A few weeks ago, I took a trip to Amsterdam in celebration of my good friend Emily’s birthday. We spent three nights in this beautiful city and had two full days to explore.
We used AirBnB to find our place to stay and we ended up in a quaint suburb that our taxi driver described as a “typical dutch neighborhood.” I fell in love immediately. I could imagine living in one of these colorful houses, waking up early to enjoy a cup of coffee and riding my bike to the store to buy some fresh cut flowers. What a life! While the neighborhood was a bit of a journey from central Amsterdam, it was really nice to see the city from the perspective of a local.
Amsterdam is frequently referred to as “The Venice of the North” because of its extensive canal system. The canals make up a quarter of the city’s surface, making it the most watery city in the world (so, maybe Venice should be referred to as “The Amsterdam of the South”). We explored up and down and over many of these waterways.
Emily, ready for her birthday already. Fun fact: whenever I’m in a crowd looking for Emily, I try to spot a tall, lithe blonde. This technique did not work well in Holland – every Dutch woman is a tall, lithe blonde! I mistakenly approached several not-Emily’s throughout the duration of our trip.
When we arrived in central Amsterdam and got our caffeine fix, we went out to explore some of Amsterdam’s alternative museums. Why alternative museums, you ask? Why wouldn’t we go see the Van Gogh museum or Ann Frank’s house? It wasn’t really discussed, to be honest. At the places we did visit, however, we didn’t have to wait in any lines and the admission rates were low – which I understand is quite the contrary of the “must-see” places in Amsterdam.
So, we went to Katten Kabinet – Amsterdam’s premier cat museum. Obviously, Emily loves cats, so she was pretty excited. We bought tickets for €9 a piece at the front desk and entered the mansion/museum (built in 1667!), which was jam-packed with anything and everything cat related. I’m not going to lie – this was probably the creepiest place I’ve ever been. While I wouldn’t not recommend a visit to this museum… I might recommend that you stop by one of Amsterdam’s many counterculture cafes for a little bit of inspiration first.
Next, we went to the Sex Museum. Admission here was cheaper (€4). The museum was much bigger and about a hundred times more entertaining. I took lots of pictures! Some of them are of NSFW wax statues, iron sculptures, and explicit paintings, so I made a handy click through for those of you that would rather bypass some artistic renditions of human anatomy.
Many of the exhibitions were interactive. One in particular was a wax statue of a man that came out of a dark corner, winked at you, and then pulled open his trenchcoat (maybe you can guess what was underneath) (nothing was underneath). In this one above, the photographer turns around to take pictures of Marilyn Monroe and “gets happy” – pretty hilarious, really. What I could appreciate about the Sex Museum was that it was not all about the exploitation of the female body – the male body was equally celebrated.
See the booty with the eyes on it? When you walk past it, it makes a fart sound, blows a short burst of air at you (out of a hole that is you-know-where), winks, and giggles.
My favorite part was the most unexpected part. Emily and I were in the bathroom. I was washing my hands. The lights went out, upbeat jazz music came on, and then the mirror lit up and put on this beautiful show for us, which Emily was able to capture on camera.
Overall, the Sex Museum was very lighthearted and fun. I would really recommend it for travelers looking to do something a little unusual on their holiday. Let go of any shame you might have, break free of your comfort zone! No one will think that you are a pervert. You don’t even have to tell anybody that you went. [/nsfw]
Every Amsterdam travel guide that I read beforehand said something about “having no plans” and “letting the city guide you.” Well, we did that… and we ended up in a shopping mall. But! There was a glass elevator in the middle that went up quite a few stories. We rode it and ended up inside this really cool restaurant called Blue with an incredible 360 degree view of the city. So yeah, let the city guide you, because this was really the last thing we expected to find.
Our friends Ryan and Andrea met up with us. Naturally, the first thing we did was go to the library.
The Openbare Bibliotheek is the biggest library in the world and on the top floor is a restaurant with a view.
Amsterdam also has a network of ferries, some which run all night, that will take you to different points around the city for free. We took one every day to and from the center of town from our place in the suburbs.
I didn’t get many pictures of our second day besides the library, but it was mostly made up of walking around and hanging out for Emily’s birthday. If you’re hungry for more, Andrea documented the day on video!