Amsterdam, where umbrella's come to die.
A podcast about the Netherlands weather.
As a private tour guide, I am the missing link between what the Dutch think is worth showing off and what the actual visitors want to see.
In Amsterdam, we differentiate between types of tourists. There are groups of people that come and drink and smoke and misbehave like they never would at home. They are strong in their beliefs that anything is allowed in Amsterdam. And they come from anywhere, even from the Netherlands. I distinctly remember a group of Dutch women, one dropped a piece of paper towel and her friend said to leave it because it is Amsterdam. She was lucky I was walking with guests and didn't want to spoil the nice mood. I wanted to ask her for her address to come and return the favor one day.
Then there are the groups that seem to think you can visit the whole of Europe in a week. Technically they are not wrong. They keep a stiff pace and take pictures of everything without listening to stories and for instance drinking and eating typical foods and flavors. Neither of those two types of tourists is travelers that I deal with.
My guests are never in a big group, usually one or two people enjoying only three days and feeling sorry about that oversight because they are nowhere near done looking at everything. Smart travelers even book a layover tour: if you have at least 4 hours between flights you can visit Amsterdam with a guide and see what you want to come back to.
We walk at Dutch pace along the streets and canals of this beautiful city and I make them feel like a true local for the duration of the tour. We stroll and since I know the best places for good bites and sips we are totally satisfied afterward. The plan is somewhat laid out before but there are many reasons to stray and this way I can tailor the tour to fit like a glove for each person.
Especially this type of traveler is into really experiencing real life in the place they are visiting. That makes the memories that stay with you. You feel like it was your trip and not the trip of the masses.
Funny that when you are still at home planning your trip the brochures will not show the long lines and masses of fellow sightsee-ers that are always there when you are. And even I can appreciate the wish to see a certain sight with your own eyes. Having to water down that personal moment with standing in line with people that are never this invested in it as you are is just not nice. If only somebody had tipped you beforehand, right?
I get the impression that the information that goes out into the world about the Netherlands is filtered. I know from personal experience that when you ask what people come to Amsterdam for they will never mention smoking or red light because they would feel embarrassed saying it out loud. They will however mention the museum and Anne Frank house.
Well for those kinds of people I provide valuable tips. About where to go and what to look out for. And how we Dutch feel about the Red Light and the smoking. Where you are allowed and what you can expect.
I will even tell you what rules we like to break and how much of them. I can talk to you from an insider's perspective. An insider that talks to visitors a lot and this way I got to wondering why nobody ever prepares you for the simplest things that can spare you other kinds of embarrassments or just plain save travel time.