A Travellerspoint blog

Netherlands

FINAL DAY, FINAL CIDER

ANNE FRANK HOUSE AND ROAMING AROUND AMSTERDAM.

semi-overcast 13 °C

It is only 7 pm on our last night in Amsterdam and we are home already. It is our earliest night but I know I am beat and we both having aching feet after 7 days of walking non stop. Besides we have an early rise in the morning to catch our flight back so we need to pack up. I am just taking a few minutes to relax and enjoy my giant meringue. I couldn’t find time to have it in Barcelona so imagine my delight to have one almost jump out at me on my way back to the hotel. Damn fate, gets ya every time. Paula felt it necessary to put her hand beside it to illustrate the size. But really, it is mostly egg whites so kinda like a healthy breakfast.

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We almost panicked this morning when we went online to get tickets to Anne Frank’s House only to see that they were sold out. Thankfully, the front desk staff told us that you may get in by lining up if you go early. We were lined up by 10 and waited no more than 20 minutes. This was a sombre experience and we had watery eyes the whole way through. I think what made it so difficult was not what was there but the blatant reminder of what hatred can do. I think is the real purpose of the museum. Otto Frank started the museum when he learned that the rest of his family had died. Anne, only 2 months before the liberation and sadly thinking all of her family was dead. Paula and I were both surprised at the size of the living space. I had expected it to be cramped but the two families, 8 people total, occupied a couple bedrooms, living room, kitchen and small bathroom. There was also the attic where Anne spent much of her time. I am not suggesting it was much room just that I didn’t recall that. Even with multiple rooms, they did not move about at all during the day for fear the factory workers below would discover them. The living conditions continued to deteriorate until they were eventually discovered.

We could not take pictures here.

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Why don’t the kids do this book in school any more? I loved it and it certainly delivers a message.

From there we decided to wander the streets and considered doing a canal ride. The chilly weather kinda kept us away plus we had a particular ride in mind but couldn’t find the owner’s place so that was out.We took a little rest for a final beer and cider. The last cider I had was a draft. This one came in a bottle. Also good. Here’s a picture for you Lorna.

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From there we revisited the Flower Market, wandered the canals and made our way back to the red light district which was close to our hotel. I had read last night why the canal houses have such interesting and varied gables. Before there were house numbers the houses were distinguished by the roofline. Later, chalkboards were added to the homes so people could write who lived there by their doors. This is such a friendly city and once again I have to say that the even the red light district is clean and welcoming. Honestly I smelled more weed in Barcelona than here. I am so surprised/amazed by all the cannabis products, like suckers, cookies, cake, candy that I would like to bring some home but Paula guarantees me this is illegal. The sex trade industry still amazes me. I can’t help but wonder how these girls ended up here. I felt like going up and knocking on the doors. That probably isn’t a good idea either. I did turn down an alley with red lights outside the red light district. I was curious but it looked a little shady so I turned around. Seemed like the B version of the red light district.

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Olympic pride in the red light district at a condom shop.

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A marking in the ground entering the red light district

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From there we went for Pizza and made our way back to our purple paradise.

It has been a great trip. Lots of laughs. A nice break from the weather and we are both dreading returning to the snow. Thankfully it will only be about 6 weeks before Isaac and I head off on my big African adventure. Talk to you then.

Posted by curlygirl 11:43 Archived in Netherlands Tagged flower market amsterdam district frank anne redlight Comments (1)

STINKY FEET AND PAYING FOR PAULA TO PEE

I DON’T KNOW WHERE WE ARE BUT WHEN WE GET SOMEWHERE I WILL TAKE A LOOK.

overcast 8 °C

I arrived slightly ahead of schedule (the latest schedule) in Amsterdam and decided to take the bus to my hotel which cost 5 euros as opposed to Paula’s 45 euro taxi ride. I ended up next to a great lady who helped me navigate my map and set me up for my time in the city. She also ensured I got off at the right stop. With a little texting, Paula managed to find me and we settled into our quaint and very clean hotel, Hotel Fita.

We went out for a short walk before finding a great place for dinner. It was cozy with great staff although a little odd. When Paula ordered a second beer, the waiter held the first one and poured it down her throat so she didn’t waste any. Even a little more peculiar was when we didn’t finished the dessert we shared…he shovelled it into her mouth. We are not sure what that was about but we did notice they were waiting to close. Ironically, today we ran into the couple sitting next to us at the restaurant twice.

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Today, we had a wonderful day exploring Amsterdam. It is a small, beautiful and friendly city and we found sheer joy in walking freely without snow. The temperature was about 8 degrees but it was warm enough for us to sit outside and have lunch and tonight to sit outside under the heaters and have a beer. I have to say everyone is so friendly, local and tourist alike and we had many chats along the way. Also the Dutch speak impeccable English.

I was the official navigator today and did quite well despite tearing the map in half. I did so well that Paula had no concerns when I stated that, “I don’t know where we are but when we get somewhere I will take a look.” We did not get lost. I even found pee stops along the way. Gotta love McDonalds for a clean bathroom at a mere .30 euro. We did have a few near misses with those crazy bike riders. It is true that it is the main mode of transportation.

