Apologies to Kate this was supposed to go up yesterday but my scheduling got messed up and it published yesterday but with a date of 9/20 meaning no one saw it… so weird! Sorry Kate!
Well this is it… Kate wraps up my “Around The World With I Am Meg” guest travel blogging series with a post about Amsterdam! Don’t worry this won’t be the end of the travel posts I will have plenty to say about my adventures in Munich, Zurich, Milan, Florence and Rome so check back early and often! Now back to Kate…
The first time I ever went to Amsterdam, within my first hour there it had completely blown all my expectations out of the water. Coming from a pretty small town far east of London I just didn’t know what to do being faced with thousands of tourists who were not of sound mind, stumbling around all over the place.
The first thing you notice when you hit the city centre (other than the wasted tourists) is the city is full of trams and bicycles – you need to be on your guard at all times! In my first couple of days I really did fear for my life! The next thing you notice is the scent of marijuana quite literally spilling out of coffee shops as you pass them, don’t worry, you get used to it.
As you venture through the streets of Amsterdam, you will eventually stumble across (or you may even be looking for) the Red Light District. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures to share with you all because it is frowned upon and almost a rule to not take pictures there. If the girls (or boys!) in the windows see you taking pictures, you are lucky not to have them come out after you demanding you delete them. The same goes for standing outside their windows and making jokes or generally pissing them off in any way, they will get you! I have heard some horror stories of the things they’ll do to you if you cross them. Personally, I enjoyed walking through the Red Light District because it was so new and different to me, I was so intrigued by how it all worked. I’ve since heard a lot of stories about how the workers don’t want to be there, but I’ve also heard they have very strict rules on STD checks and security for the workers. This sounds far safer to me than standing on the side of a road, I think Holland have handled legalising prostitution in the best way possible.
About six months after my weekend in Amsterdam, I was offered a job in a place called Osdorp which essentially is Amsterdam but it’s about a 20 minute tram ride to the city centre and very residential in comparison. I jumped at the chance after what had been a crazy weekend where I walked a lot, smoked a lot and saw a lot of things I had never seen before. However, nothing could have prepared me for the fact Queens Day would be celebrated two weeks after I arrived.
Queens Day is Holland’s national holiday to well, basically, celebrate their Queen. The city was full of so many people that to get five minutes down the street took more like three hours and chances were you still wouldn’t be close to where you wanted to be! My boyfriend Dan and I spent around two hours in the heavy crowds before we ventured to Vondelpark (one of the prettiest parks I’ve seen and the main park of the city). We found that on Queens Day, people like to come out and sell their old toot that they don’t want anymore whilst playing games such as the one featured above, the goal appeared to be to throw things into the Queens mouth. I know that in England this sort of thing would just not be cool, but the Dutch are a liberal bunch!
Last but not least, lets talk a little about the coffee shops. Lets not pretend you aren’t intrigued! Well the answer is (in case any of you are still wondering) YES. I VISITED THE COFFEE SHOPS. In fact, I visited a lot of coffee shops during my time there and if anyone wants some personal recommendations – feel free to ask. I’ve been to ones with graffiti all over the walls, ones that look like bars, ones that are “zen lounges” – ideal for business men and women and ones that really sucked because they lacked any character. The deal with the coffee shops is this, you go inside and you have to at least buy a drink. You do not have to buy marijuana from the shop unless they are incredibly busy or you don’t have any (or what’s the point in being there?). Most of the time, people stick to the groups they are sat with because the tourists tend to smoke too much and not like interactions with strangers (funny but true!) but I have met some pretty cool people from going into a coffee shop alone, it attracts interest.
If you come to Europe, you HAVE to visit Amsterdam! I know a few people who have said they don’t want to go as it isn’t “their thing” but you have to go for the experience! It doesn’t matter if it’s your thing, you should go and see what a country is like with these kinds of things legalized so you can have an informed opinion on it. Who knows – you may even come over to the dark side and realize how well executed it can be!
Thank you so much to all the amazing bloggers that helped me out while I was gallivanting through Europe! I hope all you readers enjoyed learning about various locations and be sure to let us know if you visit any of the places shared!