Amsterdam is a really quirky city and has a seriously interesting history that goes with it. For example it is legal for men to pee in the river but only in certain designated pee stalls (basically a hole in the ground).
After spending a day in Venice where there is literally not even a wheelbarrow in sight it was amazing to go Amsterdam to see the monstrous amounts of bicycles that they have there! Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle friendly places in the world. In the city there is an estimated 700,000 bikes (Amsterdam’s population is only 751,000) 38% of the population moves around by bike due to the discouragement of the Dutch government. They pull about 250,00 of them out of the river every year.
There was one thing I wanted to do when visiting Amsterdam and that was visit the Anne Frank house. It is a beautiful place and so moving. So be ready to cry. My favorite part of it was the interviews with Otto Frank to hear him speak about his daughter, the daughter he never knew outside of the pages of her diary. So touching. walking up the staircase that they used is also really amazing. This visit was definitely a huge compliment to my love of her diary when I was younger. It is a MUST SEE.
I am not into the “alternative” lifestyle that represents Amsterdam. BUT being as I want to work on my reporting I did ask the locals what the most important information they could offer to tourists about the laws and the “right way” to enjoy this aspect of Amsterdam.
Something that I found interesting is that only 10% of the population in Amsterdam takes part in its “decriminalized activities”. So the majority of the activities in this city are based souley on tourist attraction. So basically since the 1970’s this place is a giant tourist trap.
In europe the drinking age is very low including many bars that will let you drink at 16 (beer and wine spirits are usually 18). But in Amsterdam cafés and bars will frequently turn down those under 18 down when entering, be sure to be ready to show your ID anywhere that you go just like in the US. Being as I’ve been in Europe so long I was actually surprised to show my ID somewhere again, so be ready or they will not let you in.
Coffee shops exist in a Grey area of Amsterdam law and there are many regulations that protect the owners of these places. It is illegal to purchase any product outside of a coffee shop. Not only is this very unsafe but it is once again outside of the law. Laws in the Netherlands forbid the sale of more than 5 grams of cannabis to any one person and these sales are ONLY to adults meaning to those over the age of 18. And you cannot buy or consume alcohol and cannabis in the same place nor can you smoke any tabaco in a public place like everywhere else in Europe.
Do not be confused with the easy reputation of Amsterdam as in any other place in the world hard drugs ARE FORBIDDEN!!!! and coffee shops will take it upon themselves to call the authorities and deliver you at the door if you choose to test this. If someone offers you anything other than a cannabis product. Contrary to popular belief hallucinogenic mushrooms ARE ILLIGAL in the Netherlands DO NOT purchase them they are not controlled and can be highly dangerous.
When walking through the red light district do not act like an idiot. the women in the windows are not a sight-seeing flip but are working. No matter what your opinions are of this display there are MANY laws that protect these women and their annonymaty. These laws also give them the right to protect themselves by any means they see fit.
You CANNOT take pictures of the girls or the windows even from afar. It is legal for these girls to come out, beat you to a pulp and throw your camera in the river. They also keep day old urine in their windows that they will not think twice about throwing at you. So yeah…better that you buy a postcard.