Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
Trip End Jul 23, 2007

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Monday, July 9, 2007

We woke up REALLY early this morning in
order to get to the train station on time for the first train to
Amsterdam. Getting up early is not so bad when you get a good, hearty
German breakfast first! I will definitely miss the brotchen, cheeses,
eggs and nutella!!! Anyways, after a long goodbye to Florian who was
not too happy to see us go, and a huge goodbye from the window as we
left, Matthias and my dad drove us to the train station. Not only did
they drive us, but they escorted us all the way to the train! It was
very nice - we definitely liked having some family around for a few

The train ride to Amsterdam was pretty
uneventful - Jose was very sad because this train did not have the
electrical outlets like the others we've traveled on.....hence the
delay in the blogs! Anyways, after a LONG day of riding the train, we
finally arrived in the Amsterdam train station. The good thing about
taking the train is that you always arrive in the center of the
city...unlike airports where you are usually stranded about 30
minutes out. Anyways, once we got orientated to Amsterdam, we learned
that our hotel was about a 20 minute tram ride from the city center.
We decided to check our bags in a locker at the train station and
booked ourselves on the first walking tour of Amsterdam that was
available. The tour desk was very crowded, but after a few minutes we
had it all booked. Jose thought it would be a good idea to call our
hotel to let them know we'd be coming in later than anticipated -
to be sure that they didn't give our room away. We found some
English kids using a pay phone on the street and they gave us their
best guess on how to use these really strange phones. Jose finally
got a hold of the operator who proceeded to tell him it would cost
$39 USD to make a 5 minute local call!!!! $39??? He hung up VERY
quickly! The poor English kids though had already made all of their
calls, without thinking to ask how much it would be. I would hate to
see their credit card bills!!

Anyway, it was about time for the tour
to begin, so we headed over to the café/bar where the group
met up. Such a good idea, by the way, to have a group meet at a bar
like this. Jose and I enjoyed some really good beer while we waited
for the tour to begin. The bar/café was set in a REALLY old
looking building, but it had a lot of character. Very cute, overall!
Anyway, as people began filing in, our tour guide showed up. He
looked IDENTICAL to a guy who used to be on Real World Hawaii - has
anyone seen that one? I think his name was Ty or Thai or something
like that. My main memory is of him jumping naked into the house pool
on the first day.... Anyway, this guide looked JUST like him, but
with a much cooler accent! He sat us all down in the backroom of the
bar to explain a little about the history of Amsterdam and to talk
about the tour. It turns out that this tour was especially focused on
the Red Light District...which is still VERY active today! I thought
it was going to be a Historical tour....but no, we were going to be
walking through the very active red light district.... On my
honeymoon, of all trips! Slightly ironic I guess!

Anyway, overall the tour was really
really good. The guide showed us where the city wall used to be,
where there is a huge dam, and of course, we walked several times
through the red light district. It actually is not very seedy at all
- not like I had expected. Each girl has her own window space -
like a store window. And she is not allowed to dance, strip, anything
of the sort. So basically, as you walk down the street, you just see
a bunch of girls sitting in chairs or standing in the window in their
bathing suits. That's it. It's actually very strange, but it's
cleaner than Vegas! The government oversees the entire industry, and
the girls have strict rules regarding their behavior, safety, medical
testing, etc. etc. Oh yes, and they have to pay taxes! Most of the
girls were not so attractive, so Jose and I had a good time wondering
how they got any business! There were a few girls thought that looked
barely 18.....and you had to wonder how they got into this! Our guide
explained that many girls get tricked into the business by older
women and feel they owe them, and then just get stuck. Some of them
really looked like they were enjoying it though - at least the
attention from the tourists on the street. Oh - you also are not
allowed to take any pictures of the girls - or else! We saw a girl
run out on the street and throw a beer in the face of a guy...and
then she chewed him out for taking a picture! After that, I made sure
Jose put the camera AWAY! This is a serious business apparently!

Along the way, we stopped a liquor
house which apparently is one of the oldest in Europe. They had all
different flavors of liquors - Jose had some special marriage
concoction that was actually quite good, and I tried a
chocolate/menthe flavor that was REALLY strong. Tradition holds here
that the bartender fills up the little shot glass so that it is
overflowing, and you have to bend over the bar to take the first sip.
Weird, but I guess that's Amsterdam for you! We also learned that
contrary to what everyone says about Amsterdam, marijuana is NOT
legal. Technically people are allowed to smoke it in coffee shops and
in their homes for medicinal purposes, but legally you are not
allowed to carry it with you on the street. Obviously this is not
enforced - how else do people GET to the coffee shop to smoke it?
Very strange. We stopped at one big memorial - I think it was a
WWII memorial, and there were tons of people just hanging out. The
smell of marijuana was SO pungent. Not exactly the type of city I'd
want to live in - but at least everyone was happy!

Anyways, by the time the tour was over,
we were completely exhausted. We spotted a whole bunch of Argentinean
restaurants all over the city, so we decided to check one out for
dinner - with flashbacks of our favorite Desnivel in Buenos Aires.
Unfortunately, Amsterdam's version of Argentinean is SO not even
close. It was okay - but a churrasco here is not what you would

Anyways, after a long evening in the
city, we grabbed our bags and hopped on the tram to our hotel. It is
in the middle of a residential neighborhood, but it is REALLY quaint
and cute. And it's a nice hotel! I am happy!!

Good night everyone!


Andrea and Jose
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