Monday, March 23, 2009

Amsterdam


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Originally uploaded by simpsonatti
I put aside my fear of clogs and a language which resembles the sound of regurgitating steak to go to Amsterdam.

In many ways it way just as I imagined: winding canals, a slightly disturbing obsession with cheese and giant Dutchmen and women on a murderous mission to flatten unassuming stoned tourists with their bicycles.

Throw in Anne Frank's old house and Eastern European prostitutes beckoning from windows and you're almost there. Almost, but not quite.

The three of us took the 6am flight Dublin to Amsterdam, arriving in time for a sausage and chips breakfast and a wander around the city centre, jumping from shop to shop to avoid the misty rain.

3 days was a nice amount of time to see all the main sites while still having time to get lost in the cobbled streets and many canals. We checked out the Amsterdam Dungeon, Anne Frank's House, The Sex Museum and some bars and coffeeshops in between. The Van Gogh museum was a definite highlight, with an impressively large collection of his paintings.

The Red Light District was a bizzare experience, and, during the day time, more disturbing than I imagined. I was expecting a few windows with prostitutes, mainly for intoxicated tourists, but it was a much larger and more efficient operation which was operating in full swing at lunchtime on a Sunday. We were warned not to take photos, with stories of the large, rather well aged sex workers beating culprits with sex toys successfully putting us off.

It's a pricey place, with a 1/2 litre (the 'extra large' size in Dutch terms) glass of beer setting you back €5, with very little variety in beer types. The museums will all cost you, and the hostels aren't cheap.

In a city with otherwise quite bland food, the hot dogs deserve an honourable mention, with one of the largest topping selections I have ever seen including many sauces, pickles, fresh vegetables and crisps.

It's a strange mix of the pretty, quaint and colourful with a seedy side. It's somehow laid back and buzzing at the same time, and is full of alternative little boutiques and markets selling tulips, vinyls, cheese, quirky clothing and garage junk.

It was a beautifully sunny final day in the city, and as we had seen the main sites we spent it wandering around and somehow wishing we could stay longer to do very little. It's easy to see how people get stuck there, throwing in their clean hair and jeans for hemp pants and dreadlocks. It was time to leave...

1 comment:

MikeE said...

More importantly, whats the weed like?