Netherlands

Amsterdam

The thing about Europe is that it’s addicting! In a short train ride, you can be in another country. I was in Antwerp, Belgium visiting friends when I noticed on google maps just how close Amsterdam was. I decided that a one hour or so train ride was too close to miss out. Normally, it would only take 1 hour and 15 minutes from Antwerp to Amsterdam but the train ride turned into a 6 hour jaunt because of a snowstorm. Apparently, they don’t get snowstorms like that very often so after the first stop, the trains stopped working. I will spare you the details of the journey because I can’t even believe the amount of patience I had. All I can say is, thanks to a nice Dutch man, who steered me to the right train, I arrived Amsterdam to a Winter Wonderland.

I was only in Amsterdam for three days but on my first impression, I loved the city. Maybe it was because I felt like I had all of this alone time with the city. Because of the snow, the streets were virtually empty and I didn’t want to just sit in my hotel room so I walked for miles and miles in the snow. I was fortunate enough that Amsterdam has some of the best museums in the world and the Van Gogh museum has been on my bucket list for years. The pieces at the Van Gogh museum aren’t his most famous works but what I loved about the museum is that you learn so much about the artist. I loved that he started painting when he was 27 years old; so he picked up his passion later in life. His sister-in-law was the one who sold his paintings and ultimately, helped Van Gogh become famous after his death. I also went to the Moco Museum which is located next door to Van Gogh’s. I passed by and I noticed that they had Banksy and Lichtenstein. It’s a great museum if you like modern art and the building itself is beautiful.

The obvious thing that stood out was the sex and drug culture in Amsterdam. It was both refreshing and I will use the word, different. As an American, we don’t have sex workers out in the open; I consider our culture to be a little prude in that way. When I walked through the Red Light District (don’t worry mom, it was during the day!) the women were just in the windows like a display in a store. I couldn’t look at them in the eyes because I felt so conflicted. A part of me was impressed by the openness and the other, I felt like women came all this way to just be sex workers? However, who am I to judge someone’s profession right? The Red Light District is also in a beautiful part of Amsterdam so it did not feel sketchy at all.

The most serendipitous thing happened while I was in Amsterdam. My friend Faith was stuck in Amsterdam because her flight got canceled due to the storm. I started this as a solo trip but I never had to eat dinner by myself. We met up for dinner and then afterward, we went to a “coffee shop.” I don’t smoke but I really wanted to experience one. I have heard about this from every guy I’ve known. On a side note, now I totally understand why every American boy/man in their early twenties goes to Amsterdam – Understood. I couldn’t believe that you could walk into a cafe and order a joint from a menu! I had flashbacks of me and my high school friends hiding in the backyard, giggly, passing around a multi-colored bong. I also think that’s why I loved Amsterdam so much because I got to experience new things: A secondhand high and scantily-clad ladies!

On my last night, I met up with Sarah from Sarah’s Tours Amsterdam. I found her on Instagram and asked her if she would show me around Amsterdam. She is such a cool chick and a badass entrepreneur. She offers customized private tours to all of the local spots. She took me to an amazing wine bar, Wester Wijnfabriek and we ended up talking for 6 hours about careers, our passions, cultural diversity in our respective cities, love, and everything else in between. If you’re ever in Amsterdam check her out! She’s a local girl.

My advice on Amsterdam is to walk or bike everywhere. Amsterdam is one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever been to. The canals alone will have you stopping at every street to admire the architecture. At least that was my experience. There is so much to do in Amsterdam, there is something for everyone. I’ll definitely be back to Amsterdam; hopefully for the tulips!

I stayed at Hotel Dwars | Photo Source

Lunch at Cafe Pluk

All the sweets at Cafe Pluk

Van Gogh Museum

Banksy at the Moco Museum

Inspirational quote by Banksy

The best salads at SLA

Wine bar with Sarah from Sarah’s Tours Amsterdam

Sarah from Sarah’s Tours Amsterdam

Cocktails