Wanderlust: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is almost a rite of passage for Ireland’s youth at this stage and with so many unusual experiences to be had in the city, it’s easy to see why.

The easiest way to get to the city is by getting the train from Schiphol Airport to the Centraal Station, which will leave you off in the heart of the city centre.

From there most of the city’s many attractions are within walking distance, but if you’re feeling like pampering yourself, there is a tram that goes from the station, that will leave you off at the best spots Amsterdam has to offer.

While you can have a lovely innocent time in the Dutch capital, it would be foolish not to visit the infamous coffee shops and the Red Light District.

The coffee shops have a wide range of ‘Mary Jane’ to choose from, with such strains as Lemon Kush and Purple Haze, some of the stand out names. If you’re not versed quite well enough to know the difference between strains by name, the menu will provide an explanation of what to expect from each type.

If you’re not a big smoker, fear not, as cannabis-infused brownies are readily available in most reputable coffee shops. It is not recommended to eat more than one brownie in the one sitting, and the effects normally take roughly an hour to kick, so don’t fret if you’re sitting there feeling nothing for the first while.

If you’re really not a fan of cannabis, in particular, its smell, Amsterdam may not be the place for you. As soon as you leave the Centraal Station, it’s likely you’ll be confronted by the scent, which acts as a humorously predictable introduction to a city, so well known for cannabis.

While the Red Light District can be a bit intimidating, it would be a mistake to avoid it. Even without all the great bars in the area, it’s just too fascinatingly weird to miss. Sex workers line the streets and alleyways in lit up glass doors and windows and have frequent visitors.

Sex shows, sex museums and ‘peep shows’ are all worthwhile attractions for visitors who don’t want to avail of the ‘full’ experience. The peep shows are probably the most accessible, as for just €2, you can watch a live sex show for two minutes.

There’s plenty of great museums in Amsterdam outside of the Red Light District too that are more suitable for families. Madame Tussaud’s Wax museum is well worth a visit if you want to try to fool all your friends into thinking, you met some of the world’s biggest stars on your holidays.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is also suitable for both kids and adults, and if you have to choose between it and Madame Tussaud’s, Ripley’s museum of wonders is probably the one to go for.

If you’re up for a more sobering museum experience, the Anne Frank museum is a must-see, but remember that tickets can only be bought online and to buy at least a few days in advance.

Amsterdam is a weird and wonderful city that is only a short flight away from us here in Ireland, and while it is fairly expensive, you should find time to visit the city, if only for a weekend getaway.


Eoin Harte

Image credit: Eoin Harte