In April of 2017, my best friend from high school, Ann Marie came to visit me while I was working in Madrid for the year. Our plan was to meet in Amsterdam, go to Copenhagen after, and end in Madrid before she returned to New York. At the time, the only things I could associate the city with were: the Red Light District, the “coffee” shops, Anne Frank’s house, and Van Gogh. Is it weird that I listed the Red Light District and “coffee” shops before Anne Frank’s house and Van Gogh? Hmm, ya, I don’t really want to unpack that.
During our time there I first learned that Amsterdam is a very unique city. It’s not like any other city I’ve traveled to, so far. It’s an interesting city with a lot of offbeat and quirky facts. For example, did you know that Amsterdam has 165 canals running through it? And from those canals, between 12,000-15,000 bikes are fished out every year. Did you also know that Amsterdam was founded by fishermen in the 13th century? And who knew that some of the houses in the city are sinking? Wait, did you know that Amsterdam is home to 187 different nationalities, making it the most diverse city in the world?! Oh, AND in 2001 they were one of the first capitals in the world to legalize gay marriage. Okay, okay one more fact, you don’t have to beg! Amsterdam’s coat of arms is XXX, not for porn, but probably for St. Andrew, a fisherman, who was crucified onto an X shaped cross. The more you know!
The city has hundreds of more little facts and stories that explain how Amsterdam grew to become of the more progressive cities in the world. Amsterdam is totally like the cool, new kid in middle school who doesn’t have a bedtime and gets to have a sip of wine at dinner cause his family is “European-like,” you know who I’m talking about? Ya you do.
Anyway, what was the second thing I learned about Amsterdam? Well… It’s. So. Freakin’. Pretty!! I had zero expectations before I went and when I got there I was delightfully surprised to see how charming and quaint the city is. The canals provide the perfect European backdrop for any picture and the buildings are narrow and tall but give an old world charm that you don’t see in the States as much. Along with taking pictures of the main city area, Ann Marie and I were able to go to the Keukenhof Gardens outside of Amsterdam. I think I captured almost every flower, especially the tulips, in the garden. Amsterdam’s allure is rooted in it’s unconventional and eclectic spirit and architecture. Keep in mind, these pictures were taken on a 3 year old iPhone 5s. So just imagine, how cute and quaint it is in person! So now, 9 place in Amsterdam to take eye-catching photos:
1. Can we first point out the colors in this picture? GORGEOUS!! It was about 7:30 pm and the sun was setting when I took this. I didn’t add any color to this photo, I just brightened it a bit to get the colors to pop. I especially love how the warmth of the sun bounces off of the buildings onto the blue of the canal.
2. So when I wasn’t looking for Belle, I was standing in awe of this elegant and grandiose library. The Rijksmuseum Research Library is the largest public art history research library in the Netherlands. The library was built in 1885 and was renovated in 2004.
3. The Rijksmuseum was actually first founded in The Hague, a city in western Netherlands, in 1800 and then moved to Amsterdam in 1808. Once it got to Amsterdam, it was first in the Royal Palace and was then moved to the Trippenhuis. Then in 1885 it was moved again to the Museum Square. Damn Rijks, can you chill in one spot? Okay, enough with the history, look at the beauty of this stained glass window. Look!
4. Twilight in Amsterdam felt like being in a Van Gogh painting. I can’t get over all the shades of blue in this one photo.
5. This regal-looking beauty was built between 1620-1631. Fun fact: The Calvinists in the church were so against an organ being played during church services (it was seen as “profane”) that it took about 50 years to get a small organ built into the church.
6. Here we have Amsterdam’s narrowest house. The front of the house is just about 3.5 feet (just over a meter) wide. Visiting Amsterdam was a little shock to the American part of my brain, these houses are tiny! How would you get your big sectional through the door in time for the Superbowl? Just kidding, I hate sectionals and I hate American football.
7. No interesting facts, they’re just pretty to look at… *dreamily looking towards my window, dying to go back*
8. Amsterdam’s houses are not only narrow and tall, but they’re also slanted. Because the city was built on top of marsh land, the buildings slightly lean. Our Sandeman’s tour guide told us that a house leaning to forward is completely normal but a house leaning to the side means, you’re screwed! Yup, leaning to the side means that the foundation is cracked and sinking into the ground.
9. How can I describe the Kuekenhof Gardens? About 7 million flower bulbs are planted in this garden wonderland, 50 million people have visited the gardens, and the gardens are planted in different styles from other countries. It’s basically the Disney World of flowers.
Tell me, have you ever been to Amsterdam? Have you seen any of these sights? What’s your favorite city or country to take pictures in?