Visiting a new city when you have zero sense of direction is always tricky, so it was fortunate that I had not just an experienced guide but members of his lovely family who live there to show me some of the behind-the-scenes scenes.
My thoughts of Amsterdam pre-Amsterdam were canals, bicycles and dodgy coffee shops, and while none of these disappointed, there was plenty more to experience too.
For culture we took on both new and old. First - Banksy.
I went in feeling a bit condescending at his clear 'selling out' once he hit the big time. Had he become a victim of his own success? The butt of the joke for 'real' graffiti artists? The exhibition was good - thought provoking and funny. The documentary 'Exit through the gift shop' played from a projector on a loop as you entered, and at the end you exited through the actual gift shop, where others queued without irony to buy his products. Hmm.
I left feeling more than a little mocked by his clever images ('I can't believe you morons buy this shit' was a particular favourite) - and also confused as to whether in fact he had had the last laugh at our expense after all.
|He's still funny though|
Stunning but tiring. Time for a pint.
|Hill Street Blues|
The bars, pubs, coffee shops and restaurants are many and diverse, with something for everyone.
Enjoy your nights out, but be sure to bring your own Solpadeine - weed, hash, sex and alcohol may all be legal but Codeine? Not a chance.
Make of that what you will.
Strolling or cycling through the streets of Amsterdam is a joy in itself - you could easily spend your whole weekend admiring monumental buildings, ancient history, modern architecture, canal boats, bridges and crooked houses.
With a jam packed weekend filled with great restaurants, family football, museums, galleries, exhibitions, pints, adventure, coffee and much more - we only skimmed the surface.
I'm looking forward to the next instalment already.