I have been to cities which have waterways and canals such as Venice and Bruges; each city has its own photographic qualities and travelers have their own opinions of which is better than the other in terms of cost, adventures, sights, etc.
I found Amsterdam to be more captivating city than the others, not only having a wider canals/ streets that gives the feeling of openness but there are more activities to do, more sights/landmarks to see and has a very exciting nightlife.
According to the history, Amsterdam was once a small fishing village on the 12th century which derived from the river Amstel. After the flood on the 11th century, they built a bridge on the dam in Amstel river, thus giving the name “Aemstelredamme” and over the course of time, it changed to Amsterdam.Due to its number of canals, it is known as “Venice of the North”. Globally famous for windmills, wooden clogs, tulips and cheese.
The city has been the sight of many Hollywood box office movies. To name a few, Ocean’s Twelve, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier based on the the novel and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I have watched the movies but did not read the novels.
I arrived in Amsterdam at 3pm from an overnight bus of 16hrs. that left Prague at 11pm. The bus passes cities of Cologne Germany with 3-5 minutes stops, Eidhoven, Breda, Rotterdam, Utrecht. To get to the city centre from P+R Zeeburg bus parking lot, you need to take a #26 tram which cost 3euros. The tram will stop at Amsterdam Centraal station which is the largest and one of the busiest railway station of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The facade is Gothic -Renaissance of 18th century and was designed by their very own Dutch Architect Pierre Cuypers.
From Amsterdam Central Station you will see a Roman Catholic church on the Damrak area. It’s Basiliek van de Heilige Nicolaas or The Basilica of St. Nicholas (Nicholas). This church is Neo-Gothic style with two chapels built on the 18th century, designed by architect Adrianus Bleijs.
The Damrak is a main street where people arriving form the Amsterdam Centraal Station enter the city. The name is from Dam Square south part of Amsterdam and Rak (means reach), a straight part of the Amstel river. The area is with canal and some boat tour companies. Damrak is also the area where financial activities on the 20th century started.
Dam square is just five minutes walk from Damrak and Centraal Station. This square is crowded with tourist and and locals . You can find food stalls, restaurants and souvenir shops around. The important buildings are, the Royal Palace, Madame Tussaud, and The New church.
The New Church or De Nieuwe Kerk, is located on Dam Square next to Royal palace that was built on the 15th century. Before it was used by Dutch Royals for weddings and other ceremonies but nowadays, it is used as an exhibition space. There was a African exhibition when I visited. Theme was “Africa Out Loud!” music, architecture & arts from the continent.
The Royal Palace is loacted in the Dam Square. It was once used as a city hall and now it is open to the public with an admission fee of 10euros. It is open whole year and close every Mondays. The Dutch royal families use the palace for special events and other functions.
Madame Tussaud is a wax museum of famous people around the world including famous murderers. Named after Maria Tussaud, a french artist. The entrance fee is 18-19 euros online and 23 euros at the shop itself.
Although there are 165 canals in Amsterdam but there are 3 canals considered to be the main canals- the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. These canals are home of prestigious artist, high class fmailies, wealthy merchants and were placed on the UNESCO World heritage list in 2010 along with Jordaan canal.
The Herengracht is the widest and most important canal in the city. You can find the house of the mayor here, merchant’s most beautiful houses, a market, the oldest house, offices and hotels.
Prinsegracht Canal is where you can find the house of Ann Frank and the tallest church, the Western Church.
Keizersgracht canal is one of my favorite. It is in between Herengracht and Prinsegracht and the widest of the threee canals.
Oudezijds Voorburgwal or written as OZ Voorburgwal, is canal in De wallen , in the centre of Red Light District.and canal in the Red Light District in the center of Amsterdam .
When I arrived to visit Anne Frank Huis past 9am, there was a queue of tourist or travelers waiting for their time to get inside. The opening hours from 9am to 3pm is for people who bought their tickets online with specific time. I didn’t know that. you can check more about Ann Frank House here. The Museum opened in 1960 and its is the third most visited museum in the Netherlands.
Westernkerk or Westen Church is a Dutch Protestant church located in in the corner of Westernmrkt and Prinsegracht. It is the tallest tower in Amsterdam at 87 metres built during the 16th century by architect Hedrick de Keyser.
The Old Church or Oude kerk is the oldest building and parish church in Amsterdam. It is over 800-years-old founded on the 12th century. After the reformation on the 15th century it became a Calvinist church. The Old Church is located in De Wallen area famous for the Red light District.
There are more or less 50 museums in Amsterdam. the famous Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Musuem can be found in Museumplein. Openings for most museums from 9am-5pm and tickets cost from 15-18 euros whcih you can also buy online. Rijksmuseum is the mose visited museum in Amsterdam with approximately 2.2 million visitors. For more information, you can click the museum name.
Bloemenmarkt is located in Singel Canal and it is the only flower floating market in the world.
In Amsterdam the Red light District in De Wallen is famous for prostitution and this become a top tourist attraction in Amsterdam. There are more than 300 cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their services behind the door. These prostitutes are not allowed outside the cabin and they have work permit for this type of job. Prostitutes are dressed in many types of sexy outfits of policeman, super hero, cat woman and many more.
The area is where you can find many sex shops that offers varieties of sex toys, there is a sex show, sex theater, sex museum, cannabis museum and peep shows. Note: taking a photo or video is prohibited and there are a lot of watchers around. Some watchers, they just like a tourist. I wouldn’t dare to take a picture at all. Your camera will be confiscated.
Aside from prostitution, Netherlands legalized the use of Weeds, Dope Hash or Marijuana. You can buy in one of the nearest coffeshops in your area. Prices depends on what type/kind and approximately 10-18 euros per gram. There is also a space cake for 6euros. “Keep Calm & Smoke Weed” (written in one of the bar board).
There are many things that makes Netherlands a very unique country. One of the first few countries who adopted the same-sex marriage in 2001 making it 90% of the Dutch people supports the same sex marriage. They support LGBT-Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender with equal rights. It is also one of the countries in the world that legalized prostitution and marijuana. Most diverse culture in the world. Amsterdam known to be the bicycle city with more bicycles than residents. Dutch are the tallest people in the world.They have a very beautiful fields of tulips and have a very unique architecture.
Guess it’s time for you to explore and experience the lively city-Amsterdam!