The gloriously smoky city of Amsterdam is on every traveler's bucket list. After visiting and recovering from the huge crowd ruling in the city, everybody wants to go back. It just has that magic. It's small but powerfully rich in culture. It's spirit easily overcomes cold, rainy days coloring them with the artistic and playful traditional Northern buildings.
Amsterdam soaks you in. You have no choice but becoming an active part of it. It's vibrant and alive. With its bicycles moving all around, people cooking at their boat houses while tour boats are nonchalantly passing by them... It's all so weird but completely natural and somehow amsterdamish.
When I was visiting Amsterdam for the first time, I arrived in the great Central Station. And when I say great, I am not exaggerating even a bit. It is a classic example of traditional Northern architecture, large but compact, colorful but with the great taste. I stood there in wonder for a long time, observing thousands of bicycles, safely parked, patiently waiting for their owners. It was in the sunset. The sky was amazing. I felt like somebody took time and prepared that perfect moment just for me. The smell of the salty water and city lights perfectly seasoned the atmosphere. I was in the right place.
When in Amsterdam, I stay with my cousin who lives there for a long time now. She's my key to finding amazing moments of Amsterdam and enjoying them to the fullest. She's quirky and a perfect companion for a great adventure.
In the city that offers that much, it's very hard to choose stuff that will fulfill your traveling wishes if you don't have good local contact. People from Amsterdam are very protective. They are sick of the crowd and believe me, I get them. When somewhere central in the city, one constantly moves according to other people's speed. You don't have your personal space and definitely stop feeling free. I even heard a rumor that Amsterdam's authorities want to shut down Airbnb to lower the overflow of tourists. And it's always the same no matter what time in the year. That's why it's pretty useful to know somebody who can avoid tourist.
When people decide to visit this city, they usually plan to smoke some legal joints, get around in Red Lights District or just visit some cool museums but really experiencing Amsterdam is staying on its streets. Renting a bike and getting lost. Riding a bike while it's raining. Trying a two-person bike. Eating on the street. Visiting local events... Enjoy the vibe that it's only present there, I am sure of it. Amsterdam will give you so much, only if you're ready to reach for it.
I am not going to talk about landmarks that jump out of every leaflet you see when you get there, I'm not talking about expensive tours or fancy shops, I am presenting you the idea of the city with a soul. A place where will get high, on beauty, on energy, on the unbearable lightness of being present.