Let’s be perfectly honest. When someone mentions “Amsterdam”, the first things that spring to mind are drugs, and sex. Coffee Shops. The Red Light District. Clouds of smoke and barely-dressed women beckoning from behind their dimly-lit windows.
But delve a little deeper, and you discover a city rich in culture, full of beautiful architecture and stunning outdoor spaces.
Visiting The Anne Frank Museum is a surreal and sobering experience. Opening “that” bookcase and ascending the very stairs that Anne and her family first climbed….it sends shivers down your spine. I was surprised at the size of the secret annex, as I’d expected something miniscule, but the thought of that Franks sharing that small space with the van Pelses and Mr Pfeffer for two years was distressing.
The Van Gogh museum is home to over 200 painting, drawings and letters by Van Gogh, as well as many works by other artists. The museum is light and airy and the perfect setting to display Van Gogh’s work, and it was great to see some of his more famous paintings up close.
There are a number of beautiful parks and open spaces, and we were lucky to strike sunny, mild days so we could enjoy spending time outside. We dodged bicycles by the thousands, ate french fries and mayonnaise, drank beer from mugs as big as my head, and admired the tulips in the markets. We wandered along the canals and spent a lot of time looking up at the facades of the buildings, which were stunning.
And yes, we wandered through the Red Light District, and in a perverse way, it was actually very interesting. It wasn’t as “dirty” as I had envisioned, in that just wandering the streets, we didn’t see anything that could be deemed pornographic or explicit. We saw a lot of impressive bosoms, and some beautiful looking women, but the actual sex is saved for behind closed curtains.