Ultimate Europe Trip 2016 Day 3: Red Light Means Gogh

After an incredible first day in Amsterdam, it was time for the trip to really begin. Like almost every Europe trip before, we woke up early and were wide awake by around 2AM. Luckily after watching an episode of BoJack Horsemen on Netflix we were able to fall back asleep until 6:30AM. You would think with 8+ hours of sleep under us we would wake up refreshed and ready but we really struggled to get going this morning. 

By around 9AM we finally had gotten ready for the day. We went downstairs to breakfast which is included with our room. The setup for breakfast is actually quite nice. You have the option of both ordering something from their menu as well as getting food from the buffet. We both started with some light fare from the buffet. I had some cheese, deli meats, and a waffle, while Jenn had a waffle and cereal. Jenn ordered their scrambled eggs and I had an eggs benedict. It was a really nice breakfast and one that got us ready for the big day ahead of us. 

Our first stop on the itinerary today was the Heineken Experience. This was really a stop for me but Jenn was a great sport about it. After breakfast we thought it would be nice to lay around and grab an Uber to the experience. Sadly when 10:30AM rolled around surge pricing on Uber was through the roof and you had to do a €45 minimum. We had no intention on doing that for what was supposed to be a €6-8 ride. So instead we walked the little over a mile and a half to the Heineken experience. The good news is that it woke us both up and we got to experience another gorgeous day in Amsterdam.

We had already purchased our tickets for the experience so I showed them the tickets on my phone and we were let in on our self-guided tour. Of any tour I've been on this experience was pretty phenomenal. Everything was interactive and made for visitors enjoyment. From seeing the history of the beer, to how it is made and bottled the entire experience was a lot of fun and made for an enjoyable experience.

At the end you do a tasting in which Jenn sniffed it and handed hers over to me, so I quickly chugged our beers and we kept going on the tour. The tour ends on the rooftop of the building overlooking the entire city of Amsterdam. On your wristband you each get two more beers with your ticket but it was lunch time and I wasn't really needing all four beers so I partook in one and we headed out.

From the Heineken Experience we were off to the Van Gogh museum, around a fifteen minute walk. After waiting in line to get our tickets we were swept off to the gorgeous Van Gogh museum hosting the majority of the famous artist work. We spent almost two hours walking through the several stories of the building mostly consisting of Van Gough's work but also that of other famous artists like Monet. While we were there I was thinking a lot about how some people are able to find real emotion from a painting. I've seen people be brought to tears from a painting. I so badly want to know how to experience that because although I found Van Gogh's work beautiful, it was anything but emotional for me. Regardless we had a great time, especially Jenn who spent a lot more time perusing the artwork then I did. 

After the museum we made the nearly thirty minute walk back to our hotel. On the way back we stopped at a gorgeous two-story Apple store and messed around on their iPads. We then stumbled across a Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor and got Jenn her favorite strawberry shake. And we ended our walk stopping at Zara where both Jenn and I got some extra summer ware to combat some of the warmer stops we have on our trip.

By the time we made it to our hotel a little after 4PM we were exhausted but getting a second wind. Before taking a quick break in our room we stopped by the hotels art gallery which was currently exhibiting a set of modern pieces. One of my favorites was a Darth Vader sculpture that when you got up close you could see famous scenes in his eyes from the movies. It was a really neat exhibit. 

After an hour or so of resting in our room we hit the beautiful streets of Amsterdam in search of dinner. Luckily Jenn had already picked out a place called The Pantry. It was a little under a half hour walk but the time flew by. Amsterdam is such a beautiful city and we've gotten so lucky with great weather that walking throughout the city is quite relaxing. We made it to the restaurant a little after 6PM and got one of the last available tables. In fact while we were eating we saw almost a dozen people get turned away as they were completely booked for the night. 

We started our meal off with the Dutch shrimp croquettes. There were three of these small delights filled with goat cheese and shrimp. However, the best part was the homemade dipping sauce that came with them that made the entire dish come together. It was a nice way to start out the meal. 

For our main course we both went with traditional Dutch dishes. Jenn went with the Hutspot (mashed potatoes mixed with stewed beef, carrots and onions) with a meatball. Her dish was out of this world, the meatball was extremely flavorful and the potatoes were so good I kept taking some for myself. I ordered the beef and onion stew with red cabbage and mashed potatoes. The best part of my meal was the beef stew which I scrapped up as much of the dish as I could get. Needless to say both of us easily cleaned our plates.

After dinner we had an hour and a half to kill before our 9PM Red Light district tour. We headed to a nearby Starbucks where I had a cappuccino and Jenn had a hot chocolate. We sat at the corner booth for over an hour talking about the day and enjoying the quiet Starbucks and the Amsterdam evening. 

If you know anything about Amsterdam you probably know about the red light district. When we booked our trip one of the first tours we booked was a tour of the red light district at night when it's alive and thriving. The tour of nearly twenty people met up at the Dam Square at 9PM and walked us through the entire red light district for almost two hours. The tours host, Martijn started the tour off with giving a history of prostitution in Amsterdam and also the use and selling of drugs. Probably the most fascinating titbit from his opening information was that prostitution is of course legal in Amsterdam but marijuana is not. Sort of an interesting dichotomy. 

From there we walked through the financial district and to the first condom shop in Amsterdam and then on to the red light district. It was both exactly what I expected but also so different then I expected. As everyone says, the streets are lined with buildings with red lights with prostitutes in the windows trying to allure walkers by in. As someone enters they open the door/window and close the curtains. What stood out to both Jenn and I more then anything else was the diversity of people in the area. There were people of all faiths, skin colors, genders, and types. There really wasn't one type of person accepting the lady of the nights offers but instead all sorts. In fact as the world grows more tolerant the acceptance of a new blue light district is being formed for the LGBTQ community which Martijn seemed increasingly proud of. 

Through the red light district we stopped at various establishments from "coffee shops" to smart shops, to various sex shops, to peep shows to the smallest alley way in Amsterdam. It was a truly fascinating evening and one that Jenn and I really enjoyed. After the tour ended we walked back to our hotel which was only ten minutes away and called it a night. A day that started with beer, continued with the art of Van Gogh, and ended with the red lights of Amsterdam. That sounds like a great day in Amsterdam if you ask me.