• Whitney

XXX Amsterdam XXX


Hello, Vincent.

Every time I tell an American that I'm going to Amsterdam, I get the same reaction. You can see on their face that they are trying to figure out why a nice girl like me would go to a naughty place like Amsterdam. Hahaha And I understand this because when Covergirl initially asked me to go to Amsterdam, I too, felt confused. I had to make an appearance on the following season of America's Next Top Model and they happened to be shooting there. All I knew about the city was that marijuana and prostitution were legal. I had seen Amsterdam featured in movies like "Hostel" and "Eurotrip," but I didn't really know what to expect other than high Americans and young people making bad decisions.


We have created an image of Amsterdam that really doesn't represent the city at all. In our minds, we are going to land in that airport and be overcome with sin, like a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. However, a Dutch person doesn't view it that way at all. Just because it's legal, doesn't mean that everyone is doing it. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of people partaking in these acts are American tourists. When you're raised in a place where these things are normal, it makes them less of a big deal! It's like when you look at countries with a lower drinking age. Rates of alcoholism, deaths from alcohol, etc. all go down.


Many people think the famous triple X symbol for Amsterdam is representative of the red light district, but the X's are actually shorthand for three Saint Andrew's crosses! It wasn't until I started reading a tourist map that I realized this is where the Van Gogh Museum is, along with the Anne Frank house, Riechtsmuseum and if you take a short train or bicycle ride, you can see Holland's famous tulips and windmills! This city is not the Daytona Beach of Europe, lacking culture and full of bouncing bimbos with questionable addictions and Daddy issues. This city has real, deep-rooted culture! Gasp!


Taking the ferry to the hotel.

Amsterdam is a beautiful city, rich in history and full of inspiration for artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh. It is known as the "Venice of the north" because of it's elaborate canal system. Be careful crossing those beautiful little canal bridges because if you don't pay close attention, you're likely to get run over by one of hundreds of thousands of bicyclists pedaling around!


I booked this trip to Amsterdam because I received an email from Next Vacay that there were flights from my area for only $450 roundtrip. As someone who is always looking for an excuse to leave the country, this was just the motivation that I needed! I wanted to stay in a hotel that was a little less conventional than the brick and mortars I had stayed in previously. In Amsterdam, there is no shortage of creative hotel concepts, like sleeping in an actual crane, or in a tram... I wasn't ready to be that interesting, so we opted for a boat hotel. Amsterdam is a major hub for backpackers and tourists, particularly young ones interested in a good discotech (club) which means that you want to be thorough when researching your hotel. Many are hostels and some are hotels with shared bathrooms, which is not my cup of tea... I booked a room on the Kapitein Anna, a small boat docked at pier 6. There is a free ferry that runs every 15 minutes from Amsterdam Central to pier 6. If nothing else, consider it a free ride on the canals!


Ian and I landed in Amsterdam around 10:00am. We were tired, but also eager to explore since Ian had never been to Amsterdam before. We took the train from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Central, which is exactly what it sounds like. Amsterdam Central station is right in the middle of everything. We decided to find a little cafe and get a coffee and a bite to eat. We didn't have a particular place in mind, but were looking for anything vegan and caffeinated. As we walked, we passed many "coffee shops" which are where marijuana is sold. We also passed a "condomeriam" that we didn't go into, but judging by the windows, had a ridiculous assortment of novelty condoms in case your wiener happens to be the size of a wine bottle, etc. I'm sure that most of their business is bachelorette parties and whatnot. We saw an adorable chocolate shop with vegan brownies and ordered 2 espressos, 2 fresh squeezed orange juices, and a vegan brownie for breakfast. We desperately needed Wifi to download directions to our boat hotel and surprisingly, very few places in Amsterdam offer free Wifi! Thankfully, this cafe did have Wifi and we quickly downloaded directions that we would later ignore.


"Condomerie" Lol

As we left the cafe, I asked Ian if he wanted to go into a neighboring "coffee shop" to look around and see what it was like. He hesitantly agreed. The woman behind the counter clearly knew that we were squares and had no interest in wasting any hospitality on us. They had a platter of CBD peanut butter cups next to the register. The woman couldn't tell us how much CBD was in each peanut butter cup, but CBD doesn't get you high, so I figured it couldn't be bad. We walked out and split the peanut butter cup in half. It was pretty good! I guess I should have paid more attention to our surroundings (why did we even bother downloading directions?) because as we headed back to central, we began passing live women in lingerie standing in the windows. It was maybe 1:30 in the afternoon and I almost didn't even notice and then... I couldn't not notice! It was such a strange sight, especially in the afternoon sunshine. The women were not at all what I had pictured. I was thinking that the women would be really thin, Eastern European girls of questionable ages. These women looked a lot like the girls at a bar in Tennessee. I was pretty shocked and I'm not sure if it's because these were the daytime hookers, but my imagination certainly got it wrong. I didn't really know how to react to the sight of these women. I was trying not to make eye contact, but also feeling weird for not looking at them, so we just picked up the pace a touch and tried to not look like we were affected by the sight. That's me and Ian, just playing it cool...


