In Summary
  • Amsterdam is well known for beautiful, historic buildings, the coffee shops, the Red Light District, of course, and its urban, intercontinental feel, not to mention the canals that criss-cross this city.
  • This is one of the highest points in Amsterdam, and they have a swing at the top that looks out over a gorgeous skyline, especially in clear weather.
  • If you go into a strip club, be sure to carry a bit of change – entry starts at about 10 euros (about 1200 KES)
  • What fascinated me most about Amsterdam is that it's a city that doesn't take itself or its vices too seriously.

If, like me, you were in Amsterdam for just a day and you are trying to cover as much as is possible in this iconic city, you might have to make a few choices quickly and surrender others as well. Amsterdam is well known for a number of things – beautiful, historic buildings, the coffee shops, the Red Light District, of course, and its urban, intercontinental feel, not to mention the canals that criss-cross this city.

So what did I choose? Well...I'm about to tell you.

The boat we went through the canals on. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

1. CANAL CRUISE

This was pretty much at the top of the list. I don't think you can go to Amsterdam and not see a canal, so you may as well go on a cruise. These guided tours take you over the canals and under the famous walkways, bridges and leaning houses (yes, they actually do lean) that sit by the side of the waterways. It's the quickest way to get a historical injection that only takes about an hour and a half of your day. A ticket, combined with a visit to the A'DAM lookout, will set you back about 25 euros (about 3000 KES) from a regular tours agent.

A view of the arches crossing the canals, Amsterdam. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

2. THE A'DAM LOOKOUT

This is one of the highest points in Amsterdam, and they have a swing at the top that looks out over a gorgeous skyline, especially in clear weather. You've already seen Amsterdam from below, you might as well see it from above, no? The restaurants on the floor below the swing are usually booked well in advance, so you might want to stop at the restaurant in the hotel next door, The Butcher, for a burger. Before, not after, the swing!

The swing overlooking Amsterdam's skyline. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

3. The Coffee Shop

The coffee shop culture is a fascinating one, if you care to indulge in the drugs that are a bit more legal to partake of in this country. I'm talking about marijuana, of course, which Amsterdam is noted for the world over – the reputation of its pot shops precede it.

It's a simple procedure, precisely like going into a kiosk and choosing a blunt of your choice. Because Kenya is so dramatic about this little herb, I don't think the novelty will wear off for you.

It sure didn't for me!

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