Our trip to Amsterdam started early on the morning of the 24th in Edinburgh. We said our goodbyes to our travel mates of the last seven weeks and with bags in hand we walked to the tram which took us to Edinburgh airport.
Since the website had stated that you arrive two hours early we built in a little more time and printed off our boarding passes from the self check-in two and a half hours before our flight departure. With boarding passes in hand we headed to the line up for the bag drop. This was a long line that had already passed the line dividers that were set up and more were being added. We stood in this line for forty five minutes before being able to drop our bags and head to security.
Now security was no better! Both of our carry on bags were pulled over for secondary inspection along with what appeared to be half of all the bags going through the scanner. So after arriving early and then getting through security we arrived to the gate just as they were supposed to be boarding the plane. This however did not happen because the plane had not arrived yet!
We arrived in Amsterdam about forty minutes later then scheduled which was not a problem for us as this was our home for the next four nights.
The Amsterdam airport is outside the city so we found the train that ran from the airport to the city centre and bought two tickets and enjoyed the ride. The Centraal Train Station is an absolutely beautiful building which opened in 1889! The walk from the train station to our Airbnb, which was our own little houseboat on the Oudeschans Canal, took us about fifteen minutes.
It was a great location, only two blocks from the Red Light District and walking distance to more then enough to do over the next three days. So, it was time to start exploring the city that is known for riding bicycles, among other things :)!
We headed over to the Dutch Resistance Museum, which is an excellent museum. The focus is on the German Occupation, the Nazi rule in Holland during the second world war and then the liberation of Holland. It was fascinating and we really appreciated the flow of the exhibits.
After the museum we walked back to the Centraal Train Station and did a walking tour of the Old Town. This was a Rick Steve’s walking tour that we had on our phone, which included walking through the financial district, and the shopping district.
We tasted fried potatoes or “Flemish Frites” the way they were invented in Holland, served from a street window and smothered in a mayonnaise sauce, they were very good! We saw old churches, learned about the canals and walked through the “floating” flower market.
All before stopping at a traditional Dutch restaurant where we each had a stamppot. These are meals of mashed potatoes, carrots and onions and then meatballs, sausage and bacon, very tasty! We then walked off our food with more touring of the city.
The walk home took us straight through the Red Light District where we stopped at the Old Sailor Bar for a nightcap.
The Famous Red Light District, featuring the “world’s oldest profession”. Basically, these women (or men) stand in a window where you can “view” them, if you are interested you get their attention, they open the door, you negotiate a price for a service, and if you both agree you conclude your business in a back room. It is all legal, the workers pay taxes and have yearly health checks and if they are found to not be healthy their license is taken away until they are healthy again.
The one area is right across the street from a beautiful 700 year old church and right beside a daycare center. Fascinating to see how these 3 different kinds of business’s are so close, but it all works.
The other interesting thing is how easily you can find/purchase marijuana. You do this by going into a “coffee shop” and asking for a “menu” ( they are not allowed to tell you about it, you have to read it ), you decide what you want, ( you might also order a coffee and a sweet ) and then you sit down and enjoy your purchase in the café! Awesome!
June had developed a bad cold and was really not feeling well, so we had to find a pharmacy to get some medicine. Since we could not read any of the labels very well, we had to talk to the pharmacist who informed us that without a doctor’s prescription we would only be able to buy aspirin or a nose spray. So, in a city where you can get a sexual act for 50 euros, or buy marijuana in a coffee shop, I could not buy any cold medicine!!!!
There are many famous locations in Amsterdam and probably one of the most famous one is the Anne Frank Haus. We had a thirty minute introduction to the museum and then we slowly walked through the warehouse where the business was run out of and the modified living accomadations behind the bookshelf where the Frank family, and four other Jewish people hid for twenty five months until about a month before the war ended and they were discovered.
All of the people were sent to different concentration camps and Mr. Frank was the only survivor. To live almost the entire war in hiding and then be killed so close to the end and to getting your freedom, so incredibly sad. The Diary was found by the women cleaning out the apartment and she gave it to Anne’s father, who then published it.
Another audio walking tour, this time of Jordaan. The narrow canals and streets of trendy Jordaan are flanked by indie boutiques, cozy pubs and hip eateries. The Jordaan was built in the early 17th century to house working class and immigrants. A large stream of refugees from France, England, Spain, Portugal and other countries came to Amsterdam in the 17th and 18th century, seeking freedom. Amsterdam was known for its tolerance towards other political and religious beliefs.
We then ended up at Moeder’s, another traditional Dutch restaurant and some very good “home cooked” food. On our way home which took us through the Red Light District for one last time and another nightcap at the Old Sailor Bar again along the canal.
We absolutely loved this city, we might have to go back!
One final plane ride connecting in Rejkavik then on to Toronto, where we were met with the two smiling familiar faces of Steve and Leslie waiting there to pick us up and take us back home.