After our busy day exploring Amsterdam NOORD and indulging in a vegan Christmas in September with the ClinkNOORD team the night before, we awoke on Sunday morning bright and early for a day of exploring central Amsterdam.
As she had been there before, Haydy had set us a little itinerary for the day to make sure that I saw all the key parts of the city before we had to leave for the airport to catch our flight home.
We left the hostel to a grey morning with a low fog hanging over the water meaning we couldn’t even see the other side of the river, but it was still pretty warm and we had a packed day ahead, so we hopped on the ferry to central, checked our bags into a drop-off point and set off to explore.
Red Light District
As we were out so early, pre-10am, there was hardly anybody about in the district and most of the windows were empty, although there were a couple of ladies working. I found myself feeling a little sad here, a feeling that would reoccur later in the day when I visited one of the museums.
Banksy and Dali Exhibition
Both being a fan of Banksy’s work, when we found out there was an exhibition of his art in Amsterdam whilst we were there, we knew we had to go. Housed in the Moco Museum, the exhibition was split into two, with Banksy in one half and Dali in the other. I can’t pretend to understand Dali’s work, I think it’s a little above my understanding, but I left there loving Banksy more than I did before. His artwork is not only appealing in its own merit, but the commentary behind each one really makes you stop and think. When I win the lottery I’ll definitely be treating myself to something by him.
I have wanted to go to the Body World exhibition for such a long time, so I was really chuffed when I found out Haydy had added it to our itinerary. The way the human body works really blows my mind when I think about it, and it was amazing to be able to see what the bits and bobs inside us look like; I found myself staring at a larynx and feeling suddenly simultaneously tiny the grand scheme of things and also like a living, breathing miracle. We’re all miracles.
An incredible little town within the city, Begijnhof is a cluster of houses in which female-only sisterhood lived as if within a convent, although none of them had taken formal vows. As the residents within still live the same style of life, you are expected to be quiet and show respect as you look around, and with the area cut off the from the traffic noise of the main city, it’s a little pocket of tranquility. When we visited it was early Sunday morning and the ladies were in the church, with the sound of their singing carrying through the air as we walked around. It was such a beautiful moment and I don’t think you could help but be moved by it.
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (The Pink Church)
When Catholicsm took over in Amsterdam, the Protestants were unable to openly practice their religion, instead having to hide their churches in houses, away from prying the eyes. The Pink Church is one of the few examples surviving today, being situated on the top floor of what looks like an ordinary old Amsterdam house. On the way up the building to access the church itself you get to look around the other rooms, filled with old furniture, old style box beds and some original hand-painted tiles which are hundreds of years old. It’s beautiful and gives you an opportunity to see how they would have lived. One thing to take into account if you want to visit The Pink Church is that there is A LOT of stairs, Haydy and I were absolutely shattered by the time we finished looking around!
Museum of Prostitution
Situated within the red light district, the Museum of Prostitution was a strange experience for me – it was fascinating to see into a world that is so far removed from my own, but reading some of the accounts of the ladies who work within the industry, it was desperately sad. I’m told that it is more tightly regulated now and the women have a better quality of life, but there was a part of me that felt worried for them and wished them a better life.
Partway through the day we decided we were due a little pitstop, so wandered into De Doffer to grab a quick coffee, but ended up staying there for a beer as well as it was such a great little cafe. Sitting by the window, watching the world go by, we both agreed that if we lived in Amsterdam it would definitely be our regular spot for catching up over a few bevvies and some lunch.
As well as these 6 stops, we also wandered down side streets, stopped for photos, visited hot spots like The Bulldog and Anne Frank’s memorial statue, dog-spotted and made the absolutely most of the time we had there before we had to grab our bags and head back to the airport to head home.
By the end of the day we had walked over 30,000 steps and we were so, so tired, but it was worth it, squeezing so much sight-seeing into just 8-hours was no mean feat!
Thank you Haydy for being the ultimate tour guide and making sure I left Amsterdam having seen so much more than I could have ever expected to in less than half a day.
Although I managed to see so much of Amsterdam central and Noord, there’s still so much more to see and I plan to return in the next year or two, to get some of them ticked off. Check back tomorrow to see my Amsterdam To Do List.