Netherlands - The Potato Chick

Amsterdam, Netherlands

In a sentence...so much more than coffee shops and the red-light district.

Food we loved...Dutch cheese, mostly in the form of free samples. We may or may not have tried cheese at every shop we passed.

Amsterdam surprised and delighted me. At home, we tend to focus on Amsterdamís liberal views towards prostitution and pot-smoking. Of course, I had an inkling that in addition to those things the city would also be pretty. Itís filled with canals after all. But what surprised me was that it is heartbreakingly gorgeous. Around every corner was another lovely view, each cuter than the last.

Wandering around aimlessly was lovely and terrifying at the same time. The fact I managed to avoid getting hit by a bicycle is nothing short of a miracle. My poor peripheral vision and tendency to walk across roads without looking could have been a deadly combination.

We visited two fantastic museums Ė Van Gogh and Anne Frankís House. Van Gogh told the story of Van Goghís life really well (he was slightly insane) and it was fantastic to see famous paintings like Irises and Sunflowers in real life.

Anne Frankís House gave a great insight into the daily lives of Anne and her family while they were in hiding. I was quite shocked by the tiny size of the rooms that they lived in. Wandering around and reading snippets from her diary was really sad and made you wonder what Anne would have done with her life if she had survived the holocaust.

Our free walking tour did not shy away from Amsterdamís seedy side but, instead, took us right into the heart of the red-light district including a walk through the hallways of one of the brothels. Luckily Nick did not see anyone who took his fancy. Well thatís what he told me anyway.

We wandered the Albert Cuyp street market and sampled sticky chicken and fudge. We did a boat tour of the canals and peaked into the living rooms of the people living on canal boats. We ended our time in Amsterdam with dinner with the lovely Sarah at a cute little bar in Amsterdamís Harlem district (not quite the same as New Yorkís).

Even though it rained (and hailed) for a fair chunk of our time in Amsterdam our enthusiasm for this gorgeous city could not be dampened.

Next stop...London, England.

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Posted 25 December 2014