Friday, 27 September 2013

Tripping around Amsterdam

We've spent an excellent couple of days with our friends, Ann and Barry from Wales here in Amsterdam.  A short time ago, we saw them off at the airport.  But, meanwhile, Jean and I are here for another couple of days.

Yesterday morning, we visited the Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht.  Then we paid 22 € each to hop on and hop off the canal boats for 24 hours.  We sailed down the canals, getting off at one point to have lunch.  After an amount of walking round, during which Ann nearly got killed a few times by roaring-past bicycles, we found a sex museum, and went in for a look.  In Amsterdam, if it's not drugs, it's sex.  The sex museum contains many sordid images throughout, as well as ribald displays, sexy statues, a myriad of gadgets and souvenirs.  The images and displays etc depict not only the present but particularly centuries gone by.

After dark, we strolled through the red light district.  It was an eye opener.  Beneath the soft red glow of horizontal fluorescent light tubes, a red curtain covers a rectangular space the size of a doorway.  This usually means a sex worker is inside with a client.  Otherwise, a near naked young lady stands in the space for all passers by to see, standing in wait for patronage.  One near naked lady after the other.  The four of us continued through the red light district for some time.  Ann noticed that some of the young women were pretty.  Indeed, one stereotype of sex workers is that they are older, that sex is their only job, and they are somewhat worn.  To me, from the neck up, some of these young women looked strangely normal, as if by day they could be an office clerk, or a receptionist in a hotel.

This morning, the four of us met in Ann and Barry's hotel, the Tulip Inn, for breakfast.  Afterwards, we hit the canals again, sailing to the Tulip Markets where Ann bought some tulip bulbs to take home. Soon, we walked to an area known as The Nine Streets, where there is a famous chocolaterie.  We each had a cake and coffee, and boarded the boats again.  Amsterdam is a bit like Venice only far less water.  We heard the canals are three metres deep: one metre of water, one metre of mud, and one metre of bicycles.  Fifty thousand bicycles are stolen in Amsterdam each year.  Throughout the Netherlands, the figure is three quarters of a million.

We had some lunch at the Cafe Heffer, retrieved Ann and Barry's luggage from their hotel, and accompanied them to the airport.

Jean, Ann and Barry in Amsterdam
There are many curious looking bikes in Amsterdam.
Barry inspects the bike, and advised this one has drum brakes..from around the time of the Second World War.
We went on boat trips....
...along the canals..

Bikes are everywhere.
We visited the sex museum.
On the way into the sex museum...
In the red light district..behind these curtains are sex workers.
In the window of a tobacco shop..
Ann and Jean
We say goodbye to Ann and Barry at Amsterdam Airport.

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