- The name Amsterdam comes from the dam built on the river Amstel that passes through the city.
- Holland ("wood lands") is the western part of the Netherlands ("low lands"). It lies largely below sea level.
- Since Amsterdam is located on swamp land, each house is built to sit on 40 to 50 wood posts that run 15 meter deep. This helps to prevent the houses from sinking.
- The entire city burned down twice in history, so now there are only only 2 wooden houses left.
- Napoleon, after his conquest, forced everyone to have surnames. Hollanders previously didn't use surnames and thought the idea was silly, so they made up silly surnames for themselves thinking it was just temporary. Although the French left, the surnames stayed, so, to this day many people still have their funny Dutch surnames such as Naaktgeboren ("born naked"), Piest ("urinating"), Poepjes ("little farts"), etc.
As you walk through the streets, you notice that the houses looks like they are falling over or leaning out into the street. Sometimes this is due to the rotting of their wooden support posts, but in many cases, the leaning construction is actually intentional! If you look up at the top of many homes you will see a pulley, rope, and hook. The pulley system allows for furniture/goods to be easily hoist to the upper floors and attic. Having the house tilted slightly forward allows the item to be pulled straight up without bumping into the front of the building on the way up.
- We always thought it was legal to consume marijuana in Amsterdam, but learned that it's actually "illegal, but tolerated". Shops are licensed to sell it, even though it’s illegal.
- Prostitution became legal and regulated in 2000.
- On average a lady gets 12 to 16 patron per 8 hour shift
- The average time that a man spends with the woman is 8 minutes
- There are no male prostitutes for women - apparently they did try, but it failed after 4 days
There were so many interesting things we learned during the tour (way too many to blog about :) ). So if you're planning to visit Amsterdam we definitely recommend taking the free walking tour with Free Dam Tours to find out more!