Sex, Drugs and.. Jews..

Trip Start Apr 12, 2008
Trip End Jun 18, 2008

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

<Brian's loooong chronological list of "highlights" (and of whinging)... >
- Arrived in Amsterdam... the transit people aren't as helpful as you would think and give very vague non-useful directions. We eventually catch a tram to one of the canals and walk to our accommodation.
- Lang says there is a free walking tour at the train station at 1pm, so we catch another tram and walk back... unfortunately she doesn't know where at the train station... so we have no idea where to meet the tour guides. We end up walking around the touristy shops looking at souvenirs.
- We looked at the list of things to do on our list and the closest thing was Anne Frank's house... I of course had never heard of her (and neither did any of the guys at our hotel) and Lang had to tell me the story that she had read when she was younger. Anyhoo, the line was pretty long to Anne Franks house, but we decided to wait anyways as it did move, but wasn't really getting any shorter. 45 minutes and 15 euros less later, we were in... yeehaa. So... the story basically goes the Nazis were rounding up the Jews here and Anne Franks family decided to go into hiding in a hidden top floor of the building where her father works. This works for quite a while until someone rats them out and they all get taken away to concentration camps... of which only the father survived... but he finds the diary that Anne had been keeping and decides to publish it. The house itself is pretty interesting, hidden away behind a bookcase (its also booby trapped since Lang banged her leg into a metal post and got bruised... drawing blood... ick). The house has excerpts from her diary and videos everywhere from the employees that helped cook and keep their secret hiding place... suspiciously though, the 2 employees that were in all the videos were the only 2 of 5 employees that weren't taken away by the Nazis... hmmm... I wonder who dobbed the family in eh???
- We were out of clean clothes, so time for a laundry run! We asked the feminine guy manning the hotel desk and he suggested a Laundromat across the road from a club he regularly eats at. The Laundromat charged around 6 euro for a wash and dry, but there was an offer for 8 euro someone would do it for you, saving you the trouble of sitting around for an hour or so. This sounded like a good option so we followed the directions to go to the club across the road to ask for this service... Lang went to scout it out and came back with a sheepish look on her face, telling me to go as well coz she didn't want to enter a gay club on her own... URGH. So when we built up enough courage (and there were no / less witnesses on the street), we went in. At the counter, Lang went and asked the dude about the 8 euro laundry, the dude looked at both of us and said the service was no longer available. Lang later remarked that had I gone in to ask by myself, he would probably have said yes... but since I didn't want some gay guy sniffing through my boxers, we decided to just wash it ourselves.
- As the clothes were drying, we met Terry, an online friend of Lang's for over 10 years. Once the drying was done, we dumped it back at the hotel and went to a bar for a few drinks and some local Dutch food which turned out to be ham and cheese on toast. We then walked Terry back to the main train station, after he showed us a fast food shop the locals use that have vending machines inside for the fast food... the fried food wasn't half bad, and relatively cheap too, so that was good.
- After we went for a stroll through Chinatown. I was quite excited to hear Cantonese in the Chinatown district and very little to no Mandarin... mainly coz I can speak one and not the other. Turns out Amsterdam has a vibrant Canto community.
- And finally of course, the (in)famous red light district. Terry had pointed out a few streets that he frequents where the hottest women were, so we made it a waypoint on our way back to the hotel. Basically, there's a few alleyways with what appears to be little rooms all along it... each room has a glass door where a bikini clad female shows her wares and if a gentleman is interested, he opens the door, goes in, door closes, curtain gets drawn... something something... man comes out with a happy smile and an emptier wallet. I of course had my Lang forcefield shield of invisibility on and none of the gals looked at me... damn. The quality of the girls ranges... from the young blondes to the old grandmas *shudder* The price is controlled by a standard set by their union... so who would pick the post war leftovers is beyond me.... Hoooooooooooooooooo!
<Lang's Extended Version>
We woke u this morning in the middle bunks of our cabin as everyone else was leaving. Outside looked wet and grey.. Great! Typical that I would need my rain jacket so often now, especially after I had lost it a couple weeks ago..
It would be another couple of hours on the train until we reached Amsterdam, so we decided to take our packs to the proper seating area and sit up for the rest of the journey. I ended up snoozing for most of the way while Brian of course played on the DS while listening to me snore..
