Bet You Didn’t Know….

by brian on January 31, 2009

Like I was saying Amsterdam is much more than the Red Light District and smoking. Let me take you through a brief journey through Amsterdam’s history you probably have not heard…

By now you know you must do the Free Tours where ever they are available. Right now they are only in Europe, which I find surprising. If you Google free tours they are available in other cities run by different organizations, but I can’t vouch for their quality. This is my second one with the same company and they both have been great. This time we had a Brit named Alex who gave a 3 hour walking tour of Amsterdam.

 Bet You Didnt Know....
Alex talked about the history of Amsterdam and how the Red Light District came to be. Amsterdam back in the day was a major port and trading post. Sailors out to sea for months at a time, they come into port…you get the picture.

Now the importance of the Catholic Church in these times cannot be overstated. To absolve you of your sins you paid a tax. If you knew you were going to mess up, you could pay in advance!

Amsterdam is a super liberal country because after World War II and the strict crackdown the Nazis imposed, the Dutch went to the other extreme after they were liberated. Hence the very lax rules on the Red Light District and smoking.

The tour ended at Anne Frank’s house, where she and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. I haven’t read the book since I was a kid, but now I can appreciate the intelligence she wrote with at such a young age.

 Bet You Didnt Know....
Also visited the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. I am by no means an art connoisseur but I can appreciate the time and effort it takes to create something considered a masterpiece. At least the museums here have explanations in Dutch AND English. Most of the French museums only had French explanations for their exhibits.

Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer…all names I heard in passing but it was nice to see their works up close and personal.

Sorry they don’t allow photos of artwork. Unlike the Mona Lisa back at the Louvre, there is no protective glass to shield the paintings and sculptures from repeated camera flashes.

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