12 Surprising things I learned in Amsterdam

12 Ways Amsterdam Can Surprise You | Travel | Surprise | Red Light District | Marijuana | Bikes | XXX

Amsterdam is a city most well known for its tolerance and its canals… And although I had been there 15 years ago, there were things that caught me by surprise this time going there as an adult!

1. Public Male Toilets. Like… Really public! To combat public urination into the canals, the Amsterdam city government has put public, bare-bone urinals around the city. I hear that the feminist groups protested, so they set up female bathrooms too, which became infested with drug dealers and homeless people… In the end, they got rid of them, and we are left only with male urinals.

Best I can do without getting too close
Best I can do without getting too close

2. Hook on buildings. We noticed curious hooks on the top of almost every building in Amsterdam. After being puzzled for a couple of days – I finally figured it out. Staircases in Amsterdam tend to be spiral and extremely narrow, making it impossible to lift furniture up. That’s why they hoist it up with ropes on the hook, and bring it in through the window! A separate question is how old people get up and down the stairs…

Hooks along the top rim of buildings
Hooks along the top rim of buildings

3. No hard liquor in supermarkets. 🙁 learned it the hard way…

4. Purple lights in the Red Light District. For those that plan on visiting the Red Light District, it’s important to know that purple lights in the window signifies that the lady is a transvestite!

This is red. Learn to tell purple from red.
This is red. Learn to tell purple from red.

5. 50 euros per service in the Red Light District. It costs around 50 euros per service (of course, it depends on the type of service), and this lasts around 6 minutes. The girls rent windows at a 8 or 12 hour period, for around 150 euros. So, you need around 3 clients to break even for the shift. I learned this at the Museum of Prostitution, highly recommended!!

6. Vending machine hot food. From the chain store FEBO. Did they get this idea from Japan? They have vending machine croquettes and hamburgers, all around the city. It’s great fast food option. Important: They don’t give out change!!!!

Vending machine food. Give exact change.
Vending machine food. Give exact change.

7. Drugs (legal) are not cheap. A dose of shrooms is 20 euros. A brownie space cake is 5 euros. Somehow I thought that it would be cheaper there, since it’s so commonplace, but of course, once it is legal, the government charges taxes! To me, these things are not that appealing or interesting once they are legal…

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Weed condom.
Weed condom.

8. It rains.. Like almost all the time.

Everything's wet..
Everything’s wet..

9. Accommodations are 2-3 times more expensive on the weekend. I also noticed that there was a lot less people lining up at the museums on Monday (yes, the most important museums were open). It is very much a weekend destination.

Weekend vs Weekday price comparison
Weekend vs Weekday price comparison

10. Dutch food. “Dutch food” is not a cuisine that really evoked any images in my mind. To be honest, it still doesn’t. But the stroopwafels were damn good (definitely get the fresh ones) and Erwtensoep (aka pea goo) was also surprisingly delicious, especially in the winter.

Most filling soup ever. Is this still considered as a soup if it's solid?
Most filling soup ever. Is this even still considered as a soup?

11: XXX is the abbreviation for Amsterdam. Are you serious or is this some marketing ploy?

Triple X everything, even the trash can.
Triple X everything, even the trash can.

12: Everyone speaks English! It’s a pleasant surprise and a huge relief.

Read Part 2 of Things that Surprise me about Amsterdam – Local’s Edition!

12 Ways Amsterdam Can Shock You | Travel | Surprise | Red Light District | Marijuana | Bikes | XXX

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  2. […] first wrote my list of 12 Surprising things about Amsterdam after visiting the city in a 3-day tourist trip in February, 2015. I ended up moving to Amsterdam […]

  3. I visited Amsterdam last year. It is a romantic city. I was surprised when I found those food vending machines.

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