Oh, the people of Amsterdam. Probably what I heard most, after talking to various locals, was their discontent with the reputation of Amsterdam. Something along the lines of, “Oh those college students leave here and all they have done is visited the Red Light District and smoked at the coffee shops.” Let me tell you, if I lived in a city as beautiful as Amsterdam with such amazing food and rich culture, I’d be a bit peeved too.
Let’s get one thing straight, it’s not like I didn’t visit the Red Light district. I mean, everyone talks about it and given my scholarly interest in prostitution, I figured I could see what the fuss was all about. Never have I seen so many women in teeny tiny outfits smiling and posing for passerbys. Hopefully the heating in there was good because I was chilled to the bone outside. Some of the locals that I stayed with told me about this phenomenon called ‘Loverboys’ that has recently made its way through Amsterdam in which a man will court a girl and then force her into sex trade. After doing some reasearch, I’ve learned that this issue is not that new, but apparently still a big problem. Word of warning: Don’t try to take pictures. Although we didn’t attempt this, the lady we stayed with warned me that the pimps will get you if you try.
And now onto the rest of Amsterdam.
It was quite the foodie adventure. A cheese tasting at Reypenauer, chocolate tasting and breaking of bank at Chocolatl and finally best Dutch apple pie that I have ever eaten at Winkel. I definitely don’t have a preference, so if you’re on some sort of a time contraint…I still suggest you visit all these places, but the cheese tasting was probably the most educational experience and the cheese instructor definitely boosted my confidence in my tasting abilities! Who knew that it was acceptable to associate the smell of a cheese with bread and the taste of a cheese to chocolate. (At one point, I think I smelled ham, but that was probably just conditioning to my weeks in Spain dealing with their jamón obsession.) Of course, there was also some browsing of a local open air market on Saturday. The bakery and olive sections of these markets were wonderful.
Finally, of the sites we visited, I’d have to say the library is a must-see. It’s huge (biggest in Europe) and beautiful. They have an entire floor dedicated to music including a room to listen to whatever tracks you desire and a section of sheet music that ranges from Rihanna to Bethoven. Most floors have Macs and the top floor not only has a beautiful view of the city, but also offers couches that are so large that I can spread out or sleep. (And I tried to.)