I didn't take this picture, I was far too drunk and/or tired to focus my Iphone on anything other than a giant penis.
Hilarious, right? The sex blogger in the city of sex?
If days filled with beer, sunshine and skinny canal-side houses sound like your kind of a good time, then Amsterdam is calling. *Sunshine may vary*.
Prepare to lose all ‘back home’ inhibitions and return a new you, carrying nothing but a two-day hangover (and an extra three lbs, in my case).
I opted for the classic long weekender, but without a doubt could have stayed longer. Depending on attention span and willingness to sightsee, any time between four and seven days is the ideal vacation period for a trip to the ‘Dam. Any longer and, dare I say it, you may well start to tire of the frequent ‘herby’ aroma and the hordes of stag and hen do’s, pissed out their tree. Regardless, as a city it is bloody fantastic. Think clean streets, laden with greenery and flowers with not a piece of litter or stray cigarette in sight – a far cry from London’s pigeon and McDonalds wrapper laden cobbles.
Embracing my inner nerd, I opted for the classic Red Bus Tour to get my city bearings. Following a stint at the sex museum, a visit to an exhibition appropriately named Body Worlds and a VERY large espresso, obviously. Again, depending on your attention span, I would always recommend mounting the bus when in a new city- even if you struggle to absorb anything cultural, it will give you a basic understanding of where everything is. Saying that, though, I genuinely have the attention span of an infant gnat, and still found myself mesmerized by the tour, sitting happily for an hour in my fetching red and yellow ear buds.
Obviously, I loved the concept behind Sexmuseum. A look into all things sexual, dating back to the 1800s- what’s not to like?! Unfortunately, I also found it a little dated. There was a significant lack of anything sexy from the early 1990’s on. However, this barely affected the overall enjoyable-ness of the exhibition. Be warned, however, this ‘museum’ is a lot less intellectual and a lot more 1970’s tits and bush. Alongside hilarious and slightly frightening robotic life models of prostitutes and the like. My biggest complaint? The stairs. I am not one for small spaces or heights, so the dozens of flights of steep, narrow and winding steps almost ruined the experience for me. It’s hard to focus on colossal cock statues when vertigo has left you rather lightheaded- but, hey, at least there’s somewhere to sit!
Body Worlds isn’t an exhibition native to The Netherlands, you can book your tickets and visit Gunther von Hagens’ work all over Europe. This particular work, was suspiciously named ‘The Happiness Project’. Because what’s not utterly thrilling about hundreds of skin-less corpses, right?! The exposition tells an amazing story of the human body and focuses particularly on the impact of happiness on our health. While my friend had to physically drag me inside, I’m glad she did. Honestly, I felt unsurprisingly queasy coming face-to-face (literally) with the first human body parts, but after reading up on each sector of the exhibition and making my own way round, I began to lose the nauseous feeling and gain one of interest. It truly is fascinating, and mark my words, you’ll have to repeatedly pinch yourself to remember that you are, actually, inches away from a person who was once alive. Obviously, I skimmed the ‘smoking is sooooo bad for your body’ cabinets stacked with blackened lungs and cross sections of tumours and, only for a brief second, considered throwing away my fresh 20 deck of menthols.
Slightly more harrowing was the floor dedicated to children and pregnancy in particular. With a particularly squeamish stomach, glass boxes containing a dozen fetuses far from tickled my fancy. If I had moved any faster to get to the next section, I could have left a trail of smoke in my wake, roadrunner style. Much to my sheer delight, the final (and best) sector focused on sex. Finally! It is the European City of sin, anyway. While it couldn’t teach me much that I hadn’t discovered myself, I did learn that the word Vagina loosely translates to a sheath for a sword. Fitting, right?
If any of the above sparks an interest, I recommend trying to go as early as possible. As the first outing on our day of touristing and our first stop after stepping off the plane, we were in by 9.30am, and out by 11.00am- when the queues were handfuls of people deep and snaked down the street.
I did venture into the Red Light District, admittedly probably too early and after three steins of Heineken, but regardless. We had paid to visit the Red Light Secrets museum and, after an hour of looking and almost giving up in favour of chatting to a bouncer named Mario, we were ushered into a tiny curtained-off room by a suspiciously madam-like elderly woman. In comparison to our other excursions that day, this turned out to be 24euro for a ten minute walk around the classic window and bedroom of a past working woman. Obviously, there were short anecdotes and lost and found items from clientele to make the tiny tour that bit more interesting, but overall it was pretty sad.
Next to the exit, there were handwritten notes taped to the walls from workers and customers alike, telling stories of both joy and despair. If I were to return to the city, I’d give this a miss and save my money for a cocktail back in the town centre. While I can only really review the Red Light district from an early-evening point of view, I did stumble across some occupied windows, but mostly spent the hour avoiding drunk and ever so slightly grabby old men. With all inhibitions at a loss and their wildest fantasies possible, it’s natural for men to lose sight of how to behave in such a city, although this is absolutely not an excuse for anyone to put up with their conduct. The slightly sleazy atmosphere was most likely intensified by my slowly harshing beer buzz and creeping over-tiredness, so I would definitely go back and do it again- this time on more than four hours sleep and a slice of New York style pizza.
Whilst totally overrated, the RLD is worth visiting - just so you can say you have.
Unfortunately I only had one full day of sightseeing. I spent the remainder of my Netherlands Weekender at the Netherlands Rugby Stadium cheering on my fantastic boyfriend and his brother, simultaneously getting rat-arsed on gin and performing for his parents and the ready video cameras of the Polish opposition team. This meant my final day, Sunday, was somewhat wasted, spent in the depths of my sofa bed trying to force my boyfriend to pop a paracetamol and make love to me.
A truly beautiful place to visit, I would waste no time in agreeing to return. There is so much the city has to offer that I am yet to see, so stay tuned for an Amsterdam Review; Part 2!
Enjoying a stein or two...
'Molen De Gooyer' - the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands
Two donated bodies in the Body Worlds museum, mid shag.
The moment I concluded that from then on, I could die a happy woman. And my favourite shop in the 'Dam - who wants weed when you can have CHEESE?