Amsterdam: Triple XXX passion and creative Amsterdam

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I amsterdam.

The sign made of wooden life-sized letters are seen in various parts of the city. It is a website portal, a tourism campaign, but most of all, the motto of the Dutch about their national pride and identity. To a first time visitor like me, it was a thought-provoking statement. It made me wonder—if Amsterdam were a person, what would it be like?

Amsterdam is like a lot of people. And a lot like other cities, it has a reputation that precedes it. The first time I met Amsterdam was on an all too brief stop over en route to Prague. I could have stayed in the airport (the Schipol Airport is one of the best airports I have ever been to) but the attraction was too great. If I was already drawn to Amsterdam’s reputation from afar, the magnetic pull and attraction I felt the minute that I set foot on Dutch soil was nothing compared to it. I knew I had to satiate my deep wanderlust and see if Amsterdam lived up to its reputation.

Would it be a loose and liberal haven for heathen pleasures, I wondered as I made my way from to the airport to the city central. Would it seduce me in a ridiculous display of romance? Or would it leave me with the same torment and anguish of some of its famous artists who had made Amsterdam their home?

During my five-day stay, this is what I found out about this city, which had so long been an object of my vagabond desire. This is how I got to know Amsterdam during my wondrous stay and this is how I would describe this city, not by its sights or history, but by its character.

To see for yourself that Amsterdam does not hide anything; everything is on display in its windows. Visit De Wallen (The Red Light District) and The Canal Houses.

It is often said that one can learn all about Amsterdam by looking through its windows. It is a Dutch custom to put beloved possessions in the windowpane and to leave their windows without curtains. So mundane acts of everyday life such as dinner and watching TV and reading a book are on display for everyone to see.

In the evening, you can check out the window dressing. Amsterdam’s centuries-old canal houses are a sight to see not just for their unique architecture, but also because of the girls who now occupy them.

From behind rows and rows of windows lit by a red light of the famous canal houses, stand scantily clad women all beckoning you to come in from the cold. Gawking and ogling are allowed, but taking photographs of the girls are not. And in between windows, there are sex shops with adult toys of just about every shape and color, to live adult theatre. The latter may not leave a lot to the imagination, but it certifies that Amsterdam doesn’t fall short of its reputation as an adult Disneyland.

In the daytime, you can visit the Sex Museum, which chronicles in great detail the sexual revolution (evolution) of man. There are the early days of the Kamasutra, the vintage editions of Playboy, and the requisite tribute to the sex symbols who set the rules of the game: the Mata Hari, Marilyn Monroe and Rudolph Valentino. And just for good measure, there is also a wax figure of a flasher—oh, you won’t see him first, but you’ll hear his heavy breathing and a lewd “psst” as you come closer.

A plethora of bars, condom shops and sex shows are spread out like a buffet where you can satisfy your every predilection. And if you need to assuage some form of cleansing or repentance for this carnal indulgence, there’s a medieval church called the Oude Kerk, also within the Red Light District.

To get to know its wildly creative, anguished and yet hopeful side, visit Rembrandt Museum House, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank Huis

Rembrandt Museum House

The painter Rembrandt settled in Amsterdam and purchased a house in the growing affluent part of town. Rembrandt acquired the home for a princely sum in 1639, but was able to negotiate installment payment terms.

Over the course of his career as a painter, Rembrandt showed not only the creative genius for which he was commissioned to do paintings, but also his astute sense of business. He was an artist and art dealer, who started representing other artists and selling their work, which at the time, was largely unheard of.

In the Rembrandt House Museum, salons and sitting rooms where Rembrandt have been are restored with exacting detail to show how he really lived. Rembrandt’s studio is one of the major highlights of the house. Large, spacious and well lit, it is one of the major highlights of the house. A member of the museum staff will even take you through a demonstration on how paints are made (from crushing certain stones and mixing them with oils to achieve certain pigments) and explain that apprentices spent years mixing paint and learning its fine art before actually going into painting.

Unfortunately, Rembrandt was unable to keep up with the mortgage payments; he went bankrupt and had to sell his home. He moved to a much smaller rented house and it was here where he lived until his death in 1669.

Anne Frank Huis

When Anne Frank was 13, she received a red-checkered diary as a gift. Anne filled it with her random thoughts about boys, crushes and her girl friends. But the break out of World War II ended any type of resemblance or similarity between Anne Frank and other girls her age.

In 1942, Anne Frank and her family had to go into hiding in a secret annex of her father’s office. For close two years, she was in contact only with seven other people, and her diary became Anne’s best friend whom she nicknamed Kitty.

