Europe’s Top Cities- #20

Whether you like canals or cannabis, are attracted to artists of enlightenment or ladies of the night or want to learn about compelling history amongst free-spirited locals, Amsterdam has it all. As famous for its relaxed attitude to marijuana as it is for Van Gough exhibits, there is simply something for everyone in the Dutch capital. For me, it was the final city on my first road trip before heading home and it was as good a place as any to end. For my friends who had joined me, it was the end of their road too as they flew home rather than finishing the trip back home. Abandonment a-side, it was nice to end here with them before having some alone time to reflect on what had been an epic few months. Besides I wouldn’t be short on things to do.

On our final day together, we explored as much as we could. Walking through Vondelpark from the van into the city, following the flow of any canal that we fancied and appearing in open squares full of street entertainers, bars and drug dealers, it was a great way to end the trip. Amsterdam seems to be relaxed and serene, yet bustling and alive all at once in an exciting mix of casual busyness. From the Royal Palace we laughed our way down lively streets, reminiscing about other cities whilst making new stories to reminisce about in this one. The light gave away to the night, ending the day and signalling the end of our adventure. We joked about under the red tinges of Amsterdam’s most famous district, fooling around in the sex shops and chuckling at adverts, we enjoyed the flood of compliments from the workers behind the windows and snickered at anyone who surrendered to them. We investigated the renowned coffee shops and were astounded at the amount of memorabilia you could put a little green leaf on. We headed back to the van, I ate a brownie and indulged in the best night sleep I’ve ever had. Potentially, it wasn’t a regular brownie.

To replace the guys, Georgie and a friend kept me company for the next day and we looked through the Rijksmuseum as well as at a Banksy exhibit. We had an interesting visit to the museum of prostitution and a solemn, intriguing tour through Anne Frank’s house. Rather than eating crap out of tins outside of the van with the lads, we went upmarket and ate at a restaurant, it really was a nice change of pace.

As fun and engaging as Amsterdam is, I wasn’t keen on hanging around too long and struggled to find the enthusiastic urge to explore which had propelled me for the previous ten weeks. I’m not sure if it was because my trip was all but over or because I was left to finish alone, or if I was just burned out but when I left Amsterdam I was quietly relieved.

Reasons to go- A rich history from its 17th century to its sad occupation is amazingly documented in museums and around the city itself. The art exhibits are some of the world’s best and the canals are charming. There is also a wealth of street entertainment, the fascinating red light district and of course, plenty of weed.

Reasons not too- There aren’t any good ones really. I was just ready to move on and needed a change, the first dozen cities were immensely infatuating but after seeing twenty in half as many weeks, I had burned out and lost the curiosity to explore. It isn’t cheap to park a van there though.

One thought

  1. Still not convinced. I really don’t like Amsterdam at all. When I worked there for a year I found myself actively avoiding spending any more time in the city than I absolutely had to. I’m not sure it would make it into my top 300, never mind top 30!

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