Whenever I tell someone I went to Amsterdam, I get the typical peevish response of “Ouuu Amsterdam”.

Yes, I get it. Amsterdam. The capital of legality. The hub for European bachelor parties and stereotypical hippie atmosphere. As I landed in the Netherland’s most famous city, I realized that my only knowledge of the city was from obscure movie references like Harold and Kumar, and grade 10 high school history lessons.

I had 8 hours to discover the city centre. As I landed, I was ready to explore the intricacies of the ‘Dam and to discover if these rumours were true.

The first 10 minutes of my visit confirmed every stereotype I had ever heard. As I step out of the train from the airport, I notice thousands of bikes, a bike parking garage and cyclists everywhere. As I walk towards the centre of the city, I notice the pungent recognizable scent of those classic weed cafés, like The Bulldog.

Finally, this is the cherry on top. I keep walking, and I notice a small red light in one of the alleys. What I didn’t realize is that I just entered the world famous Red Light District. Just like the lyrics of “Roxanne” by The Police, I didn’t want anyone to put on the red light at 8 in the morning.

A naive boy from Northern Ontario is walking in the alleys of the Red Light District, what could go wrong?

I notice a woman’s head pop out of a door in the alley. She smiles and requests my help for something. Without hesitation, I offer my helping hand. As I approach, the door swings open to reveal a nude woman waiting in the entrance. I immediately realize where I was and started backing away. She asks me where I was from, what I was doing. Finally, she ends to conversation with a bold statement. “Can I lick your balls?”. That is when I burst out laughing and walked away. That was my first 10 minutes in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam did not disappoint. What an interesting place. I later got to explore the city and found out that it is way more than these dumb Hollywood stereotypes. But those first 10 minutes left a lasting impression in my brain.

Please share your own interesting travel stories. Maybe the first impression you got from a city!

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