Well.. Welcome to Amsterdam.
What an amazing city, cold, very liveable, cold, absolutely stunning, cold, smokey, and did i mention cold? Coming from sunny Queensland it was quite a shock to the system to get off that plane in Amsterdam, we were prepared for it luckily.
We jumped in a cab quite easily and headed to our hotel but this wasn't just any cab, it was a Tesla. With Toms eyes wide open he asked the driver a million questions about the car and as we looked around we quickly discovered that all the cabs were in fact a Tesla. The drive is always eye opening, as we twisted and turned not only down streets and alleyways but along tramlines and bike lanes. Speaking of bikes, Wow. We were told that there are more bikes to actual people here, but to see it for yourself is another thing. They are everywhere, it took a day or two to realise just how their road system worked, and luckily for us we did not get hit!
Starting our mornings in search for a quiet cafe for breakfast, we quickly discovered a little hidden gem down a laneway. It was peaceful and their pancakes were to die for. Nothing like we have back home in Aus, they were large, crape thin, and the taste and texture was amazing. I often had apples cooked into mine while Tom opted for bacon, both of us though took advantage of the free syrup and powdered sugar. This place became our every morning ritual.
We walked the streets most days, as the city is dense and quite small, we found it easy to find our way around on foot, and we found we discovered a whole lot more this way rather than the trams. The absolute beauty of this place never ceased to amaze us, every corner we turned was a whole new scenery, and another street of little shops that we could wander at our own pace.
Now the cafes, yes we all know Amsterdam is 100% weed friendly, but id like to say maybe 200% weed friendly, there was no need to go and sit in one of the infamous cafes as walking the streets was enough for a contact high. There was an array of ice cream shops, lollypops and candy, bongs, joints, cups of teas, plants, and grow your own using seeds, coming from such a babied country like Australia, it was a bit of an eye opener to have this advertised so vastly. Regular cigarettes are just as popular here, and everywhere is smoke friendly, I can say I'm not a huge fan of it, seeing as all I wanted to do was enjoy a meal in a street cafe and people watch, and personally the smoke is too much for me while eating.
Diamonds are a huge part of the Netherlands, and we stumbled across the diamond museum, and with a free entry we decided to have a look. I was in my element, looking at so many stones that were worth a mint. We were able to see the worlds largest uncut diamond, a replica royal crown, and watch diamond cutters do what they do best. One of the workers sparked a conversation with us and was kind enough to tell us all about the life of a diamond, he was currently half way through cutting a tiny little diamond into a brilliant cut, and he let us hold the tools and look through his glass at exactly what he was doing. One of the most surprising thing he shared with us after we told him we were Australian, was that currently Australia has the most colourful and sort after diamonds, he says "beautiful, colourful, best diamonds" in broken english. "From the mine, to your finger" cant beat that advertising slogan.
Another huge unique factor of Amsterdam is the sex industry. I was expecting it to be really unsafe, seedy and a not so comfortable to place to be, but the red light district is fantastic. It was exciting just walking the streets and watching the people, and yes the infamous girls in the red windows of almost all buildings. We decided to play it safe (well mostly me) and went to the most tourist friendly live sex show, when in Amsterdam right. It was interesting, not what we were expecting and no, i wont go into detail. There is no start time to these shows, there are about 10 different acts and they are on repeat, so basically you show up when you feel like it, walk in, sit down and watch for as long as you want. Once the 10 acts have finished, they start again, yep, the same routine all over again, this goes on for about 7 hours straight. I couldnt imagine that as a day job but luckily it wasn't as hard core as some other places available to go to.
We did do a few touristy things such as the hop on hop off bus (which was a waste as we covered all these areas on foot already) we also did a city lights boast cruise through the canals, this was reeally pretty and gave us a different insite into the city, there was a display of light up art works through the canals which were beautiful. One of the main things we did do, was a tour to the country to see the windmills, visit a small fishing village, and go to a cheese making factory. It was a shame it was such a huge group (about 50 tourists) but the trip out to see the windmills is a must. The landscape is stunning, filled with rolling hills and dotted with picture perfect cottages. The cheese factory was also a highlight. Tom was called up to volunteer and ended up with a massive handful of grated cheese. We taste tested countless cheese and walked away with a few specialty graters.
We spent another day just walking around the city, but today we had a bit of direction. We were on a mission to find the hidden glow golf course. All we knew was it is located under an old English pub, slightly out of town. There are no signs advertising it and you wouldnt even know it existed. After a bus ride and a short confused stroll, we had found it. It was game time. Throwing on our 3D glasses, grabbing our stick and ball, we headed under ground to one of the erriest places we had been, turning the corner we were greeted with bright glowing lights. This place was fun, the course wound on forever, it was retro and so out there, we kept stopping to take photos and laughed the entire way around. When i finally kicked Toms butt we were more than ready to head up to see the daylight again. A quick beer and we were on our way to see more of the city.
Being christmas time the city is all lit up with lights, every alleyway and street had beautiful displays, countless christmas trees, a few ice skating rinks and just very happy and friendly people.
I cannot fault this city.
We love Amsterdam.