As part of our Holland arrival rights, our relatives brought us to the country’s capital, Amsterdam. Please, allow me to freak out. Lovely brick gables and dainty metal fences become the backdrop of cobblestone pathways atop a swirl of canals. The tall, narrow houses stand beside each other like longtime friends, looking dapper with their framed windows and solid colored walls. Stems of trees seem to shoot out of the concrete ground, softening the view with puffs of leaves. Kitschy pots of flowers are scattered everywhere, making the entire sight pleasantly home-y.

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This is the city square, the busiest part of the district. Oh, I have to warn you about the Grim Reaper. He looks nice on photos, but if he spotted you taking selfies including him, he’ll ask for a few Euros! And he’s not the only one doing that, by the way.

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This is the kind of place I’d quietly stroll, get lost, and do people watching. Getting lost, however, is very much possible, because most streets look alike. For any unaware tourist, walking into the bends is like entering a giant maze! Good thing my cousin, Sharon, knows every alley that will bring us to the right spot.

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Some of these houses are older than my grandparents. Which means, renting a place in the city would be expensive.

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If there’s one thing I’d have to say about Amsterdam, it’s “Watch out for the windows.” My relatives led us to a couple of alleys wherein women and gays flaunt themselves by the large windows, half-dressed or completely naked. I was surprised to learn that there was prostitution tourism in the city: the Red District, and this was publicly promoted.

Also, my kuya mentioned the difference of entering a coffee shop and a cafe. Technically, they are alike, but Amsterdam differentiates them with the first one selling weed on their menu, and the other, just legit cafe and frap.

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When in Amsterdam: go biking. This place is a biker’s heaven and you’ll find yourself in company with so many cycling lovers.

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If you’re really patient, and not easily tired, you can discover many of the city’s gems. There’s a tram, by the way, once your legs give up.

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Some of the houses are oddly, sideways. There’s a story about that but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

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This building is the largest Christian bookstore in the country.

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Inside the alleys are districts with international cultures. There’s even a China Town in Amsterdam! From what I’ve seen, there’s Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and Middle Eastern themed groceries and restaurants too. My bad, I wasn’t able to include their photos here.

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One of the things I missed is to ride a ferry across the dam. The walking part is really nice; tiring, but totally worth it. I love the part when we deviated from the main streets to enter hidden corners to find wonderful things to look upon.

 

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There goes my little Amsterdam adventure! We went to Madame Tussauds (the wax museum), gazed at the floating pagoda, visited Bibliotheek (the city’s great library just beside the conservatory) and then rushed back to the Central Station for our train ride home!