Amsterdam

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Last week I have visited the city where I would probably manage to get lost more times should I ever live there. First of all, and funnily enough, it is not that big. I know there are four main canals and smaller ones. I know the city is in a U shape. I inow the canals do not run though the city but embrace and encircle it. But between trying not to get run over by crazy cyclists and focusing in a main course without getting sidetracked by pretty small little streets… it gets very tough! Also, it does not help that I am not a very check the map every five seconds kind of girl. I like to get a sense of the direction I need to go and then just kind of end up there (does this make sense or are the space happy cakes still taking over my mind?). Not this time. I have definetly looked at the map more than normal – maybe I am loosing my touch?IMG_20130926_002748[1]IMG_20130925_142559[1]

Anyway, the good thing is: it is a beautiful city to get lost in. From the canals, to the houses springing in all directions, some of them tilting to the side or front – or wherever they have space, really -, the little squares, the cute fleamarkets, the landmarks or ancient history, the whole vibe you have while you are in it. I never had the need to hop on a tram to travel. You can walk pretty much everywhere.

Always undergoing construction work – due to it’s localization – Amsterdam is always trying to improve itself while keeping its habitants and culture legacy alive. Obviously, their main concern is flooding as the city rests in a swamp, basically. Being close to the sea, it was the perfect sight for the dockalnds to exapand and bring all the commerce routes to through Amsterdam. Hence its richness in the old days and it’s importance today because they are still in use now. everything uesd to stop by the city and Amsterdam has certainly grown since the expansion period.

It also housed one of my favourite paintors: Van Gogh (by the way – if you are expecting to see Starry Night, it is on display at the Museum of Modern art in New York. Yep). The Van Gogh Museum is now displaying Van Gogh at Work, which follows the paintors learning process and studies. Better yet, you are able to snap pictures of most of the paintings – usually prohibited in art galleries and museums.

It has the Rijksmuseum, which has one of the vastest collection of art, in which you can find works of Rembrandt and Vermeer. It has just reopened after a 10 year renovation work. It originally openned in 1885 and it has a beautiful collection of 17th-century furniture and intricate silver and porcelain, incredible early 18th century doll-houses.

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Even with all these artists and influences, the most famous resident of Amsterdam was Anne Frank. Nowadays, you can visit the annexe she lived in for two years and see a display of her diaries and notebookes. The house has been emptied of all furniture but you can see modules of how it would have been. recently they have oppened a new wing which explores her time in the concentration camp and has a little room which I found quite brilliant. It is basically a voting pole, consisting of yes or no questions. It gives you a view of peoples mind and thoughts about racism and such. Everyone should spend at least 15-30 minutes there.

Close to Anne Frank’s House is the Jordaan district. Because of how Amsterdam has grown in the 1700s, you can still find boat houses. You will see them mostly at quarters like the Pijp and the Jordaan, which are there since the 19th century and they look amazing. you will see the canals lined with boat houses and people having glasses of wine in their roof terraces.IMG_20130926_171904[1]

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On the north-east side of the city, you will find one of the three preserved windmills in Amsterdam – and for me, the only one as I haven’t seen any other one. The De Gooyer is located quite far away from all the touristic sites and it is probably the farther we have walked. Being far did not stop us to go there. Twice!!! Right next to it there is a beer brewery – Brouwerij ‘T IJ. All of their beer is organic and it is delicious. They have the Columbus, which is their most famous one with an alcohol percentage of 9%. Oh yes. After two, three beers, I was talking politics! we have tried some of them and unfortunately I cannot recall the name of the last one, which, coincidentally was my favourite. Nazeh or something? If some beer experts or someone knows, would you please tell me? In my defense, Columbus was the easiest name on the list to remember.

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As for the Red Light District… we actually hear so much about it and its explicity… well… I found it smaller and low key. I was expecting a lot of red neon lights, loud music, something BAM! But it’s actually calmer and toned down. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. I guess I was just expecting a bigger and bolder den of iniquity. But then again, I guess that goes along with the city tolerance and environment. It is the same with the coffeeshops. They are there but they are not in your face. I figure it is the same with the red light district. You can see the girls on the windows but they dont actually bother you. Go Amsterdam for tolerance and open minds!IMG_20130926_003118[1]

As for the rest, we have visited all the main sites, the Bloenmarkt  (which I was later used as a reference point for me and my friend), the Dam Square flanked by the royal palace, Vondelpark, Ledsplein – where we actually stayed -, we have even done the Heineken Experience, Sex Museum, the Centraal station, Nemo, passed over the Maritime Museum… But Amsterdam for me is walking around and falling in love with the little houses, tilting and the flowers and the canals.

I loved it. I might move there, once I stop being scared of getting run over by a bicycle.

Claudia

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