More Amsterdam

I like this place.

I was a little wary about coming here. This place has a bit of a reputation as a party place, especially for the hostel crowd. And while that is certainly somewhat true, as there are lots of partiers in this hostel, there is plenty to see and do without the use of mind-altering drugs.

My first experience was dealing with the trams. It turns out they all have a ticket person at the back but I thought I needed a pass beforehand so I spent awhile trying to figure out where I could buy one. After that was solved, I hopped on a tram and quickly ended up near my hostel. I have to say, trams work really well, at least for Amsterdam. It’s a moderately dense city with a large core area that doesn’t really have any dead space. Everywhere you go there are shops and apartments or museums and offices. The trams do a really good job of getting you across town quickly with the added benefit that you actually can see the city while you are in them. Metro systems are fast, but a little lifeless in that regard.

In the morning I went to the Dutch Historic Museum. It was one of my favourite museums of this trip. At the start of the museum you get your own personal QR code that stores your language preference so that whenever you get to a station that is playing a video, you just scan that code and it plays the video in your language. The museum had lots of great video presentations which I wish more museums would do. Your QR code also allowed you to answer questions along that way. I don’t quite understand what that was about.

After spending a little over an hour there, my next destination for the day was the main public library. No, I didn’t need to borrow a book, I just heard it was a well-designed library with an interesting layout, a nice view, and a pretty decent cafe on the top floor. Everything said was accurate. If you go to Amsterdam, definitely check this place out for lunch. The food is quite good, and cheap for Amsterdam at around 5 euros for a lot of the stuff, and the view is great. The library itself is interesting. It has an odd beauty to its layout that seems at first glance to also be eminently practical.

After quite a bit more walking I made it to the Resistance Museum, which is right across from the zoo. This museum focuses on the ways in which Dutch citizens resisted their Nazi occupiers from when they were first invaded in 1940 until their liberation in 1945. Through strikes, espionage, killings and other methods the Dutch never made it easy for Hitler. In the early years a somewhat gentle (by Nazi standards) approach was taken to try and win over the people, but by later in the war brutal repression was the norm. Five years is a long time to live under those conditions for.

My hostel is right next to Vondelpark, a famous hangout for youth to drink and smoke. It certainly lives up to its reputation. All along the park thousands of people mill about, smoking, drinking, or just hanging out. It’s interesting to see and really serves to highlight the silliness of the war on drugs in North America. In Amsterdam, where it’s legal and open, there are fewer problems. This massive park isn’t a spot for constant crime but rather a chill hangout for people just looking to relax and have a good time.

The red light district was a bit of a letdown. It wasn’t as crazy as I expected. It also scared me. They have these glass booths a along the street with prostitutes in them, prostitutes who due to makeup and lighting look like mannequins modeling swimwear. The first time one of them starting moving I almost freaked out.

I’m almost glad I got stuck here for an extra day. I’m not sure if Paris would have offered anything better. This is a great place to relax and read a book, which is just as good as the Eiffel Tower. Probably…

QR code for the museum

Old Amsterdam City Hall and briefly palace for the French

This building was used to count grain many centuries ago

Lunch with a view

The library

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