Although I enjoyed the train ride and the picnic on the train very much, but I did not enjoy the Amsterdam city as much. I tried my best to be enamoured by the charms of this much loved city, but I am sorry I did not find it charming or for that matter interesting. It is not that I disliked the city, but I did not love it either. At every next corner I kept thinking may be I will find something that I would hold my interest. In order to be moved by something or a place, there should be a connection , a spark. Unfortunately I could not connect to this city. My husband and I felt that the city has been oversold. In fact after I returned from the trip, I looked up on internet, if any one else felt the same way about Amsterdam or was it just us. I found a few which called Amsterdam boring and overrated.
Over-tourism is a serious problem in Amsterdam. The crowding is not the only major issue, but managing the crowd has become a serious concern. Amsterdam is a liberal city well known for its open mindedness , which makes it extremely difficult to tell people especially travellers to behave. I read in an article recently that the famous IAmsterdam sign from Museumplein, had to be moved, as a crowd control measure. Although I was disappointed when I read the news, I do understand the concerns and the reasoning behind it. I have my sympathies for the locals who have to put up with some unruly tourists, for instance swimming is not permitted in the canals( not that the water looked very clean) , the canals are more for transporting people and it would be difficult to spot a swimmer from a boat. Yet I saw someone jumping in the water from a boat ( I think may have been part of bachelors party). There has to be a balanced approach in having fun and creating memories without creating a chaos especially as a tourist. I had read that cycling is ideal and a popular way to travel in Amsterdam, and seen way too many adorable photos on Instagram with cycle leaning on the bridges with views of canals to vouch for it. There is a truth which the photos are not revealing. The IAmsterdam s website states cycling in the city is hectic and can be challenging if you are not used to Amsterdam style traffic. The city is the bicycle capital of the world and is ruled by the cyclists, who rush around in the city on their bikes, outnumbering the motorists and have their own say. Please do not be in a cyclists way, while in Amsterdam as they do not appreciate someone being in their paths. There is an eternal battle on the road between Amsterdammer cyclists and tourists walking leisurely on the cycling path or taking selfies unaware of the Amsterdammer. ( I was not that tourist nor was my husband). I like being a traveler and being a responsible one too. So for me this was a tad stressful scenario, where the locals view you as a petulant child /another unruly tourist not what I want on my holiday.
When we visited RijksMuseum, we were looking forward to looking at works of Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer. And we did enjoy seeing the paintings, but it was extremely crowded in front of each famous painting. I understand that, as even I was visiting to see the famous works of art. I have been to other art galleries and museums where it is choc a block, yet there was something different , a bit worrisome for me here. Everyone was trying to take a perfect photo with the art work or of the art work and then moving on. And I could not see any artwork without a hand with camera or phone, popping in front of eyes, blocking me from seeing and experiencing the painting. It is not a pleasant or a happy feeling. I completely understand taking photos are a wonderful way of documenting your life and I do too, but I hope I am not a travel snapper without consideration for others. I also love the whole experience, not just taking photos, but of being somewhere, seeing a masterpiece with my own eyes, and the surrounding, it is part of the whole experience.It also made me realise the significance of a memory ; an experience more than just a photograph. I thought a lot, pondered a lot, about it before voicing it out loud on this blog. I do not have a concern with crowding, I was born and raised in India, it is way more crowded than Amsterdam, and when you travel to cities, I am usually prepared for it to be crowded. So I am sure it is not the crowds that worried me, but the way crowd was reacting. It made me wonder am I responsible traveler. Being responsible traveler is surely being a considerate one too, considerate of fellow tourists and towards the locals. Surely making memories is more than clicking that perfect photo, but enjoying the moment. I still remember vividly , the moment I saw Monalisa for the first time many years ago.
Begijnhof of Brugge inspired us to visit the Beginjhof of Amsterdam. It used to be living space for unmarried catholic women to live a pious life, without being a nun, to live and work together as a community. It is a pretty part of Amsterdam, but I personally think the Begijnhof Brugge is more pretty and filled with tranquil beauty. We did the canal tour, watched the colourful buildings of canal side, and I fell asleep during the canal tour, which for some reason my husband found extremely hilarious. I particularly loved the public transport of Amsterdam, the metro and trams. I loved the mellow-pipe music on Waterlooplein station while waiting for the train and loved watching the city and its little alleyways from the tram. Vondelpark is another place in the city which I liked very much, it had lovely blooms of roses.
We visited the Old Holland and enjoyed Zanse Schans a lot. The windmills and museums give a wonderful insight in to the industrial heritage past of Amsterdam with its huge clock making ties was interesting.
Although Amsterdam failed to win me over with its cafes, liberal views, and canals. For me it neither had a quiet charm and allure of a small city nor did it have the spectacular buzz of a big city. It did make me realise, not all places are for me and taught a valuable lesson on creating memorable moments. I may not have found this city interesting but then interesting is a relative term, just like Beauty. As John Keats said “ Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” In no way I am saying don’t go to Amsterdam, please do travel, be a considerate and responsible traveler, and find your own experiences.