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World Trip 2011

Amsterdam

NETHERLANDS | Tuesday, 22 November 2011 | Views [547]

Ok, so after a sombre last post, I am writing this from a Paris hostel after a great few days in London and Amsterdam. We got back to London soooo jetlagged and it was a feeling that wouldn’t leave us for a few days but we soldiered on regardless. We spent two nights in London just to grab our backpacks and get to the train station where our Eurostar train awaited. These trains can go up to 300 km per hour! (We really need high speed rail in Australia!). It was a weird journey as our sleep deprived bodies tried to work out what time it was. We just missed the train in Brussels, Belgium so we waited an hour for our connector to Amsterdam. The next train’s journey was one of green pastures and flat terrain. Flat as flat can be, but nice nonetheless.

Amsterdam is renowned for three things. Weed, sex and bikes. Whilst I cannot deny that these are all true, the city is a vibrant social place, full of culture, history and contemporary architecture with urban design concepts that many western cities should adopt. We arrived in Amsterdam in the early evening and although I had been there before, my slightly hazed memories didn’t help us much as we tried to find our hostel. Incidentally, I think we found the last two beds in the whole of Amsterdam because the weekends are so busy that they charge more than double. $45 each for a dorm bed! We found the place though; it was right in the middle of the red light district. Complete with live porno shows next door, and an assortment of hookers selling their wares from the windows across the street. That first night we visited the Grasshopper, which is a reputable establishment in the heart of downtown. After tasting some local flavours, and realizing just how strong those flavours are, we cruised around town checking out all the action that a Friday night in ‘The Dam’ presents. The red light district is full of blokes in big groups all trying to out-creep each other, and although there is many hot girls in the red light district, most are in the windows.

The next day we went and checked out the sex museum. Anything that you can think of, or haven’t thought of- there’s a photo of someone doing it. However, it’s a great indication of how the Dutch are so carefree and relaxed about all things sexual which is the opposite of the Catholic, evangelistic conventions that many western countries adopt, as we strive for political correctness. Relax it’s just sex! So, after that erotic experience we were on our way to the science museum, housed in a building shaped like a huge ship, but we were contacted by a friend of ours, Annabelle. Annabelle and her husband Tom stayed with us in Australia about two years ago and live in Amsterdam. We met Annabelle and her friend Maayke for a couple of afternoon beers then caught the tram to Annabelle and Tom’s place where we would stay for a few nights. It was good to get out of the downtown area and hang out with the locals. That night we went out to a few bars with the girls and had a few beers too many so the next day was a slow start but we did enjoy a cool market with loads of high quality crafts and foods. 

A trip to the Dam isn’t complete without renting a bike. Everyone has a bike; in fact they say there are three bikes for every person in Holland. I love it. Everyone zooming around, it’s much more social and of course no carbon emissions. We rented the mandatory yellow bikes as then all the locals can see that you’re a tourist and can give you a little more space! It’s a hectic place at times with all the other bike users, trams and cars but we managed to negotiate our way to the Vondel Park which was beautiful as well as the museum area and another market before returning the bikes. We also had the opportunity to cook dinner for Annabelle and Tom in appreciation of letting us stay at their place for a few nights. Thanks again guys. We had a great time in Amsterdam and will hopefully be back sometime soon but for now the story continues on to Paris!

Tags: amsterdam, bikes, eurostar, red light district

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