Vegan brownies for the win! #breakfast

We checked into our boat hotel around 4:30pm, utterly exhausted from the flight and feeling painless from that CBD peanut butter cup. There was no one else around the hotel at the time and the guy at the front desk walked us to our room. I was worried that being on a boat might lead to some sea-sickness, but there were big windows all around the top wall of the room and the rocking didn't bother me in the least. We quickly drew the blinds and when we woke up, it was 8:30pm the following day! I think it's safe to say that the rocking of the boat might have actually led to us having some of the best sleep of our lives! Obviously, we needed the sleep, but even I didn't realize that kind of sleep was humanly possible. The staff probably thought we were drug addicts!


After waking up in the evening, we were quite ravenous and had already consumed most of our vegan snacks during the flight over. Ian and I were both in a zombie-like state, trying to find local restaurants that served vegan fare. Ian found one called Plex that was only about 6 blocks away. We plugged the destination into our google maps app and started off down the pier towards the mainland.


The area around pier 6 is not as dense as Amsterdam Central. There are a few nice restaurants, but there are certainly some dark spots in-between walking there. I should also mention that there is a building right next to the pier that flashes huge, rainbow letters announcing it as "SEXYLAND," though the building itself could probably use a face lift. I'm not sure what goes on at sexyland, but I'm guessing they don't offer senior bingo night or kid-friendly specials...


No explanation needed.

We could see the destination on the map, but there were two routes to get there. My husband decided to take the fastest route, which happened to be the less well-lit route that had no businesses. It did have loads of abandoned cars and empty shipping containers, though so... that's a plus (this is sarcasm). I am a bit paranoid and certainly deal with my fair share of anxiety. I wasn't really able to express my disdain for this treacherous path until I was sure that; 1. No one was going to pop out of the parked, unmarked van ahead of me and sell me into sex slavery and 2. My husband hadn't decided marriage wasn't working out and was actively trying to sell me into sex slavery (I assume sex slavery because I don't clean or do laundry). I was on high alert walking through that dark alley and I'm pretty sure Ian was completely oblivious to the risks we had put ourselves in (it must be nice to be a white, upper class male). Thankfully, we turned the corner onto a street with some orange glowing lamps and the GPS showed us closing in on our destination, but there wasn't anything but shipping containers ahead. I was now hungry, mad that my husband had risked our lives, and, did I mention hungry?? As we edged up to the shipping container, we saw a few people smoking outside, which was a good sign. There was a plastic flap, like what you see in meat containers to keep the cool air in and even though it felt sketchy, it felt less sketchy then going back the way we came.


Thankfully, as we walked through the thick, plastic flaps, the restaurant, Pllek unfolded before us and it was beautiful. The entire structure was built out of old shipping containers, but there was a huge, glass wall overlooking the water. There was even a cool pipe fireplace that seemed to drop out of nowhere. We were greeted with water and menus featuring both vegan and non-vegan items (You rarely find both options at restaurants). I ordered a peppermint tea to calm my nerves and Ian had a Dutch beer. We decided to share a few appetizers and we were blown away. To this day, these appetizers are one of the best, most well executed vegan dishes that either of us have ever tasted. We weren't quite full and the kitchen was closing so we asked for the server's recommendation and we split the salt crusted celeriac root, which I know I shouldn't have ordered because I loathe celery, but I'm a pushover. It was okay. I had another cup of tea and we decided to walk back to the hotel, surprisingly still tired! This time, we took the more well-lit path and upon reaching our rooms, slept for an additional 9 hours.



The following day, we felt compelled to get our butts out of bed and actually see the city! Our first stop was the Van Gogh Museum. We bought our tickets online even though it isn't any cheaper because you get to skip the line. I'm not a big fan of lines. Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists, but I had already visited the museum before. I stopped by my favorite paintings and left Ian (He is an artist and chef) some time to wander without me. I knew that the next museum was much more important to him so we didn't spend too much time here.


Our next stop was the MoCo. I had never been and they were currently displaying a Banksy exhibit, one of Ian's favorite artists. Again, we purchased our tickets online to save about $3 each. There was no line. The museum is small and situated in a Dutch house of sorts. You climb the stairs to the third floor to begin the exhibit and slowly work your way through room to room and down each floor until it leads you outside. There were a few Warhol pieces and some works from two Iranian brothers (Icy & Sot) that we both loved.


