Trip Start Feb 11, 2008
27Trip End Ongoing
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Hallo everyone (yes, hello in Dutch is "hallo", that's not just a misprint),
A break from tradition this time, with just a brief update from Amsterdam. Don't think we're holding back on you, it's just that there's not much to report.
We arrived on September 11 and the truth is, we spent our eight days there doing pretty much nothing but chilling out in a really cool hostel and soaking up the last rays of sunshine for the year as we strolled through the canalled city, stuffing our faces with giant cones of frites and mayo.
Let's face it, Amsterdam is best known for it's broad-minded views on sex and drugs - with it's famous Red Light District and cannabis coffee shops the major drawcards for most tourists.
It's true, you can walk into a coffee house and order a macchiato and a gram of Super Skunk to go. These establishments, with names such as 'The Doors Cafe' and the 'Blues Brothers Coffeeshop', have laminated menus for customers, outlining the type of cannabis, what it tastes like (such as "fruity" or "earthy"), how much it costs per gram and it's effect on the user (like "happy high" or "deep couch mung-out").
You simply point to what you want, indicate how much you want, and before the froth has even settled on your coffee, your purchase will have been weighed, it's barcode scanned and popped in a little carry bag for you to take away. (Or so we've heard).
Our official sightseeing included a visit to Anne Frank Huis - the annex at the back of a grain warehouse where the little Jewish girl hid from the Nazis with seven other people for three years. Anyone who has ever read her famous diary might think the hideout was a tiny space, but to be honest, if the multi-story complex was located in Sydney - and had harbour views - it would fetch a good few million.
In all seriousness though, Anne Frank's story is a sad one, and while we won't spoil it for anyone who wasn't forced to read the book in primary school, let's just say there wasn't a sequel.
We wandered through the city's main recreational attraction, Vondelpark, a huge English-style park complete with Alice in Wonderland rose garden, and browsed the racks of awesome vintage clothing stores.
We also visited the Van Gogh Museum, though, to be honest, we weren't overly impressed by the relatively small collection.
Of course, no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a stop off in the Red Light District. We expected the whole thing to be quite seedy, but it was more sad than anything else.
Drunken boys on buck's nights pushing grooms-to-be though the front door of neon-lit rooms, and crusty prostitutes in windows, parading in next-to-nothing like some sort of depressed, caged mannequins waiting for Richard Gere to offer them $3000 to be his companion for a week.
Sure, it was good for a gawk, but the whole thing was about as sexy as a prostate exam, and a bit of an anti-climax (no pun intended).
In all, it was a great week-and-a-bit, finally having the chance to put the brakes on and simply chill out. Probably a good thing considering the debauchery of Oktoberfest which followed straight after.
That story, up next...
Chris and Caroline xx
Chilling out in the 70's style basement called "Grandma's Happy Room" in the most brilliant hostel in the world, the Flying Pig Downtown.
Stuffing our faces with the most gigantic cone of frites and mayo either of us have ever seen.
Unearthing coolest brown and orange retro curtains in a vintage store and buying them on a whim.(No, we're not sure what we're going to do with them either!).
Getting up early and walking across town to finally catch our first AFL game of the season, the first qualifying final between Geelong and St Kilda.
WHAT WE LEARNED IN...AMSTERDAM:
Stoned tourists don't have a chance in Amsterdam. The streets all look the same, all the buildings are lopsided (no, seriously, they are) and there is a McDonald's on every corner making you think you are always walking around in circles.
Not to mention the treacherous road conditions (cars, buses, trams and bicycles coming at you from every direction) and the scarily lifelike lizard statues that appear in random locations throughout the city.
Amsterdam is, predictably, full of gastronomical delights. As well as those giant cones of frites and mayo, and the Golden Arches wherever you look (where we sampled the amazing McKroket - we're still not quite sure what's in it), there's also Febo - a neon haven featuring walls of tiny glass cabinets filled with food such as burgers and sausages, obtained by slipping a few Euros in a slot (perfect for stoners who never actually have to communicate with another human being).
Projectile vomiting off the top bunk and into a girl's shoes is not as funny as Chris thought it was at 3am.