the stops along the way,
I like watching this unfold through his eyes….
I hope you do, too.

**** 

If ‘Amsterdam’ were the topic on Family Feud, 
weed and red light district would surely be the top two survey responses.

And rightly so.

My eagerness for a caffeine fix quickly gave way to confusion 
upon entering one of Amsterdam’s hundreds of coffee shops. 
“Is Weezer touring again?”

Moreover, the reflection off the canal from the red light district is quite beautiful at night,
 and, like the Sirens’ call, lures many a tourist into it’s traps. 
One can more than guess what awaits inside.

But, I am quite naïve when it comes to marijuana...
as is evidenced by calling it ‘weed’ or even ‘marijuana’ for that matter,
and Weezer is the only show I’ve seen where I was certain (is it) ‘toking’ was taking place....



And since Aspiring Kennedy is the only girl I fancy,
I had no interest in the red -or green- offerings of the city.

So what can Amsterdam really offer a square tourist like myself?

Expectations were low 
(unlike the mental state of most of the college-aged tourist in Amsterdam), 
but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Amsterdam has quietly preserved 
the serene European way of life.


Aspiring Kennedy and I have a policy when we travel…the Always Come Back Policy, 
which states that we will more than likely return to each place at some point in our lives. 

This mindset frees us from the guilt of not seeing everything in any location during our first visit, 
and allows us to take time and enjoy some sights and much culture.



This policy fully applies to Amsterdam, 
where 24 hours is not long enough to bike the city, 
visit the Van Gogh museum, take a canal boat tour, and drink in the culture.



24 hours is however long enough to have many experiences, many of which are intrinsic. 
One can begin to understand the local vibe by simply walking the streets of the city.


Amsterdam’s house-lined canals and numerous bridges offer endless photo opportunities…
so beautiful in fact that photos take care of themselves. 


One only need stop and snap the scene.



It is impossible to go hungry while walking the streets of Amsterdam. 
Another delicious eatery is always only a few steps away. 
The Dutch give great care to the taste and quality of their food, and the service is always friendly.


(Writer’s tip #1: If you start a conversation with ‘Do you speak English?’ 
then you’ll have a Dutch friend for life. 
While most locals speak impeccable English, they appreciate the gesture.)

(Writer’s tip #2: If you are like me, then you are curious about tipping etiquette with each new place you visit. Amsterdam establishments, like most of Europe’s, provide good wages for service staff. Patrons are not expected to give any additional gratuity. 
However, we Americans typically require a little more attention from servers 
than our European counterparts, so an additional Euro (or five) is always appreciated.)

Every tourist must pay a visit to the Anne Frank Museum. 

Two hours is the most you’ll need. 
It is sobering, yet healthy to consider the contrast between how much fun you are having 
in the streets so close to where her infamous suffering (and many others’ quiet torment) occurred.



One final surprise was the tranquil lifestyle in Amsterdam… one that I admire. 


Residents seem to daily enjoy the same delights as visitors. 
Many locals commute by charming bikes, and so there are few vehicles on the road. 
Children dance and play in many public spaces. 
The city is big enough to host Europe’s largest retailers, 
and yet the local shops and boutiques have maintained an authenticity that keeps the town hip.


The Amsterdam lifestyle is so convincing in fact 
that the 'Always Come Back Policy' has changed to the 'Don’t Forget to Live Here Policy'. 

Only time will tell if we’ll actually return, but I hope so.



*** 

Our Trip to Amsterdam:

Stayed: Eden Hotel Amsterdam- Amstel 144. Clean & modern rooms, central location, low rates.

Ate: Restaurant De Stroisvogel- Keizergracht 312. €23.50 for 3 courses. 
Serving organic meats in a cozy, friendly atmosphere. 
Reservations recommended & easy to make by email.. 
(Thank you, sweet Liz, for the great recommendation. Can’t wait to try more on our next trip!)

Saw: Anne Frank House. €9. Book online to avoid the long queue, or go before 10 am. 

Red Light District: For someone with a low-shock value, I was knocked off my socks. 
Only recommended for those with strong stomach. 
Literally, you will see endless rows of prostitutes behind glass doors with a tiny bed in the background. When a client approaches, they invite them the tiny, dimly-lit room and close the curtain. 

This city is really amazing. 
We can't wait to get back to experience more... 
and fall more in love with this fine place!



*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on March 2, 2012 and filed under "TK", "amsterdam", "travel tips", "travel".