Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What is completely obvious about Amsterdam to me is that it is the Las Vegas of Europe, with legalized drugs. Everyday, throughout the night, cheap deals on trains, planes and busses bring people to city. Many are looking for rowdy fun: bachelor and bachelorete parties, frat boys, college kids and recent grads. on the road, and loud rugby teams seeing how much they can consume, and how far they dare tread into the red light. I had been here once before, New Years of 1997, but being as I was with friend who is a youth minister, planning on becoming a pastor, it did not end up as one may think that a new year in Amsterdam should. This trip would be different, though I certainly can't claim the same enthusiasm as a rugby team, we were going to meet some good friends of ours from Colorado. We were all looking forward to some well deserved rest and rehabilitation... I mean relaxation.
Brian, the first to arrive, landed at 1PM our train got in just after that, and Jeff's was scheduled to land around 3PM. We made a plan to meet at the patio of the Bulldog coffee shop and bar on the Singel canal. Erin and I got there around 1:45, took a seat, ordered some top shelf appetizers and a tall Heineken. By 4:00 we wondered if we should worry about Brian, but we decided that we wouldn't worry about him until Jeff showed up. Around 6:00 we saw Brian rounding a corner, crossing the canal and heading our way. As we sat there and had passing conversations, we came to find that there were at least 4 other Bulldog coffee shops, though none on the Singel. By 8:00 the waitress was slamming glasses together as she cleared the table beside us. We decided that it was time to give up our stake and moved across the street to wait for Jeff. 9:00, Jeff arrived. His plane was delayed in Chicago and he had been fighting for space on all of the following flights.
Through the glory of classified postings on the Internet, we had found an apartment to rent. It slept four, was just far enough from downtown, had a kitchen and a small garden. The owner had given us a good price on it, so we booked it online.
We spent six nights in Amsterdam. The first few days we spent wandering around the great city, getting lost. The Indian Summer was continuing in this part of Europe, and we took full advantage of it. Every now and then we would stop for refreshments and boosters, beers and soarmas. On the one rainy day that we had we visited the Van Gough museum, and the next we rented bikes.
As anyone who has been in Amsterdam knows, there is probably more bicycle traffic than automobile traffic, and the city is planed accordingly. Bike lanes are almost always being used, and both cars and pedestrians are always checking the road for bicyclists. Most bikes are of a vintage cruiser stock either one speed with reverse brakes, or three speed hybrids, always equipped with bell and locks. In Marry Poppins posture we explored the city, covering kilometers in minutes.
The streets and the canal systems are beautiful, and Mother Nature was blessing us with cool fall weather. Almost every meter that we walked had picturesque scenes of canals lined by cobblestone streets, shaded by the colorful leaves of early Fall.
For Erin and I the nights were pretty tame, and I suppose that when you think of the possibilities, I would say that Brian and Jeff behaved themselves respectfully. Bill Maher said "if the terrorists really hate America for its freedom, then why don't they bomb Amsterdam." Legalizing vices of allsorts has definitely made for an interesting place. The draw of the red light district is of course both infamy and novelty. It is a place where you see humanness in many forms. Through our days in the city the red light district lingered in passing references and compromising dares. In the end, it turned out to be no more than that, taunts and dares; harmless enough for the onlooker who doesn't get too close.
On the seventh day we said goodbye to Jeff, and parted ways. It was time to recover from the smoke house and get our brains back into working order. The week had been fun and we returned to Rosrath on the left foot.
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