I must say, Amsterdam was nothing like I pictured it. In fact, it was much more beautiful than I pictured. The buildings literally lean due to the water levels in the canals, giving the houses the illusion they are dancing with one another. The canals are lined with antique fishing vessels newly renovated into house boats. The residents of Amsterdam's primary mode of transportation is the bicycle. Bicycles are parked everywhere! There are actually more bicycles in this city than people. Families ride their bicycles together and stick their children (some three at a time) in the cart on the front of their bicycle! People will pedal away with pretty much anything stowed on the front of their bike.
We stayed in a 16th century home right on a canal street. We had a gorgeous view of the city, pedestrians, and historical church. We were two blocks from a large daily market, and 3 blocks from the red light district.
The first afternoon we were here we set off on foot to find something to eat. Strolling the streets we passed many interesting shops and entered into China town. The aromas from the quaint shops and restaurants flooded the streets, to also include the marijuana bars. As we searched for a restaurant to grab a bite we soon realized we were making our way into the red light district. We quickly ushered the children back out of this area. Oops!
After learning more, we soon realized Amsterdam's red light district is very safe. The prostitution and drug laws are in place regulating the business practices, so believe it or not, crime is almost non-existent.
While in Amsterdam we dined at a great Italian restaurant. After speaking with our server from Tunesia we soon realized Amsterdam is quite the melting pot. Only half the citizens of Amsterdam are Dutch, the other half are International.
We took a canal cruise which situated us 6 meters below sea level. We learned all about the city to include their method of controlling the water levels in the canals so as not to disturb the city. Te city remains completely unaffected by the rising and falling of the tide. We saw gathering places of wives of fisherman from the 16th century where they saw their husbands out to sea.
We enjoyed lunch at a small little bar where a polish waitress took Liam behind the bar to help serve drinks. She doted on his through our whole meal. The kids enjoyed Dutch pancakes with bacon.
With Marylou and Jim traveling with us, Daniel and I had the opportunity to tour the red light district at night without the kids. I have never seen anything like this in my life. The streets were hopping and windows filled with gorgeous women from all over the world. One cannot help but wonder why a woman would choose this profession. From what I understand, the brothels are registered with the state and follow strict mandates. The rooms are then rented by the individual "women of the night." A typical "trick" will cost these women $50. They rent their window where they advertise their service for about $150 a night. You can do the Math! We saw many satisfied customers coming out of such brothels.
We decided to stick out the 45 minute wait in line to tour the Anne Frank house. It was most certainly worth the wait. Seeing this young girl's pictures on her bedroom window all these years later and her actual diary was an incredible experience for each and every one of us. We walked the very same hallways as Anne and her family. These experiences have given the kids and ourselves a whole new perspective on history and life in itself.
"We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same."
- Anne Frank
My boys in Amsterdam.
We're on a boat.
Look at this good looking crew!
Bikes, bikes, and more bikes.
This way to Anne Frank house.
Pretty Fall Day.
Look at those dancing houses.
Me and my girl.
My better half.
Me and my girl.
Our rental loft.
Outside our room.