Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Amsterdam, Netherlands - Part Twee

Actual date of this event: 6-8 December

For years and years, I was always so confused by the difference between Holland and Netherlands. Yep, I am admitting that, and I guarantee I am not the only one. Holland is an area of the the Netherlands which is actually divided by North and South. Amsterdam is part of North Holland, so many times you will hear people refer to Amsterdam as "in Holland", which is why I was so confused. Anyway, yesterday, I went through just a few of the things we did in Amsterdam with our friends Kelly and Billy, but Amsterdam has so many more unique qualities than just that! 

One of the major aspects of the city is its canals and bridges. Water runs through 165 canals for over 60 miles passing under 1,281 bridges. Amazing! House boats line the walls of the waterways. The canals also don't have railings (except for at bridges), so it is very easy to fall in. Note: Peeing into the canal while drunk happens quite often leading to death. Just sayin'.

Holland is known for its flowers, wooden shoes, and windmills. Since we visited in the winter, flowers were not in bloom, but we passed by Bloemenmarkt (a floating flower market) several times that was selling bulbs of all sorts of flowers. As for the wooden shoes, we saw one person wearing a pair, and I don't know how those things are comfortable! And there is only one true windmill close to Amsterdam, but we did not venture in that direction. Apparently it has a brewery in it... must hit that up next time!
 {one of the shops at Bloemenmarkt}
 {wooden shoe keychains}
One of the most confusing cities for a pedestrian no doubt! Bikes breeze by you of nowhere, going in every which direction. Apparently, over 600,000 bikes roam the city. There is even a 4-tier parking garage near the train station... looked exactly like a car park, but for bikes only (no picture sorry).

 {I almost got hit by a moped while taking a picture. Oops!}
One of the biggest attractions in the city is the Red Light District. It is located smack-dab in the middle of the city, and it is impossible to not walk through it. I was so nervous to take any pictures - word has it that your camera will get snatched from you if someone is bothered by you taking a picture - with good reason! This was as best as I could do. 
The Old Church is located right in the middle of the Red Light District. The women in windows face the church, which was kinda strange. Although prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, working the streets is not. It may seem like an unsafe area, but there are so many cops and undercover cops patrolling the area that it is one of the safest places to be!
Let's set the record straight here folks - it IS legal to purchase cannabis from certain places in Amsterdam. If you see a sign for "Coffeeshop", expect to smell some Mary Jane if you don't already smell it on the streets. These shops not only sell coffee and tea, but also cannabis. I was also nervous to take pictures of Coffeeshops because I wasn't sure if someone would be bothered by me getting a picture through the window of them inside. Funny story: Luke and Billy were smoking a cigar in a bar (just a normal bar) and the bartender told them were only allowed to smoke weed in the bar. Hah!

{cannabis flavored cookies, anyone??}
London has coffee shops. Belgium has chocolate shops. Germany has sausage. Paris has bakeries. Amsterdam has... cheese shops! And they are awesome! The four of us are some major cheese lovers, so we stopped in quite a few shops to do some sampling and purchasing. I still think that the Old Amsterdam, which is one you can buy at the regular grocery store, was my favorite!

Since it was the Christmas holiday, lights were strung down the streets. We also passed by the Christmas Market and an ice rink. I am so glad these European cities decorate or else it would be so dark everywhere!

We had a great time in Amsterdam, and I am so glad we were able to go with friends. I definitely recommend making a stop through Amsterdam at some point. If you aren't so into what we did, there is the famous Van Gogh museum you can visit which is supposed to be great. As I have said a million time before, we aren't art people, so that was not a priority. We would love to go back some day for another visit, so if you are up for it, we would love to join!

Other post on Amsterdam: Part 1

Amsterdam has about 160 coffeeshops and you can smell it!

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