We started the day with our visit to Amsterdam Center. It took us less than an hour and a couple of bus rides to find the place and we received a warm welcome. The center was extremely tidy and full of really hot men…just sayin, Why can’t our controllers look like that?

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From there we headed back towards our hotel to the Concert Hall where we took in a free lunchtime concert. These are held every Wednesday and definitely a worthwhile stop. It was all strings and a compilation of musicians in the area who gather to practice. Very high quality in our humble opinions. A real treat.

Next was the Van Gogh museum which was terrific. I managed to snap a couple photos before learning that picture taking was not permitted. I asked a guy out front and I am sure he said yes but Paula tells me he was talking about being allowed to take a picture of the picture explaining that Van Gogh’ s Sunflowers are off visiting the London museum. Can’t you believe it? They left without telling me. The Irises were probably more spectacular and I bought a sunflower buff which I am actually wearing on my head right now.

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From there we made our way across the city, and through the canals. Of which there are many and way more than I expected. When you don’t do your research the surprises are endless. One of our favourite areas was the Flower Market. The bulbs are HUGE. And the flowers equally as huge. I was thinking how much I would love to buy some bulbs for Cathy Spurrell so I could enjoy giant tulips across the street. You can even find yourself a nice cannabis starter kit should anyone ever want something like that. We even found a wicked cheese shop that we plan to return to on Monday.

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Something else that was really cool is how all the houses slant forward. This is because land was so expensive here when it was developed that the houses were built tall and skinny to take up less land. The result was that the stairways were too narrow to bring furniture up, so they built the houses slanted forward and put hooks the roof so they could hoist up the furniture and it not bang against the outer walls.

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We continued to roam and make our way to the Red Light District. This was also a surprise as it seemed quite clean and not nearly as dodgy as many of the places I have been. After poking around and admiring all the weed and cannabis products for sale, including coconut cookies which I briefly considered, we found a little bar on the corner where we ducked in for a bite and a beer. I discovered cider which was so yummy I had two. We shared a fries and some dutch balls and had 2 beers each for a total of 45 euros..about $70. It would be about $35 at home, but it was worth the great view and the people watching. That’s where I found the cute shoe to sit in. Despite the travel I have done, I am still the tacky tourist which you probably noted from the photo of me standing in the shoes from the cheese shop which Paula quipped to be the “stinky feet pose”

After dinner I felt compelled to return to the red light district. I said to Paula, “I just want to see a few more whores at night”. What does that make me? I was impressed that they were not rake thin….although the evening shift seemed a little hotter. We even witnessed a couple of transactions in progress. Interesting to say the least.

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From there, we took our aching feet as far as the tram station and took the tram back to the hotel. (2 euros 80, versus 5 euros for the bus).

Tomorrow morning we head to Barcelona. Back on Sunday, with a busy day planned for Monday here in Amsterdam.

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Posted by curlygirl 14:31 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam light red distict Comments (3)

Mid-Winter Break

Exploring Amsterdam and Barcelona

After a busy few weeks at work and a successful day of tying up loose ends, I am finally processing the fact that I am running off on another adventure in a couple of days. I have barely had time to think about it and other than googling the weather and some bathroom reading of the lonely planet guides, I have done little research. This is not my norm but I am planning to sort it all out on my long layover in Montreal airport.

Once again this mom is flying solo, leaving Isaac behind in the capable hands of my parents and my best friend with additional help from others as needed. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child especially when the mother frequently runs away from home. Don’t feel too bad for him. He will get more attention than he would at home and will be joining me on a very exciting trip in early April when we head to Africa on safari…stay tuned.

On Monday, I head to Amsterdam and then on to Barcelona for a quick one week trip with 3 days in each city. I am taking advantage of a great program at work that allows us to visit another ATC unit every three years for the purpose of familiarization (this time Amsterdam Center). It is not a hardship; the unit visit is only a couple of hours after which we complete a written report on a topic related to our work back home. Besides, I have turned into such a geek; I am really looking forward to learning about my given topic. Joining me is one of my best friends during my ATC training in Cornwall, Ontario 24 years ago - yikes. Paula and I continued to buddy around during her short transfer to Gander Tower before continuing her career in the Maritimes finally perching in Moncton. We have managed to stay in touch and visit occasionally and decided that this year we should escape the depths of winter by taking advantage of the FAM trip adding on a few days in warmer Barcelona. Although we haven’t seen much of each other, we are relatively confident that we will be compatible travel companions. We are both outspoken single mothers of boys and we both share a love of adventure, photography and talking lots. It will be hard to get a word in edgewise with us. Let’s hope it all works out because some of our sleeping arrangements look a little cozy.

I am happy to have you all along sharing my travels. You inspire me to write and record my adventures which I am always thankful for. You are free to share this blog with anyone you think will enjoy it.

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Posted by curlygirl 14:57 Archived in Netherlands Tagged barcelona amsterdam atc Comments (4)

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