Tips for traveling Amsterdam
Contrary to what you may have heard, Amsterdam is much more than legal marijuana and prostitutes. With more museums per square mile than any other city in the world, there is so much more to do in the city. Anywhere you go, there is a different scent of delicious food on every street. If you’re there for a day or for a week, you’re sure to fall in love with the city of Amsterdam. Here are some tips for traveling Amsterdam and making the most of your stay.
I amsterdam card
Want to see a lot of the city, but want to pinch pennies too? The I amsterdam card offers the cheapest and most convenient way to explore Amsterdam. The card offers free entrance to many museums and major attractions, free use of the buses, trams and subways, a free canal cruise and discounted entrance to just about everywhere else. You can buy the I amsterdam card in 24-hour increments at many different places, such as the airport, train stations, kiosks, gas stations, hotels and at any Stayokay hostel.
The Dutch capital is the perfect city for pedestrians. To park your car anywhere is expensive, let alone hard to find a spot. Add that to the rising gas prices and it’s not really worth having a car in Amsterdam. The canals take up most of the street anyway; a scooter or motorcycle would be more ideal in the city limits. The Dutch get around by bike. It’s said that there are more bikes in Amsterdam than people. If you were to see the flooded bike parks, it’s safe to assume that’s true. Bikers have their own roads in the Netherlands with their own traffic signals too.
Public transportation is simple and efficient, especially with the OV-Chipkaart. The card itself costs 7€ and you can add as much money as you want onto it through the machines. With your OV-Chipkaart, you simply scan the card onto a reader as you get on, scan it again as you get off and it charges you accordingly. This will work on any bus, tram or inter-city train in Holland.
If you want coffee, go to a café; if you want to smoke marijuana, go to a coffeeshop. They are everywhere in Amsterdam; if you can’t find one, you’re not looking hard enough. There are touristy ones like The Grasshopper or The Bulldog, and there are underground coffeeshops like De Dampkring; there aren’t much of a difference in prices at any of these, nor quality of the product.
If you’re going to Amsterdam to enjoy some of their world-famous “coffee,” there is some etiquette you should adhere to. First of all, don’t smoke in public. Some coffeeshops have outdoor areas that will allow you to light up outside, otherwise you shouldn’t risk it. Cannabis is decriminalized, not 100 percent legal in Holland. Also, be prepared to show your ID. You’ll never be carded when buying booze in Europe, coffeeshops check IDs at the door. Keep in mind that some places have bar areas where you can purchase your “coffee” and a room in the back where you can smoke it. Finally, you’re allowed to bring your own bud that you bought from one coffeeshop into another; but don’t be a freeloader and smoke your stuff and jet. It is polite to at least buy a drink from the place you’re just stopping by for a quick toke, they all sell water, juice, tea and other beverages.
Another goodie you can buy at coffeeshops is Space Cake, a marijuana infused edible. Be very careful with this stuff if you are a novice, eating pot is much more psychoactive than smoking it. It’ll take a lot longer for it to kick in when you eat it too; most places will recommend that you eat half of a Space Cake and wait 30 minutes to an hour to see how you feel. If you do start to “freak out,” whether you smoke it or eat it, only time will help ease the effects. I’ve been told that if you contact the paramedics after consuming too much weed, all they do is give you orange juice. I guess sugary drinks help calm the effects.
Red Light District
The Netherlands legalized prostitution in the year 2000. In an attempt to eliminate pimps and organized crime, the Dutch government aimed to protect the female sex workers by allowing them to work for themselves. They rent out a room for whatever time amount, wear next to nothing and stand in a window waiting for customers. The going rate might vary, I’m told it’s 50€ for a quicky.
Whatever you’re into, De Wallen (Red Light District) has it. Blondes, brunettes, little people, chunky Caribbean girls and even transsexuals. Don’t feel left out ladies, there are male prostitutes too; they just don’t wiggle their junk in front of a window. You’ll have to look it up online or in a phone book, or something like that.
There are a handful of dos and don’ts in the Red Light District, the most important of the don’ts is taking pictures of the prostitutes. The business is supposed to be anonymous, taking a snapshot takes that away from it. I haven’t seen anyone feel the wrath of a Red Light worker from having their picture taken, though I’ve heard horror stories of one photographer getting attacked with bodily fluids as a result of their future scrapbook entry.
I’m not aware of that many Dutch recipes. All I can think of is snert and Dutch pancakes. Snert is a delicious split pea soup with bacon, sausage or ham with hints of onion, carrots and spices. Dutch pancakes are thin like crepes but much bigger. You can add whatever you want to the pancake, such as fruit, vegetables, meat or cheeses. My personal favorite combination is bacon, onion and cheese. Top it off with stroop, or syrup, and you’re in hog heaven. The best place for pancakes is at the Pancake Corner in Leidseplein, to the left of The Bulldog coffeeshop.
I can say with confidence that we have never had a bad meal in Holland. Amsterdam is diverse like New York, so you have endless options when it comes to finding a place to eat. Whether you want enchiladas from a Mexican place, chicken tikka from an Indian restaurant, sirloin from an Argentinian, Brazilian or Uruguayan steakhouse, sushi, phö, dim sum and anything else you can think of, Amsterdam has you covered. Even a sandwich from a café off the beaten path will satisfy your cravings. It smells like food everywhere you go, just follow your nose.
Tight pants, leather jackets and scarves galore.