Christmas in Amsterdam

by - December 31, 2019

sign in front of museum

They say New York is the city that never sleeps but maybe you should go to Amsterdam.

I arrived there at about 6:00 in the morning in the cold of winter only to be approached by some random man who was more drunk than the Irish on Saint Patrick's day or the Germans during Oktoberfest (Fun fact, the Germans are some of the less likely in the world to actually "be drunk" contrary to popular belief). He reeked of alcohol, you could smell it from a mile away but he was so nice to strike up conversation with me at  6:00 a.m. when all I wanted to do was sleep after my long journey.

It was the holiday season so I guess I could understand why he was in such a cheery, inebriated state but I didn't trust him nonetheless. I was in a foreign country after all. In my travel experience, you trust no one enough to walk into a dark alley with them in the wee hours of the morning. So I stuck to the light and he disappeared shortly after talking some gibberish, little of which I understood but somewhere in the midst I think he asked if I spoke Dutch. I believe that I replied yes but maybe I was just too tired to follow exactly what he was saying or maybe I just wanted a quick escape from the smell of alcohol so I agreed with everything he said and moved on.

sign lit in red

Ok, so maybe Amsterdam sleeps a little bit because walking around the city at 6:00. a.m was silent and relaxing. That was until we arrived at the Red light district at about 6:30 a.m. and some man hollered something from across the bridge in Dutch. I can't tell you how Usain Bolt was to be dethroned and my travel companions and I became the fastest sprinters in the world at that moment. Hey, I'm kidding, we didn't sprint but we sure did put some 'pep in our step'. We ended our early morning stroll after that and chilled out in McDonald's restaurant until the sun came up.

I wouldn't recommend having McDonald's for breakfast on any other day  but I admit that it was quite nice in Amsterdam and a great start to a full fun-packed day.

A little after maybe 7:00 a.m in the morning when the streets were much busier with last minute Christmas shoppers, the city was once again 'active' and you wouldn't have imagined that a few minutes earlier only the drunk and insane roamed the streets. (We were the insane... because I have no idea why we thought roaming the streets at 6:00 a.m. was a good idea).

Stepping out of McDonald's, the air was frisky and fresh and my nose burnt a little from the cold but that was nothing as the scenery was just superb and I quickly forgot the little pang of pain. The architecture was simply magnificent and some buildings were even decorated for the holidays. This went beyond the standard European minimal store-window decorations and it felt like Christmas to me.

girl in front of building
Decorated building

Forgetting a little about Christmas and talking a little about the city, let's discuss the fact that people often forget that Amsterdam is much more than cannabis and prostitutes. Of course that exists but some of the most gorgeous buildings, talented street performers, great museums and shopping can be found in this city along with its' many bicycles on every corner.

Nonetheless, you're probably thinking, when is she going to get to the weed right?
Well, honestly the weed got to me before I could get to it. (No further comment, your honour! I plead the 5th.) You thought I was going to tell you the entire story? Ha ha...Of course not! They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, well...what happens in Amsterdam should definitely stay in Amsterdam. At least this part should. :-)

cannabis snacks on shelf

Diamonds though should be shared with the world. Not many people are aware that some of the most gorgeous diamonds in the world can be found in Amsterdam.  The Gassan Diamond Experience tour is worth checking out when you visit Amsterdam and the best part is... it's completely FREE!  Well the tour is but guys you may not want to take your fiancé(e) unless you are prepared to empty your wallet and sell your house. 😉

On the other hand, if you are trying to rekindle your love or just experiment a little, Amsterdam has all the toys and gadgets that a big kid would need to play around in the dark. There are so many shops with a variety products that you would feel like you're in BDSM heaven or like a little kid in a toy store for the first time. So many colors! So many sizes! So many styles! So many options!

Christmas was in the air and like many others, we were gift shopping. I think we stopped in every little shop and saw every little furry handuff and every small, medium and human-sized "love doll".

mannequins in store window

That in itself was an adventure and at the end of the day we made our way through the Red Light District once more (on our way home) but this time it was buzzing with activity.

Admittedly, there was some disappointment when I found out that you could literally be fined for taking pictures of the "show babies" who were now sitting or standing in their "show windows" awaiting the 'highest bidder'.  The Red light district was a whole stop sign. It was so commercial, I couldn't resist feeling a little bummed by the lack of authenticity. I guess it is to protect the identity of the ladies but they were so made-up that you couldn't tell who they were in any case. Oh the wonders of make-up and wigs.

I can't imagine why the major would want to shut down the brothels in this area because it is quite interesting to see and after all. How dare he stop so many tourists from being disappointed when they find out that they can't snap a photo with their favourite 'girl of the night'. (You could but if you're caught you would have to pay the price or have some legal permission to do so).

The city is beautiful and surprisingly, I heard more English and Asian languages than Dutch which made the experience a lot more unexpected but that is the beauty of travelling. You never get exactly what you expect especially when trying to take the perfect photo early in the morning and 1000 others have the same idea. It is even more unexpected when they 'photobomb' your picture or insert themselves into it. Those are some of the unexpected things you encounter but those memories last a lifetime. 

You are guaranteed a good time in Amsterdam and whatever your motivations are for visiting this city, there is something for everyone. Maybe you will do like me and visit during Christmas time so don't forget to grab some Dutch Christmas treats while you are there and enjoy ice skating in front of the I Amsterdam sign. 

If you are not a fan of skating or Christmas shopping and things of this nature, you could always feed the birds, or visit a museum, take a tram or bus to a less touristic area of the city and enjoy the scenery. Whatever you decide to do, just Have Fun! 

And don't forget...
What happens in Amsterdam should stay in Amsterdam. 

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