The first thing I, or anyone else for that matter, would notice about Amsterdam is the abundance of bicycles. I found myself in people’s way almost immediately; looking like a tourist with my luggage and walking straight down the bike path. Yes, I was that girl. It was a bit unnerving at times to know where and when to walk. If a bike wasn’t about to hit you a tram or car would, or even a walker. The streets were always full.
Because Amsterdam is basically a swamp, everything is built on canals and everything (at one time) was treated as though a flood could happen at any moment. The houses lean forward and there are hooks at the top. People only utilized mainly the upper floors of their homes; at least this is where anything of value would go (food, furniture, etc). The ground floor was avoided, as this would be the first to be destroyed in the event of a flood. The hooks would hoist anything heavy from the outside of the house to the upper floors, and the leaning of the buildings would allow the object being lifted some room to swing around without hitting the house.
The Anne Frank house is also in Amsterdam and while it did cost money to get in (as well as waiting in line for a while) it was definitely worth it. Visitors get the chance to walk right through the business, behind the bookcase, and up the stairs to the attic that the Frank’s were hiding in. The pictures that Anne put up in her room, to make it more exciting, are still up. The growth chart on the wall from Anne and her sister is also still there. Even the original diary of Anne Frank is on display. The attic, while there is no furniture in there, remains mainly untouched. It’s quite remarkable.
The streets of Amsterdam are nothing short of surprising. One minute you are walking next to a “live sex” theatre and the next a wonderful flower market. The coffee shops are basically everywhere, and with that, the smell of cannabis. Let’s not forget naked people riding bikes (actually, we aren’t so sure about this one. Walking the street during the day and they just sort of came out of nowhere).
Our hostel, The Flying Pig (uptown), was cozy. Somehow every set of stairs in Amsterdam seemed more like a ladder, and our hostel was no exception. The walls in one of the hallways were covered with art and notes from past visitors.
One of our guides described Amsterdam as being sort of about free will and relaxation. That it's a sort of "do what you want to" kind of place. I have to agree.
This was the last stop on my trip, and I couldn't have been more sad. I could have stayed over there traveling forever, I didn't want it to end. This trip was such a success.A re-cap to come soon...