Free City Walk in Amsterdam


My friend suggested we join a Free City Walk and tour Amsterdam. I never thought it would be interesting but decided to join. However, our journey was interrupted by the arrival of the Belgium king to Amsterdam. I never knew that Belgium had a king and heard even the Dutch king too had come out to greet him. I thought kings were people from the past. Anyway after the kings and kingmakers left, Amsterdam and the streets were cleared and we met the Free City Walkers near the White Horse at the Amsterdam square.

Tim Van ’T Hul was our friendly guide. Then there was Brenda and another girl. They gave us coupons and explained how and why they do the Free City Walk. They were youthful, energetic and full of life. Tim said they would be happy if a tip was given at the end of the tour and even if we didn’t they would take it in good spirit. Before we moved on they wanted us to introduce ourselves. We the walkers represented several countries from South Korea, Bulgaria, India, Germany, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, United States of America, England and Eritrea.

Tim gave us two warnings. He said the threats in Amsterdam came from cyclists and pickpockets. He said, "When you hear the cycle bells please step away." I am happy that cyclists rule the Netherlands rather than heavy vehicles. It is good for the environment and it helps the country to be free-spirited, in a way. Amsterdam is also well known for pick pockets. Not just the tulips. So said Tim a Netherlander.

Tim was free-spirited, funny and entertaining. He first took us through the Red light district of Amsterdam and explained to us how the priests patronised the area once upon a time. Church was in the centre of the Red light district and the priests had many mistresses at the time, and how the sailors used to come and confess their sins to the priests. He said later the sailors confessed in advance. At the time, the sailors had paid for confessions. The women charged 50 Euros for 15 minutes and Jim calculated that the men take only 6 minutes to do it all. When questioned as to how sailors knew the fifteen minutes were up, Tim said, "When the church bell rang." He warned the walkers not to take pictures unless they wanted to be chased by naked high heeled women. Unlike in the past, they looked terrible, to be honest. I didn’t see many beautiful Dutch girls as before. Most of them looked imported, aged and globalisation had affected them. It is time to make Netherlands first again just like Trump wants to make America first.

Tim took us to where the Dutch East India company was situated. That was the time the Dutch ruled the world. We passed through China town, Jewish areas and saw hidden Catholic churches. A laughing Tim told us that the Dutch national anthem starts with praising the Germans and end by honouring the king of Spain. Someone questioned if the Dutch would change it, Tim said, "No. Ours is the oldest national anthem in the world. So, why should we?"

We were shown the widest bridge and the smallest house in Amsterdam and many more places. We walked through convents, royal palaces, shops alleyways and everything Dutch. I spoke to Alina from Ukraine. She was an IT Business Development Executive. She sounded like a good traveler. She was very emotional about Ukraine and said her country had gone through lots of hardships like Sri Lanka. Alina said she was glad that a Sri Lankan knew about her country. We spoke of the planes from Ukraine, Sri Lanka’s friendship with her country and, of course, Ceylon tea.

We stopped at Tara, a nice trendy cafe in Amsterdam for coffee and hot chocolate. I would recommend anyone to look for Tara the Cafe in Amsterdam. Extremely friendly and a cool place. You sure can have a nice hot chocolate and let your heart melt looking at the beautiful girls behind the counters. Nearly three hour Free City Walk ended near Anne Franks house. I considered it to be a sad ending. Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam is the most visited place in Netherlands and Tim said people have to make bookings months ahead. At the end of the tour Tim said we were free to join him for a coffee or to say good bye. Sorry. I don’t want to take you through the full tour because it is something you need to experience yourself. Why can’t our people be enterprising and do such things in Sri Lanka, in Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Anuradhapura and Jaffna. Tourists like tours like this where they could interact much more freely, learn and entertain themselves.

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