Like many, I read the diary of Anne Frank as a little girl and was deeply moved. When I found out that one could visit the secret annex that Anne and seven other members hid at in Amsterdam, I added it to my bucket list. While Amsterdam is known to many for its red light district and coffee shops, it was all about Anne Frank for me. Fast forward to 2017, I visited the museum. It was an extremely powerful and emotional experience. Out of respect pictures are not allowed, so a visit is a must. I purchased online tickets in advance, therefore, did not have to wait in a long line. It was a humbling experience and one that I will never forget.
Although the main reason for my trip was to visit Anne Frank Museum, Amsterdam stole my heart. I traveled in May, and the first order of business was a visit to Keukenhof. Keukenhof means “kitchen garden” aka the Garden of Europe. As a tulip lover, I consider it heaven. After landing at Schiphol Airport and meeting up with friends, we took two buses from our centrally located hotel and went to Lisse to see one of the largest flower gardens in the world. It was as beautiful as I expected. Featuring a variety of gardens and styles, it is a sight to see. Understandably, it’s only open from March to May so be sure to catch it next year. Discounted tickets were purchased from my hotel the same day which included bus fare.
Amsterdam is such a beautiful and walkable city with its intricate canal houses, bridges, and windmills. I could walk to many places and chose to; it is a solo adventurer’s paradise. If you’re not a walker, public transportation is readily available, affordable, and easy to navigate. However, when in Dutch land, rent/borrow a bike and ride around to explore the city. Bicycles are everywhere in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, I do not know how to ride them (stop judging me) and was unable to participate. You can also take a canal tour that will take you around the city with the opportunity to stop and check out several sights. All of these options allow you to see the beauty of the city.
Other things to do while in Amsterdam includes a visit to Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. They are both located in Museum Square. I did not have much time so I opted for Rijksmuseum. The IAMSTERDAM sign is also in the same vicinity. You know how you see these amazing pictures of popular landmarks and tourist attractions on Instagram and travel blogs, and they look so amazing and uncrowded? Ummmmm yeah, no. Not in real life. I tried to do it for the gram but there were so many people that I just gave up. Shout out to all the people that are able to capture a solo moment with the sign, #teamiaintgottimefordat. You can also chill in Vondelpark and have a mini photoshoot with a stranger you just met-oh nevermind, that’s me. But take a scroll or lay around with a good book in Vondelpark.
Now, let’s talk about what you really want to know. Yes, you can purchase and smoke marijuana, no I didn’t participate (see, mom). Yes, the red light district is exactly what you’ve heard about, and there are also windows with blue lights. After hanging out with an individual who works in the red light district (no mom, I did not partake in that either), I was told that the blue lights are not always indicators of transgender sex workers. Any sex worker can use blue lights as a way of standing out in the sea of reds. The more you know.