Amsterdam: A Walk on the Wild Side

We take the train from Brussels back to Amsterdam.
I enjoy the views of windmills from the window of our train.
Amsterdam is a wild place. By day, people are coming at you from all directions on bikes, scooters, and cars. This is not a place for a wishy washy street crosser, you must be decisive and a little bold.
Walking through the city requires so much focus that I barely take photos of the bikes coming from every direction.
By night, the streets are packed with revelers.

Drinking and partying may be a national sport here. New Orleans, and more specifically, Bourbon Street come to mind – but here the party is magnified and not limited to one street, it’s everywhere. And since there doesn’t seem to be anything illegal in Amsterdam the party is all out in the open.
DSCN0985The scents of the city are reminiscent of college dorms in the seventies. The red light district is crowded and everything seems to be okay!
We are staying right in the old city center, very close to the Central train station where we arrive and depart. The Mauro Mansion, our home for the next two nights, is actually on the edge of the red light district, and has an interesting history.
It was a grand canal house to a literary family in the 17th century, and more recently was the Black Tulip Hotel which catered to visiting gay sadomasochists. The newest incarnation (2010) is as a quirky boutique hotel which is still decorated with some bizarre leftovers from the Black Tulip.

This is our room...looks like a mosquito net to me
This is our room…looks like a mosquito net to me

A look down the staircase (3 floors up)
A look down the staircase (3 floors up)

On our first day we see the sights, the beautiful buildings which house churches very old and “nieuwe”.
Oude Kerk, oldest building in Amsterdam (1306)
Oude Kerk, oldest building in Amsterdam (1306)
The Royal Palace,
DSCN0936 stunning national museums,
DSCN0934 The Van Gogh museum (the one we actually go into),
DSCN0933 and everything else on our “checklist”.
After dinner, we visit a place that claims it has the best apple pie in the world. You can read all about that on our Friday Date Night blog post.

Our second day is more somber and includes visits to the Jewish Quarter, A street with a “shadow walk” listing the names of 200 jews who lived on the street and were rounded up in May of 1943 and sent to their deaths in camps like Auschwitz and Sobibor, the Holocaust Memorial, and finally the Anne Frank House. If you go, YOU MUST BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE MONTHS IN ADVANCE! We did, and breezed in at the time of our reservation, those who did not plan in advance were waiting in a line wrapped around for what appeared to be miles and ultimately would take up most of the day for those people. The tour inside is very moving and takes only about an hour. We were filled with sadness and didn’t take any pictures in the Jewish quarter, and they were not allowed at the Anne Frank house.
After lunch we rest our feet and take a one hour canal cruise. We see the city from a different angle and learn a little history from our boat captain.
Coming up next, you are not going to believe what happened on the way to the Anne Frank house!

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