Like most Millennials, I have been bitten by the Wanderlust bug. I love the idea of jetting off to some foreign country, exploring their cobblestone streets, immersing myself in their unique culture, and taking in their rich history. I also like traveling with friends more. Not that I don’t appreciate our family trips but I guess it just feels more empowering to be able to pay for my own flight and plan my own itinerary, no holds barred.
My personal favorite continent to travel to is Europe, hands down (apart from Asia, of course). So much so, that I promised myself I’d try to go at least once a year, if funds permit. I haven’t fully explored Europe (I’m dying to go to an Eastern European tour) as I’ve always been so vanilla with my city choices previously, but a city worth visiting especially amongst friends would be: Amsterdam.
Back story: planning a trip for 2017 wasn’t exactly a spur-of- the-moment thing. I had just come from a Tokyo trip last December 2016 in an attempt to have an “Eat, Pray, Love” sojourn of sorts. It was one of the few rituals I wanted to undertake as a sign of embracing my “Singlehood” (which didn’t last that long anyway), and since my best friend had to beg off, I literally had to bribe my other good friend with free airfare so she’d come with. My best friend, green with envy afterwards, demanded we do a 2017 trip together since we were (1) both single, and (2) have never travelled together. As we did our travel bucket list, we zeroed-in on St. Petersburg and canvassed for it. But after a small Christmas gathering with friends and a lot of liquid courage (in the form of 2 Patron bottles), we had decided to derail plans and join them in Amsterdam for May. Never mind that there were no itineraries yet or even return tickets, we said “Yolo”, did a few more shots, and booked.
Sweater: Topshop | Dress: Zara | Shoes: Adidas | Shades: Dior | Bag: Hermes
Amsterdam is a tourist-friendly country. Though its history is rich and apparent, it is a melting pot of
cultures. Spoiler-alert though: it’s slightly expensive, being first world—from accommodations to food, so you have to come prepared.
Going around Amsterdam is surprisingly easy on foot—we covered a lot on our second day considering we spent our first asleep recovering from jet lag. We also did try to rent bicycles for a day for the experience but I much prefer walking (the other cyclists were scary to contend with for a beginner like me). However, if you opt for a location far from the City Center, try and take the tram or train (don’t uber unless necessary).
The great thing about Amsterdam is that it’s a beautiful city and walking around is a “tour” in itself. There’s so much to see, actually, and all you have to do is follow the Canals. If you want a guided tour, there are a multitude of options—you can book tickets online for museum entrances (Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank) and tours, or you can opt to join a free city tour where all you have to do is tip the tourist guide after. There are also canal tours, or if you’re like me and my friends, you’ll rely on google (or my boyfriend since he’s been a few times already).
Top: Primark | Jeans: Wrangler | Bag: Chanel | Flats: Dior
Sitting by the canals, eating in cafes, and “people watching” were one of our favorite hobbies in Amsterdam. We didn’t really go around a lot due to the crazy foot traffic and opted out of the usual tourist traps (we didn’t bother visiting the tulip gardens)–though we did get to shop a bit (Amsterdam has Primark, let that sink in).
There are a lot of adult-oriented spots and activities–in fact, there is a sex museum somewhere in the city center, which we visited for the campiness of it all (I accompanied my best friend just so I could take blackmail photos of her maligning wax members). There are also a lot of adult shops littered all over the city’s nooks and crannies where you can find all sorts of intimate contraptions. Prostitution is also legal and sex shows are dime a dozen. If that’s not your thing, there are a lot of happy “cafes” one can visit–and yes, Marijuana is legal in Amsterdam and you can get it either as a joint, as an edible, or in a little plastic baggie per gram. There are also a few shops that sell magic truffles legally as well. What I wouldn’t recommend is attempting to visit clubs because there aren’t much there (or it’s not like what we’re used to in the Philippines), but if you like doing pub crawls and having way too much lager than you can stomach, then head over the red light district and take your pick.
Amsterdam is not a city for the faint-hearted. I wouldn’t say it’s as crazy as it once was but it’s really not for the conservative. It’s a great place to go with your friends, it’s a great place to try new things, and it’s a super great place to enjoy (which we did). If you and your friends are looking to go to Europe and prefer to do a hipster detour, I think Amsterdam would be a great option.
Coordinates: Zara | Sneakers: Adidas | Bag, Bracelet: Hermes | Scarf: Gucci