From airport to Amsterdam to airport

It’s currently midnight and I’m writing this in a little 24-hour food stop in Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, waiting with Ross and Amanda for our 8am flight to Berlin.

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There are some things you should know about Amsterdam:

  • The Red Light District is an interesting examination into the sex industry: since 2000, it’s been a legalized, taxable recognized industry, but it’s estimated there are still a few trafficked workers trapped into the sex trade by pimps.
  • Dutch people, in general, are very polite and perhaps they act with even more levity when they realize you’re from Canada. Certainly more of a friendlier bunch than the everyday Brit.
  • Amsterdam is EXPENSIVE! Whereas in England, we saved on cash by purchasing small sandwiches for cheap, Amsterdam meals regularly run up to €8 – €20 per meal
  • Amsterdam, because it’s so touristy, contains many, many food chains which are actually some of your cheapest food options. Case in point: Maoz Falafel, which is a falafel for €4.90 with unlimited salad bar of toppings!!!
  • You’ll find many stores also such as H&M! Good deals are to be found in sizes not normally ubiquitous in Canada.
  • Marijuana shops are known as “coffee shops” while coffee shops are known as cafés
  • It is undoubtedly very chilly in Amsterdam – it gets windy because the city is built on a swamp with little natural barriers so bring extra clothing!
  • Amsterdam’s districts are also very plainly described (e.g. Museumplein is the district containing museums such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rjeik Museum) so it’s somewhat easy to navigate.
  • Avoid the canal cruise – for the avid explorer, it lacks the same thrilling stimulation. Take a walking tour where you’ll be sure to leave more. Plus the slowly lapping of water passing you as the cruise runs will put you to sleep!!!
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    Amsterdam surprisingly is not too large. 6 days almost felt too long for us, but we didn’t explore many museums. The history in Amsterdam though is rich; the idea that the canals you walk along were once used by merchant businessmen 400 years ago is a thrill you can’t find mimicked in many places in North America.

    My favorite bit of Amsterdam though was happening across this beautiful used book market. For about two streets, books were sold starting at €5 in all sorts of languages. There were recent paperbacks, ripped pages from old atlases, to 70-year old volumes of fairy tales, all nestled under tents. There are also very few cities where you can enjoy a delicious apple tart by the canals with the warm sunset behind you.

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    I’m actually looking forwards to Berlin. Amsterdam has an old world charm that London the metropolis couldn’t muster but Amsterdam also felt too commercial with its numerous chains and stores. Seedy could also describe the atmosphere but not necessarily because of the sex industry or the drug industry; it’s more the way tourists treat the city or little the sidewalks with their cigarette butts, or the way they blow smoke around. The budget-breaking points of the city were also a distraction to me from fully loving the city.

    Regardless, Amsterdam is a charming European city; attractions like the numerous tulip stores or cheese shops show that Amsterdam lives and thrives beyond its more infamous appeal. I’ll miss Amsterdam … Once we get out of this damn airport! Until then!

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