I learned a somewhat obvious lesson this weekend. Never just assume, “Yea, I’ll meet you at the train station” will work for meeting someone at the train station. Pick a place to meet. Especially at train stations that are located in very large, industrious, capital cities of Europe. Like Amsterdam for example. After an hour of wandering the train station Diane and I finally found each other. It was a glorious embrace, light shining behind her as we run towards eachother, slow motion… Haha you get the picture.
Friday we just walked around and I seriously struggled with orientation. If you have ever been to Amsterdam, I’m sure you know what I mean. All the streets are in somewhat of a horse-shoe, or U, shape. So its very easy to think you are going one direction, and then end up on the other side of the U, completely the opposite of where you want to be. But this is part of the fun and challenge of conquering the city. We walked and walked and walked this city. Or feet and legs ached, but we walked. Then we walked the infamous red-light district.
Saturday was the most perfect weather day ever. First day I have been in Europe when it didn’t rain. We went on a 4.5 hour city walking tour with a CRAZY tour guide named John. He was Irish, started off the tour saying he was extremely hung-over and said we were going to have a great time. His language was incredibly foul and his stories explicitly inappropriate. But I loved it. Every second. I learned a lot of random facts about Amsterdam along with the basic history lesson. He was so entertaining. Probably because every other sentence I was thinking, ‘Did he REALLY just say THAT?’ In a couple weeks he is moving to Vietnam.
A Few Random Facts from John:
- Girls in the windows of the Red-Light District have to pay 150 Euro to be in the window for 8 hours. This may seem like a high amount, until you know that they often declare over 100,000 Euro as taxable income in a single year. 40% of their customers are from the U.K.
- All the coffee-shops and the entire red-light district will be closed down in two years. The city is already re-claiming windows and turning them into art displays.
- Napolean’s brother, Louis Bonaparte, was put in charge of the Netherlands for a while. He didn’t know any Dutch, and in first address to the people of Amsterdam, he proudly declared himself as their ‘New Rabbit’ instead of their ‘New King’.
- Two cars a week fall into the canals. On schematic cross-sectional drawings of the canals, there is an official layer for bikes. That shows how many bikes fall into the canals. The canals are flushed every three days, and the Dutch maintain that they are safe to swim in.
My big museum splurge was going to the Anne Frank House. It was really cool. Once you go through the bookcase into the space where they lived for two years… geez, it kinda takes your breath away. Anne really was brilliant young writer. When I left, I just felt all dark and sorrowful. Like when I left Buchenwald (a concentration camp), only not so extreme I guess. These places just bring the horror of the holocaust into more perspective.
Diane and I spent Saturday evening on the roof-top of our hostel. We weren’t technically supposed to be up there. But there was a ladder, and a hatch door at the top of this ladder. How could we resist. We had some sandwiches and watched the sun-set over the rooftops. It was really cool to just talk and listen to the bustling city. Overall, great weekend. It was short, but sweet. We are both on a tight budget, so it was the perfect amount of time to be there without feeling the strain on the wallet.
Pictures soon to come. 🙂