September 9, 2007
So….Amsterdam! Ahh…you could feel the backpackers revving up for this stop…anxiously awaiting their first trip into town…you know…just to walk around see the “sights”. get a “coffee”. i have to say the red light district was a bit of a shock the first night i walked through…i mean…the women…the girls…the “men”…they just stand in their windows…on display. i couldn’t stop laughing actually…i think many of them took this to mean interest as i got many encouraging looks and finger points. ohhh man. it really is just a business for them. all have their own tiny rooms…very clean though…health plans etc. the coffeeshops are all around…and if you don’t know…coffeeshop equals marijuanashop! it was crazy at first…i watched someone go in, order…and the guy behind the counter pulls open this huge drawer filled with little bags…all different kinds…something for everyone!
but it’s not like people are just walking around stoned or smoking everyone..no way. once your out of the red light district there’s very few of these shops…and people usually just smoke within them. of course there were a few times i’d be walking down the street and just…wham! i’d be hit with that distinct smell…also pretty weird at first. “sin city” of europe or ahead of it’s time?…apparently it is a debate…you decide. but hey…i thought it was a great city. liberal of course and just so laid back…but with enough energy to keep ya excited and looking for new places to explore. and that i did quite well. of course i’d rather walk 30 minutes than pay 2 euros to hop a ride on a tram…so i really got to see all sides of the city…did as much walking as my little feet could take me…and then a little further (i had to make it back to the hostel didn’t i?) it’s also a city of museums…more per square mile than any other city. i also took advantage of this…bought a great museum pass and went to about 6 in 4 days. they were all great…the Van Gogh exhibit, an anthropological museum, FOAM (a cool photography exhibit), Rembrandt house, Dutch Masters, the Anne Frank house where she and her family lived during nazi occupation…that was incredible. i was quite exhausted after my time there though…a bit museumed-out…i hadn’t done that much thinking since i left hamilton…
Another highlight of my time in the netherlands was this great place i found…a vegan/veggie restaurant that also has a venue where all sorts of music groups come to, an anarchist bookshop and a sauna(random!)…there all together in this little funky area that used to be a squat. all the people who work there are volunteers and they provide AMAZING and cheap food for like mined people who come and hang out, read…play music etc. and i got to see an oldschool punk show that night i went! 5 bucks…the way it should be…and 3 punk bands…two were actually from the u.s. and the other from spain. i had been looking for the punks…and finally i found them! great to hang out with cool people and here about their crazy alternative lives. music was rockin…poor sound quality made it that much better of an experience. these were the real punkers..some of which still live in this little community. it was a great night. i also learned how to navigate the night buses by myself that night…my own little tour of the city at night…fun adventure.
Traveling on my own has been great…but sometimes when you don’t meet up with those people you randomly met at the hostel things can be a bit lonely. i’ve learned that if the opportunity arises to hang out with some other kids…just go…even if they don’t speak engligh! but that’s a whole other story.