Monday, March 15, 2010

Amsterdam: This is All Legal!?

This weekend I went to Amsterdam with just Lindsay and Cammie. Everyone else had already seen the "dam" or wasn't interested in going so us three girls made a nice little girls trip out of the experience. And let me tell you, Amsterdam was an Experience! This is the city of illegal things. It's the place that you can go to casually do all of the things you aren't allowed to do anywhere else so needless to say it was a lot different than anywhere else I've ever been in my life. Sex, Drugs, Alcohol and everything inbetween is readily available to anyone who wants it. Funnily enough our stay in Amsterdam was a huge clash of cultures. We stayed at a Christian hostel (no drinking or smoking or drugs or cohabitation allowed inside) right next to the red light district. Lindsay and I learned real fast the first night that they weren't kidding when they said RIGHT next to the red light district. We went right out of the hostel instead of left and directly next door is Thai Massage place. In Amsterdam, Thai Massage has a different meaning...yup, walked right past our first hooker 10 feet away from our hostel. As just us two for the first night, we decided to turn around and go back to a safe little pub NOT in the red light district.
For our first full day in Amsterdam we went to the Heineken Experience. It's their brewery tour and it was just like Disneyworld! complete with a simulation ride! You pay for 2 free beers which really means 2 free half beers, but it was okay because the bartender liked us and gave us a few extras for free.
The next day we went down to an open air street market like the ones we have in France to see what they had to offer. This one was great because they let us have free samples! Free samples of delicious tapenades and cheeses and olive oils.yum! Then we went to get what Amsterdam does best (food wise) and we got pancakes! Thinner than American pancakes, but not quite crepes, these things are a work of the gods. I got a bacon and apple one and they bake the stuff right into the pancake. You lightly drizzle their molasses like stroop (syrup) on it and it is the best thing I had ever tasted.
Next stop was the Anne Frank house. Yes there was a line around the block but we were happy and full from out pancakes so we didn't mind. The inside of the Anne Frank house was very cool to see especially the part where the family actually lived and the bookcase that hid their secret staircase. Strangely enough I am the only person in the entire world to have managed to make it through all of junior high, high school and college without having read the Diary of Anne Frank. With this being said, I still thought the house was interesting so I'm sure if you'd read the book it would have been even better, and now I definitely want to read it!
Our nights consisted of walking up and down the extremely interesting neighborhoods that happened to surround our hostel. If we went left, we hit Little China Town. Little did we know that one of Amsterdam's specialties is Indonesian food because they used to occupy Indonesia back in the days of imperialism. We had some delicious Thai food for dinner one night too. If we went right though out of our hostel...well you know what we saw, and that was only the beginning! The Red Light District was really funny, and really creepy all mixed into one! It was like going to P-Town but amplified by a million percent because everything is completely legal. If you want Culture Shock go to Amsterdam's and you will  certainly experience some shock.

But don't worry Amsterdam isn't all sex, drugs and alcohol! There are also tons of wooden shoes and a few Windmills! There were wooden shoes EVERYWHERE but we did find one awesome store that sold real handcarved and handpainted ones. Windmills were a little trickier to find.On our last day in Amsterdam we had a small bucketlist of things to museum, hot waffles, stroopwaffles and find a windmill. Naturally the receptionist at our Christian hostel had no idea where to find the sex museum but when we asked the man at the "coffeeshop" around the corner her knew exactly where it was. No need to go into details on that one, it was just more shocking sex from all around the world and all time eras (which was kinda interesting). Post sex-museum we found the hot waffles..they are basically waffles dipped int he frosting you get on donuts and then they heat them up..fabulous. Next mission was a windmill. Knowing there were 8 windmills in Amsterdam we knew we could find one and that was actually something our receptionist could help us with. We went to a windmill with a brewery inside! We didn't get to go on a tour, but we had some windmill made beers! Final stop on our Amsterdam trip was stroopwaffles which are thin waffles with caramel in the middle. We got some at the grocery store and decided they were glorified caramel delights so we were not disappointed. Amsterdam was an adventure to say the least. Definitely not a place of innocence despite the wooden shoes and tulips but definitely a great city with a lot to offer.

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