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World on a Shoestring A beginnger's guide to traveling around the world...as written by beginners...

Amster-DAM!

NETHERLANDS | Friday, 8 June 2007 | Views [2026] | Comments [3]

Before we get started, in an effort to protect our futre careers as public servants, any typical pictures of an Amsterdam visit will not be included. Additionally, any names and faces have been changed to protect the innocent...namely, us.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get started.

So often people visit cities with certain expectations set by stories they've heard, books they've read, pictures they've seen, or even fantasies they've had. And all too often, once one arrives in the city of their dreams they find that it is not exactly what they expected it to be. It may not be as fantastic, or as colorful, or as full of the rich smells and flavors and culture that the city they've so often dreamt of getting lost in.

Amsterdam is none of these things. Even if we were dissapointed (which we were NOT) in our gretting off the tram every morning, we wouldn't have had the time to relish our dissapointment as there is so much to do and see and experience in Amsterdam. It is a city full of culture, music, delicious food (that comes out of vending machines, no less!!), and really really uninhibited people. It has not undeservingly been dubbed the New York City of Europe.

For those of you reading this for no other reason than to hear about the proliferation of coffeshops (NOT coffeehouses, the differenece being that the former sells dope and munchies and the latter actually sells coffee), the legalality of marijuana or the human zoos that are the back-alleys of the red light district, let's take care of that now. Yes, there's dope everywhere, and yes there's sex everywhere. Stepping into Amsterdam with the expectations of avoiding either is like jumping into the ocean and hoping to avoid getting wet.

But, beyond the novelities of travel in the Netherlands, Amsterdam has culture and history of overwhelming abundance. There is so much to do and see that trying to see the whole city in a couple of short days is a feet unto itself. And so, we set out every day from our campsite (we'll cover this money-saving gem later) at no later than 8 in the morning to ensure that each of our four days in this diverse city was spent experiencing all that was available.

Try walking through Amsterdam without stumbling on some of historical personage's home and you'll likely find that you've indavertently wandered outside the city limits. The houses of such noted individuals include Ann Frank, Rembrandt, and the old Heineken factory (which some condisder to be a house of worship), all of which we visited.

Anne Frank's house is remarkable. So infrequently are remnants of the Holocaust and its effects effetive at really protraying life in the time of absolute fear. And while talking about the Holocaust does no more to portray the exeperience itself, actually visiting this house puts a name, face, location and life to a few of its vicitms. To most, Holocaust vicitms are a long list of murdered people, but to those that visit Anne Frank's home, walk through its hallways, or up and down its narrow steps hidden behind a bookshelf into the secret rooms where she and her family hid for two years, the Holocaust becomes so much more. To see where this family slept and ate while their neighbors were carted off to concentration camps instills fear, respect and sorrow into any visitor. If not for the screaming AARP-ers from Long Island, the somber moment would remain unscathed in our memories.

Rembrandt's house is remarkable in itself! To see where he worked, created, and went bakrupt give one a true appreciation for his art. The highlight of the visit was seeing a print that we have hanging on our walls at home, and then seeing the actual press where he made the prints.

This leaves only two toursit attractions left: The Heineken Musem and Madame Toussauds (sp?). The former is a beer experience fit for any enthusiastic consumer, complete with a free gift and three free beers throughout the trip through the breweries history. Should you decide to visit first thing in the morning, as we did, even before you've eaten your first meal of the day, you should depart the museum with three sheets to the wind, as we also did. And then there's the wax museum. This museum is the second installment in the Toussaud franchise, but unfortunately does not live up to its predecessor's grandeur. It is cool, but because of the deceptively large building in which it housed, you leave feeling like you may have missed something, even though you haven't.

Staying and eating in Amsterdam is easy and can be cheap if you do the legwork. No more than a ten minute tram ride out of the city, we managed to find a campsite that was six euro a night, a far cry from the 30 to 40 euro that most hostels were asking. And cheap food is nearly everwhere! Should you require local delicasies for travel satisfaction, we reommend the resatraunts that are no more than large vending machines that dispense hot food, like Frikandels, Super Burgers, and an unidentifiable (yet still delicious) roll of some kind. Finally, if you're really short on dough, we managed to buy enough sandwhich fixings at the local supermarket for both of us for no more than 4 euro. And beers pretty cheap in these parts too, if you're into that sort of thing...and we are.

An amazing city of inhibition and excitement, Amsterdam is full of magic people, magic attractions, and magic brownies...

Tags: Sightseeing

Comments

1

Dude did you visit Vandersexxx, remember the safe word.

  Alex Jun 11, 2007 11:49 PM

2

My brother was just in Amsterdam last week and camped with his friends. They said it was the best way to save money and also had a blast on the area hiking trails! I wonder if you crossed paths...hopefully he wasn't in the red light district.

  Danielle Jun 12, 2007 2:24 AM

3

I am due to go to amsterdam in a few days, I have read your page, and will take some of your suggestion on board, especially the Heinikken Museum.

  Stu Nov 5, 2008 1:36 AM

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