Amsterdam, Part Een

(Een is one…in Ductch).

But before I get into the Amsterdam stuff, I should talk about Sunday in Paris. I did almost nothing. Mike went to some museum and I stayed at Mark’s (it was raining all day). That night, Mike and I had dinner at Mark’s (left-overs from Friday’s amazing meal) and then went to a few bars (The Bear’s Den, Mixer, Central Marais and…….I forget the name of the other one. We wanted to go to Le feeling, which we’ve walked by countless times, but it just seemed too sad. We weren’t feeling it.

Ah, Amsterdam. I’m not sure what to say about it. Our departure from Paris was delayed yesterday as we slept a bit later than we had expected. Then, after picking up the car (their version of a station wagon, but the size of a Honda Civic to us Americans), we had to head back to Mark’s apartment (instead of the highway) because Mike didn’t have his passport. Consequently, he also couldn’t have his name on the rental car contract – leaving me as the sole driver.

And the car was a standard. I’ve driven standards before, but this one was a bit tricky in that certain gears were in different places and functioned differently (particularly the “reverse” and “first gear” options). Not to mention all of the dashboard functions having odd symbols we weren’t familiar with.

First things first – the French highway system sucks ass. It’s horrible. Even the maps are useless. Instead of a highway having a number (Route 90, for example) they have letters and numbers that often overlap (A7 & E12). These numbers are apparently not the key identifier for each road so they appear in tiny letters on maps…only once.

The French also don’t warn you that an exit is approaching in 1/2 kilomer so you’re often surprised. Or, the signs will say “Lille” and then suddently stop saying it – not letting you know if you’ve managed to go the wrong way…which we did….twice.

The Belgium highway signage systems is far superior.

Long story short, we arrived in Amsterdam around 6:00PM…instead of the 2-4PM we had originally planned. No big deal. The guesthouse owner was here to check us into a gorgeous room on the first floor overlooking the Geldersekade Canal. It’s on the periphery of the Red Light District, which we soon discovered that evening as we headed out for dinner and smelled the pot wafting out of windows and doors of the “coffee shops”. A few more doors down and we saw Amsterdam’s famous storefront windows with prostitutes in skimpy lingerie behind them beckoning customers to take advantage of their, um, product. So far, all of the prostitutes have been chunky African Americans or Asian women. One woman could have been a grandmother with her glasses and helmet hair.

So, we arrived at night and haven’t yet explored the city by day. My first impression after arriving was walking down our street and seeing strung out people in coffee shops and stoned/drunk/homelesss(?) men (and a few woman) screaming at each other at every block. To be honest, I was rather intimidated.

But we had a decent dinner at a restaurant called Ocho on Reguliersdwarswstraat Street. The woman sitting next to us had 3 (THREE) empty cigarette packages on their table and smoked non-stop the entire time we were there (they arrived quite a bit before us and lingered after us, too). In addition to their cigarettes, they were popping pills and drinking mixed drinks. Amazing. My body would have collapsed after 1/2 a glass of wine.

After dinner, we came back to our room and shared a nice bath (the hotel has bathtubs built for two). It was quite lovely, romantic, and relaxing after a day spent in a car. After the bath, we headed out to Warmoesstraat Street where there are a bunch of gay bars, shops and people. Most people were focused on the World Cup – screaming loudly in the streets and having a ball.

Mike and went to two bars (Argos and…well, I can’t write the name of the other place here because it’s somewhat naughty).

Today we plan on exploring areas outside the Red Light District. The hotel proprietor gave us directions to most attractions (touristy and non-touristy) so we’ll take advantage of those today.

I shall avoid going to any coffee shops and getting any spacecakes because I’m a good boy.

Or will I?


  1. Comment by karyn on June 27, 2006 8:11 am

    I am een jealous clog-loving bunny right now.

    Having just finished a silly novel which sees our heroine hopping around Europe, I am salivating over each blog entry you make!

    Try the Stroopwaffle, legendary cookie things. Should be easy to find.

    Are the prostitutes “african american”? As they are in the Netherlands, wouldn’t they be African Dutch or something?

    So – come on – just say it – you’re totally NOT going to Prinsengracht to see the house are you!? What about the Van Gogh Museum and the Rembrandt House Museum? I would venture a guess that you’ll skip the Maritime Museum as you can see boats and anchors at home…I know they have a Hard Rock Cafe as well… the Rijkmuseum? Glass topped boats? I’ll make another prediction that you will skip the Heineken factory and the Palace as well. Are you going to take the tram to Delft?

    Tell all Karl!!! (You can’t write the name of the place because its name is ‘somewhat naughty’ – are you kidding me??? Right – because you are normally so chaste and conservative. *snert*)

    And please o please keep those photos coming! Mwah!

  2. Comment by Lise on June 27, 2006 11:00 am

    Have some of the delish fries w/ mayo, and yes, you must have the fried waffles covered in sugar & stuff. And get out of the Red Light district and look around. If you had time and wanted a side trip the college town of Utrecht is beautiful. And rent some bikes and get into the countryside. And there’s a wonderul, hidden Van Gogh museum in a lovely park somewhere in the country side but I can’t remember exactly where. And, and, and ….

  3. Comment by chrispy on June 27, 2006 1:40 pm

    ……….in our next episode we watch our heroine karlinda try a bite of 420 brownie without realizing……….and then getting it on with a grandmotherly dutch prostitute…………….

  4. Comment by Chris on June 29, 2006 7:12 am

    Maybe I’m being overly technical, but they can’t very well be African American women, as they aren’t, err, American.

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