Thursday, October 16, 2008

Amsterdam, Day 1

We got up early, by sheer chance as we don't have an alarm clock and got our last French pastries. Oh how I will miss thee!
Then we packed up and went to the local internet cafe where I had left my keys the night before. Luckily they were still there! They had my apartment, my luggage, everything for my entire life is on there.
The hotel we were staying at didn't have a phone (?) so we asked the guy at the internet cafe to call us a taxi and he handed me a phone number. The first one didn't work but I managed to mangle the French language long enough to order the cab.
My bags were too heavy to carry. I've now got about 30 pounds of magazines from the Archives in Paris I'm carrying around with me. The cab driver nearly had a heart attack putting it in the boot.
Our flight was delayed at Charles de Galle, our boarding gate said the destination was Madrid, there were no information boards. I think we're the first people to ever fly Air France.
When we got to Amsterdam we took the train after a very rude lady gave me attitude for 5 minutes behind the ticket counter.
Upon landing in Amsterdam, it is totally different to anywhere I've ever been.

There are rivers everywhere and bridges, the entire city is built around them.

They have tiny cars:

There are no elevators so all the houses have hooks on the top so people can use a pully to move their stuff in. This pully is about 6 stories up:

Also it's hard to take a picture of but I guess because all the buildings are so close to water they all lean. MAJORLY lean. Like a house may lean in different directions on either side of the house. It's wild.

We walked along the river after checking in. Oh, they gave us a booklet on how to find Jesus and they have free bibles. A map? 1 Euro. Internet? 1 Euro for 20 minutes. A can of Coke? 2 Euros. Jesus? Free.
They also told us about their bible services and prayer group meetings. Keep in mind this hostel is IN the red light district. There is literally hookers in the window across the street. There is no age limit here so there's some old people and a lot of unsupervised children whose parents I'm guessing like Jesus and liked the curfew.
Anyway, we walked along the river and I found a cat:

I miss my cat. He was friendly and very old, he looked about 14 or 15. The centre of town had a huge fair:

I wanted to find this shop I had seen on the net, Gays and Gadgets, and we did:

But it wasn't very good. Lots of post cards. I found one I liked, it was 2 Euros. Too expensive! They also had a collection of ceramic pigs that misbehave in different ways. My dad said "You probably want to go in by yourself" and went to get a tea but he needn't have, it was a bust.
We did some shopping.

Prices here were very good compared to everywhere else in Europe so I spent about 50 Euros and got a sweater, 2 shirts and a pair of jeans. The shirts and jeans were the European style you can only get here that people pay through the nose through back home, too. It was the first store I found that had clothes that fit me. The one in France was made for people who had not eaten in the last 2 years. The metro there is FULL of steps, I think one elescator. So let's say you want to change to a different direction within the metro. Down 1 flight of stairs, up 2, down one, 5 minute walk, down more stairs, then up, then down and you're there. I was collecting pledges. No wonder these people are thin.
Some great articture here. I love this building with the red doors:

Dinner was a veggie burger (yeah!) and then we went to the Casino. I have never gambled in my life but have always wanted to. Unfortunately these machines were not in English, any of them, but by pushing random buttons I kept winning for some reason. My dad lost instantly, every time. Every machine I played I put in 2 Euros and ended up with 4. I'm a natural. Then I dropped one on the floor and it rolled behind the machine. They discourage people from walking around on their knees under the machines for some reason.
So after the initial fun of pressing random buttons wore off, I switched to roulette, which I also doubled my 2 Euros on and finally blackjack, which I ALSO doubled my 2 Euros on. It was fun, I sat there for about 30 minutes and played, occasionally talking to two locals on either side of me, and made 2 Euros! Good time. When we got out of there it was dark and we went to the Red Light District.

First of all, the smell of pot is everywhere in the air here. Secondly, the red light district has no men. The only thing I saw with men was a couples show where they have live sex for 25 Euros. But it was a rotating schedule and they were currently on "Banana show" and I don't really want to think about that.
So you can't take any pictures and you walk down the street and there's women in bras and panties in the windows. I couldn't look after a while, I don't want to look. It seems exploitive. But if there were men, I'd be looking. Although I still don't think I'd go in.
We got back to the hostel and borrowed an alarm clock, actually a wrist watch with an alarm from the lost and found, and will be getting up at 8 am tomorrow for the Anne Frank house so I gotta go!

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