I wanted to write about all the unusual and bizarre things that can be done in Amsterdam. I will post up a more mainstream guide soon, but for now let's focus on all things weird and wonderful.
As you may well know there are particular "activities" that you can only do in this wonderful city of freedom and in honour of that let's see what other wacky things you can get up to....
Red Light District
The name "Red light" comes from the red glow that the neon lights give off in the windows. Prostitution is illegal on the streets in the Netherlands, so official designated windows and venues are built in order for the sex workers to have a safe environment.
Amsterdam is famed for it's liberal approach to prostitution and pornography and it's tolerated to the point that city dwellers don't bat an eyelid when crossing this area of town.
Some parts of this district can be seedy, but let it be said you will feel entirely safe. The majority of the brothels have hired security personnel and the police are patrolling the streets often.
The best way to learn and gain a real insight into this industry is to go on a guided walking tour. Of course this isn't your standard tourist trail and no photographs are permitted, but you will have your eyes opened that's for sure.
One tour I'd suggest is: http://www.amsterdamredlightdistricttour.com/
The Cat Boat
Since Amsterdam is famed for it's water ways and canals, it's no surprise that one of the floating houses is being used as something more unusual...
In 1968 the world's only floating animal sanctuary was opened right on the canal. In particular this sanctuary looks after the city's stray cats and is completely assisted by volunteers and reliant on donations.
You can visit this sanctuary where the staff are informative on their furry friends and you can walk around the boat and take pictures of the cats if you so wish. The gift shop has souvenirs which is a good way to give money back to the sanctuary and if you're a crazy cat fan then you can come away with a cat t-shirt.
For more information: https://depoezenboot.nl/en
Eat local cuisine
I'm sure you all know I am a foodie and one part of travelling around is trying the local cuisine.
Yes, I've tried the waffles, the endless yummy stroopwafels and the frites with oorlog sauce (Peanut and mayo sauce)
One food item which is perhaps lesser known is Osseworst - it's a smoked raw meat sausage.
Yep, if you're a bit squeamish about the thought of eating raw meat (not unlike steak tartar) then perhaps give this dish a miss. However, what it lacks in looks it make up for in taste. The beef is well seasoned with typical Dutch East Indies spices of clove, pepper and nutmeg and served alongside fresh bread.
The Osseworst is the only EU accredited food item to be special only to Amsterdam and there are variety of restaurants that serve this delicacy.
I tasted mine at: Louis Amsterdam http://louis-amsterdam.nl/
One of the best ways to get around the city is on a bicycle. There are reported to be around 800,000 bicycles in Amsterdam and included in that number are the joint tandem bikes.
Nowadays, you can hire bikes made for not just two people but three or four people. These probably do require more coordination and skill, but nonetheless it's not something you can do everyday.
For hire information:
This technically isn't in Amsterdam but I wanted to include because it is only an 11 minute train journey away in Zaandaam. This five star Inntel hotel is located outside of the train station and is probably the wackiest building you'll see here in the Netherlands. Traditional Dutch wooden houses are stacked on top of each other and the "Blue house" on the top right corner is a replica of the Claude Monet painting which he painted whilst visiting Zaandaam.
It's quite a wow moment seeing this hotel and it's design for the first time and you can always stop for lunch in the hotel's restaurant.
Prices start from £75 per night: https://www.inntelhotelsamsterdamzaandam.nl/en/
This specialty shop and museum opened in 1987 and initially the ethos behind it was to reduce the AIDS epidemic in Amsterdam and promote safe sex practices. You can learn about the history behind the invention right down to the origin of the rubber tree.
There are some fun novelty elements behind this store. There is also some bizarre "artworks" made from the condoms and there are definitely some humorous aspects to this place. The gift shop has an extensive range of items from fridge magnets to hand-painted condoms - the perfect holiday souvenir!
I hope you found this alternative guide interesting and please let me know if you visit any of these weird and wonderful destinations.