Sunday, October 12, 2008

Amsterdam II

08/20/08 (written on 08/21/08)
The night before we tried to set the alarm on the phone, but we must have set it on vibrate mode because we never heard it go off. I expected to wake up early, but it was already 9am when we finally did. So, we got ready to go to Haarlem, a town right outside of Amsterdam. Along the way to Centraal Station, we stopped to get croissants at the little bakery by our hotel. We wanted to eat them at the nearby park, but it had rained overnight.
We were able to use our Eurorail pass to get to Haarlem, which was only about a 15-minute ride outside of the city. However, we got off at the wrong stop, which had the name Haarlem in the title. As soon as we got off, we realized it was the wrong stop because it clearly was not a medieval town as we expected. Instead there was an IKEA right there, so we killed about 20 minutes or so until the next train came. The IKEA was more or less the same as the one in Philly.
Soon, we were in central Haarlem, where we stopped to get some coffee. It was delicious and we drank it in the town square where town hall is (Grote Markt). I sat by a fountain and accidentally put my hand in some bird poop and then accidentally wiped it on my jeans. Luckily, I had shout wipes, which I highly recommend to any traveler, as I had to use them again this morning when I was having another ham croissant in the park. I put my backpack in some mud accidentally, then put it allover my hands and jeans again.
Anyway, Haarlem was a cute old town with cobblestone streets and an old protestant church (Sint-Bavokerk). We walked around the inside where there was a humongous organ that Mozart and Handel played. The floor was comprised of tombstones where underneath people were buried. There was some really interesting iconography and typeface marking the stones. Scott lit some candles for Memere and got mad when I pointed out that she was a devout Catholic and this was a protestant church. I lit a candle for all of my dogs.
There was a cute shop attached to the outside of the church, among others. The man sold vintage leather suitcases and some vintage purses.
We walked around some more and we saw windmill (De Adriaan). It was actually a re-pro made in 2001 or something…the original burnt down. After a small argument (a sign of more to come) regarding how to get back to the station, we finally made it back to Amsterdam. We planned to go to the Anne Frank house, but along the way stopped at a bar Scott has read about. It carried over 200 beers or so. I had a wheat beer and Scott has something else-he was very happy!
We walked to Anne Frank’s house, which wasn’t too far from the bar. The line was as long as every tour book said it would be, but the wait was only an hour or so- not too bad, I thought.
The house/museum was very moving. I especially like Anne’s bedroom, where she pasted up pictures/clippings of movie stars and other things to make the space more cheery. It was all so sad and I tried not to cry!
Afterwards, we found a Greek restaurant for dinner. It was very yummy and large portions!!!
We found bar that Scott wanted to try. This time, the bartender was not so helpful. Scott asked him to recommend something Dutch, not knowing that all the beer was from the Netherlands. The beer was good, but the bartender was an asshole, so we hurried and left.
We headed to the red light district where we went to a sex toyshop, saw some ugly hookers in windows, and then went to see a live sex show at Casa Rosa. There were about 9 different acts, the funniest being when a dominatrix called a boy out of the audience. They played the Stooges “Now I wanna be your dog” while she strapped a fake penis to his head and made him fuck her with it!!! I was laughing hysterically! Then as a joke, she tried to make him lick it, But, the joke was one her, because he actually did!
In the morning we woke up and packed, ate in the park, got into a tiff at the internet café about directions to our hotel in Belgium, and now we are on the train to Brussels. I am already tired from carrying our backpack around!


08/19/08 (written on 08/21/08)
The language barrier started when we landed in Detroit. Scott and I ate at a restaurant there and when I ordered seltzer water. The waitress pretended not to hear me, listening to Scott’s order of Sam Adams instead. She turned back to me; I repeated myself, and the said “club soda?” She still didn’t know what that was, so I clarified again with “mineral water?” …”Oooh” she said, “we have Perrier” making sure to pronounce the “r” at the end of the word.
We got on the plane and arrived 7.5 hours later at Amsterdam Schipol. I had woken up at 6:30 am the day before and had only slept for two hours; Scott didn’t sleep on the plane at all.
During the flight, I did watch a great film called “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” I also read David Sedaris’s new book, which was appropriate because it talked about rude people on airplanes, American couples traveling in Europe and the arguments they get in, and speaking the only word you know in French.
We arrived at the airport at 11am and took a train into the city. Luckily, the walk to the hotel wasn’t too far from the train station in Amsterdam, so we dropped off our bags and headed out to explore the city before we could check in.
We walked along the Kalversraat where there were lots of shops and coffee shops. The smell of weeds was omnipresent, but Scott and I weren’t tempted since we both get panic attacks from the stuff. Although, the local remedy seems to be eating something sweet or so says Scott.
We got a bit hungry, so Scott had a shitty piece of pizza that cost 5 euros or approximately $7.50. I had frites with mayo! Mmm… my fry addiction is only going to be fed more so here in Europe.
We sat in the main square, Dam Square, and watched tourist feed a huge flock of pigeons. We were really jet lagged, so we went back to the hotel and slept.
We woke up at 7pm walked to an Indonesian restaurant, Bojo, in the central ring area/Heidsplein. We ordered beef satay, which was delicious & Scott loved it. He also had a meet bun. I had rice noodles stir-fry with beef in a peanutty sauce; it came with pickled veggies and shrimp chips. Scott never had Indonesian, and I was happy he enjoyed it so much.
After a stroll back to the hotel, we watched the Olympics and fell fast asleep –at least I did. Scott can never seem to sleep too well, even when he is super tired.