Known for the cannabis coffee-shops and the women behind the red lit windows, Amsterdam is a vibrant city with a universal appeal. Of-course Dutch liberalism isn’t an easy pill to swallow. But then who are we to judge? It is their country, and let them decide what is good for them.
While (in)famous for sex and drugs which rock n rolls on the streets of this Dutch town, it is the enticing urban landscape and the relaxed pace of life which will leave a deep impact on you for years to come. I loved the city so much that I just wanted to rent a place by the canal, buy one of those old military styled bicycle and live my days in the haze of the coffee-shops.
Indeed, Amsterdam is by far the most beautiful city I had ever been to.
As much as I wanted to stay and explore the town, I could hardly wait to see the dutch landscapes, which had been the subject of some of the most famous paintings from the Dutch golden age.
I wanted to walk among the windmills, I wanted to see the tulips bloom and I wanted to ride the narrow canals criss-crossing the small villages.
Bus as it wasn’t the season, the tulips were out of the equation and so I planned for a day out in suburbs. I bought a day ticket and boarded the R-NET bus from Amsterdam Centraal Station. The first destination on my trip was Marken. The bus took me to some of the most scenic area of Holland.
Marken is a tiny fishing village in the municipality of waterland, and is located on a small island connected by a narrow road. Marken community is concentrated in a compact area with beautiful wooden houses, typical canals and with plenty of greenery around. Maarken has a busy harbour on the seafront with a few restaurants and handful of souvenirs shop. Also, you will see plenty of boats of all sizes docked in the harbour.
The place is so small that in a matter of only 30 minutes I explored it completely. It is when I decided to take a walk along the shore and on the very tip of the island I stumbled upon a very beautiful lighthouse, Trouwen zoals jullie willen. Unfortunately, it’s a private property and you can only enjoy it from a distance. I sat on the sandy beach (very rare occurrence) next to it was popular spot where a lot of Dutch locals took sunbath. Check out the street view here.
I took a different track on my way back, the path went through marshlands and views of sheeps grazing idly. I strolled into the DEEN supermarket as I still had some time to kill before the arrival of the bus. Ha ha! What can I say, I love supermarkets. I think supermarkets are microcosm of a community giving you a glimpse of everyday life of the locals.
I had kept Zaanse Schans for the last in my trip. It is an open air museum with a good collection of working windmills. Kinderdijk is another option (seemingly better) near to Amsterdam if you are looking for windmill scenery. The windmills are located in a serial fashion by the banks of a beautiful river, making the whole area a perfect canvas for shutterbugs. The sunset particularly is a joy to behold.
I checked my camera as I wound up my day, I took so many pictures that it filled the entire memory.
What can I say, Holland is that pretty.
Okay you got me, this is not how the day ended. How can a trip to Netherlands end without a visit to the infamous red light area? Perhaps the trip would have ended without it, if not for the chance stumble.
My first impression of the red light area was quite literally the red light in which the entire area was lit up. Half naked women stood behind the windows under an errie(!) red glow, it was like seeing dressed up dolls put up for display behind a glass show case. Creepy for me!
The tourists clicked pictures of the women which I thought was insulting to them, for god sake they were at work. I don’t go to your cubicle (or whatever) and take your picture? Do I? You can make the mockery of their profession all you like but atleast respect the people, after-all at the end of the day they are people just like you and me.
I saw tourists chat up with the working woman and ask her all sort of questions and of-course trying to negotiate a ‘price’ for the job. These women could smell the nuisance from miles away, they whisked them without a second thought. And then there were some men who didn’t even pause for a second to look, straight they went in. The woman immediately drew the curtains and the red glow turned to darkness.
The area looked safe enough though I did see some shady elements trying to sell drugs on the streets. I had already read about it on travel forums so I was quite conscious about anyone trying to make a conversation with me.
I could have easily stayed in Amsterdam for few more days, never had I been to such a beautiful and intriguing city. But as all good things have to come to an end, and so it was my time to go.
Wowair was waiting for me. A bath in the blue lagoon was next on the agenda.