We were completely starving when we left the Momo and since our next stop was to be the Heineken Experience, we knew we needed food. There was a restaurant called, "Vegan Junk Food Bar" less than a mile away and we agreed that they might have some vegan-friendly options! We were not wrong. Vegan Junk Food Bar feels like a vegan unicorn threw up all over a building and decided to force sad millenials to work inside of it. Everything is the same shade of that pink 90s lipgloss that didn't look good on anyone, and I think that this would be okay if they could get a cheery staff that matched the decor.

Instead, it feels like eating in a Hot Topic. Alas, the menu is everything you could want when it comes to junk food cravings. We ordered the "unicorn bread" and the "appetizer sampler platter" but traded the onion rings for truffle fries (who charges more money for fried onions than truffle fries?!). Spoiler alert, the unicorn bread is teal and I'm pretty sure it's not from spirulina. It just tasted like crappy white bread with blue dye, but it's served with hot pink mayonnaise! What?! Mayonnaise and bread? Maybe we should have smoked weed before coming here... The appetizer sampler was all deep fried and all awesome because, how do you screw that up?!


Ian ordered the shwarma burger and I got the McChicken. Both dishes were beautiful, delicious, and way too much food for two mortals to eat. Seriously, my burger tasted like a double McChicken from McDonalds except way more delicious!!!! I am still wondering why all of the bread is dyed but it tastes just like bread so I guess I won't complain. The service as aforementioned was crap, but it was a touristy area so maybe they were just over stoned tourists. I get it. Everyone has an off day. It just sucks when you as a customer are so excited to eat somewhere and the staff doesn't match your enthusiasm. Let me love you!!!


We bought our Heineken tickets at the tour because finding free wifi in Amsterdam is nearly freaking impossible (but here's a link if you want to book discounted tickets and save a few euros). Seriously, get it together, Amsterdam. We went through the tour but tried to skip ahead a bit because we've now been to so many breweries, we could probably run the tour. They are all pretty much the same, but the beer is so good! At least, the Guinness tour in Dublin has the best Guinness you'll ever taste! So, I think it's worth doing the international beer tours to get the best, most authentic version of that beer, but I could skip the long tours about making the beer. It's all pretty much the same.


Tiny Heini!

Ian and I spent the early evening walking around Amsterdam getting lost; A gift that we seem to possess so well. We debated renting bikes but I was almost run over by a few while walking and I had a feeling that riding wouldn't go any better for me. As we wrapped up our last night in the city, we decided to be adventurous and get a joint from one of the many "coffee" shops. I should let you know that neither my husband or I regularly partake in smoking marijuana. We've ben to places where it is legal and have tried it, but we're both paranoid and it just isn't really our thing. However, when in Rome, right? Since we don't know anything about weed, I ordered one joint to share. We decided to smoke half of it while waiting for our uber. So, each of us smoked 1/4 of one joint. We didn't immediately feel anything and climbed into the Uber feeling like a giddy teenager. That quickly changed. Ian and I were... toasted. Neither of us could even form sentences and our 10 minute uber ride felt like it took hours! Every time the train went by, I thought we were flying in outerspace.


The inside of a coffee shop. They had a swing!

We pulled up to our hotel and the guy at the front desk read us like a book. Our mouths were dry, we probably reeked of weed, peeking over the desk, one bloodshot eye at a time... The hotel manager kept "upgrading" our room. He asked if we wanted to upgrade one thing or another, over and over, pulling out his calculator and punching in numbers that we could not comprehend. "Just take my money, sir!" At one point, a pen rolled in slow motion off the front desk and I could only watch it, frozen. Mind. Blown. As we walked up the stairs to our room (I was way too high to get in an elevator) Ian actually said aloud that he thought gravity had started attacking him. We are so old and uncool. We finally managed to set an alarm to catch our flight the following day. Now, thankfully, we could just lay in bed and go to sleep.We were completely useless for anything else. Needless to say, we never finished that joint.


I highly recommend visiting Amsterdam if you ever get the chance or see a cheap booking. It's such a central hub that even if you decide you don't like it, you can book a flight to Ireland, Spain, England, etc. for about $60 (check Easy Jet & Ryan Air.) If you're crossing the pond, you might as well make it count and see a few places at the same time! Ian and I booked our flight from Amsterdam to Costa del Sol, Spain for $77 and that was our next stop.




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About Me

          My name is Whitney Lee Thompson Forrester. You may recognize me as the cycle 10 winner of America's Next Top Model (the plus-size winner), but I am also a restaurant owner, travel enthusiast, vegan, animal lover, & fashion fiend...

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