Explore: Amsterdam, Netherlands

While making my way through some new European countries, I was able to make a visit to the Netherlands, specifically Amsterdam. I’ve always loved seeing people go to Amsterdam and share photos of the beautiful architecture, the canals, and more, so I KNEW I had to visit this remarkable city.

I, of course, did the free walking tour of Amsterdam. This two and a half hour walking tour took us all around the canal belt, taking in the sites that Amsterdam has to offer. Through this tour, as always, I found places I wanted to revisit closer, as well as learned a lot. I found out that Amsterdam was built on a marsh and all of the buildings are built on top of 20-50 tree trunks that were pushed 10 meters or so into the ground. That is why a lot of the houses and buildings are basically sinking and some of the facades are leaning in all sorts of directions. In order to get this whole ordeal fixed [the government goes around weekly telling homeowners which homes need new foundations], you have to pay a mere 250,000-500,000 euros and move out of your house for roughly two years while the tree trunks are pulled up and replaced with steel beams. No wonder this country is one of the most expensive to live in. I loved visiting, but I definitely will not be moving here anytime soon.

Of all the things I enjoyed in Amsterdam, the flower market was by far my favorite. There’s something about thousands of beautiful tulips and other flowers that just gets me going. Besides the tulips and tons of other flowers at the market, there’s also bunches of souvenirs available that I had to browse through. I found a few postcards, a tulip bulb in a box, and then a man gave me some fake tulips for free. It was very beautiful and definitely a top recommendation of mine if you do visit Amsterdam.

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When planning my trip to Amsterdam something that completely slipped my mind was that the Anne Frank house is in Amsterdam. On the walking tour, we walked right past it and then talked about the history of it and how tickets sell out four months in advance [so obviously I will have to return to the city because I didn’t get to enter the museum or house]. I’ve been a huge fan of the Anne Frank Diary ever since I read it as a child and felt very connected to her as well because we share a birthday, so I’ve always wanted to see the house and learn more about her life. If you are planning on going to Amsterdam and have any interest in going to Anne Frank’s house, make sure you get your ticket in advance and be sure to be respectful of everyone visiting.

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The canal belt in Amsterdam is what the city is probably most famous for. Following the canal belt is an easy way to not get lost in the city because if you pick a canal and follow it, they all lead back to the main river, the Amster river. On the river as well, you can see some of Amsterdam’s most famous architecture, tons of houseboats [which cost upwards of 1,000,000 euros just to buy the spot on the water… not even the boat itself], and a hell of a lot of bikers [in the Netherlands, there are roughly 2 bikes for each person and it’s the most common mode of transportation], that yes, will hit you if given the opportunity. I loved walking along the canal belt, seeing all the birds, greenery, families on bikes and walking around, cute dogs, and of course, all the homes that were tilting every which way. I could have spent days walking along all the thousand or so canals in Amsterdam if given the opportunity.

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Something that I knew but had completely slipped my mind until I arrived in Amsterdam, was the amount of marijuana that people smoke there. When the hippies arrived in the 1970s, bringing with them all sorts of drugs ranging from weed to heroine to LSD, the government knew they had to step in. They saw that some of the drugs were killing people and others weren’t, so, they made drugs that were killing people like meth and heroine illegal, and they ignored the drugs that weren’t causing death or addiction such as marijuana. So, while marijuana isn’t legal in Amsterdam, it also isn’t illegal and the police just bat an eye at people smoking, eating, and buying any weed because it’s not causing harm to anyone. “Coffee shops” in Amsterdam are the hot spots to buy marijuana and there are roughly 90 locations that are allowed to sell it. So, if that’s your thing, head to any tourist destination or a coffee shop and enjoy a bit of weed if you have time.

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The English reformed church is another place that I would highly recommend visiting. Located by the Begijnhof, the English reformed church is one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam that hundreds of secular nuns used to live in and that women still live in today. You can walk through the courtyard and admire the statues and greenery while still being considerate of those who are living there.

All in all, Amsterdam was absolutely stunning and didn’t rain at all while I was there, so I lucked out 110%. I can’t wait to go back, buy some flower seeds and a ticket to Anne Frank’s home.

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What’s your favorite European city?

❤ Alicia

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