City of Tulips, Windmills and Red Lights

Trip Start Sep 13, 2005
Trip End Oct 15, 2006

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Saturday, September 17, 2005

Moving on from Paris, I entered Amsterdam, a city known for it windmills, tulips, redlights and lenient stance on soft drugs such as pot and magic mushrooms. I can honestly say that I've done nothing illegal here.

My first day I signed up for a bike tour of Amsterdam, while this would be an experience in itself, I was a bit more challenged than usual since it has been years since I've ridden a bike, never mind a bike in a bustling city street. On the tour I took a picture with a windmill (which I think is required before you can leave the country) and visited a cheese and clog factory. The cheese was yummy and wooden shoe factory looked like little elves worked there (though it was really a strange Dutchman who kept speaking to me in Cantonese).

In the evening I decided to check out the red light district with a few people I met on Busabout, the tour I signed up with the get around Europe. Needless to say the red light district is a bit seedier than the rest of Amsterdam. In it you have women of all shapes and sizes dressed in lingerie, waiting for customers (prostitution is legal here). It's sort of what you expect and not at the same time. Some of the women sit there in their undies talking on their cell phones and couldn't care less about what goes on...customers or not. Others dress like Britney Spears and try to entice men with sexy, pouty looks. One thing that I was told, that is a good tip for those of you planning a trip to Amsterdam in the future is..."beware the blue light". The blue light indicates that you might be in for a bit of a surprise if you're ignorant of what it means. Like K-Mart, the blue light means something 'special', unlike K-Mart the blue light doesn't mean a sale, but it means a transvestite with his 'package' tucked away.

On my second day in Amsterdam I decided to get educated in a different way, a more socially acceptable and important way. I visited Anne Frank's House. It was an enlightening experience. It is a tour of the building Anne's Family hid it. The tour has audio commentary from Anna's father and one of the people who helped the Family in hiding. You even get to crawl past the bookcase that hid the upstairs level in which Anne hid.

When I was planning my trip of Europe I conveniently forgot about much of the history that has happened in recent years. This included the Nazi regime and the dark history of the Third Reich. My next stop in Berlin would be an in your face reminder.
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