I’m not sure how many people realized it, but I’m on another European trip. What can I say, I love my job!
I left Thursday straight from work on a 6:05pm flight and got to London at 5am the next morning. Unfortunatly, I got sucked into watching two movies, one about an assasination attempt on the President from within the Secret Service (nothing amazing) and the other was ‘Thank You for Smoking'(which was pretty good). I did nap on the one hour flight from London to Amsterdam, but other than that I was up for 30 hours straight.
After arriving in the Netherlands, I took a train to Amsterdam proper. On the ride there I met Pertto (sp?) from Finland who was moving here to study. He had been here once or twice before so he said he’s show me the little he knew.
We went and got some Kabobs and looked for a hostel, which was a pretty depressing task. Everything in the entire city seemed to be booked so I gave up on that idea and figured I would just go back and sleep at the airport for the night.
We walked around a WHOLE lot trying to find the Red Light District. It seemed that every person we asked sent us back to the place we had just come from, but after probably a good 2 to 3 hours of walking we found it (about 5 minutes from where we had started).
Here we walked up and down and check out all of the Coffeehouses (pot shops). He picked some up, and we moved on to the girls. Summary: Legalized prostitution is weird! The girls just sit there in bathing suits, and if you like them you can go in and do what you’d like for a price. I guess I was picturing that there’d be more nudity and that they’d be dancing more in the windows.
AHHHHH…. time’s running out… posting this for now and then adding more later!~
Trip’s going good though!
Update (2006-08-28 10:11PM Belgian Time (-1GMT)):
Ok, so what I was saying about the Red Light District… During the day, it was just really erie. You could go up to these girls, talk to them, agree on a price, and do what you wanted. There were mothers walking their childrend own the street as if it were no big deal. I sat down and read a book for maybe an hour and just watched all the peole walking by.
After that I checked out an internet cafe (where I started posting this) and read my email. I got a letter from my friends Amy and Sharron with details on where they were going to be staying in Amsterdamn the next night (a total coinincidence we realized about a week earlier). I got directions there and decided to check out where it was before leaving for the airport to sleep for the night.
On the way there I realized how tired I really was and how good it would be to sleep on a real bed, so I figured I’d give looking for a hostel another shot when I got there. This idea was only embrased once I saw the place! It was gorgeous! It looked awesome from outside and then inside it had a huge common room to hang out, its own bar with pool tables, and a cafeteria. It was really awesome, and completely booked. They did have a few beds left for the following night when Amy and Sharron would be staying there so I made a reservation for then got a list of other hostels near by.
The next stop was the Flying Pig, which I’ve only hear good things about, and was my first choice to stay at, but the one down town was full. This one was too, but the girl at the front desk was not only gorgeous but extreamly helpful. She called around to some more hostels for me and found a bed that had just been freed up down the street because they decided to refuse someone another night stay there.
This one wasn’t as nice, but served its purpose. I took a nap for a few hours and then woke up, showered and went out on the town again. I walked around for maybe another 2 -3 hours, came back to the hostel, went online for maybe an hour to look up some information about where I wanted to go the next day, and then went to bed.
The next morning I got up and had the complementary breakfast and started back to the metro station. According to the guide book I had, there was a park De Hoge Veluwe National Park which had the Kroller-Muller Museum. After missing just about every connection on my way there, it took me nearly 3 hours to get to the park, but it was SOO worth it. After paying a few euro’s for admission into the park, you had free use any of the hundreds bicycles they had stored all over the park.
To get to the museam you had to ride 5k into the center of the park, but due to the trains I really didn’t have the time to go here. So I just rode around instead and it was AWESOME! It was hard to understand why this place was like this because everything explaining it was in Dutch, but in the middle of these forests there were all of these sand dunes. It was like you were at the beach, only with out the ocean. It felt like a desert, just not as hot. It was totally wild! I flipped.
On the way back home, I missed the bus I needed to take, so after talking to two other people I met on the way there, I talked them into hitchiking back to the tarin station with me. That actually went surprisenly well and I was back in Amsterdam in no time.
