Buffum and I arrived in Amsterdam in the early evening of Thursday. Our first interesting moment was immediate - we didn't have to go through passport control! Since we were flying within the European Union, there was no need. This was the first time that this ever happened to me, so it was a bit strange that I was just able to waltz into a country without having my passport checked. (Sidenote: Amsterdam airport is awesome. If you're ever travelling there, save some time to explore a bit.)
|Please use complete concentration when crossing the streets in Amsterdam.|
|Coziest rooms around!|
|(Hotel My) Home of the|
After catching the train into the city center, we were finally able to find our hostel. We were staying at Hotel My Home, which proved to be a great find. It's a tiny little place, where there's just enough room to walk around the bed in your room. Plus, there was the staircase that was approximately 90 degrees. Seriously...it was like climbing up a ladder to get to your room. My favorite part? When we checked in, we were informed that we could smoke in our room, anything we wanted to smoke. Alrighty then...We ended up loving staying there, particularly the delicious breakfast of chocolate spread on toast with a side of eggs.
on the canal.
|First in a long series of pictures|
of the canals.
Since we arrived later, our evening was pretty chill. The first thing we did was set out in search of dinner. We found an outdoor table that was free at a cafe, which suited us fine. Amsterdam, for obvious reasons, makes for excellent people watching. As we enjoyed our dinner and Heinekens, we enjoyed the show, provided free of charge from passersby. (Highlights included an impeccable impersonation of Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch.) After dinner we strolled along the canals, enjoying the sunset. One thing I can certainly say is that the beauty of Amsterdam is overlooked far too often. Forget the craziness -- it is one pretty city!
|My favorite collection of houses. They're all tiny and leaning!|
|Buffum is thrilled to have her|
|The aftereffects of the |
While Buffum's emergency passport was being processed, we decided to check out the surrounding area. Our first stop was to rent a paddle boat, or canal bike, as they're known in Amsterdam. For an hour we explored the canals, struggling to find the proper method of steering. Discovery? I am awful at it. When it was my turn, all we did was zig-zag around the canal -- Not the most efficient method of travel. One particularly hilarious moment came when a large tour boat came past and the wake pushed us (read: Buffum) into a nearby tree.
Following our adventure with the canal bikes we made our way to the Van Gogh Museum. This museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh's work, so I was in heaven. I was especially happy to find his Almond Blossom painting, which he painted for his nephew and ultimate became one of the last paintings he completed before his death. I particularly liked the museum because they also included work by his contemporaries, particularly those that influenced his work. Accompanying a lot of the paintings were excerpts from his letters in which he would talk about his feelings about the painting or drawing, so there was plenty to occupy our time.
After a quick look around, we headed over to the Red Light District area. This was one of the strangest, if not the strangest, thing I have ever seen. The main stretch is only a few blocks, but it takes quite a bit to walk it. (It is very disrespectful to take pictures while in the Red Light District, for obvious reasons, so there are no pictures to accompany this section. Apologies.) There are glass rooms lining each side with nearly naked young ladies inside, on display like a department store window. Many of the girls were dancing for the passersby and giving them their best 'come hither' look. With the prevalence of red glowing lights and leopard print throws, it was a surreal sight. Buffum and I could barely comprehend a life like that, and we were especially baffled that they could make any money at all. I would think that with all of the tourists around - including whole families! - that these girls wouldn't have any takers. Surely embarrassment would deter any potential buyer? I don't know...
I did, however, have my own proposition on our way home. Just a few blocks out of the Red Light District, we were walking along when a cab screeched to a halt. The driver leaned over, pointed right at me, and gruffly asked, "For the girl, how much?!" I stood there, kinda flabbergasted. Unable to really make a move because I was so stunned, it was Buffum that urged me to trot away from his leering. When he turned the corner, though, he made sure to turn and stare back at me....talk about creepy! (Coincidentally, he passed us again later in the night. He made sure to honk, so don't worry! He didn't forget about me.) As my dad was kind enough to point out, at least I have a back-up career workin' it in Amsterdam if I don't get a job when I come home.
|So ready to get experienced.|
The rest of our day was very relaxing, with a stroll through the Jordaan neighborhood. This is one of the more expensive areas of Amsterdam, so we were marveling at the buildings. It also happens to be one of the older areas of Amsterdam, so it was beautiful. We especially enjoyed the street markets that were out in full-force.
|Right on the edge of Jordaan.|
|Anne Frank House|
All in all, Amsterdam was a great weekend trip. A few final observations.... (1.) Buffum and I were pretty much the only girls travelling without a man, so it's definitely overrun with young, male tourists. Brocation, indeed. (2.) The museums were wonderful, so there is a surprising number of things to do. (3.) The city is overrun with bikes. I was in constant fear of causing a fatal bike accident. (4.) Despite the craziness that you always hear about, the city itself is actually beautiful. Perhaps we can start talking about that instead?
Amsterdam - home of a million bike riders.
|Again, we really enjoyed the Heineken Experience.|
|Reflection of the homes in the canal - win!|
|Canals, all lit up at night. Beautiful.|