Monday, July 22, 2013

Amsterdam Part 1

We'll see how much I actually post sitting in my bed in Florence but I've decided to at least attempt updating about my grand European adventureWe'll start with Amsterdam, taken directly from my handwritten journal:

July 3-4:
Left work around 3:15 and met Nathan at the light rail. Rode it down to MSP. Long flight to Reykjavik (6 hours) but we got "upgraded" to the exit row. Couldn't keep the bags under the seat I'm front and couldn't recline so not sure if it's really an upgrade... my window seat was VERY cold! I watched Argo and tried to sleep. Short layover at KEF - Iceland is weird! No trees at all, just rocks, grasses, and lichens. Our flight to Amsterdam was delayed - waiting for a late plane from JFK. Arrived in Amsterdam (2.5 hour flight), got our bags, and went to find the bus. After some confusion we got our tickets and on the bus. Got off at "Museumplein" and then a 600m walk to The Flying Pig Uptown hostel. Briefly "lost" our bags (someone kindly hauled them up to our floor) then got settled in (top bunk!). I showered then cleaned and Nathan napped and showered. Here the pen color changed as I indicated I stopped writing in order to take a short nap. After our nap we went on a wandering walk through Amsterdam. We first looked for an ATM and then just headed toward the city. Walked past the Hard Rock Cafe (HRC) and then stopped for some food at "Pancake Corner." Had giant pancakes topped with ice cream. Also some yellow "orange" Fanta. It was okay. Kept walking and exploring and finally found an ATM for Nathan. Finally turned and headed back - never really got lost. Another nap, a short walk, and then back to the hostel bar for WiFi, pizza, and Coke (& vodka for Nathan). Made semi plans for the next day then off to bed (after reading Chris Kluwe's book for a bit).

July 5:
Got up at 9am, got dressed, and went down for free breakfast. Chocolate flake cereal, toast with peanut butter, and a not great undercooked hardboiled egg. Back to the room for a bit then down again for the free city tour at 10:30. Again I took a break here and picked up after the tour. We really just got hauled to the dam square for the Sandemann's tour at 11:15. The tour was great. Nathan is telling me to write that I'm eating old BK fries. Tour: guide was Kate, walked thru the red light district and the old church. Scantily clad ladies in the window. Church and district had good business sense - could pre pay for sins. Passed coffee shops and Chinatown, the highest point in Amsterdam (3m above sea level), the porch weigh station, cannabis museum, break for lunch at meeting point on Amstel dam/Royal palace/white monument (we ate at BK and got charged 0.50 euro for ketchup!).  Also went outside the cheese shop - 2 year old cheese and I won distribution duty/leftovers. Ended outside the Anne Frank house and the tallest church. Nathan and I went to Paradox coffee shop and had cake and Coke with two people from the tour (Leon and Winni from Perth). Took a walk through Vondelpark (right next to hostel). Ponds and lots of people. Took a 2 hour nap then went on the river cruise canal tour - audio guides, narrow turns, tight bridges, house boats, and (no offense Amsterdamers) nasty Heineken beers. After we split the tastiest hot dog and stopped at the HRC for a pin. We then walked to the red light district which was packed full of people. A long walk back, had to stop at McDonalds for a toilet. Footsore and tired muscles mean shower and bed.

Okay this task is very daunting. So I'm going to stop here and pick up again later.

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