When she heard on the radio that the government was calling for a preservation of journals, photos, letters–any memorabilia relating to the war, she revamped her writing to reflect her hopes, her dreams, and how she and her family managed to live in such cramped quarters. (She re-wrote whole sections of the diary in one month.)

Today, the Secret Annex, the actual house wherein Anne and her family lived is one of the most popular tourist spots in Amsterdam. Her father, Otto, the only survivor, decided not to re-furbish the building, but there are enough drawings, video documentaries and scale figures to help you reimagine the place and re-live a 13-year old’s dream of becoming a journalist and to continue living beyond her death.

A home for bags

To set up-close its eccentric, quirky side, visit the Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassen Museum).

Most women like bags, but not many can say that their passion can translate into the largest and most diverse collection of bags in the world.

It was a story of love at first sight between a woman named Hendrikje Ivo and a bag that she found in a thrift shop. A bag that she said was too beautiful and exquisite to be sitting in such desolate surroundings. And like a parent whose heartstrings were tugged at by an orphan, she gave it a home. Pretty soon, she found it companions, other bags with their own exquisite character. She gave them all a home, but pretty soon that was too small and they had to be moved into a museum called Bags and Purses Museum The earliest history of bags are traced, from how they started as a necessary accessory for both men and women (with only the invention of pants with pockets quickly ending the need for a man-purse) and how bag trends and styles can be linked back to moments of history such as the invention of the steam engine train which literally fueled travel and created a need for trunks and suitcases.

The museum almost closed down when the collection became too large to fit into the Ivo home, but it was saved from closure by an affluent businessman, who adamantly requested to remain anonymous. The benefactor bought a building for the collection and this is where the museum stands today.

Van Gogh Museum

Vincent Van Gogh when he was alive, only sold one painting. Self-taught and highly prolific, the Dutch painter was only active for 10 years, but in that short span of time created a large body of work. The Van Gogh Museum is testament to just how many paintings Van Gogh made.

The huge edifice is filled with paintings and momentos of his much anguished life.

With an audio gadget lent to each visitor, you can chose to hear Van Gogh reading his letters to his brother Theo, describing his work. His impassioned but pained creative genius is evident in his words.

Van Gogh was known for reusing his canvases to save on costs, but with iPads hooked up to the museum, you can trace your index finger over Van Gogh paintings and see the image that it was painted over.

Liking it through biking

To experience its carefree, exuberant side, and its joie de vivre, go biking.

Biking is so much a part of the Dutch lifestyle that they have special bike lanes that go around various parts of the city. There are multi-level parking buildings for bikes (if you thought picking out your car was hard, try finding your bike amongst a hoard other two-wheelers) There are even special traffic lights for bikers. How would that be different from the traffic lights that we are used to? For one, they are bike-level, so it is lower than the usual traffic lights; and two, the red, yellow and green images are that of a bike, rather than an outline of a person

Even with the very efficient transport system, the Dutch love to bike! And they have bikes that are adapted to their lifestyle or life stage, as it may. There are bikes with baskets, there are bikes made to bring light cargo. There are bikes made to carry around babies, toddlers, you name it. The kring-kring sound you hear of approaching bikes and the whizz of wind as they pass you by are the Dutch equivalent of a smile and wave to have a good day.

Basic Information

Getting there: KLM flies directly from Manila to Amsterdam daily Currency: Euro1 = Php 59.51

Basic Information

The months between April to September are generally friendlier in terms of weather. But the months of October to November and January to March are the ideal months to find deals on travel and accommodation. Amsterdam is generally chilly and windy. Bundle up with clothes that you can layer.

The other colors of Amsterdam: Brown and Orange!

Brown Cafes where they don’t serve just coffee

In Amsterdam, you can order a joint along with your latte or beer. These brown cafes sell them by the stick ensconced in test tubes. In some brown cafes (because all the smoke allegedly turned the walls and ceilings brown), you can even choose and customize your joint the way you would your latte: by choosing leaves and concentration.

They don’t pain the town red, they paint it orange!

Queen Beatrix was actually born on January 31, but because the weather during this time is not conducive to partying, she declared April 30 as her official birthday holiday.

There are celebrations throughout the entire Netherlands, but it is in Amsterdam where they party the hardest and loudest.

People usually wear orange because the Queen is from the House of Orange and there are whole-day-whole-night activities filled with partying, street performances, and street markets (some selling used items they bought from last year’s Queen’s Party). There are an estimated 1 million visitors who come to Amsterdam for this celebration.

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