I definitely want to come back! I got a good overview though. (The Filipino couple next to me in the cybercafé probably doesn't realize that I'm of the same tribe even though I'm shamelessly eavesdropping.)
I didn't do a lot of research for my visit, since I assumed that Amsterdam is pretty straightforward to get around. Especially in this season as invariably there is a herd of tourists heading in the same direction.
I purchased my train ticket from the Belgian national railroad website. The EurRail website quoted a $150 round trip fare on the high speed train, but my colleague told me about the regular InterCity trains between Brussels and Amsterdam, so I ordered a ticket for €40. Sweet!
I bought the I am Amsterdam card upon my arrival which I thought was a good deal since it included admission to every museum I wanted to go to (except for the Anne Frank house) and a canal cruise and a transit pass. I stayed at the Hans Brinker Hotel in a single room. It was clean and basic, a little noisy, but good enough for €73.
After dropping off my bag at the hotel, I went on a canal cruise. It was a wonderful introduction to the city, especially since I'd done the same in Bruges last year. I love the architecture here especially how the Dutch have melded the modern and the classic, and how people leave their windows wide open with some sort of display like a huge vase of tulips.
Then off to the Rijksmuseum. The original museum itself is undergoing renovations so the "greatest hits" as it were are housed in one of the wings. There were hundreds of people crowding around each work but I'm glad I went. Somehow I can always tell who the Americans are. I can't pin it exactly but I'm right most of the time.
Then walking around the flower market and shopping. I tried to find the Museum of Bags and Purses but no luck despite asking a number of attractive police officers. (And no, I haven't been to the Museum of Shoes either.)
Just like everyone recommended I woke up early, dropped my bag off at the train station, and arrived in time to stand in line at the Anne Frank Museum. There were already about 50-60 people ahead of me even though the museum hadn't opened. For all the visitors I thought it was just OK. Some features that I thought were basic for a museum were missing - for example the guidebook and the exhibits didn't have any numbers so it was hard to see what corresponded to what. As far as I can tell there were no elevators either which made it a bit hard for all the elderly folks who had to climb up several steep flights of stairs.
A few minutes away was the Tulip Museum. A pretty modest affair; the actual "museum" itself is a large room in the basement detailing the history of the tulip, and then a video showing how tulip bulbs are processed. (An amazingly mechanized process.)
I'm not really a big fan of Van Gogh, and again, there were swarms of tourists, but I'm glad I went to the Van Gogh Museum. It really makes a differences seeing "Irises" and "Sunflowers" up close. There were also many works by Van Gogh's contemporaries like Seurat, Monet, and Toulouse-Lautrec.
I didn't smoke pot or see an X-rated film or visit the red light district. Maybe next time - with MoBob.