At 8 I met up with Amy and Sharron, and we went out to dinner. We spent some time in the Red Light Districk (which was totatlly different at night time, much more depressing and like what I had expected to see). And then spent some time watching some of the concerts going on around the city.
In one square they had this contest that was free to enter to try and see how many milk creates you could stand on top of. They placed one down on a leveled platform, and you had to stand on it, place another on top of it, stand on it, and continue up, as high as you could go. For every create after 10 you go, you got a token for a free beer. I got up to 12 creates high, but then as I was trying to unhook the 13th from the rope, the guy accidently yanked on it, which nocked me just enough off balance that I came crashing down. You were in a rock climbing harness of course, so there was no problem there.
On sunday we got up early, had breakfast at the hostel and then rented bikes. We went back to the Central Station, but this time we walked our bikes through it and found the free ferry out back that took you across the river. Here on the north side, everything was instantly 1/2 as big, and completely free of the filth that attracts so many people to the south side. We rode around for a few minutes and asked a young girl for directions to a windmill. I was skeptical if we were actually going to be able to fin done, but it turns out there was indeed one not far away.
We missed one turn on the way there, but when we stopped to ask for directions again, we found out that we had actually stumbled upon the oldest dyke in all of Amsterdamn. I talked to a guy that owned a house along it who explained that these houses, which were very modest compared to the buildings on the south side, used to be owned by the richest sailors and that it was a very nice place to live. I thanked him and we headed down a bike path about 100 meters before coming across our first windmill.
We toke some photo’s here and then decided to carry on our trip to the country side, and things only got better. Not 5 minutes later we were surrounded by grassy farmlands spotted here and there with a few sheep or cows. We stoped to talk to another local who was fishing in the canal across from his house who was extreamly friendly, especially after he found out that I was American. He had been to America over 30 times in the last 20 years and proudly showed off his American Flag watch. He said that it raised quite a bit of controversy but that he didn’t care because it was such a great country. We talked to him about the area and listened to his stories about fishing and going snake hunting around the world, and then took his advise and continued down the bike path untill we saw signs for Landsmeer.
Landsmeer was a cute small town filled with farms and newly built buildings in an old style that looked like they’d be absolutely awesome to live in. When we stopped to take a picture of a few of these houses one of the owners came over to talk to us. These Dutch were some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met. We asked this guy were we might be able to get a bite to eat, or see another windmill and he sent us down to a small park not far away. It was really quiant. We rode pase a soccer game and some people playing tennis on these small shaded bike paths untill we got to the other side, where we found a slightly larger bike path and some farm land. We asked some more peolpe directions for the pub we were trying to find which turned out to be right around the corner.
This place was totally local. There was only one bike in the yard, and when you went inside there was just a small cooler with icecream in it, and a bar with maybe eight stools. This place was really more of a boat house than a pub, but had just about all of the seats filled even at 2 in the afernoon.
We checked out the other windmill which was better than the first and headed back to the hostel. We made a few other stops at some sights we wanted to see, but we had already seen everything that we deemed requirements, with the exception of some tulips, so I’ll wrap this up. I got my stuff form the hostel and went back to the train station one last time to get my ticket to Belgium. This process was a little bit nerveracking, as if it didn’t work out I would have been stranded and missed some of work, but it all went smoothly and no 15 minutes later, I was on my way to Mechelen chatting it up with a couple from London heading home from their vacation, a lady on her way to Rotterdamn on business, and a girl on her way to Antewrp to transfer to another train to Bruges for a make up exam she had for a college class, and that concluded my Amterdam trip.
It was short but enough time in Amsterdam. On the whole I thought that the city was a little over rated, but I loved the country side. There were more cars and trams in streets in comparison than bikes than I was expecting, but in the country it was so peaceful that it only seemed natural to be on bike (or boat if you were going to the before mentioned pub). I’m not sure that I’ll be coming back to this city again any time soon, but this country is so great, I can already picture myself cycling across it.