This is the 22nd of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.
This 22nd report covers my first day in Amsterdam.
I'm here at Amsterdam for four days. Using the same discount internet chain I found at Munich (easyEverything). Bought a 7 day pass even though I'm only here for four nights because it only cost E6 and since it's paid for, it doesn't matter if I arrive during peak hours and stay for a while.
And as you can tell they use normal keyboards here :) More things I forgot to mention before: Zurich is also unique in that even its Sunday markets cost money to visit (from the outside you only see the back of the tents).
[NOW: I’ve since referenced that in one of these updates sections. As previously noted, any report using a bad keyboard has been cleaned up for these blogs.]
I arrived slightly late in Amsterdam because they moved everyone off the train that should have arrived sooner. I mistakenly entered a smoking area thinking it was non-smoking. Turns out that actually referred to two seats just outside the main seating area.
Upon arrival had to wait a while to get a map. Tourist places really need some sort of express system for people with no pressing questions who just want maps.
Hostel turns out to be YHI (Youth Hostel International again). Hopefully I'll meet people in this place. The YHI in Luxemburg was the first that I didn't talk to anyone. But as with Luxemburg they serve decent inexpensive dinners there and probably closer to what people in the area might eat.
I visited a few of the kinkier places today. Both the Sex Museum and the Erotic Museum (which costs twice as much) are not for the faint of heart. One was supposed to be more tongue in cheek than the other, but I found both pretty tongue in cheek ... and pretty hardcore. I took photos pretty selectively in both places. Both had phones for phone sex and multi-language documentaries. The latter also had mind boggling cartoons.
I don't think any amount of guide book reading could possibly prepare anyone for seeing the Red Light District windows directly. Truly an amazing sight. Mainly because of the women themselves but...well, there's this fountain and...some day I'll show you the photo.
I must say I'm kind of glad now that I chose one of the tamer hostels. I do find the sexual elements rather amusing, but at the same time it's nice to be able to take them in small dosages.
[NOW: Uh, the fountain base is the shape of a penis pointing upward. Water comes out of the tip.]
I also saw but didn't go into coffeehouses. Amsterdam residents, you see are avid coffee drinkers. ... You were wondering about that plant symbol? Oh, that's just the coffee bean plant. Really. Er, that sign that says, "Please smoke your joint inside?" Um, nothing to see here, folks. Seriously, I haven't been in one yet, though it's somewhat tempting to go in and actually order coffee to get their reaction. Probably not though, partly for the one of the reasons I've never tried pot, other than the moral aspect: it smells not unlike diarrhea to me. BTW that sign I mentioned above really does exist. I think Amsterdam used up all its subtlety in the name "coffeehouse".
This time next week I'll be in Canada. Not yet sure if I'll be on the ferry yet after time zone is taken into account, but there's a good chance I will get back to Victoria early. But it depends on how long I get talking with the friend in Vancouver I'm visiting.
I bought a couple of books today. Ironically, I lost the page of attractions in Amsterdam I had just checked off, and then found a 2002 guide from the same source for all of Amsterdam.
Since I can e-mail any time in the next four days, I'll have more at random times later.