Amsterdam isn’t a place for thumping hearts, perspiring skin, and weary bladders, albeit its bumping night scene.
On the contrary, and especially after a bustling three days in Paris, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this little network of canals, bridges, and cobblestone streets as the perfect forefront to an undertone of relaxation – with all of my senses significantly heightened by the wares of the famous “coffee” shops.
It wasn’t as though I couldn’t handle a few more late nights and tired mornings, but I was much more allured by Amsterdam’s day scene: the perfect sunny weather, the bikes available at our disposable, the canal cruises, and the unlimited outdoor seating provided by both the cafes and the canals themselves.
Perhaps it was the moment we glanced across the canal, witnessing a group of young frat kids lounging in the sun on a what was once a living room couch, now placed strategically on the front stoop propped up by a metal city post, that we knew we’d been correct about our judgements of Amsterdam-by-day.
Even just two days of seeing Amsterdam on bike gave us enough confidence to tout our assertions of the place, though certainly we were far from understanding the tiny winding streets and canal systems, rendering us one handfree while in-transit. I was amazed when we returned our bikes each night that we hadn’t been squashed by a tiny food delivery semi truck or another boisterous local biker.
Don’t be discouraged, though; the light of day doesn’t hide the red glow of the district you’ve heard so much about.
The red light district, though accurate in its literal description, was much different that I anticipated. I’d envisioned the 300 plus tiny apartments in this few square block radius to be housed by working women a little more reminiscent of the 1920’s, with bobbed hair, drop-waist dresses, and a string of pearls, smoking one of those long, skinny cigarettes. Like Coco Chanel if she’d made a few more bad decisions in place of her meticulous couture.
Instead we discovered a display of platform stilettos and nylon bustiers just as off-putting as the city’s neon lit, American top 40’s tourist clubs I dare not enter.
A total contrast to the heavenly haze that made up our Amsterdam-by-day experience, I became fond of these nighttime deterrents, for it offered me a little more rest and more presence to appreciate those daylight moments I grew to love so much.
As it turns out, Amsterdam isn’t the city to make you incoherently reckless; it’s the city that will make you appreciate the simple things of both travel and life.
A breath of fresh air, a sip of sunlit cappuccino, a prolonged glance at your beloved.
See Amsterdam by day in my video here.
A big thank you to Radisson Blu Amsterdam for hosting us during our stay and providing our bikes – it really made our experience what it was!