Welcome back to beautiful Amsterdam – a city that never ceases to amaze! In my last blog “Amsterdam – Part I – The Ultimate Travel Guide” we have been discussing about all the important facts you need to know before getting there and staying there. In this blog I would concentrate more on the character of the city. This is a chameleon city that changes its colour with every traveller’s very own choice and perspective. And that is what we loved the most about Amsterdam.
Quick Note –
- Local Language – Dutch. But being a prime tourist hub, almost everyone in the city speak English.
- Local Currency – Euro. Cards are accepted everywhere if you are not carrying cash.
- Best time to Visit – High season starts from May through August, when its much crowded but weather is gorgeous! April brings along spring time with partial sunshine but chilly weather, and breathtaking tulips blooming in the fields in the outskirts of the city. September sees a mixture of sunny and cloudy days. It can get rainy, windy and pretty cold from early October.
A city of love
The term “City of Love” is almost always tagged with places like Paris or Venice and probably not everyone would agree with us to call Amsterdam that. But we felt completely otherwise. Amsterdam is one of the most romantic cities that we have been to – considering the ambience, the colours and the fact that how beautifully the city is decorated with neatly carved canals, little canal top bridges over them that light-up at night like jewels, little boats moving freely through them with lovers hand in hand, crossing spectacular heritage residential architectures. You must visit Amsterdam with your partner and/or family. Amsterdam is truly beautiful; rich with its history, colours and no doubt – full of love in the air!
A city of sin
Much known for it’s world famous Red Light district, a neighbourhood known as De Wallen, we have noticed a lot of folks recognising Amsterdam only as a “City of Sin”. Well, we disagree! Amsterdam is so much more. Every traveller have their own vision about the places they visit, and Amsterdam is one of its kind location, that always spread out its arms to welcome you just the way you are! So when you walk past the dimly lit shop-windows of De Wallen, you are never judged otherwise for being there, at least as long as you don’t forget that you are just another inquisitive tourist.
Remember, when a city legalise things that are not quite accepted by the rest of the world, it means, as a tourist you should firstly respect that deed. We have seen tourists taking photographs of the shop windows in De wallen, when it is banned, even heard a few stories in the local coffee shops, about tourists getting drunk enough to speculate that the entire city is similar to De Wallen and start to act in such a way that disrespects the local residents. Well, just for everyone’s information, all such things are critically punishable, and each and every districts of Amsterdam especially De Wallen are heavily guarded with city police guards. When you walk over the numerous little bridges above the canals, it would be hard to ignore at least 2 guards on duty over every bridges.
A city of legends
Amsterdam stands strong as the witness, to have seen remarkable advancement of cultural and artistic success since the 17th century, which is also famously known as the Dutch Golden Age. The city safeguards quite a great number of masterpieces created by the legendary Dutch artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Cezanne and many many more. There is Rembrandtplein, a whole area of the city named after the legendary master painter Rembrandt van Rijn, an area full of lively cafes, bars and late night clubs, and within a 10 minutes walk towards Jodenbreestraat there is Rembrandt’s heritage house preserved as a museum of his creations.
A visit to the Museumplein area of Amsterdam would bring to light the “i amsterdam” square and a number of grand architectures, those are now converted into museums. The Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and the concert hall called Concertgebouw are must visits. And of course, there is the amazing never-to-be-missed-out Van Gogh Museum, right here!
Once you fall in love with the legendary cultural vibes, you would automatically love every other inches and corners of the city’s existence, be it the old cobblestoned streets or the unique canal side houses or the far-off sound of an accordion played by a local street musician. We have experienced a surreal day-dream while passing by a touristy street, on a fine autumn morning with sun and clouds playing hide and seek, cold air drifting about every now and then, and all the romanticism bundled together inside our heads, we visualised our favourite Vincent Van Gogh, stroking his canvas across the pavement emitting a colourful turmoil in the air around him.
Sometimes you don’t need any substances to get your adrenaline flowing! Its just your head 🙂 🙂
A city of confinement
We have never quite realised that a city so beautiful and so free, can also have a complete different side until we visited Anne Frank’s house. Remembering the writings from her diary, that I read in my childhood, we visited Anne Frank’s house, a heritage building now converted to a biographical museum, preserving her entire experience from the time of the World War II, when the Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands, and Anne had to hide behind a bookshelf along with her entire Jewish family for 2 long years. She did not survive the war but her diary became a legendary representation of the enormous sufferings she and her family, and of course all the other victims of the war had to go through.
You must visit Anne Frank’s house, located in the Prinsengracht canal area of Amsterdam. You would be able to book a silent-audio-guide tour online that would take you to the rear side of the house behind the bookshelf, where the entire Frank family was in hiding. Few original scriptures from her diary and a few photographs are preserved along with the exact gloomy, sealed atmosphere of the time that she have spent in there. The entire house is dimly lit and silence is maintained conscientiously to give you an enthralling experience as you would walk over the creaking old floors and enter the next dark room through another fragile door. Anne’s inaudible and captivating narratives would keep you speechless and goose-bumped all along! This is a place we would never forget, just as her diary – unforgettable and alive forever!
A city of freedom
Above and beyond any other tags, Amsterdam is a city of “Freedom”… Doesn’t matter if I am mentioning that towards the end of my blog. Freedom is a relative word. Everybody finds their freedom in their own way of pursuit of life, and Amsterdam shows every directions bright and clear! Whether you find it by it’s off-the-hook lifestyle or by the progressive cultural standpoints or simply by hitting one of the many cannabis friendly coffee shops – as long as you are there, it is your city to explore, relax and embrace.