On Saturday afternoon, exhausted from flying and from our chronic lack of sleep in Iceland, Lox and I arrived in Amsterdam. We basically crashed as soon as we checked into our hotel, but the next day we woke up suitably refreshed and decided to explore the city. Amsterdam is one of those places that is unreasonably beautiful without even trying. I took the picture below with no filter, no fancy camera, and no real skills – just pointing my phone vaguely in the direction of the pretty view gave me this result:
Throughout our time in Amsterdam, we covered basically everything you could want to do there. We’re both John Green fans, so we spent an afternoon scoping out the filming sites from The Fault in Our Stars movie. When we found the bench, there were a bunch of other people taking photos by it, plus some people had attached padlocks to it, turning it into a kind of lock-bridge-bench. Later in the week, we visited the Anne Frank Museum, also featured in the movie. We booked the Introductory Programme because regular tickets were sold out (pro-tip: book well in advance!), and even though it was more expensive, I’m so glad we did. Hearing someone speak about her life instead of just reading about it on the wall was so moving. I’m the sort of person who cries about old teddy bears so I’m a mess when it comes to things like the Holocaust. I can’t really say anything about it that hasn’t been said before, so all I’m going to do is urge you to visit if you ever have the chance, and also to be aware that things like that are still happening and could still happen.
On a more cheerful note, Valentine’s Day fell about halfway through our time in Amsterdam. Neither of us is that fussed with the day, but we decided we should probably do something for it, so we booked ourselves a cruise through the canals (pro-tip: a cruise with a bunch of other people is much cheaper than a private gondola ride). This was a super cheap and convenient way to see the whole city, plus it continued the trend of Amsterdam being unreasonably beautiful. We continued the day by going to Madame Tussauds. It wasn’t highly recommended in lists of things to do in Amsterdam, but Lox had never been to one before and I’d only been to the one in Vegas. It boasted a pretty large collection and was actually a really good time. We finished off the day by wandering around the Red Light District – perhaps not the most romantic way to round off Valentine’s Day, but it seemed like something you had to do while there, and the neighbourhood itself had quite a cool vibe to it, similar to Commercial-Broadway area in Vancouver.
We also visited the Van Gogh Museum, which was probably what I was most excited about. If I haven’t mentioned it enough, I’m a giant art history nerd and adore Impressionism/Post-Impressionism. Van Gogh in particular holds my heart – there is no one whose art compares and whose story rips apart my heart more. He’s often associated with French artists because he spent a lot of time in Paris, but he was Dutch so I was super excited to see how he was commemorated in his own country. The museum was set out in a way that beautifully told his story and contained most of my favourites, and I possibly teared up when I actually saw the Almond Blossoms painting (the header of this blog). We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the art but I did get a picture of his actual paints and palette, as well as a selfy in front of a screen showing his most noted works. Later when we walked around the city, any mention of Van Gogh rendered me slightly useless as I stared at it sadly.
All up, we spent 6 days in Amsterdam which felt like the perfect amount of time. There was nothing that I felt I missed out on or anything that I wished I could have done. I also felt totally safe there, despite its reputation as a place of debauchery. Only one person on the street offered us drugs (which we politely declined), but there was actually very little evidence of anything even vaguely illicit. In all honesty, Vancouver is much sketchier and has a much stronger marijuana presence (read: “smell”) than Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an amazing city and if you ever get the chance, you need to visit it. If you have been before, or want to visit, tell me about it or ask me any questions!