Thursday, December 06, 2007

Amsterdam


Here we are the third and final installment of the "Trip Home" series. Thanks for sticking with me this far.

Amsterdam was by far the easiest city to get around in. The public transportation was so easy to learn and use, it amazed me. The train ride from the airport to Central Station was a quick 15 or 20 minutes, then we walked outside and got on a tram which took us close to our hotel. The whole time we were there it was so easy to use our little map out of the travel book and get wherever we wanted without walking to terribly far. The weather was much colder than Thailand or Athens so we weren't as excited about exploring the city on foot as we were the previous destinations. America could really stand to learn a lesson or two about public transportation from Europe, or Korea for that matter it was good there as well.

In Amsterdam we were forced to stay in a hotel rather than a hostel due to conditions beyond our control. A week or so before we arrived in Amsterdam we were online looking and looking for available hostel rooms and were dumbfounded not to find any. When we arrived we found out why, it was Cannabis Cup week! Evidently, Amsterdam hosts it once a year and we just happened to pick that weekend to travel through. For those of you curious...No we didn't join the judges but in case you're interested I will explain how it works. Anyone over the age of 18 can buy a judges pass for x amount of money. That individual can then go around to all the different "coffee shops" and smoke their finest selection. That judge then votes on which "coffee shops" had the best product. The winners can then boast that they have the best selection available. (By the way, if you are an American reading this thinking how liberal and far down the slope Holland is, you should just know that most of the people walking around with judges passes on were Americans.)


Amsterdam was a beautiful city to explore. Athens of course has the Parthenon and those surrounding hills but outside of those the city itself is nothing to special to look at. Amsterdam was fun for the eyes wherever you looked. Buildings that looked ancient but housed modern offices or buildings that we swore looked like they were leaning sideways. A beautiful, old, (but still active) stone church sat in the middle of the red light district. The canals and their accompanying bridges are a marvel to behold. I would love to go back sometime when the weather is warmer, rent bicycles and ride up and down each canal.

We went to the Van Gogh Museum one day and that was interesting, (more interesting if you really enjoy art, most of it was lost on me.) We also went to the Hemp Museum, personally I found it more entertaining than Van Gogh. Inside they had a completely legal grow house, along with lots of other documented history regarding hemp and its use over the years. You can see pictures from the grow house in the flickr album, evidently they have won several awards at Cannabis Cups over the years. This is one of the many reasons I love traveling, you can see so much crazy stuff that you would never get to see otherwise.

The food was good, we had Indian, hot dogs, English breakfast (2 eggs sunny side up, on top of toast, with a side of bacon, fantastic!), fish and chips, shawarma, I enjoyed it all.

Another fun part of the trip was a parade that happened while we were there. St Nickolaus comes to town a little earlier in Amsterdam than he does in America. There was a big parade to welcome him as he rode through town on his white horse accompanied by the black faced Peters. (Why are there black faced Peters? I don't know. Look it up.) They handed out ginger snaps to all the kids and to us if we smiled big enough. It was fun. We only have a few pictures of the occasion though because the battery on the camera was about to die, there is at least one good pic of St Nickolaus though.

Well I hope you have enjoyed these posts about the trip home. If you have further questions about any of these places you can feel free to ask. If you want to see pictures of Amsterdam click on the Flickr photo link on the right hand side of the page and go to the set titled "Trip Home: Amsterdam."

No comments: