Friday, January 06, 2006

Amsterdam...rocked my world!!!






above you will find these pictures : the first is a picture of st. nicholaskerk...or st. nicholas church...very apropriate for the holiday season...the second is a market shot showing cheese wheels for sale...yummy...the next is of the boat i took a canal cruise on through the entire city....the fourth is a picture of the statue of anne frank located outside of the house where her and her family hid for a year and a half from the nazi army...and finally a picture of the mosaic and stained glass window in the apartment i rented while in amsterdam....

hey there all...dani back again...with my last stop before the states...sorry it has taken me so long...but i was a bit busy with the holiday season...i am sure you all understand...here's a bit about the town of canals, the red light district and christmas....

the patron saint of amsterdam is st. nicholas...so this town was totally decked out for the holiday season...in the center of town was a christmas village with an ice skating rink...so cute and so much fun...and i don't know if you know, but the dutch really like their fried pastry style food...doughnuts are everywhere...as well as waffles with chocolate and ice cream...its crazy...but the town was dressed up and folks were definitely shopping...it was a great time to be a tourist :)

while in amsterdam i stayed at an apartment like i did in paris...and the place i stayed at was incredible...a great sized bedroom...a dining room...a living room...a TV, VCR, DVD player, a kickin' stereo system...and a deck that overlooked a canal...it was awesome...and the ex-pat i rented from was a great guy...an artist who made a mosaic on his kitchen wall and has a stained glass window in his bedroom door....such a great place...and once again, i have to say i really enjoyed having my "own" place...i just hopped the trams and walked the canals and felt like i was living in amsterdam...it rocked :)

one aspect i really love about this town is all of the water...canals are everywhere...and at times these really effected my sense of direction...i am usually really good with this, but this town is laid out in a horseshoe shape...and then the canals line many of the streets...i took a canal tour on a boat that had a glass top and was about 1.5 hours long....very peaceful and a great way to see the city...it was really cool to see all of the canal houses that are leaning on their "stilts"...this is due to the sandy bottom and the wooden stilts many house were first built on...some of them were pitched at a crazy angle...the houses of amsterdam are very skinny and usually four flights tall...and the stairs are REALLY narrow...plus, at the top of every house there is a way to use a rope and pulley system to get things to the higher floors without having to walk them up the narrow staircases...very smart if you ask me...these houses, in combination of the canals really are the flavor of the city...

i also was impressed with all of the art in this town...from the van gough museum, to the rembrandt house, to the houses that have murals on them and the beauty of the national museum building...i didn't go into the national museum, as much of it was under construction...i did however go into the "first" flourescent art museum in the world...what a cool guy...he does works with paints and natural dyes and even geological pieces...all of which respond to the flourescent black light...did you know that even some fruits and vegies react to these kinds of lights...it was a trip....let me tell you...

then there were the other aspects of amsterdam that all people talk about...the red light district and the legal drugs, which are sold at coffee shops...the main thing that struck me about both of these aspects of amsterdam was that they are "all business"...people aren't giggling and pointing, although you can pick out the first-timers pretty easily....but the dutch don't seem to like it when people make fools of themselves concerning these two aspects of amsterdam....i did ask one of the "working" women in one of the houses if i could take her picture...she asked me for 50 euros...i was floored...so i asked how much it would be to sleep with her...and it was only 40 euros...what a suprise...but she said her family didn't really know what she did for a living...so i guess i can understand...no, i didn't take her up on either price...the buildings these women stand in really are red in terms of all the lights in them are red, so the two canals that are the red light district...really glow red at night...its pretty wild...as for the coffee shops...most of them are set up to sell only pot and hash or combinations of the two...most do not sell alcohol, "harder" stuff and do not sell to folks under the age of 18...they are located all over the city...the one at the end of my block was the cheech and chong coffee shop...its just a part of the neighborhood...each of the coffee shops i saw had their own flavor of decoration and music...it was really interesting to me...there were also shops that legally sold magic mushrooms and herbals...located in and among the shoe stores and restuarants...i have to say that overall the city was not over-run with dead beats or burnouts and people seemed really mellow all over the place...leading me to think that maybe legalizing these two things have been good for this town...as for elsewhere, who knows...but its just part of the town...which i thought was great!

i also got a chance to visit the anne frank house, which for a girl who read the book when she was younger, this was a moving experience...i was really excited that i went on a non-crowded day and got to take my time in all of the rooms of the house...what an amazing story...and it always bums me out that anne died one month before the concentration camp she was in, was liberated...but as her father, who did survive, said...her words and thoughts and dreams will live on and prove to the world that the holocaust was real and horrifying....

if you get a chance to go to amsterdam, i highly recommend that you rent a bike, along with the hundreds of other folks, and explore the entire city...it is really bike friendly, as even the dutch use bikes to get around...or at least spend a day walking around this very friendly and fun town...the food is great and very international...i had such a good time here...i am hoping to get back sometime in the future and see the rest of the country...because from the airplane window, it was just beautiful....

and so ends my trip to get back to the states....i realized on my last flight to philly, that in 15 months i had traveled on 37 different flights...totally crazy....i am in the states for a while and am interviewing to teach overseas in february in boston...wish me luck and i'll keep you posted on where i am headed next :)

happy 2006!!!!

4 comments:

crista hippchen said...

Thanks for the new posting, Dani! I spent a long day in Amsterdam in 1986 waiting for a train to Vienna - I vowed to go back some day and spend more time. Your photos and narrative were a good, descriptive fix! (Ha Ha) I'm sure the other readers of your blog will agree that we'd like to see some pics of your family and local surroundings! Yes?

Please keep a trip to Alaska on the back (or front) burner!! Love, Crista

Anonymous said...

One hell of a trip! Welcome home. Good luck on the job search.

KLK said...

Hey -- I just read through the last few postings. GREAT photos! Hope to catch up with you once I return from Morocco. With any luck, I'll have a matching photo of me on a camel!

Jim Corcoran said...

Glad your Dad passed your info along to us. We love learning about your adventures!

Warmest regards,
Jim, Dee, & Family
(From Sassano's)