Hubby and I specifically picked Amsterdam as our first stop on our extended 21-week honeymoon because of its three Ws: weed, whores, and windmills.
What can we say? Most Filipino-Chinese would pick the traditional London, Paris, Rome for their honeymoon destination but no not us. We are unconventional, naughty people, both hubby and I.
We arrived Amsterdam at an early 7:10 am and proceeded to buy myself a tall cup of Americano from Starbucks. Aside from its hefty EUR 2.80 price tag, the taste is exactly the same as Manila (as it should be). Lines are much longer here though, and service is a tad slower than their local Filipino counterparts.
Who cares though? We are on honeymoon and are not rushing for time.
We breeze through the immigration and customs of Amsterdam Schipol Airport quickly, and take the train to Centraal Station. For something so central, it’s not as crowded as that of Taipei’s and Hong Kong’s. In fact, it looks like we came in a train station in a provincial country — so different from what is to be expected from an international hub:
The whole thing cost us a mere EUR 9.00 and 20 minutes. Trams took us quickly to our B&B Garden House Hotel. It’s quite quaint and tired hubby took a 2-hour nap while I mooched over the fast Wi-Fi.
We then left and availed of the Free Walking Tours by Sandemann at 2:15 pm. Meeting Point was at the Monument and Dam Square, and you can’t miss the people holding big red umbrellas in the middle of the square.
Rob, our tour guide, is American with a background in music. He has been in Amsterdam over the last decade and speak fluent Dutch. That’s him in the black hat.
Our group of 30 pax was just perfect, and Rob expertly led us through narrow streets, over bridges and canals.
Given my memory, what I remember a lot was that:
- Amsterdam was named after the Amstel river. Amstel + Dam = Amsterdam. Get it?
- The country is known for its conservative tolerance if there’s such a word. People here are discreet but have liberal views given their broad tolerance for the LGBT community, cannabis use and prostitution. Holland was the first country in the world to ever allow gay marriages.
- While they are tolerant, the Dutch do have a lot of legal restrictions for weed and whores. Prostitutes have to be at least 21 years old to practice their trade, and have to be tested all the time. Weed cannot be technically “sold” but can be distributed through more legalistic terms. Dutch people are happy to turn their eyes away while all these things are taking place.
- Dutch people are very good in trading. They are also very pragmatic and direct. Origin of the Dutch Indies Companies which revolutionized the concept of diversification, loaning, and stocks.
- There used to be restriction in practicing Catholicism such that Catholics have to practice in secret. One such place is called the Church in the Attic.
- Amsterdam was built one canal at a time. It’s made up of lots of pieces of reclaimed land.
Overall, the tour was wonderful. The guides work for tips and I cannot recommend their city walking tour highly enough. If you’re in Amsterdam, make sure you get into their tour which is twice a day at 11:15 am and 2:15 pm.
Afterwards, we joined the Canal Tour (EUR 15), which was more like a lazy boat ride for 1.25 hours. Nothing too spectacular except for the fact that many Dutch people live in house boats as land get increasingly scarce.
Not my cup of tea but whatever rocks their boats.
Afterwards, we rushed to join the Sandemann’s evening tour (EUR 12) to go around the red light district.
Hubby was already feeling sick and not up to the task. I think being on the plane for 12-14 hours took too much toll, and the only thing he wanted to do was sleep and rest.
That took the thunder away from the red light district, but this is indeed still our first day and there’s more other days to come.
So after an early rest at 9:30 pm, so concludes our first day of vacation in Amsterdam.