Just like riding a bike...

Trip Start Jun 02, 2010
Trip End Oct 03, 2010

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Thursday, July 22, 2010

So I spent the last couple days in Amsterdam.  Now before you ask if I tried a moon pie or went to a sex show the answer is "NO".  Not that I am morally against it.  Truthfully there is very little I am morally against.  NO, the reason I did not partake in such things was that I promised my parents I would not knowingly put myself in potentially dangerous situations.  Call me crazy but getting higher than a kite in the middle of the red light district by myself does not seem like the best idea.  I did try to make friends while I was there, but it is very hard when the hostel you are staying in has no common room and all of your bunk mates are passed out during the daylight hours.  I'm pretty sure that one of the guys never left his bed the entire time I was there.  And as much as I would have loved to see a sex show (note sarcasm), it would be beyond weird to go in and watch complete strangers sharing intimate acts, by myself.  Can anyone say creepy?

Instead I took a tour of The Red Light district given by New Europe.  We got to hear all about Amsterdam's history and how it developed into such a socially liberal place. And of course we got to hear all about what goes on behind certain closed doors.  I will not repeat any of that here, so don't worry.  And of course we got told which were the best sex clubs to go into, and I was SO glad to know that.  And then we got to see some ladies peeking out of windows.  All in all very educational.  I think what was most interesting was the fact that the Christian Youth hostel was right in the middle of the Red Light District.  And just a few meters away is a kindergarten.  Apparently when the children were asked what they thought the half naked women that they see every day did they responded "sell kisses."  Awww...I guess. 

But that's what makes Amsterdam such a fascinating place: it is a world of contradictions.  It is one of the most beautiful cities I have been in because of all the beautiful canals and gorgeous countryside, and yet it is only really known for its underworld of sex and drugs.  I guess the city has been working hard to clean up the area and they hope by 2012 to have cut the Red Light District in half.  Already multiple windows where ladies used to work have been bought out and transformed into art galleries.  It will be interesting to see how it transforms in the next few years.  I think the biggest problem they will have will be the ladies themselves.  Those are definitely women you don't want to mess around with.  If they see you with a camera they will first throw pee on you and then snatch your camera out of your hands and destroy it.  I definitely wouldn't want to be the one to tell them they are out of a job.  Just saying.

So other than seeing a bunch of stuff that would make even Casanova blush, I took a bike tour around the countryside surrounding Amsterdam.  That was probably some of the best money I have spent. Of course, at first I was pretty sure I was going to die. Remember that saying "It's just like riding a bike?"  It is meant to imply that no matter how long it's been you can pick it up again just like that.  Well that my friends is absolute crap.  I hadn't ridden a bike in 14 years and I definitely could have used a refresher course.  As soon as I started peddling I knew my guardian angels were going to have to work over time to keep me from getting hit by a car.  Then add to that the fact that Amsterdam is full, and I mean FULL, of bicyclists who actually know what they're doing.  And then add to that the fact that Amsterdam has loads of bridges, which means a lot of shifting gears.  Put all those elements together and you come up with Kia, scared for her life, swerving all over the streets, praying to God that there won't be any cars or other bicyclists on the road anytime soon.  Of course there were, but miracles happened and I didn't die

Our tour guide took us through the country and explained how all the water ways and land has developed over the years.  We also stopped at a farm where we got to learn all about the process of making authentic farmer's cheese.  We also got to see exactly how wooden shoes, or clogs, are made.  The guy who owned the place was beyond weird.  There is no way I can do his personality justice.  Let's just say that he really liked women and explaining everything to us in Chinese.  There weren't any Chinese on the tour.  After this we biked around the parks and had a grand old time.  Another bit of warning: if you haven't biked in a while, I wouldn't recommend a four hour 16 mile extravaganza as your re-introduction. My butt was soooooo sore by the end of the day.

I spent the rest of the day hanging with an English couple that I had met on the bike tour.  The tour, by the way is given by Mike's Bikes, and I would highly recommend it.  So I hung with the English Couple and then called it an early night.  I know, could I get any more lame?  But I had to be up by 5:30 the next morning to make it to Copenhagen.  That was a fun day of trains, let me tell you.  So Amsterdam wasn't the crazy experience that so many expect it to be, mostly because there is a lot more to Amsterdam than the red light district.  Of course, I don't think any of my roommates knew that, but I'm sure they had tons of great stories to tell.  I would like to go back one day, with friends this time, and experience the seedy part of it.  Well, I guessed I stayed in the seedy part of it, but that's just semantics. However, it might be completely cleaned up by then.  For the sake of crazy partiers every where, let's hope that's not the case.
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Mcat on

hahahahahah!!! oh goodness, well im glad you had this "educational" experience!!

Tom on

Red Light District is a lifetime experience!
But, to be sure to have a unforgettable time, you should check out this The Amsterdam Red Light Guide

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