Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I have never seen a city quite like Amsterdam. I found myself in a city I knew a ton of people would be jealous I went to visit. Amsterdam has a lot of reputation, and I found out first hand that the reputation is well deserved.

In addition, I fell in love with the peaceful atmosphere present throughout most of the city. It is full of canals which make the city gorgeous. I was told before I went that I needed to rent a bicycle and just ride around. Sounded okay to me, but I didn't grasp what he actually meant or why that was something I must do. It didn't take me long to realize that this city was built to be bicycle friendly and I would take my turn in exploring the city via bicycle.

The hostel I stayed at was not even in Amsterdam. I did not realize this when I booked the hostel. It was in Noordwijk, a city right on the beach and more central to other Dutch cities. They offered a daily shuttle to the city which I took advantage of the two days. As a result, when I was dropped off in the city, I had no idea where I was nor where any of the sites desired to see were (although I did not know what I wanted to see other then the red light district). I just started walking and eventually saw central station, a useful place to know.

I continued to walk down the same street and came to a giant square where there were a lot of people, including people dressed up as various characters. Tourists were invited to take pictures with them and then expected to tip them. I continued to the corner and turned left down a busy street. Once I got to the next corner I saw my first canal. At the corner was a Sex shop, which made me wonder if I had stumbled upon the red light district.

Sure enough I had. It was pretty early yet, not even noon so I did not fully see the true essence of the red light district. But as I wandered through the Alleys, I noticed there was not just one canal, there were several. I also began to understand the advice to rent a bicycle. They were everywhere. The canals were the perfect setup for them. Some roads cars were not even allowed on, but bicycles were fair game. I spent hours just walking up and down the canals getting myself lost time and time again, but I did not care.

Some of the canals and use of bikes along them.

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