I actually thoroughly disliked Amsterdam. Oh and hello again.
I'm more than willing to admit that it may just be me or maybe it was the series of unfortunate events that befell me but Amsterdam and I are better as strangers and I probably won't ever return.
Too harsh? Perhaps you're thinking, ah, Rhiannon must simply be too prudish for Amsterdam. Afterall as the saying goes:
"Come for the weed - stay for the prostitutes"
But I did my absolute best to give it my all, partake as much as possible and enjoy all of the key Amsterdam traditions. We'll get into the details later but I went on a canal ride, I saw the sex museum and I went to moulin rouge. I really tried. But I simply didn't like Amsterdam.
Even it's canals and cobbled streets couldn't convince me to like it. But let's not harp on without evidence. Here's how my trip went.
My arrival in Amsterdam was at around midday from Bruges via Brussels. I was immediately struck with an uncomfy feeling. I just wasn't excited. Call it premonition. I orientated myself enough to locate the bus and get on the correct bus. Now, I know buses operate slightly differently in other countries but thus far there have been no issues. I knew to buy a ticket onboard from a quick google so I held up my card and said "1 ticket please".
The guy stared at me blankly so I tried to tap on the pass scanner as that had worked in the UK, nothing. I looked back at him and tried again and finally managed to organise a single trip ticket which he handed to me. I moved to lug my bag into the seating area when he yells at me "come back!"
I immediately go back thinking shit my card hasn't worked or something and he thinks I'm trying to free load. No need to worry though as he was just telling me I had to tap on. OK.
But he then felt the need to add on, in perfect, crisp, English: "Next time you should research how to use the public transport in a country before you visit."
A bit stung I went and took my seat.
When I finally made it to my Airbnb I checked in with the host (who also lives there) and settled in for a bit of a nap before heading out. About 10 mins into my nap I hear the door open but when I sit up it's closed again. Another 30mins later the door opens and then slams closed and I hear voices in the corridor.
I was pretty peeved at this point.
I decide the nap can wait and I head off in search of food at the grocery store nearby. Here is dilemma two.
I go in, collect my food items and take them to the register where I notice a small sign that says "No Mastercard, No Visa, No credit card, Cash only or Maestro."
Guess who didn't have any cash on them in that exact moment? Me.
I politely asked if I could leave the items and come back with cash and the woman at the register rolled her eyes and shoved the items aside. I asked her where the nearest ATM was and she shrugged and said "outside".
By the time I got back to the Airbnb (and locked my door) I was feeling pretty pissed off so I decided to stay in and venture out into the world in the morning instead.
Well, apparently the universe was not done with me.
I went to book for the Van Gogh Museum and for Anne Frank's house. Neither was an option as I hadn't thought to book two months in advance. COVID has reduced the number of visitors they allow. So the one museum I really wanted to see during my time in Amsterdam I couldn't visit. Cue very frustrated Rhiannon.
In the morning I went to find Bloemenmarkt - ie. this supposedly amazing floating flower market. It was not amazing. It was a concrete wharf (not floating) of flower shops selling bulbs. I shit you not there wasn't even beautiful bouquets. I was cursing the skies at this point.
Then, my tour was cancelled as we had 7 people and the minimum required was 8. I was given a shrug and a "good luck" to send me on my way. And to top it off I paid 20 euro for a canal tour in the evening that barely dipped below an afternoon glow where we managed to squish one small boat against the side of a bridge and plow directly into another (go driver!)
But in Amsterdam's defence I, in the absence of a tour, directed myself around the major parts of the city - despite the significant amount of construction occuring (including restoration works on the major sites that you go to look at) - and I managed to see Anne Frank's house and the statue dedicated to her.
I also found Begijnhof - which is this little community of houses with a communal garden space that completely cuts out the noise of the city - it also contains one of the only wooden houses remaining in Amsterdam from the 1600s.
In my wandering I also stopped by the Basilica of St Nicholas to have a quick sit down and managed to see a choir rehearsing which was incredible. Here, have a listen:
I wish I could sing like that. Also the acoustics of the Basilica are just unreal!
So there were parts of Amsterdam I did like. The Sex Museum was only 9 euro and was pretty insightful and honestly spanned over 4 floors so there was plenty to look at. Although walking through a museum dedicated to sex and prostitution throughout history does feel a little seedy on your own.
I made friends on my canal tour (hi Liz and Jaycob!) and we went for drinks and nibbles after the tour (more like dodgem cars). We then set off to the Red Light District. I know this is a bit of a novelty for tourists but I was super excited because this is kind of one of those things that you can only really do in Amsterdam. After a few more drinks we bought tickets to Moulin Rouge (an exotic show). I feel I probably don't need to go into the details as my dad reads this blog and I'd rather not but it was fascinating to say the least.
You just gotta give these things a go. When in Rome - or Amsterdam in this case.
Here we met a young Australian couple (wooo! aussies!) travelling around for the next year off of their OnlyFans money. Which is fucking inspirational. They were a hell of a lot of fun and I think very much helped the "aussies know how to drink and have a good time" stereotype.
At 3am I stumbled back to my Airbnb and packed everything up then headed straight back out the door to rush for my 5am train to Berlin, still drunk.
But - organised as I am I made it on board and spent the next 6 hours fast asleep with my face pressed to the window.
So, overall, a bit of a different experience to my travels so far.
But, the cons definitely outweighed the pros and my verdict is a no thank you to Amsterdam.
Perhaps next time, if I plan enough in advance and google how to use a bus I might enjoy it more.
Till next time,