This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of spending the day in Amsterdam, on the way home from the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Manchester. Some of you may remember that I did a similar layover in Eindhoven recently and enjoyed my extra sightseeing so much that I planned my return flight through Amsterdam for the express purpose of spending the day.
Amsterdam is a city I’d never visited before but always knew I would love (I mean, canals, cafes, coffee and hemp? What’s not to love here?). Initially, I had very grandiose plans about using the tripwolf.com “Top Things to Do in Amsterdam” Guide to guide myself through the city and enjoy some of the best sights of Amsterdam.
Hangover plus extreme sleep deprivation and no breakfast meant I literally scrapped that plan as soon as I hit the ground in Amsterdam. My first and main goal was to get some food and, that done, I decided instead to just wander around and see what struck me. I did, however, have the tripwolf.com Amsterdam travel guide handy on my iPad, just in case.
I discovered a few things about Amsterdam during my 8-hour wander.
First of all, it is easily as beautiful as the photos and guides make it out to be. It is also full of bicycles and, sometimes as you’re walking down the street, you get the elusive scent of hash wafting into your nose. The canals are amazing – I wonder how the little tipsy buildings don’t fall over into them. Yes, there are prostitutes, but they seem sort of Disney-ified, if I may.
But the one thing that struck me more than anything about Amsterdam is that it is a city of shop windows. It seems like every tiny, winding street is filled with adorable, organic cafes, used bookshops, hemp stores, adult stores and, of course, “coffeeshops”, which I also learned is Amsterdam code for “places to smoke weed”. There are also a few real coffeeshops, too, such as CoffeeCompany, where I settled in for a few minutes of repose and a strong cappuccino overlooking the canal.
But the shop windows struck me most. They are busy, often over-filled with trinkets, books, clothing or “unmentionables”, but every window is thoughtfully arranged, colorful and eye-catching. And the fact that they are all located in gorgeous 17th century Dutch buildings only enhances their charm.
So, I started taking photos of the windows and the result is this short series. Forgive the one or two “unmentionables” – I couldn’t resist!