Tag Archives: Netherlands

Day 19 – Brugge to Amsterdam

I got up and packed and left for the train station. Not too much of a problem with all that, except I think I missed one of the trains because I was a bit confused. They run all the time though.

I got to Amsterdam and made my way to the hostel where I put my stuff down. I then decided to walk around, and found a lot of shops with smoking paraphernalia, sex shops, food shops, and all sorts of places. Didn’t explore the red light district just yet, but went back to get more of an idea of what I wanted to do. I met these two guys in the hostel who were a bit… typical fraternity guy personality, and when I was trying to talk to them they were glued to the television. They mentioned a sex show that was really interesting, and so I decided to go see that.

I headed out again and this time wandered around the red light district. This is probably one of two things that make Amsterdam completely unique from the rest of the cities I’ve been to. Basically, for those who don’t know, protitutism is legal in Amsterdam. The prostitutes are self employed, and they rent out these booths lit by red lights along certain streets and alleyways in a general area of Amsterdam. The booths cost about 80 to 130 euros for an 8 hour shift. The prostitutes generally charge 50 euros for 15 minutes with them. As you can see, they can get a lot of money from this… Anyhow, because this is such a completely strange and unique thing, people find themselves walking around the red light district for a while. It’s an entertainment in itself, just casually strolling by these booths where prostitutes tap on the windows and what not trying to get you to choose them.

Anyhow, I went to this sex show at Casa Rosso (which now that I think about it… shouldn’t it be Casa Rossa?). The show came with 5 free drinks, which I took advantage of. It was a bit strange but because I’m weird I saw it more as something intriguing. They had weird acts, fun acts, humorous stuff, and things that tried to be very sexy but weren’t really that much. And then after 9 acts they repeated them, which was also strange… How does the same guy/girl do the same performance however many times a night, each night? I mean, the acts were repeated the same way. Use your imagination.

Anyhow, after that I was hungry, and then I stumbled upon a treasure which several others I’ve talked to have found: Wok to Walk. The most amazing delicious food to have when you’ve been walking around a red light district for hours with alcohol and not much else in your stomach. Amazing.

And then went back to the hostel to bed.

Day 20 – Amsterdam

That day in Amsterdam I went on the free tour (same company as the one that provides the free tours in London, Paris, Berlin, etc). Oh but before I go into that, before the tour I was walking to the meeting point and someone behind me yelled out “Ben!”. I turned around and it was a semi-familiar looking face of someone I had met in some hostel in one of the cities I’d been to. I don’t even know her name. Anyhow, we talked a little bit, and she was going off for some guide or something so as quickly as we met we parted. I still have no idea who she is. I have terrible memory.

Anyhow, this free tour was given by a Portuguese woman who was very enthusiastic and great. Unfortunately at the beginning of the tour it started raining really hard. She didn’t seem to mind too much. Although there were tons of things making noise around us, which she was a little perturbed about. Saw all sorts of things, including the thinnest house in Amsterdam. Also got some good pictures. After the tour the guide sat down with me and told me all of the million things to do in Lisbon.

After that I walked off towards the Heineken Experience. If you talk to people who have visited Amsterdam, chances are they went to this. You walk around to various different rooms, like most brewery tours, but this one was pretty modernized and they put a lot of design into it. They had these two rides which were absolutely hilarious. The first was what it was like to be a Heineken bottle. You got into the moving chairs and had a television in front of you which showed you getting washed, filled, capped, labeled, and shipped. It had all this dramatic music and was absolutely hilariously cheesy. The second ride was going from the Heineken factory to somewhere else by horse drawn carriage, which was kind of stupid but also had hilarious overly dramatic music. Other rooms at the factory had video games and places where you could take pictures of yourself and send it to other people (though I didn’t really think it was worth it). There was also a place where you could try unfermented beer, which was very warm, wheaty and sweet. I thought it was pretty good actually. Maybe if it was watered down a tiny bit and offered as a drink in cafes I would buy it. In the entire tour I was given three beers, all which I awkwardly drank alone. Heineken is alright, but I believe it’s missing pizzazz.

After that I walked over to the Van Gogh Museum, but it was 30 minutes before closing time so I decided to do it the next day instead.

So after that I walked around a lot. Amsterdam seems to be a place where you have to be with someone else to experience the true fun of the place. And the hostel/hotel I was staying at was really not very sociable, so I couldn’t easily make friends. I did talk to my roommates, who were lesbians from Stockholm, but they were going out to a lesbian bar where they didn’t think guys were allowed. So I ended up just wandering around a lot and watching TV with some others back at the hotel.

