So you’re going to Amsterdam…
Congratulations! Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful, efficient, cultured cities in the world. Also, the good stuff. The purpose of this post is for anyone who is a little concerned (or curious, you little rascal) about the adult life in Amsterdam AS WELL AS exemplify why Amsterdam is one of the best cities in the world.
Getting There & Getting Around
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the main airport and flies plenty of budget airlines, including RyanAir, who just added more routes around Europe. Once you arrive, promise me you WILL NOT take a taxi and take the train instead. They run every 10 minutes and drop you off at Central Station. You can even get one ahead of time here.
In fact, promise me you’ll utilize the wonderful public transport system the whole time you are there. You can get nearly anywhere you desire in the city on the tram/trolley/train. Get a 1-7 day pass, depending on how long you’ll be there. It really saves to just go ahead and buy the full amount that you’ll be there, a one day ticket is €7.50 and a seven day ticket is €32.00.
Things you should know about
Even if you don’t go, at least consider the following must-sees.
The Anne Frank House is a somber look into history. Get there early and still expect lines.
Vondelpark is a glorious example of what city-life could be. One of the largest urban green spaces in Europe, it has unisex bathrooms, lush grass, and the occasional art installment making for a perfect afternoon.
The Heineken Factory is one of the most wonderful tours I have been on. The tour itself is extremely short and sweet, as well as an ascetically pleasing factory. And you get Heineken to drink!
Sexmuseum Amsterdam is a pretty popular attraction that I can’t personally vouch for. But I have heard interesting things about it, to say the least.
Where you should stay
If you are going alone and feel the need to be in a social situation, there are plenty of youth hostels, some might say some of the best in the world. I’d be remiss to not mention the famed Flying Pig Hostel. Choose one of the four locations to suit your need, but I highly advise staying near Centrum neighborhood.
One affordable hotel I stayed in and loved was the Hotel Continental. It’s walking distance to the Central Station, and there’s a Laundromat across the street. Not to mention two coffee shops that open at 8:00 a.m. Yes, those kind of coffee shops 🙂
But my preference, and suggestion, is to use AirBnB in any of the neighborhoods between Centruum and Vondelpark. The apartments are so clean and airy and almost all have an outdoor space. There are plenty of affordable ones, such as this gorgeous studio for $78 USD. Generally I love to have a light, airy, Dutch apartment to myself but it never hurts to rent from or stay with someone who is willing to show you around the neighborhood. Expect to spend $30-$50 for a private room in an apartment.
Things that people suggest you do that you might want to reconsider
Maybe you imagined yourself wistfully riding a bike down a cobbled street, hair blowing in the wind. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that may not happen. The Dutch are CRAFTY on those little bikes, I’m telling ya, you do not want to get in their way. If you think I’m a fool, and you’re going to achieve your dream anyway, more power to ya!
Truffles (very similar to magic mushrooms) are available in Amsterdam. I would not suggest tripping in a new place if you have never done it before. But, since experience is the best teacher, I’m going to assume you will try it. Don’t be afraid to talk to the budtenders about how much you should take, they are generally very helpful. Just remember you can always eat more truffles, but you can’t make a trip stop. I’ll repeat that- YOU CAN ALWAYS EAT MORE TRUFFLES, BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE A TRIP STOP. People claim vitamin C (a glass of OJ) will cure you of any unpleasant hallucinogen situation, but you really shouldn’t depend on it. If you can, eat on a semi-empty stomach. Too much food will prevent the magic from happening.
Two things EVERYONE knows about Amsterdam- Marijuana and the Anne Frank House. Please, please do yourself a favor and DO NOT go there high. Just don’t.
The good stuff…
I’ve arranged it by FAQ’s, no need to read what you already know
So the whole “coffee shop” thing isn’t a joke. If you walk into a head/smoke shop (where bongs/papers/etc are sold) and ask for herb, they will not give you any, because they don’t have any to sell (legally). You really do go into coffee shops, with some pretty tasty drinks, to buy and smoke. They may ask for your passport to verify age, so be sure to have it on you.
How much do I need?
By asking that question, I’m going to assume you are not an avid smoker, which is great because you will not have to spend nearly as much money! A gram should satisfy you for 6+ hours.
How should I smoke it?
If you haven’t purchased yet, you might want to consider edibles (hashbrownies, cookies, drinks, etc.). It’s a much healthier way to medicate AND you can do it in your hotel room if you so desire. Read the label! You could eat the equivalent of 12 joints and become one with your hostel floor for 4 hours, not that I know anyone that has done that…
But I always envisioned a Bob Marley-eqsue joint…
Okay, fine. Smoking is the most popular way to indulge, and for good reason. If you can’t manage a joint by yourself, the coffee shops usually have bongs and pipes to smoke out of. Some places will sell pre-rolled spliffs (cannabis + tobacco), which is generally how the Dutch (and most of the world) smoke. My rule for spliffs is if you have never smoked a cigarette before DO NOT try a spliff in public. You will get nauseated and possibly faint. Now if you love cigs then by all means have at it! You’ll even look like a local.
Where can I enjoy it?
In any coffee shop you visit! You don’t have to purchase at every shop you go to, although personally I purchase at least a coffee or a treat as a sign of respect for their business.
I would not advise going to a coffee shop in the red light district. From my experience, the bud-tenders aren’t friendly and there are WAY too many people to enjoy yourself. Unfortunately, the locals do not appreciate anyone smoking in public areas, so try to keep it in the coffee shops. Even as vast of a place as Vondelpark should be a last resort. If you must, at least make it a spliff, the tobacco dilutes the smell.
What should I do afterwards?
Welcome to Amsterdam! The first thing you should do is explore the winding canals and neighborhoods. The city is filled with mom and pop stores selling everything you could imagine. Assuming you have the munchies, get ready for culinary roller coaster. First things first, get some poffertjes, little puffs of heaven served with powdered sugar and butter and sometimes a drizzle of syrup.
With the energy, hop on the public transport (don’t be shy!) and head to the museum quarter! First thing you’ll notice is the I AMSTERDAM sign. Snag a picture, then head over to the Stedelijk Museum, where you’ll find international contemporary art and design. After expanding your mind for a little, take a break and enjoy another Dutch delicacy, bitterballen. WARNING: these little suckers are hot! I burnt the roof of my mouth more savagely in the Stedelijk than with 10 years of Tostino’s Pizza Rolls. Crack it open with a fork, then devour the savory, melty, crunchy delight.
By now you might be a little tired, so head to the most soothing place in the city, Vondelpark. With over 100 acres of lush green grass, find a little crevice by a canal to watch the birch and chestnut trees billowing in the breeze. It was at this park, gazing at the gorgeous tall homes across the canal that I decided I must relocate to Amsterdam the near future. Be on the lookout for the occasional, discrete art installment. There are also public bathrooms so go on and get comfortable. Once you’re done, hop on that tram using the pass you’ve already purchased, get to your place of rest and have the best nap of your life.
Take public transportation
Have your passport
Don’t smoke a spliff if you don’t smoke ciggies
Avoid the red light district coffee shops
Be respectful of where you smoke
Be VERY aware of the bicycles.
Have a great time!