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Amsterdam, October 2006

Amsterdam, October 2006 |

Stamps in my passport tell me that I went to Amsterdam in the weekend. The ticket stubs I have found and photos I took have helped me piece this together:

Piers, Navin, Cameron and I were the first to arrive very early on Saturday morning. After a few issues with our ‘map’ we eventually found our hostel and made a beeline for the coffee shops and smart shops we had heard so much about…

The next stop was the ‘Heineken Experience’ - a semi informative elaborate Heineken advert. It did, however, come with complementary beers served in good in-house bars. Piers and I found these particularly entertaining.

After hanging around the hostel for a few hours shaking off the 3am start we ventured to an area filled with flower markets, met Matt, and dined at a nice Italian restaurant where I took some time out to acclimatise myself to the low altitude.

With dusk upon us, it was then time to venture into the Red Light District. Packed with tourists and neon lights, the place resembled an adult carnival. The window shopping was of a good standard and many laps of the canal followed before we ventured into a show. In contrast, the show was rubbish. Front row seats did not make up for the less than attractive display and the fact that without willing volunteers to participate, various acts were skipped completely!

We made a note to investigate good clubbing areas for any future trips, as we struggled to find a decent local bar/club to spend the remainder of the night.

We exchanged Piers for Craig on Sunday morning before heading to the Van Gogh Museum. Following my art history lessons in Paris, the sharp learning curve continued with Van Gogh: his self portraits, and classics such as The Potato Eaters and Sunflowers. It was an excellent exhibition displaying the changes in his style throughout his life.

That was enough culture for one day, and after a wander around the city we opted to hang out in a local park before heading straight out to for the night.

Amsterdam was still bustling on the Sunday night. We headed back to the Red Light carnival - just to show Craig, of course. After a few more laps of window shopping we opted for what appeared to be the largest theatre (Theatre Casa Rosso) for a show. It was a much more ‘professional’ show. This time we knew what to expect and were suitably liquored. Matt and Cam didn’t need to be asked twice before volunteering to contribute to the entertainment - Matt becoming part of a dominatrix act, and Cam a banana show.

After a few more drinks the district began to close. Despite being close to 2am on a Sunday night we were a little surprised to see such a surreal place close.

Anne Frank’s house was sobering first thing on Monday morning. It was an eerie but compulsory experience. The residence is left fairly untouched since the family’s eviction - from the famous bookcase to the children’s heights still marked on the walls.

More wandering about town followed. Apart from streams of cycle, tram, and car lanes to cross, and the spider web of canals to confuse, Amsterdam is an easy city to travel on foot. We travelled its length numerous times daily - mostly unintentionally.

The Red Light District is not such a good place to visit by day - the standard of window dressing is (fittingly) as different as day is to night. We celebrated Navin’s birthday with cake in a coffeeshop before embarking on a very very quiet trip home.

A fun, liberal place to visit, but I’m still recovering four days later!

Locations Visited: London, Amsterdam, London

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