Amsterdam, Holland - Disneyland for Adults

Amsterdam. Even the name conjures up its own set of connotations, ideals, criticisms and expectations. So we did what we had to do, and booked three days in the ‘Dam.

Our accommodation for the week was in the form of the Flying Pig Palace, the number one hostel in the world, apparently. It was small, dark, very warm and damp, but we grew to love it by the end of the trip. It had its own life with one Euro drinks, chilled out music, and cushions littering the floor for seating, plus there was an endless array of random people to talk to, including Israeli army men and American criminal lawyers, who have an urge to serenade you badly on the guitar.

backpacking amsterdam

We went for the Dutch cultural experience and so had to visit a variety of museums. The Van Gogh museum was pretty impressive, with my favourite painting named “Skull of skeleton smoking a cigarette”, which is pretty self explanatory, however I was distraught at not having ever been offered this painting in art classes at school.

The Anne Frank House we found quite moving, with her original posters still attached to her bedroom walls and footage of concentration camps repeatedly flashing at us. The mood had to be lifted to a very, sorry to say, eye-opening visit to the sex museum, complete with mechanical flashers, phalluses in every shape, size and form, and photos of people using animals in very unique ways. However, this led the way to us visiting the Red Light District, the only place in the world in which you will see semi-naked strippers standing in every window, sending text messages or eating sandwiches.

We also had to experience the true cultural side of Holland through visiting the ‘coffee shops', where we sampled their local delicacy and absurd numbers of flavoured teas. The culture of the city is one I loved, from games of giant street chess, buskers, museums, and many parks, to canals, cycling and the Dutch sophisticated dress sense. But, I don't think I could ever get used to the Dutch road system after having nearly been knocked over by a bike/ tram/ bus/ car on more than one occasion, even at pedestrian crossings.

So, looking at my tacky souvenirs of a fluffy multi-coloured penis, a pair of clogs and novelty lighter, I can safely say that Amsterdam seemed to be a place for new experiences; from eating at (and returning to) a gay bar, and entering a sex shop without any reservations, to walking two feet behind a policeman after having openly walked out of a ‘coffee shop', without getting arrested. Watching a sex change operation on the Discovery Channel with Dutch subtitles was an experience in itself – “Dis ist dee clitoris” doesn't leave much to the imagination…

I just think that Amsterdam can be summed up in no better phrase than ‘Disneyland for adults'; where you can do almost anything you ever wanted to do, without getting in trouble for it.

Resources; If you are travelling to Amsterdam from another country you must ensure you have full European Travel Insurance in the event of a loss of baggage or a medical issue.

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