I’d wanted to visit Amsterdam for the longest time, and this summer, to celebrate the birthday of one my fave travel buddies, I finally went!

It was a whirlwind trip with a relatively large group, I think there were about 20 of us, and although it was hard to coordinate at times, it was fab!

On the first night, myself and another fave travel buddy opted to walk along the canals (note: it’s really hard to meet up with people when you’re not familiar with the area and don’t have a designated meeting point, except ‘along the canal’ … and everything is along a canal!). It was a great chance to explore the city and my initial sense was that Amsterdam is really peaceful and safe – I think the canals add to the calm vibe.

We sort of stumbled across the red light district and although we’d heard about it (I mean, it’s infamous right?), it’s still quite surprising to actually witness, first hand, young women offering themselves in the lit up windows of houses, which appear to be ordinary at first glance.

The next day we got up fairly early and headed to the Van Gogh museum. I found his story to be quite tragic, I recognised some of his most famous works but I particularly loved this one:


(This is a photograph of a postcard I bought because you can’t take pictures in the museum).

I love this because, well, I love flowers, but also because there are two versions in the exhibition. Both of which were painted while Van Gogh was in an asylum and one was painted overtime so the two paintings look different.

As I’ve said, Van Gogh’s story is fairly tragic, perhaps it’s too cynical to say it’s a classic ‘tormented artist’ story but it did, at times, feel like that. Perhaps he was driven mad by his art, or perhaps it was his passion for art that drove him mad in the first place? At one point he painted something like 75 paintings in 70 days – that’s manic to say the least.

After this, we visited an exhibition in the same museum on ‘prostitutes through the ages’. This was interesting and something of a recurring theme throughout our time in Amsterdam. After the museum we headed over to the Heineken experience.


Okay even if you don’t like beer – like me – I’d still recommend the Heineken experience. The history of the company and how it makes beer is interesting and the interactive part afterwards is super fun.

Later in the evening we joined a pub crawl (pub crawl red light district) – it was the most fun! We went to all of the bars and while queuing to enter one, a guy from our group got beaten (or whipped) by an angry older prostitute in the red light district because he was standing outside her window – I mean, he did bend over for her, but I don’t think he was expecting it to hurt as much as it surely must have? I’d definitely recommend the pub crawl, especially if you’re part of a big group.

Even though we had a late night, we didn’t want to waste our limited time in Amsterdam asleep in the hostel.

On our last full day, we visited the sex museum – I think the name is pretty self explanatory. It was interesting – graphic in parts. I think I thought it might be more about the history of sex or sex through the ages but it was more like pornography through the ages.

After a quick stop for lunch at the Italian next to the museum (highly recommend) my buddy and I headed to the secrets of the red light district museum aka the prostitute museum – again, as the name suggests, it’s precisely what you think it’ll be.

However, this was probably one of my favourite museums of the entire trip. Not only were there lots of interesting facts about prostitution in Amsterdam – did you know a purple light in a window indicates a transgender prostitute?

It challenges your notion of what it is to be a prostitute in the red light district in Amsterdam, what is it like to actually sit in a lit up window? What is it actually like when people walk past you? The latter is recreated by a video of people passing by – it’s very interesting to put yourself in that situation.

You really see things from the perspective of a prostitute and the museum really humanises them – they’re not just objects. This message is really bought home towards the end of the museum where there is a tribute to all of the prostitutes who have been murdered. There was a particularly grizzly story as part of the audio tour – it’s horrible to think what can happen to these often vulnerable girls.

I think the museum really highlights this issue we have in society where many people consume pornography yet there is a massive stigma attached to it. And this idea that people can use and abuse prostitutes yet what happens afterwards is something similar to slut shaming whereby the woman can never win, and the man always gets away with it – although this is simply my interpretation.

I’d highly recommend a visit to this museum if you’re in Amsterdam. In fact, if you only have time for one, I’d pick this one.

After this we walked further along to the erotic museum. It was much the same as the earlier sex museum but I think I preferred the latter if I had to pick between the two. If you are planning to visit both, I think one is sufficient as they do slightly overlap.

After this we headed to Body World. The exhibition by Gunther von Hagens with real (dead) human bodies that have been donated. I first heard about the exhibition many years ago on a television programme – perhaps on channel 4 – so I sort of knew what to expect. Still, initially I was quite upset upon seeing the bodies, knowing that they were once alive and not just ‘pretend’.

There is a small notice explaining personal details such as age or how the person died are not disclosed in order to add some privacy, which did sort of leave me feeling a little curious as to how these people had met their end and why they had decided to donate their bodies, and perhaps even what they looked like in real life before this.

The exhibition provided a fascinating insight into the workings of our insides, providing such items as displays. For anyone who studies science or is curious about a particular aspect of the body, I’d highly recommend a visit. It really is fascinating and I think the people that donated their bodies are exceptional people.

In the evening we headed out for dinner, drinks, cake and another long walk around the city. I think the evening / night walks were my favourite part – it was so peaceful, particularly when the canal bridges were lit up.


Amsterdam is a great city and definitely a place I intend to revisit.

Next time I would like to take a canal river tour, visit Anne Frank’s house and take a trip out to see the windmills and countryside – ideally during tulip season. I did actually buy some tulip bulbs for my family but after I paid I found out that they’re supposed to be planted in winter and won’t bloom until next spring…

Have you visited Amsterdam? Are you planning on taking a trip?

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