Amsterdam.  One of the most controversial cities to visit.  And on many traveler's lists.  But beyond all of the hype, Amsterdam is a beautiful and interesting place to visit.  A nine hour train ride from where we live.  Everyone knows about Amsterdam's Red Light District and coffee shops.  But, I didn't know that Amsterdam was known for their dairy and cheeses and vast fields of tulips!  Unfortunately, we didn't go during the spring when the tulip fields would be in bloom, but we did pick up several tulip bulbs to plant in our garden.  It's too bad I can't send them to my family back in the States.  Amsterdam is, believe it or not, one of the most culturally diverse cities, if not the most culturally diverse and everyone speaks English!  Everyone.  Amsterdam even has more canals than Venice.  You don't realize how the city is run by canalways until you see Amsterdam.  Not a bad way to get around.

It might be a little hard to see, but the Red Light District was already in full swing in the middle of the day.  For obvious reasons, I didn't take closer pictures but wherever there is a red lamp there were the well-known windows full of half naked women trying to lure men into their buildings.  Later in the night the streets are filled with prettier "mannequins" and young men eager to knock on their windows.  I overheard a couple of the woman stating their prices as 50 Euros.  Exactly what that includes, i'm not sure, but doesn't that sound a bit cheap?

Bikes, bikes, and more bikes.  All of the locals have bikes.  It's not hard to realize why.  The canals make the streets so narrow that driving is almost impossible and riding a bike is the most practical way to get around, though it was very cold in November and these people are troopers.

We went to see the Anne Frank House which wasn't too far from our hotel at the Rembrant Classic Hotel.  I didn't take pictures inside but this one was one of the best museums I've been too and I highly recommend not leaving Amsterdam without visiting.

Everybody who knows me knows that I love cheese, so when I heard about "the cheese museum"I was very excited.  It was right across the way from the Anne Frank House.  They let you sample lots of cheese and we left with some dents in our pockets, though you cannot fly with cheese to the States.  This was nice but it wasn't a real museum.  If you have the time (and we didn't) I'd go to the Clog and Cheese Factory which is about 40 minutes outside of the city.  

A view of one of the many alleys with coffee shops.  Of course marijuanna is not legal in Amsterdam (though some believe it is) but tolerated by the government.

Pretty views at night.  You can see one of the brightly decorated shopping alley's that I frequented almost every day.  Amsterdam had a lot of awesome shoes.  We ended up spending a lot more money than we had intended.

Brandon and I enjoying a dinner canal cruise on Thanksgiving.  There was a four course dinner.  I had the salad with pumpkin, pea cappuccino (soup), lasagna, and chocolate dipped fruit.  We dined as we cruised around the city center.  It was our favorite part of the trip and very relaxing.

There are so many things to do and see in Amsterdam.  We also visited the torture museum, which was pretty disturbing.  If we had more time we would have gone to the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrant House, Heineken Brewerym and the Artis Zoo.  Now ask me in person about all of the fun stuff we did in Amsterdam.

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-Brittany Ruth