Archive for November 18, 2009

Day 4: Amsterdam

Posted in travel on November 18, 2009 by poojaland

I managed to roll out of bed around 7:30 this morning, but due to U working from home this morning, A and I didn’t actually head out to the bus stop until nearly 10 (we can’t help but chat with U when she’s around!). And then, we were finally off to Amsterdam.

Once we emerged from the Amsterdam Centraal train station, we quickly realized our streak of good luck with the weather had run out — it was blustery and cold and rainy (the light/misty kind we get in Seattle). However, we gamely set out on foot to the Anne Frank Museum, which is located inside the house where Anne’s family hid out from the Nazis for nearly two years. The house is actually empty of furniture (after the Franks were betrayed to the Nazis, their furniture was all removed, and Anne Frank’s father requested that the house be left that way once preparations began to turn the house into a museum), but it’s still a very eerie place to be. With Anne’s father’s help, the museum put together small replications of how the house looked while the Franks were living there. We unfortunately weren’t allowed to take photos in there (though there was no furniture, the book case that hid the entrance to the Franks’ hiding place was cool to see), however.

Our next intention was to see the Van Gogh museum, which looked like a decent (one or two mile??) walk in southern Amsterdam, so when we came upon the Pancake House a few blocks from the Anne Frank house (marked as a “Time Out Best of 2009” spot, no less), we decided to stop in for some local fare.

We split a cherry beer (which was nearly fruity/sweet enough for me to enjoy), and then a bacon “pancake” (in the States, we’d think of it more as a thick crepe) and Dutch cherry poffertjes. The pancake was seriously huge — about 15″ in diameter. In the center were four slices of delicious bacon. The poffertjes were drenched in cherry kirsch, and the alcohol taste was very strong. We nearly made it through the entire pancake, but had to leave a handful of the 12 or so poffertjes on the plate. Just too strong!

We then headed back out, thinking we were continuing south towards to the Van Gogh Museum. However, after walking for 15-20 minutes, we pulled out a map to double-check our location, and we were unfortunately nearly right back at Centraal Station (the north end of town)! Augh. By this point, it was nearly 3, and as we still wanted to head to the Red Light District, we decided to scrap the VGM (if we’re able to get back to A’dam before we leave the Netherlands, we’ll hopefully then hit the VGM).

It surprisingly took us some time to find the RDL; we stopped and asked for directions a few times, but people never gave us good ones, so we ended up just stumbling into the area on our own (it helped that we saw some small red lights strung up across some streets!). In photos I’d seen of the whole brothel/prostitute situation, I swear the ladies stood in windows on the second and third floor of buildings, but in actuality, they were right on the street level! So when we were walking amid a throng of people, we’d sometimes be like two feet from a window where a skimpily clad lady was freshening up her lipstick in a mirror, smoking “provocatively” (a bit of an oxymoron, if you ask me …) or just swaying back and forth trying to look all sexy. The ladies spanned quite a wide range of body/ethnic types, and ages as well.

We also stumbled by the Sex Museum, which we hadn’t specifically been looking for, but decided to check out (especially after U had recommended it to us last night). Man, that place was something else! Tons of nude/silly mannequins (including one just inside the museum entrance that flashed us as we walked by — yikes!) and a LOT of explicit photos, spanning the years and even sexual fetishes, positions, etc. Um.. wow. I had to keep reminding myself to keep a poker face!

Finally.. we spent another half hour doing more random walking around trying to find a nameless (in A’s memory) tattoo shop. We did finally find it, after again asking several people, but A didn’t like any of their designs, and hadn’t found on her own that she liked, so we walked out of there a few minutes later.

On the way back to Centraal Station around 5, we made sure to stop in a “coffee shop” so A could get a “brownie.” First, though, she had to wait about 10 minutes while four teens from England picked out their purchases (each kid ordered about four varieties). A ate the brownie about 20 minutes ago (around 11 p.m.), and it must not be very strong, because nothing exciting is happening yet! However, she said the packaging says it make take up to an hour for one to feel the effect. Doesn’t seem very fun to me..

Had a nice dinner here at U’s, as her co-worker joined us, and brought these potato-patty things (Indian food) he’s famous for. Still no tickets bought for that prospective trip to Prague; man, I’m just tired of planning things! We still need to figure out what we’re doing tomorrow, even, though it may be a trip to the Hague. I just wish U’s place was in Amsterdam proper, as it’s a bit of a hassle to have to take the bus (though it’s only about a 10-minute ride) and then a train (30-40 minutes to anywhere, but around $25 round trip) everywhere we go. However, A and I are loving hanging out with U after so long (I hadn’t seen her since 12 years ago, when I was last in India), and it’s certainly better staying here than in a hostel.

I miss the days of traveling with my parents.. I only had to be ready at a certain time every morning, and everything else would be taken care of from there!