Thinking of various conversations about Amsterdam one can always say that two things come up: the legal marijuana and the red light district. This city is so much more than this! Although it was only an impromptu trip to get away, it was one of the best "shortcations" I've ever had.
This trip was so awesome for me because I actually drove through three countries! Not states, but countries!
I've been living in Germany for a few months and I've been able to explore this country. I’ve been to Munich to visit the first concentration camp, which was so emotional, yet rewarding. I've also been to Trier to visit one of the oldest towns, but this trip was a bit different. I took a road trip through three countries (YES! I said it again) with an old college sorority sister. This trip was a bit different from our road trips at North Carolina A&T State University to Virginia or Atlanta, GA for many reasons, but how great it was to pick up as an adult and just decide on an impromptu trip. I went to visit this friend who lives about an hour away from me. The drive through Germany is always so scenic and even when it’s raining or snowing its like a postcard. It’s so serene and just beautiful. But this evening when I went to see her and her family, we were talking about her experience in Amsterdam and I was like “Let's take the four-hour trip!” I was so excited because how many people can say they drove through three countries (YUP! I said it again!) in a four hour drive? The thought of the drive was a bit nerve wrecking before. I am originally from the East coast and I’ve driven my way throughout those states, but it's nothing compared to driving overseas. Cameras are everywhere, and trying to get adjusted to the streets, and curves, and speed limits that are in kilometers can make you feel a bit unprepared, but the journey was a success. The curves in Germany can be described in this phrase, “The civil engineers just decided to make a road wherever they could and it’s always like a roller coaster ride driving through Germany streets.”
We woke up the next morning and packed up the car for a night and drove to Amsterdam. The drive was fast, consumed with us talking and reminiscing. But once we got there, it was an excitement that overtook me. I’ve always wanted to visit this place and here I am, in Amsterdam.
I must start off with the vast amount of bikes! Man! There were bikes everywhere and even a parking garage strictly for the bicycles! This amazed me because I noticed families biking together, individuals moving large items, kids sleeping (Yes! A baby who rode on the front of mom's bike was bent forward sleeping peacefully as mommy pedaled away), dates just riding through the city, and even little kids alone riding on bikes. And to assure safety, they had bike lanes.
Amsterdam’s transit system is incredibly efficient as well. We did almost get lost switching from tram to train, but what was so impressive to us both was our ability to easily read one of the Dutch maps. Growing up and traveling with my dad, if I could not read a map, we stayed parked until I could give him our location and where we were headed. This is probably what gave me my great sense of direction and living in Europe, you need this and it definitely came in handy on this particular day. We had to actually call on the security guards at the train station to help us get through the gate. When riding on public transportation in Amsterdam, you must check your ticket when you get on and when you get off. Otherwise you are stuck behind the gate. But if this ever happens, reach out to security and just start the conversation off with “Do you speak English…” and let them know that you need help.
When traveling across countries, in addition to having a German license, you also have to be assured that you have an international license and proper tags if they are needed in that country. It almost seems so taxing, but it was all worth my first international road trip!
Now obviously we did make it to a coffee shop and the Red Light District and it was just that. Funny story...as we walked into the diary rift, we saw a group of people and a tour guide giving the dos and don’ts. Now while we obviously knew it was probably not kosher to take pictures, I'm a Snapchatter and my kielebrities (Yes! My followers have a name!!) love the things I snap. I tried to give them an innocent view only to be screamed at and even have water thrown (not a lot, and I think the guy behind me got it worst) because as a legal prostitute or any prostitute for that matter, who wants to have pictures or videos taken? That's not part of the job obviously... but the job itself was so organized and tasteful actually. You walk up and down the sidewalks and you see windows with women on display. We saw one sitting on the phone in her window, one was standing looking pretty exotic, and another looked pretty annoyed, but she forced a half smile and tried to offer her services. All in all, it’s a sight to see. A whole area for legal prostitution with no issues! And in the same area with sex shops and coffee houses serving marijuana everywhere! It shows that if organized and ran properly, legalizing marijuana and prostitution will cause no harm. I was actually told that Amsterdam was one of the safest places to go. People were so nice and so willing to help us.
And of course, in addition to the Red Light District, you absolutely have to take a picture by the “I AM AMSTERDAM” sign, which can be easily visited by catching tram #2 or #5. Also make time to check out the countless museums in the city, such as the Museum of Van Gogh, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House.
Amsterdam has been one of my top places to visit and adding a road trip made it a perfect girls getaway!