Arriving in Amsterdam we followed the directions to the campsite until we came to a sign with the words "Peace to the world" with psychedelically coloured vans within. Although we were open to a more laid back lifestyle in Amsterdam this came as a shock and we braced ourselves for our hippy hosts. To Kaylas dismay this was not our final destination, which was a short distance away and although ordinary in comparison contained the basics we were looking for i.e. hot showers and nearby public transport to the city central.

With hours before sunset we crossed the bridge to the tram stop and made our way in to the Dam, Amsterdam's main square. Having no plan we did our usual aimless wandering through small streets that contained a surprising variety. One thing that quickly became apparent were the coffeeshops and the shops selling fastfood i.e. columns of mini ovens containing reasonably fresh food that could be bought by the drop of a coin. Almost as proliferant were the lolly shops selling so many sugary sweets that the small price per 100g became expensive when you attempted to try them all. To make matters worse when you returned on another day to try some others, you had forgotten which ones you did or didn't like, so ended up buying far too many again... Or so we were told...

The city was interesting but not remarkable and the canals dirty. Maybe we were jaded from some of the places we had visited but although there were some interesting buildings, overall it just seemed to be a city with some canals. This isn't to say we didn't enjoy walking within it's many streets and soon we were rewarded when we stumbled upon the tulip markets. We were quite amazed at what could be bought there, from fresh tulips to bulbs so you could grow your own, as well as the ever present seeds for plants deemed illegal in other countries. To finish our first impressions off, we indulged in one of the local delicacies, chips served in a cone, eaten while wandering.

After some early morning housekeeping we headed back into the city just before lunch to Starbucks, where we spent the next few hours charging the laptop and bouncing on coffee. While we sat within the warmth and the sun outside we were surprised when, as if out of nowhere, it started to snow. Having dressed for a sunnier day, with our 3 layers of jumpers, on we were confident that we could persevere. Hopping from one haven of warmth to the next we explored one of the other main sides to Amsterdam, that is the souvenir shop. Home of fake clogs, beanies and bongs, we became overwhelmed with the variety to the point where we couldn't stand to see another pink bong in the shape of a dickdyke that we headed back to our van for some reprieve from the biting wind.

The next day was a disappointment. We had hoped that by the time we headed back north, being spring, that it would be a little warmer. Apparently, they didn't get the memo, so we spent a full day insulating ourselves from the sub-zero spring weather, in the van, awaiting the sunny conditions forecasted for the following day. As the new day dawned, with the sun shining, the temperature was a balmy 5o and we headed off early to explore the city some more. After buying the city discount pass, we headed on to Madame Tussauds to catch up with some of our celebrity counterparts. After a great deal of catching up with "old friends" we left the museum to face reality,

With so many canals we were compelled to take a tour within them. With the day growing colder, a trip within a warm boat was ideal and we boarded our boat for a tour. Comfortably seated we were educated about the many wonders of the canals. The recurring theme seemed to be that gables adorned many houses, plus the never ending house boats rotting the sideline. Our highlight was the "skinny bridge", which we saw from afar, and the bicycle parking lot. It is a remarkable city but just a city.

We ended the day with a trip through the Red Light District. Our first impressions were poor as we walked past a window with a naked lady who appeared to have given birth moments before. I would say that the journey improved remarkably but Kayla is watching as I type... As we left, we passed the only store we'd ever seen dedicated solely to condoms. Having to drag Kayla from the district, we left the city for the day.

Initially our aim was to visit the Rijksmuseum to see the works of Rembrandt but unfortunately this was closed. With Starbucks closing there doors to resupply after our coffee break, we tram hopped until we came upon the Albert Cuyp market. Although interesting it was dulled by the biting wind. Next tram hop was to Waterlooplein heading for the house of Rembrandt himself. Along the way we walked through the old flea markets, dodging the gusts of wind that enticed us to buy the "real" furs that were on sale in the market, until we came upon Rembrandts house.

We had planned on going to the "100% Really Fake Rembrandt House" but found out that had been moved to Bali. Our expectations weren't high, so with trepidation we entered the Rembrandt Huis Museum. Initially we were intrigued by the film outlining his life and works but as we made our way up the stairs, audioguide in our ears, we found we had paid to see a house replicated in a way someone thought resembled Rembrandts in his time. It was remarkable the size of the beds they use to live in. He was a remarkable man. The museum was not... Thankfully the top two floors gave way to some of his amazing etchings followed by art by local Dutch artists making the farce of the "house" worth seeing. 

We left Amsterdam disappointed. It's museums were mediocre. All other attractions were overpriced and subpar. It lacked the "Holland" we were looking for. And so we left.