Welcome to Amsterdam!
Our flights to Amsterdam were pretty uneventful and we arrived in Amsterdam right before 6 am local time.
We were exhausted but excited to have landed in the Netherlands! Apparently our options for taxis were a van or a Tesla…we chose the Tesla and were on our way!
We were lucky that we could get into our apartment right away. Out of all 6 of our European trips, this is the first time we’ve been able to get right into our room/apartment. We took advantage of that and made ourselves lay down and sleep for a bit.
Once we got up, we went out and bought tram tickets, purchased SIM cards for our phones, and grabbed some sandwiches for lunch.
A word about SIM cards…our phone plan does not have an option for international use, though I know several plans do. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about a plan that is $10 a day, which is not a bad deal really. However, keep in mind that in Amsterdam, we spent $70 for 2 SIM cards with more GB than we could use in the entire 16 days we were there. So depending on how long you plan to be there and if you plan to use your phone for the internet, it might be worth it to just get a SIM card for while you’re there, assuming your phone is unlocked.
We then headed towards the center of the city to try to catch a tour. We didn’t realize that the tour began at a church in the middle of the Red Light District. Somehow we didn’t know we were actually in the Red Light District until we started seeing ladies in lingerie in the windows. We just kept walking!
Unfortunately the tour we wanted to take was full so we had an hour to kill before the next one started, but fortunately, there was a coffee shop right around the corner so we got coffee and hot chocolate while we waited.
The tour was definitely worth waiting for. It was one of those “free” tours that runs off tips, and the guide was pretty great. It was about 3 hours long and she took us around lots of areas in the city and talked about things that Amsterdam is known for, such as prostitution, marijuana, and tulips.
In regards to marijuana, it is technically illegal in Amsterdam, but it is tolerated. I believe she said you are allowed to have up to 5 grams on you, because it’s considered personal use, and you can supposedly have 4 marijuana plants in your home for personal use as well. However, you are not legally allowed to sell it or manufacture it. Also, coffee shops (where marijuana is sold legally in Amsterdam) are taxed something like 59% on marijuana sales, so they definitely pay for it…
Prostitution was legalized/tolerated because it was assumed that sailors would be coming into the city and messing with the women anyway, and the idea was that if there were women willing to do the job, it kept the sailors away from the women who didn’t want the attention. Nowadays, labor laws continue to protect women doing this work. It is not legal to work for someone, so at least pimps aren’t taking most of the money they make. Instead, women register with the local government as business owners and they pay to rent their windows. They also pay taxes, just like any other business. It is also required that the room have an emergency button and the owner of the property must be there within minutes if the button is pushed. This insures the safety of the women working.
We were assured that the toleration of prostitution and marijuana don’t really have anything to do with a moral high ground, but that it is more related to the fact that the Dutch, being good businessmen, have found a way to monetize these businesses. Whether you agree or disagree with the policies, it is certainly interesting to learn about!
After the tour, we decided on Indonesian food for dinner. Apparently, Indonesia was formerly a Dutch colony, so their food is still popular in Amsterdam. It was different from anything we’ve had, but we actually liked it!
I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Amsterdam on our very first day!