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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Sunday, April 8, 2012

We disembarked the choo choo train in Calais, France. Having been briefed on the grand 'coffee' in Amsterdam we scooted up there to sample some. As well as to purchase enough to assist in setting the mood for a jolly and harmonious European trek.  After all good 'coffee' can be hard to come by.

The day we arrived, Ariel had the flu, so we decided on a laid back day cruising the canals. They say the canals are 3 meters deep. One meter water, one meter mud and one meter bicycles.  The cruise itself was crap. There were 3 separate routes. We got on the red line, past Anne Frank House to the Van Gogh stop to change to the blue line, only it left before we could get off the red line. It would be an hours wait so we got on the green line, back past Anne Frank House. Then the green line decided to change and turned into the red line - back past Anne Frank House. This driver decided to go on a lunch break so we were shuffled to another boat and he took us past - you guessed it - Anne Frank House - again!! We got off and we went to the markets.

The markets were a treasure trove - clothes, shoes, bags, food. Alo bought a super groovy green sparkly skull bag. Ariel wants it as her school bag when she gets back to Oz, but she’s got a fat wobbly jelly butt’s chance of that - Huh!

Amsterdam’s population is 16 million with 18 million bicycles. Bicycle, bicycle .... I want to ride my bicycle .... I want to ride it now. We took a bike tour with Mikes Bikes - it was both a dazzling and wacky history lesson.

We were told that Amsterdam’s basically the toilet of Switzerland. As the land was so swampy it took a long time before anyone wanted it. Eventually a dam was built - thus - Amster - dam. In the seventeenth century a series of canals were dug close to the city. It was amazingly resourceful as they had to dig and pump at the same time. Lots of Jews migrated and made Amsterdam home. Jews are known for their business prowess and Amsterdam grew quickly and became a major trading hub. The Golden Age lasted a couple of hundred years. The era’s wealth was predominantly generated by the Dutch East Indies Company. During this time the first ever stock exchange was set up, planting the seed for our modern economic world. William of Orange came on the scene and the powerhouse went to the Brits. The Dutch stayed out of WWI and prospered by trading with both sides - cleaver. WWII was a different matter. Deplorably, Germany invaded and 50,000 of the 60,000 Jewish population were wiped out. The 60’s gave rise to the squatters movement - quite a radical time. By 1976 cannabis had been decriminalised. 

We were told that the Dutch don’t care what you believe in as long as it’s behind closed doors. The doors we cycled passed may have been closed, but we could see straight through them. Ariel and Brandi-Chanel were saying things like, "Eeew, that's disgusting"; "tell us when we're out of the Red Light District"; "we're not looking".  Poor darlings!

Bill and Alo had their night out on the town. They walked around and around, until Bill’s eyes were bulging (and that’s not all). They finally plucked up the courage to go into a ‘coffee' shop - bizzar!! Jager bombs were on special - they downed a couple of those and went to the lounge area of a neighbouring pub to have some more ‘coffee’. Bill chatted to a couple of friendly young fellas beside him. Alo looked around and noticed lots of fellas. In fact all fellas and one Alo - Eeeek!! They departed the pub quickly and walked passed a window where a scantily clad women with an extra bit poking out of her nether region stood. Double Eeeek!! It was a trap. Time for home. Bill and Alo jumped on the bus home.  It seemed that the driver had recently watched ‘Speed’ or perhaps he’d taken some. Talk about spin city, especially after all that ‘coffee’.  Ahh ha ha ... he he he ... har har har ......
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cathy-lee on

haha - what a riot - all that 'coffee' must have been a great help!
what a wonderful experience you guys are having - just amazing and enriching and the best education the girls could ever need. way to go X

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