At about 11am, we had finally arrived.. What a miserable day outside.. That, coupled with the lack of good sleep, just made Brian grumpy as we didn't have a clue how the Dutch transport system worked and the Tourist Information desk at the station wasn't any help at all. We ended up buying a 2 Euro map and working out the system ourselves to get to our hotel to drop our packs off.
After disposing our packs, we headed back to the station again as I knew there was a free walking tour leaving from there at 1pm. Unfortuately we had no idea where abous in or near the station, so we walked around aimlessly for a little while.. We also bumped into an Americcan couple that went on the Potsdam tour with us in Berlin, who were also lost looking for the free walking tour..
Unfortunately the guide in the red shirt could not be found, so we gave up and walked around town ourselves..
There were souvenir shops everywhere selling anything and everything including the usual t-shirts, magnets and postcards, as well as the unusual penis shaped salt & pepper shakers, marijuana lollypops, unusual condoms etc etc.. Sex shops were abundant too..
Anyway, we eventually made our way to the Anne Frank House, as this was something I really wanted to see as I had read her diary many years ago, probably when I was about the same age as Anne when she wrote it.. As for Brian, he had no idea who Anne Frank was until a day or two ago when I had to explain to him that she was a Jewish girl living in Amsterdam during the Hitler regime, so her family as well as 4 other Jews went into hiding in the back of an office.. During this time, Anne kept a diary detailing her thoughts and experiences, until they were betrayed and sent to a concentration camp. Sadly Anne died at the camp a month before it became liberated..
The line to the entrance snaked around the corner, but we waited around anyway as we had nothing better to do at the time. After about 45 minutes, we were in...
There were videos running continuously items on display and quotes from Anne's diary written on the walls.. For someone who had known nothing about Anne's plight, the museum was great as everything was explained in a logical manner. You even get to see the bookcase that hid the door to the secret annex and also walk inside and stand in the very rooms that Anne and her family lived for the 2 years..
We headed back to the hotel after and gathered all our dirty clothes - yes, it was laundry day again.. We were debating whether to leave our clothes to get washed or to do it ourselves for 2 Euro less.. However, when we got to the Laundromat, the service window was closed and there was a sign telling you to go across the read to ask if you would still like it done by them...
Unbeknownst to us, the shop across the road was a gay porno shop, but we went in and I asked anyway to see what the deal was.. Apparently they don't do the service wash anymore (hey!! Not that kind of service!!), so we went and done it ourselves.. I reckon the guy would have said yes if Brian went in to ask on his own... hahaha...
Well, the only reason we even bothered to go and ask was that I was going to meet an old online friend of mine at 6pm, and it was already 5pm by this stage..
But being the friend that he is, Terry walked over to the Laundromat and met us there.. Wonderful place for a first meeting, hey? It was great to have someone else besides Brian to talk to.. =P
Once our laundry was done, we dumped it back at the hotel then walked over to the Dam and stopped by the Irish Pub for a drink and the 'local snack'.. The so-called local snack happened to be a grilled cheese sandwich.. haha.. so to keep up with that theme, Terry then took us to Febo, a local fast food joint which sold frites with mayonnaise and stuff out of something similar to a vending machine.. Basically you insert some money, pull down the flap and grab your croquette out of the individual grills. They weren't too bad to be honest.. guess it is fried food afterall..
Terry left to catch his train back home after organizing to pick us up in the morning for a trip out to see some windmills and also to take some 'traditional' dutch photos...
We finished off our meal then made our way to the Red Light District, since that was what Amsterdam was famous for (that and pot, I guess).. Terry had marked down a few small alleyways we had to check out - yeah, he seemed pretty familiar in this area, but lets not go there..
It was definitely an eye-opener but Brian was somewhat disappointed that the girls in the windows were not topless.. I don't know what gave him that idea.. So we wandered around for a little while, walking through the streets and alleys, passing by the girls fairly quickly. Some were dancing in the windows, others were smoking and looking bored, while otheres were talking on their mobiles.. They were all wearing skimpy clothing of some sort trying to entice the customers to go in for their business.. Apparently the regulated price, whether you were young or old, pretty or not was about 50 Euros for 20 mins..
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