28 July 2009

Amsterdam: A city I will only need to experience once

Friday 17 July 2009

We got on a coach bus very early in the morning to make our way to Amsterdam. I don't actually remember anything from the first leg of the trip because I was asleep. We had a very rude awakening when we reached Dover, England - everyone had to get off the bus whilst the ferry made its way across the English Channel on its way to Calais, France. We got back on the bus when we reached Calais and we continued on our journey to Amsterdam - once again, I don't remember much because I was sleeping. We reached Amsterdam around 18:00 and got checked into our hostel which was located in the middle of the Red Light District.
We went on a tour of the Red Light District after we checked in. What an experience. I learned more historical information about prostitution that I think I even needed to know - I got a full accounting of prostitution from when it first started in Amsterdam to present day. The way that "things" work now, is that the "ladies" rent a window for the day and just stand there scantily clad waiting for a "customer". It was interesting to see the range of women that were there...all kinds of women in fact - young ones, old ones, thin ones, fat ones - it was kind of like one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. We also saw the oldest church in Amsterdam...right in the middle of the Red Light District. After the tour we walked around for a bit and got dinner. Oh yea - it is perfectly OK to pee in public...they have even set up men urinals on the streets.
Saturday 18 July 2009

We woke up early on Saturday so that we could visit go on a tour of the countryside of the Netherlands. Our first stop was a cheese and wooden shoe factory. We didn't actually get to see the cheese being made. They explained the process to us, but we didn't actually get to see them making it which was sad. We still had fun though. We got to sample all of the different kinds of cheese they make there - I bought three different kinds and a cheese slicer. The wooden shoe factory was just a short walk - across the parking lot in fact - away from the cheese factory. The best part about the wooden shoe factory was getting to try them on - I'm a size 37 :)
Our second stop of the day was at Zaanse Schanse, a living Dutch museum. We were supposed to explore how the Dutch would have lived way back when and go see windmills, but we mostly looked at the souvenir shops that where there. Then we got lost after we used the bathroom. Oh well. We went back into Amsterdam after we left Zaanse Schanse.
In the afternoon we had time to ourselves so we went to the Van Gogh Museum. The Van Gogh paintings that were there were beautiful, but only one of the floors actually had Van Gogh on it - the other two floors had other artists. We took the tram back to our hostel which was exciting. It was like taking the subway, a bus, and a trolley all in one - plus it was free because we couldn't figure out how to pay.
Sunday 19 July 2009

On Sunday we departed Amsterdam to make our way back to Calais to catch the ferry, but on the way we stopped in Bruges, Amsterdam for a couple of hours. Let me tell you, this was maybe the best part of the entire weekend. Bruges was so beautiful. According to the International Friends website, Bruges is Europe's best preserved Medieval City - they were right. I have never seen such lovely old buildings! We needed more time there for sure. We got Belgian waffles for lunch and then found a cute outdoor market.
Follow this link to see the rest of my pictures from Amsterdam: