10 Things I Learned in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the first place I’ve been to that I feel doesn’t require many words. It’s such a vibrant, elusive city – just when you think you’ve seen all there is to see and got it sussed, you see a shop selling magic mushroom-flavoured tea, or someone dancing with a copper kettle full of coins, and you wonder, what the hell is going on here?

I noticed a lot of curious things as I explored. So if you’re going to Amsterdam, here are my top ten essential lessons. You’re welcome.

1. The place you’ll see the most tulips isn’t the ground, but in ornate bags in gift shops.

2.  You can hire a bike for a day and it will only cost €6. The catch? It won’t have any brakes. This also means that if you see a bike coming towards you, get out of the way double quick because it may not be able to stop!

3. Clogs range from being tiny, keychain-sized, to this:

Amsterdam clog

4.  It’s possible to have a free lunch by walking around cheese shops and eating samples.

5. Don’t worry about missing the Red Light District – when you find it, you’ll know.

6. If you’re looking for a grand piano, try the train station.

Amsterdam Central Station

7. If you go into H&M and find something you like but it’s not in your size, then don’t panic. Walk down the street and there will be another store. Or turn a corner and there will be another store. Or go down a different street and there will be another store. Or do all of the above, in any order or combination, and there will be another store.

8.  If you’re not used to trams, then you need eyes in the back of your head.

9. The scent of weed becomes so natural that eventually you won’t notice the headache, and when you leave, fresh air smells weird.

10. Random Dutch people may come and hug you and take photos for charity…

Amsterdam Dam Square

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Amelia Starling is a writer and folklorist. She graduated from the University of Winchester with a degree in Creative Writing, and is Senior Editor for Folklore Thursday. She loves travelling and collecting stories, and spent 15 months living in Japan doing this alongside teaching English. Currently she is living in Scotland and studying for a masters degree in Ethnology & Creative Writing. Amelia blogs about folklore and fairy tales at The Willow Web. You can follow her on Twitter @amyelize.

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