Canals, Red Lights and Bikes with Dykes

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
2 places - 1) Bethany's B&B 2) Rembrandt Square Hotel

Flag of Netherlands  , North Holland,
Sunday, September 27, 2009

We decided to stay overnight at the airport, in Hong Kong, as we had a very early flight and Dan was hissy fitting about customs. He was also expecting internet access and food. We had neither as we had got rid of most of our remaining HK money and in order to access net, had to leave a deposit of $100 for the computer mouse and also buy a drink (minimum cost $20HK). Needless to say, we spent all night (and a good portion of early morning), stuck in an airport, with a crabby Dee, who was dreaming of the hard bed in the shitty hostel (as the airport benches were not too comfy).

Needless to say, we got on the plane at 7.30am (had got to airport approx 12.30am), and were both exhausted before the flight even began. With Dan placed next to a very large and sick gentleman, we were off to a flying start (excuse the pun). We both slept (finally!) and by the time some food arrived, we didn't care how crap it was, we tucked in with relish. 2 movies later (Dee still loving the fact of a personalised screen, Dan oblivious to the past airline crappy screens), and 12 hours of flying we reached London town.

Our brief stop was interesting to say the least, we didn't have to go thru customs, (we had a connecting flight to Amsterdam) but we had to pass thru a checkpoint where we had to remove our shoes and all metallic objects (after taking a 20 min bus to our terminal). Dani was very amused to see noneother than THE Lionel Ritchie with his entourage in the same queue, copping the same treatment while having to remove all his bling bling (just like the 2 smelly backpackers). :)
Security seems very tight in Heathrow...

A very long flight later (only 40 mins!!!!) we arrived in Amsterdam and began practicing our Dutch. We arrived at our B&B on 'Sputistraat', after navigating yet another foreign public transport system, looking like identical turtle twins in our jeans, black tee and matching backpack combos. (Sadly no photos of that one - looked too crappy, even the air hostess on our flight said "wow you guys have been flying for a while" to which Dee replied "jeez do we look that bad?").

Arriving at our B&B exhausted, introduced the Dutch traditional architecture of ridiculously narrow and steep stairways (3 flights with full packs of 20kg - not fun!), and met our lovely host, Angela, who took us thru the basics of the Dam which we promptly forgot in our exhausted haze. The place was better than we could have dreamed - shower not over toilet and comfy bed. After a brief dinner (and some penny pinching) and a glimpse of the red light concept, ie half naked chicks in red lit windows right on our street, we conked out for some sleep.

We went to do our first laundry load and discovered no self service in the heart of Amsterdam. 8Euro (approx $16AUD) later for one load of washing (Lewey is still bitching!!!)

After 2 nights at the B&B we were considering staying on and cancelling our previously booked accom in a different location as it was sooo nice and we were scared of what our next place would be like, given that it was situated above a dodgy looking club/coffee shop.

After a scary entry (side entry door between a restuarant and aforementioned club) and 5 flights of tiny steep stairs (read em people, 5, with 20kg) and shitting ourselves with each new set of stairs, to our delight and surprise, our new place 'Rembrandt Square hotel' was amazing!!! Complete with flat screen plasma (Lewey was stoked) and a wonderful bathroom and bed, it was even nicer than the B&B with awesome views of Rembrandt Square - the club area of A'dam. Although the music went on into the early hours, Dee wasn't even disturbed, so tired, she didn't even hear it!

Our time in Amsterdam was spent admiring the gorgeous houses, beautiful canals and wonderful history of Amsterdam. Highlights included;

  - a stroll through Vondelpark (a park Lewey decided was quote "not as good as the botanical gardens in Melb"... hilarious!

 - a visit to the Anne Frank house (now converted more to a museum), still resembling the original house, very moving and interesting, as Dee read this book multiple times as a kid.

 - Van Gogh museum, (not spelt Van Gow as Dee thought - silly Dee). Awesome, partic the 'Sunflowers' - but sad that Starry Night not there, Dee feeling silly as she now realises she saw it 9 yrs ago in New York at the Moma gallery (doh!).

- a visit to the Tulip market - OMG!!! So many beautiful flowers and endless bulbs for sale, even a marijuana start up kit.

 - visit to official Red Light District - Dee had told Lewey he could look as much as he liked... wow!!! Some very pretty and some not so pretty... Dee got to go to her first strip show - what an experience, definitely going back to gym again when she returns and contemplating a pole dancing class - heheh. All I can say is core strength ladies!!!

- visit to Dam Square numerous times during our endless walking plights through A'dam. (sore feet!!! but worth it!)

- eating the traditional snack of frites (hot chips) in a cone with mayo - was yummy

- visit to Albert Cuypstraat market, where a reluctant Dee went 'crazy' and splashed out on some purchases. She was rewarded with a super trendy purple pleather jacket (soo 'in' here ladies!) as an early birthday pressie from again, a very patient Lewey.
- at same place, a snack of some actual Dutch pancakes (pofejjers or something like that...) for a very happy Lewey as these are his fav!

- Herring (fish) sold on street by vendors like a hotdog... we didn't try that traditional favourite as we're counting our Euros... : P

- Dee getting asked twice for directions from tourists! Awesome!

General observations:

fricking bikes everywhere and zero road rules, we have no idea who to give way to and when, no one seems to give way to us though!

Mercedes taxis everywhere (travelling in style just got a whole new meaning...) not us though, we walk!

very expensive but dope surprisingly cheap and everywhere! Both got stoned vicariously when walking down the street from all the smoke (called La Chouffe here, so cute!). Its sold in 'coffee shops' which also sell coffee, and they sell it on a menu with many options.

women wearing crazy footwear given they ride bikes everywhere, what's with that? Dee can barely walk in high heels, let alone ride in them.

Off to Berlin next via bus, will blog again when we can.

Hope all are well, thanks for the comments, keep em coming as it keeps us connected to lil old Aus.

(Speaking of which, there is a place here called "Australia" and it sells cashews and waffles and sweet stuff, kind of like Mrs Fields etc...what the???)

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