Amsterdam: More than just pot and prostitutes

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We had been moving rather quickly through cities, so it was nice to have four nights in one place. Our hotel was centrally located, with everything being within 20 minutes walking distance (unlike in Ghent where we had to commute 20 minutes just to get to the center).  We normally do not visit museums, but the Anne Frank House was a moving experience.  A must-see but book your tickets online in advance to avoid waiting in a hours-long queue.  Justin got lucky by being on the website right when last-minute tickets were released.  Surprisingly, with how many people pass through the small museum, they do a remarkable job of crowd control so you rarely feel cramped inside.

Despite most tourist attractions being within the Canal Ring, Amsterdam was not the easiest city to navigate.  All the canals more or less look the same, and we often found ourselves walking in circles.  Sometimes it also felt a little seedy because of the scent of marijuana brewing out of every other open window.  Then there’s the Red Light District, where prostitutes offer sexual services behind illuminated glass windows and doors.  These are just a small part of what makes Amsterdam “special,” though: for centuries, it has been an extremely open and tolerant society that is now home to 176 nationalities.  Plus, we hear it’s really more the tourists engaging in smoking weed and such than the locals.