Amsterdam (by Dan)

Trip Start May 22, 2007
Trip End Jul 03, 2007

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Sunday, May 27, 2007

It was easy to get from the Airport into central Amsterdam and then we found our hostel that was only a ten minute walk and a couple wrong turns from the central train station. I think Kim was a bit put off by our new home. The main room has a reception desk, a bar, and a pillow laden alcove where about 10 people can hang out and get high. On the other side of the bar was a pool table. In this front area, there were probably 20-30 kids (18-23) drinking or smoking dope. Now, add music at the bar volume and a disco bar and you have the first impression of our hostel.
We got a queen bed (it was a bunk as all the beds were) in a room that holds 32 people. You're probably thinking that it was a dive and are glad you didn't have to stay their for five nights, but really, it wasn't bad. Fortunately our room was removed from the music blaring from the front room. Also, the staff was super friendly and the showers were both hot and pressurized. On top of all that, a decent breakfast was included, they had towels we could use, and free internet (which I am utilizing to type this entry).
This is our last night here, so I am typing this retrospectively and don't expect anything of note to occur between now and our flight tomorrow at 9 am.
The Amsterdam scene is diverse. You have a beautiful European city, crisscrossed with canals and filled with history. You also have a thriving drug industry. Marijuana and Hash (I didn't know there was a difference either) are legal here and people come from many places, although mostly the U.S. and Brittain, to take advantage of this legality.
Other Amsterdam notes: Only saw one person asking for money, amazing! It feels and I think is an amazingly safe place. The people are friendly and speak English. This is a walking city. Kim and I have walked more miles in the last few days than I have ever in that span. They have beautiful parks and the Vondelpark was worth more than the two visits we paid. This is a bicycling city. I didn't want to rent one b/c I don't know the street laws and bikers are intense and have their own lanes. We stuck to walking.
Tourist traps worth being trapped in: VanGough museum. I'm not a big art museum guy but it was worth the 10 euro. Anne Frank House. Only 7.50 and you know your money is going to a good cause. I like WW2 history, but I think it has universal appeal.
Tourist traps with claws: Heineken Eperience: Over price at 11 euro. Learned nothing worth anything. I think they tried to hard with the technology and left out the learning. Three beers came with admission so that helped ease they pain. Sex museum. Fortunately only 3.50, but pictures and statues of naked people in a building does not necessitate the title museum.
Note on the Red Light District: You walk down some street and there are women in their underwear behind glass doors wanting you to sleep with them for money. Interesting, but not worth more than a couple minute stroll. People make a big deal out of prostitution being legal in Amsterdam, but once you're here and see it, it's like, "Ok, let's go get a beer."
Thing I think I think: Prostitution and softcore drugs are legal here, yet I only saw one person asking for money, no one who is homeless, and never was hassled or felt unsafe. Maybe Amsterdam has some priorities straight that the U.S. doesn't.
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