Tag Archives: Amsterdam

buds, bikes and a windmill

Oh what a time.

Amsterdam is really lovely (that’s right I called a drug ridden, prostitute filled city lovely). It is though, especially if you check out the local markets, tree lined streets away from the center and ride a bike to try some local craft brews. oh wow, and lets not start on the cheese.

I don’t know where the idea hit from but arriving in the Netherlands and being so close to Belgium I was dying for a waffle. I made a discovery of waffles covered in melted chocolate a the Albertcyup market. These waffles, cheese and cheap Birkenstocks are unfortunately the only redeeming features of Amsterdam’s largest street market. walking past cheap tourist crap and crappy cheap clothing is an unforgivable waste of a market.

Still.

Waffle magic

We set out the next day to the waterlooplein market which contained less food but a lot of stuff-everything you want in a market like tons of random clothes and shoes heaped in piles, old books, cool postcards and, of course: bike parts.

If I had the power to buy anything i would’ve snatched up the old gramaphone and these amazing teapots (ironicaly those two things actually sum up my personality quiet well.)

teapots

 

 

After this market madness it was time for something even more crazy:riding a bike in Amsterdam. Myself and my buddy (bud-get it?) rented bikes from a rental place run by a guy with non-non-existant customer service skills. really, probably the most awkward time i’ve had paying money for a thing…wait. Amsterdam.

Anyway! we took those two dutch bikes on a adrenilin-filled ride to make it out of the red light district; some lady attempting suicide by stepping off the curb directly into my path; me attempting to fray my bud’s nerves by stopping randomly, aggressively crossing busy roads and turning sharply. It’s a lot of ride or die on the shared roads. Probably the two of us have never been happier to get to a brewery.

 

Pretty

Delicious friend drinking pretty beer.

Amsterdam brewery

Windmill

After biking through Vondal park alternately past groups of stoners and swarms of joggers we made it back to the rental shop to return our bikes. Which was not possible since the shop was closed. Remembering this spastic half hour still makes me angry so short story: we locked our bikes to a tree. Very, very, very well!

At least we got to enjoy a free meal at the christian youth hostel my friend was staying at. mostly free: both of us a firm believers in nothing and we had to sit through a very informative video after our meal explaining to us how Jesus is the perfect plate.

It’s a metaphor guys. I don’t know how i made it through the presentation. I’m not anti faith but i am against over the top dramatic presentations with an agenda.

At least I got some good information on the way out.warning

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Amsterdam part 2

As for all the tourist draws of Amsterdam it’s true that coffee shops are everywhere and that a disappointing amount make ridiculous amounts of money by selling weed of questionable quality by attracting consumers with a deplorable amount of neon signs, rasta couture and loud music.
On the coffee shop tour I learned smoking isn’t “legal” as the EU doesn’t tolerate it but police in the Netherlands basically ignore that (not sure what they blame since there aren’t any skunks here). Also, a lot of the good stuff is bc bud. mmm, enough said. we then walked past a lot of good examples of bad places-I think i avoided taking pictures because it was a traumatic experience. However! i went to visit a few good ones with a Swedish girl i met on the tour and they were alright. I really liked Ke2 and have heard good things about blues cafe, the grey room and (Amsterdam’s oldest coffee shop) mellow yellow.

the red light tour was later. here’s the basics: legal, everyone has health insurance, min age 19 (i think, changes a lot), still have problems with pimps “grooming” girls, some drugs, (way less than van), the prostitutes are grouped by type for your shopping ease.
the tour went by during “tourist hour” so most of the ladies we walked past were surfing Facebook on their iphones.

Of course in the course of my stay there was a canal tour. pretty relaxing hour and a half. from the water the city looks very different, much older and felt like i imagined it would years earlier when it was bustling instead of mad with tourists

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P.s things I learned: orange is caused by the bacteria caramelising the sugars. After 3 years there are no natural sugars left.


Walking through history in the secret Annex

There is no photography allowed, really I guess there isn’t a lot to see. Everyone enters through a building next door and then walks through the storehouse below; the offices; past the bookcase that hides the entrance to the hiding place which you must duck to step through to. Once inside the secret annex you walk, In a quiet line of museum goers through bare rooms with wooden floors. The windows are all covered in black out curtains but I was somehow surprised that it felt so dark, almost stifling. On the walls are pictures of what the rooms looked like when lived in, they feel large. More so then I imagined but it’s easy to see space when ones only passing through.
The kitchen has a small gas stove and one long counter. In Anne’s room are the only decorations, a strange selection of her postcard and picture collection glued to her walls, ranging from cherubs to old painting to pictures of actresses cut out of magazines.
Near the end of the museum there is a video running of her friend who spoke to Anne shortly before the war ended. It was weird to see and realize again how young she was, how if she lived she would be living her life now, a famous author probably. There were also biographies of the people who his the Franks and it’s impossible to say enough about their bravery.

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Anyone for a “coffee” in Amsterdam?

Horrors upon horrors, I’m typing most of this entry on my iPhone. Turns out keyboard only stays charged if you don’t leave it on for 10 hours afterward.
I will struggle through typing on his tiny phone for you, because I’m on a train for 3 hours and because the guilt of being 3 cities ahead of where my posts say I am is beginning to cause a lot of anxiety.
Amsterdam! It all began with the dam of the Amstel river. From there it was a matter of making money; one of the dutch’s favourite things. Amsterdam became a very successful port by waving taxes for foreign traders and basically welcoming anyone into the city.
I know this because free walking tours by new Europe are my favourite Europe find. Although my Amsterdam guide was a lot more from Alaska than Holland. She was funny and knowledgable enough that I couldn’t resist signing up (and paying) for the coffee shop walk and red light walking tour.
The most precious place and likely what I’ll remember most in Amsterdam has nothing to do with what so many tourists travel there for. for me it was the Anne Frank museum. But, instead of including my longwinded expressions of emotions relating to that experience here I’ll put it in a short post to itself.

After my emotional morning I was glad to be in time for the free walking tour.
The tour went something like this: introduction; joke; history-no taxes, freedom, religious persecution, rich=tolerance; joke. We walked through an old Begijnhof-like a monastery for this obscure branch of Christian nuns-now being used as affordable housing/ retirement community (waiting list of 20 years)

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Thats just the front entrance. Inside is just a tiny church and a green square. We walked out past a wall of the history museum that had a few of the old business tiles on it. before Napoleon conquered Holand and brought about street names and made people make up last names for themselves the plaques hung above doors as a way of identification.

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we looked at one of Amsterdam’s smaller abodes and good representation of their leaning houses (I think this on is only leaning forward)

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At the end of the tour we got free cheese. Gouda is so much gooder in Amsterdam!

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