dam it

I was in Amsterdam in the first week of February .. here’s a few musings in one convenient post.

Cold.
It had snowed heavily before I arrived. Yet, unlike the UK and Ireland, life didn’t come to a standstill nor a was there a media hype of “Snowmageddon”. My flight wasn’t cancelled and the trains/trams were still going.

I had anticipated the cold so I packed gloves, scarf and furry ear flapped hat, and I also wore a jacket under my big heavy coat… and it was still bloody freezing! However, the sun was shining and the air was crisp! Lovely!

The cold presented one of the niche sights of Amsterdam and that is locals skating on the canals. Leona considered having a go at one point but we looked and the ice didn’t look too stable, yet there were tens of people skating about, playing ice hockey etc. Crazy!

Sadly, the snow wasn’t fresh anymore and was turning into that horrible dirty slush, and to make matters worse the day I arrived I had to drag my wheely suitcase and on the way home. Needless to say its now boggin!

Crazy!

Anne Frank House
I’d read the book a few months ago, so I wanted to do whatever the building equivalent is of “putting a face to a name”… if that makes sense.


Having taking a detour getting there we sort of found it by accident. I was expecting just to walk in to the front door so was looking for a queue outside a canal house, then turned round “oh there’s a museum entrance”. The entrance and ticket area etc is quite modern and you walk into a room with a video screen, still quite modern, then walk a bit more and you’re in the house.

Apart from some renovations so the place can work as a museum, the place is essentially unchanged. In the da’s office there are a few things on exhibition but the living area’s were empty, apparently left the same as when it was raided, the only remanence of someone living there is the stove or posters stuck on the wall in Anne’s room. It was dark, stuffy and small and despite it being full of people (i.e. other tourists) it was eerily quiet. I found the whole very claustrophobic and unsettling.. and that was only after a few minutes!

After that there is a little exhibition on the Holocaust and Auschwitz, then an exhibition on the book (copies of original passages etc) then and temporary exhibition about her Ma (who I forgot gets a rough deal in the book), and the coffee shop (not that type).

Van Gogh
here

Heino
I was apprehensive as I’d done the Guinness tour five years ago and was disappointed, but the the Heineken museum was great. The main difference being there was more interaction with visitors, people explaining the brewing process (I asked the poor guy a lot of questions.. “what’s the difference between pilsner and lager?” for example), a 4d ride, actual horses, taster sessions and loads more stuff. At the end I you get two glasses of beer. I somehow ended up drinking six so was quite tipsy leaving!

Boat-tel
We stayed on a boat. Booked it when I was drunk, but was pleasantly surprised. The “captain” was friendly. Despite staying in the docks where the water was frozen the room was warm. Had free wi-fi. Complimentary breakfast was cereal, juice, tea/coffee, toast etc quite good

Red light
Thought I’d bury this in the middle. I ended up in red light district by mistake. Was walking down a street with a Chinese temple in the middle of the day. There were windows, but they were closed. Turned a corner, “what’s down here?”, got half way down and realised what we stumbled onto. It took me by surprise as it was only the afternoon and after seeing one girl knocking the window at passers by, I got me really down, a reaction i wasn’t expecting.

It was all a bit surreal and being solicited to watch a live sex show at half two on a snowy day it was a bit seedy.

Drink…
… was dear! Unlike Barcelona. About five euro for a pint. Though it’s still a bit cheaper than some places in Dublin.

Food

Erwtensoep – hmmmmmm

…was cheap! Unlike Barcelona. First day I was there I got ribs for about €9.95. Was expecting a tiny portion but got two big racks plus chips and salad.

The second day I was there I got all you can eat ribs for about the same price.

and on my last day there I got a good size steak for about a tenner too in a Mexican place. Leona even said it was the best enchilada she ever tasted!

Coffee
Before I went people were telling me about plans to stop tourists using coffee shop so I had some irrational fear of not getting served (paranoid before i had anything to make me more paranoid :)). So after I had a few jars in the Heineken tour we went to a Bulldog and had a few more beers. We then decided to go to the coffee shop down stairs. I was worried I would walk in and they’d be like “he’s such a novice! hahaha!” but it was quite the opposite.

Walked to the bar and said “ummm…” and the lady pointed behind me to the corner and said “smokes? over there.”.
Fair enough.
Went “over there” and there was a man in the corner, he told me to press a button and a menu lit up. Not having a clue I pointed at something in the middle of the menu and €13 later I had four joints. That easy.

A while later I only had three left and a delicious cup of coffee.

After that we had all you can eat ribs (see above) and some more beers, as we walked back to the boat I tried to take another, but the wind proved this to be too difficult.

The next day we were flying home and I wanted to finish what I had left so Leona left me in a coffee shop while she went shopping. So I went to another Bulldog and had another. Took me an hour, and in that hour I stared at the smoke, listened to house music and pondered, after drinking two cups, why no one mentions the coffee in the coffee shops.

I had one more left but didn’t want to be fucked on the flight home so I just binned it because I couldn’t find anyone to give it to nor did I want to risk just “taking it home”, despite people saying you can sneak them in your shoes or something dumb, and even though no one came near me in customs… I’m not a fucking idiot!


Locals
Most part were quite friendly. One guy got arsey with me as I nearly walked in front of his bike (on first night I subconsciously looked to my right when crossing the road.. ). Someone tried to sell me something, coke maybe, but I politely declined and he seemed fine. Any tertiary workers were dead on. All good.

Trams
Like any other major city I’ve been to the transport system was good. I am always pleased by this as I’m only used to Translink!

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