Day 21 – Amsterdam

Got up early and headed out to the Van Gogh Museum. Read all about his life and saw many different paintings by him. Some things I didn’t know about him: He was a missionary for a time; he started painting at the age of 26; He had a brother who he sent letters to all the time; The painting with the ravens over the field was NOT his last painting. Anyhow, the museum actually was a bit more disappointing than I expected. Not as many paintings as I expected.

I walked back, and in the room I met with two new roommates. Mohammad is a journalist from Jordan, working as a correspondent for multiple media companies. And Brandon plays World of Warcraft, and not too much else. These two characters and I went to find a football (soccer) game that Mohammad claimed was showing, which was one of the biggest games of the season. Except after walking all the way to a sports bar, not finding it, then walking to the Irish pub, and not finding it, I noticed the television advertising the game for TOMORROW. I pointed it out to Mohammad and he felt very ashamed since he’s a big soccer fan. We sat down at the Irish pub to have a bit of dinner anyway. We told each other jokes, which were a bit hard to remember. I need to memorize jokes for those moments.

Walked around a bit more, found some other people for a short while to hang out with, and then went back to the hotel. But before going to sleep I went back out to get a really good kebob.

Day 22 – Amsterdam

Woke up briefly at early morning so that Mohammad could give me his email, then went back to sleep.

So after waking up a bit later I spent a lot of the day in the room updating my journal. I didn’t get too far, but I was able to leech internet off of some neglecting or generous neighbor. Eventually I realized that I should reserve a ticket for the train and I went out to make that, which was interesting since the only train that was available for Paris left at 6:56 a.m. and there was only first class available. This was a bit of an issue since I was planning on going on a pub crawl that night, and I’d probably be up for quite a while. Reserved it anyway since it was my only choice so that I could meet up with Mode and not have him wait a couple hours.

I was not going to back down on drinking on the pub crawl so instead of drinking less I decided to eat more. Seems like a good idea. So Brandon and I went to the Wok to Walk (have I ranted about this before? Yes on day 19). Had an amazing dinner/lunch, got really full, and headed off to the Pub Crawl while Brandon headed off somewhere else.

At the pub crawl I found two Canadians to talk to, and then we found two girls (one from South Africa and one from Hong Kong I think) and we chatted. And then guess who I ran into again? Daryl from Brugge! Which was a bit strange, but we were all sorts of pumped to go Party Makken (as we have termed it). The catch about the pub crawl is that if you get your free drink at every bar the price is worth it, but they keep you at those bars for an hour each, meaning you get a small drink and then you’re dry for 45 minutes. So many people are pressured into buying more drinks from the bars, which were absurdly priced. I was determined not to do that, and only took the free drinks. The pub crawl was alright, but like I kind of expected they just played pop and rap music and that kind of sucked. I danced a bit anyway, trying to rely on the drinks to remove self consciousness in dancing which is always the difficult hurdle.

The night went on, and I witnessed a true subversive fight for male dominance. The South African girl was really putting herself out onto the dance floor, and she seemed to be the only girl really worth hitting on there (there were some other cute girls, but they were fairly generic looking). So I witnessed about five different guys all taking turns dancing with her and trying to make out with her. And all of them succeeded. One after the other they all got a turn with her trying to get the others to go away. I felt sorry for her because I had been talking to her earlier and she seemed like a completely awesome and mature person, yet she got really drunk and just seemed to be going with the flow of the night. Amsterdam will be Amsterdam. And everything that happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam. (Good thing I don’t know her name). Meanwhile, at some point I found a box mostly full of cigarettes on the floor. Thinking it would come in handy, I pocketed it.

The party was ending and Daryl and I thought to go find something else to do. We walked down to the red light district and hung around. Got some food and headed back uptown to Daryl’s hostel which despite it’s curfew, he was able to get in. On the way we ran into some other folks who were just walking along, and we chatted with them. After Daryl left we walked a bit more and eventually ran into some Scottish kids I had also seen at the pub crawl. We sat on a bench somewhere and just talked a lot. One of the Scottish guys had found a bike handle, and this seeming like such an awesome souvenir, I offered to trade him two cigarettes for it. He agreed, and I now have a rubber bike handle. Awesome.

Oh speaking of trading, now that I remember… In London I found a box of matches somewhere, and one of the Estonian girls really wanted it since her mother or someone wanted a box of matched for some weird reason. She gave me in return a very nice lighter. Later in the trip, I lent this lighter to Mode and he managed to lose it. He said that he left it on my bed in Paris and I guess I missed it. Later Mode bought me a lighter from a 99 cent store and as of now (on the ferry from Civitavechia to Barcelona) it is lost again.