Woohoo! Amsterdam day two! Thankful that we had gone to bed early, the next morning Ben and I were able to wake up a bit after the sunrise to a beautiful – and cold – day. The heat in the Airbnb was not working and although I had slept in layers of the warmest clothes I had brought (which were not many because weather.com lied to me about the temperatures!) I was still shivering as I went down to the kitchen to make a quick breakfast.
Note: All Airbnbs are different and some are definitely better than others. Ours looked great online and the reviews were pretty standard, but overall I was unimpressed with where we were staying. The house was colder than it was outside and it wasn’t particularly clean and though the reason I had booked it was access to the kitchen, upon my arrival the owner of the house greeted us by saying that the kitchen had limited use and that we couldn’t use most of the appliances etc. Not very friendly and not too welcoming… but we had a nice balcony at least! I digress…
After breakfast, Ben and I got on the tram from Dieman into the main city of Amsterdam, making a quick stop at a coffee shop on our way to Vondel Park. The park was incredibly gorgeous and it was the first time I could actually see signs of spring!
The flowers in London had not yet bloomed so Vondel Park’s brilliant display of purple and yellow blossoms was a welcome reminder that my favorite (warm!!) seasons were on their way. We spent a few hours in the park exploring and bird watching… still in awe and wondering if the birds we saw were really exotic birds or just seemed like it to our untrained birder eyes.
I had still not recovered from the traumatizing cold night and as we wandered towards the museum quarter I decided that I wanted to buy another layer to wear under my sweater, long sleeve shirt, tank top and winter coat… I ended up buying a white leather jacket that I’m in love with and have worn a ton ever since this trip. Things happen for a reason guys! (They finally fixed the heat during the day.)
Right by the mall was of course, the Rijksmuseum, our next stop. It has impressive stained glass windows, an incredibly vast collection of Dutch art – think Rembrandt – and also the largest public art history library in the Netherlands.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the canals until sunset, stopping for lunch in the “French Quarter” which reminded me a lot of NOLA. There were tons of cute little restaurants to choose from and we were craving Italian food so we chose the closest one. It was delicious! After lunch we tried to keep walking off the pasta and beer until deciding to take the tram back to our Airbnb to rest up for the long night ahead of us – tackling the Red Light District.
We napped and changed and then made dinner with the ingredients we had bought at HEMA the day before (under the watchful eye of the strange Airbnb owner who was paranoid that we were going to steal her food).
Overall, the Red Light District is just as wild as it is hyped up to be. (We were both so shell shocked neither of us took any pictures!) I quickly learned that it was called the “Red Light” district because of the red lights that were on the doors of prostitutes. Down the alleyways there are doors lined up on both sides of the street with their edges illuminated in red, and the middle a clear glass door. There was one prostitute standing scantily clothed in each door and over 100 in total per street. As you can imagine, the roads were full of leering men trying to negotiate prices and tourists wondering if this was possibly real life.
I had so many different feelings from seeing this on multiple streets and thought up a million questions of things that I wanted to clear up with these women about why they got into this line of work and what the day to day was like. It was just entirely mind blowing that a place like this would exist where this is something that is regularly accepted.
We kept walking through the Red Light District passing shops and shows for everything imaginable. There were lines out the door for “Live Sex Shows” and people on the street asking us if we “wanted cocaine, si si?” We walked back down the canal and settled into a regular pub to collect our thoughts before figuring out our next move.
Our next move turned out to be two more pubs and then the admittedly cheesily named “Club Smokey” which was your general nightclub with two floors of dance areas, your typical European DJ who plays American ‘90’s music like it’s still popular and also a connected outdoor area where all kinds of smoking was allowed. Not the worst way to wrap up our second day!
Another super nice thing about Amsterdam is that the tram runs 24/7 and you can buy 24 or 48 hour passes so that you don’t need to stress about communicating with a conductor in Dutch to purchase a ticket each time you need to hop on the tram to get somewhere. This definitely came in handy getting back to our Airbnb at an ungodly hour of the night!
Stay Classy! xx