Home for our stay in Amsterdam was a pretty floating hostel boat moored in Oosterdok, with the most laid back ship's captain ever to exist, Brad the Lad! The cabins were "cosy." In other words, no room to swing a cat, but the novelty factor was enough that we didn't really care.
Plus, we were in the cabins literally just to sleep. After arriving in the city, we headed straight for the centre and one of the two main squares for Amsterdam nightlife. It was freezing and peeing with rain at this point, so we felt really at home here! We spent the evening moving from pub to pub when the rain let off a bit. After dark, we wandered round the infamous red light district and saw the ladies (and "ladies"....is that a Mars bar in your bikini bottoms?!) posing around. There were so many police officers round about, generally the place felt quite safe. We were told that the women are all entrepreneurs with their own business and profits... So that makes it okay(?).
Next morning, after breakfast on deck (prepared and washed up by Captain Brad) we went to Dam Square and the Flower Market for a float around. In the afternoon, a free walking tour of the city took us to all the hotspots: the red light district, the old church, new market square, the Jewish quarter, the hidden church, Anne Frank's house, The Gray Line coffee shop where P. Diddy and Snoop Dogg visited, the narrowest house in Amsterdam, the best cheese shop in Amsterdam (complete with sample)... The city is extremely diverse (apparently about 173 nationalities in a population of 80,000) and we saw everything from fancy merchant's houses for millions of euros, to "legal" squats covered in street art (or graffiti, depending upon your take on it). Our tour guide was a Dutch-Canadian lady, Lee, who's been living in Amsterdam for five years, and who was one of these cool hippy types who you'd imagine is probably a vegan. Her chat was hilarious and managed to keep us entertained for three hours in the freezing wind and showers! Gold star to Lee.
We spent the evening eating and drinking in Spui Square (no idea how to pronounce it) which the tour guide had told us was preferred by the locals and wouldn't rip us off! Was a nice change to pay only €2 for a beer.
For all the locals' protests that Amsterdam is not only about sex and drugs.. Really, it seems mostly about sex and drugs. The red light district and coffee shops were the busiest areas of the city. That said, we did see a lot of other cool stuff and, if we'd visited museums, I'm sure we would have had a culture fix too. It's a beautiful city where you can wander round the canals, markets, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and cafés and never really get bored.