Amsterdam had been on my radar for some years, and I had every intention of making the trek this year. Imagine my surprise when the stars aligned perfectly, and a flight deal from my regional airport revealed itself to me. Getting a deal out of my home airport was such a rarity that I almost didn’t believe my eyes when I saw the price. Average ticket prices to Europe from my home airport were usually in the range of $1,200, but flights were priced at less than $400 at the time. I booked for my birthday week without even thinking in case the price increased before I had an opportunity to take advantage of it. If it didn’t work out, I had the 24-hour cancellation policy for protection. Book now, think later has been my travel motto.
I stayed in the Old West section of Amsterdam at CityHub. The hubs were cool, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m too old for community shower areas. I enjoyed the location for its closeness to the tram stop and the fact that it was right next door to de Foodhallen. Foodhallen is an indoor food market that was a great spot for eats. There are several vendors serving a variety of cuisines. I hit up quite a few spots in de Foodhallen while I was in Amsterdam, and really enjoyed le Big Fish, Baowowow, and The Butcher.
Outside of de Foodhallen, I wasn’t deeply impressed with the food of Amsterdam, but I didn’t have high expectations anyway. How could I trust any place where mayonnaise and french fries were a thing? Nope.
Unfortunately for me, I experienced serious weather delays on my flight to Amsterdam, and it caused me to arrive a day and a half later than intended. I spent the first full day just trying to catch up on things from my itinerary that I missed. I took a free walking tour of the city that lasted about two hours and started at Dam Square. There was a carnival happening at Dam Square at the time. We proceeded through the Red Light District, hit several stops along the way, and ended near the Anne Frank House.
Speaking of the Red Light District, I just want to add my opinion that sex work should be legal everywhere, and women (and men) should be free to charge whatever rate they want for whatever services they provide. They should also be entitled to legal protection by state and federal authorities. The women in those windows were gorgeous, and there was a variety of flavors for everyone’s pleasure. I loved seeing them in that position of power, and I just wish sex work wasn’t so taboo in the U.S. The people who offer it and the people who pay for it should not be ashamed.Overall, the walking tour was nice to get an overall understanding of the main areas of the city, and our guide was quite knowledgeable about the city’s history. Towards the end, I started looking at my watch and wondering how much longer it was going to be because I started to get a bit bored.
When the tour ended, I headed to the Anne Frank House. I read Anne Frank’s diary in middle school, but I could barely recall the events of her life. All I remembered for certain was that she died, but no one was really sure of the exact details surrounding her death. I hoped the visit would stir up too many emotions, but I went in prepared to leave if it did.I purchased my ticket in advance, but the line for those who spontaneously decided make a visit was perhaps the longest line I had ever seen. Online tickets go on sale two months in advance, so that would be the first option for a visit. The last option would be to stand in a line for hours. I handed over my timed pass (which for three hours earlier than I arrived), and strutted right inside without a wait.
There is no photography allowed at the Anne Frank House, but the museum goes into detail about her family’s life and the lives of those that helped them. The secret annex that Anne and her spent most of her time was hidden behind a bookcase and contained a small opening for the entrance. I spent about an hour at the Anne Frank House, and thought it was worth at least one visit. It certainly doesn’t grant a second visit.
After I departed the Anne Frank House, I went on a canal cruise. I can’t say that I was excited about it. I wasn’t interested in it all, as a matter of fact, but the canal cruise was free with my purchase of a day trip to Bruges.
I fell asleep during the canal cruise. I was dealing with jet lag, and a quick nap was all I needed to recharge. After that, it started getting dark. I took public transportation over to Amstelveen for a Rootsriders concert. Amstelveen felt so weird to me. I didn’t see a single person in the streets hanging out. The only people I saw were the people in the concert. There was literally no one just out and about. The Rootriders were a group that did Bob Marley covers, and they were great. The crowd was all off beat, but I still had a good time.
A couple of days later, I went on a Black Heritage Tour with Giovanni. The walking tour a couple of hours long, and opened my eyes to the rich history of black people in Amsterdam, and the fact that some Dutch families continue to claim that they received their wealth from other means when the reality is that slavery is what brought them their riches. It also explained the relationship between the Netherlands and other dutch speaking countries like Suriname and Curacao. The tour ended with a visit to the museum. I didn’t snap many photos because I was preoccupied by the pleasant learning experience. This is one tour that I would recommend all people take when visiting Amsterdam.
When making a spring visit to Amsterdam, one must visit Keukenhof Garden. That was I was told, and I have to agree. I don’t have a green thumb, but I saw the beauty in the rows and rows of blooming flowers. Keukenhof Garden was certainly a tourist attraction, so I would recommend arriving early to avoid crowds.