Monday, October 27, 2008

Am. Ster. Dam.

Amsterdam is literally a city that words cannot describe. So, in an to attempt to paint the city, from its red lights to its clog makers, through my prose, I decided a little list might come in handy.

1. Traveling to Amsterdam by coach is quite a lengthy process. The process unfortunately began an hour later than necessary, since six people on the trip forgot their passports. Six! Now, you might say, “Who the heck forgets their passport when they know they’ll be leaving the country?” Well, blond girls who need to clarify if “five past nine” is the same as “nine oh five” do. This delay resulted in our coach missing the ferry, waiting two hours at the Dover port, and sitting in three hours of traffic upon our arrival into Calais that we would not have sat in had the dumb blonde and her cohorts not forgotten their passports. (Excuse my bitterness. I promise it just stems from the fact that our bathroomless coach bus caused me to walk dangerously close to intense embarrassment, if you catch my drift. I begged the drive to stop, as my bladder literally loathes me, and TWO HOURS later, he found a rest stop in the Netherlands. I bolted out of the bus, sprinted to the toilet, and sighed some serious relief. Blondie needed snacks at this stop, which also added some time to the trip.) To make up time, we stopped for a ten minute dinner break, ate our food on the bus, and finally made it to Amsterdam by 10 PM… five hours later than we should have. At least we made it!

2. After checking in to the hotel, which sits on the edge of the Red Light District, Kathleen and I made way for our seriously tripped out hotel room. The walls were neon blue, and the view from our window was a neon sign of a girl dancing around a pole. Below that, were windows incased in red lights… and you know what that means! Our view was everything Amsterdam’s Red Light District epitomizes.

3. Our walking tour of the Red Light District was led by our weekend tour guide Rob, the same Northern Englishman who guided us while in Hell… I mean the mountains of Wales. Rob does not understand the limits of personal space and was entirely too touchy throughout the whole walk. As a result, Brigette made an appearance, and he got the idea. Brigette, as you may know, is my sassy alter-ego, and she made it clear that she was NOT OKAY with Sketchy Rob’s constant shoulder squeezes and arm rubs. Honestly, he should have just knocked on one of the windows if he wanted affection. But that’s just the beginning. He spoke so highly of the prostitute profession as we walked through alleyway upon alleyway of twenty-year-old women selling themselves, and said that if I never publish a book or make it big as a businesswoman, I should look into it, as it is extremely lucrative. He also mentioned that I’d finally be able to have control over a man. I wish I could say he was joking, but he was far from it. Brigette’s even meaner twin busted loose after that, and Rob now knows that New York girls are not to be messed with – mentally and physically.

4. Red Light District = Disturbing. That’s sums it up completely. One night is enough.

5. Amsterdam is only one part of Holland, so I was thrilled to take a break from the cloud of marijuana smoke that surrounded me and spend the following afternoon in the Dutch countryside. We saw tons of windmills, which are staples of the Netherlands, and then saw how wooden clogs are made. It’s quite a process, and takes several months to complete a single shoe. After that, we visited a Dutch cheese shop and got to sample a few types. I only tasted the smoked goat’s cheese, though others loved the varieties so much, they took several trips down the sample line. I think this is why we Americans are quite larger than Europeans.

6. After a morning in the country, we made way back to Amsterdam. The Van Gogh museum was fantastic, but it was no where near as moving like the Anne Frank House. We walked through the bookcase, saw the pictures on her wall, and got to look at the famous diary she wrote while hiding in the secret annex. It was unbelievable, and made the trip 100% worth it.

7. By now it was about 10. Since I didn’t feel like watching hookers flash potential patrons, I hit the sack and bid farewell to a Netherlands night.

8. Some religious observations: There is a cathedral in the Red Light District, which rings every hour, on the hour. Amsterdam has one of the highest concentrations of Christian Youth Hostels. Funny, eh?

9. Dutch people are nicer than the English.

10. The Dutch language is funny to see written. Words are spelled like this: Regaslkhfjhsjgjukivick. I kid you not. That might mean street or something. I didn’t bother an attempt at pronunciation.

11. There was a Thai tranny on our trip. His/her name is Benjamin/Natasha, and he/she registered as a man, though dressed in full-on girly gear. This meant that he/she stayed in a room with three other guys, but evidentially had parts that proved otherwise. On our way home, Benjamin/Natasha became obsessed with yours truly (he must have sensed that I’ve seen Rent lucky number seven times), and wanted to talk about New York fashion from Amsterdam to Bruges, which, by the way, is a Belgian canal city three hours from Amsterdam where we took a long lunch break. He/she called me Princess as we discussed the fabulousness of Woodside, Queens, where he/she called home for five years. Benjamin/Natasha’s “deal” right now is finding a boyfriend in every city, which might be a little difficult, as he/she was not allowed entry back into the UK due to misinformation on his/her Thai passport. I’m sure that he/she is working hard on finding a honey in Calais, France…

In summary, Amsterdam was quite an adventure. I hope my words convey what pictures would, if taking them in the Red Light District were actually allowed! Visit if you dare… Cheers!