Dude Where's My Bike?

They weren't kidding when they said Amsterdam was bike city.

How they get to their own bike here I'll never know
And it's not leisure biking; it's full-speed, outta-my-way crazy city biking. It's probably the least pedestrian-friendly city I've ever visited. At one point, in an attempt to cross the street, I had to watch out for cars, trams, crazy cyclists, and the occasional horse-drawn carriage - all at the same time!

Street-crossing hazards aside, Amsterdam is not without its charms. Heck, even the apartment we rented was all sorts of awesome.

It's the right amount of quirky without being over the top. I was so smitten, in fact, that it took all my willpower not to stay in instead of sightseeing. Definitely a peg for when I get my own apartment.

If there's one thing this city is (in)famous for, it's the "coffee shops". And they're everywhere. Thanks to this trip, I am now well-acquainted with the scent of weed, and the look of dilated pupils.

Relax, it's just fresh mint tea (about as fresh as you can get)
All European capitals boast of some museum or other, but Amsterdam has taken it to an entirely new level. There is a museum for everything - cheese, tulips, sex, medieval torture, shells, and there's even one for handbags and purses. And for some reason, while most of the shops close down by 8 pm, shoe stores remain open. Which led me to wonder if there is some cannabis-induced museum-going and shoe-shopping frenzy we're not aware of.

Our choice of museums to visit are very obviously not mine, but a crucial element of group travel is compromise. So we started the day with Heineken, where I learned the proper way to drink beer - with big, manly gulps. You're also supposed to say "Prost" and look the person in the eye while clinking beer mugs, or else you get bad sex life for seven years. And after all that jazz, I still don't like beer. I can drink and pour it properly now, though (I even have a certificate haha).

Saw this in the Heineken museum. Pretty accurate, I must say.

There are few landmarks in Europe more interesting to me than 267 Prinsengracht - that very building that housed Anne Frank's "Secret Annex". Imagine my heartbreak when every single one of my companions turned to me and asked, "Who the hell is Anne Frank?" *tears*

So instead we went to see the Van Gogh exhibit, sans Starry Starry Night (it's in New York, I think), and later in the evening paid a visit to the world's most famous Red Light district. No pictures, as I do not wish to die in one of Amsterdam's murky canals. It's not the most comfortable feeling walking through narrow alleys with windows "displaying" half-naked women (and men), but I got the shock of my life when I saw a tourist couple going about with their kid who couldn't have been more than ten in tow. Goodness. I'm certainly no prude but some lines have to be drawn, yes?

We also did the boat tour through Amsterdam's expansive network of concentric canals. It is a good way of getting around the city without getting run over by bikes - unlike cars, they don't stop for pedestrians, they just ring their bells furiously and if that doesn't work, let out a steady stream of expletives in a couple of different languages.

Water, water everywhere
Despite my very obvious bike trauma, Amsterdam feels like a very live-able city as opposed to a touristy one - my fondest moment is walking along the cobbled streets on a chilly fall day, a paper cone filled with the most awesome fries warming up my hand (and tummy). Two days, of course, is too short to really get the feel of the city, and with so many boxes left unticked, I would most definitely have to come back.

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