Amsterdam: Blowing my head

2008-06-24 05.05.40
first things first…

Van Gogh Museum

2008-06-24 06.12.46My mind has been blown by Van Gogh so many times, through books, lectures, works in local museums… but here, we were surrounded by his work and it was something else. I felt something new.

He was only 37 when he died. I look at the dates on the paintings, counting backwards from when he bit it and figure out that he was my age when he was making his best work. It’s bizarre to think that he wasn’t really appreciated during his own time. He was just some crazy guy that liked to paint. Maybe his work was so different that they couldn’t even really see it. It was too much new information. It’s perfect that these works are in Amsterdam because they are crazy psychadelic, glowing with life from millions of tiny little brush strokes that look like they are being seen through a prism. Was the sun getting to him? or did he always see things this way? He was a visionary.

Still looking like a Tourist

2008-06-24 08.08.18We rented bikes. We skipped the place that puts their add on the front so that you can ride around with a little billboard that practically reads, “I’m a tourist!” which is OK sometimes, but other times you just want to blend in and be a fly on the wall in their world. The bikes we found did the trick because I’ve been stopped on the street for directions and recommendations of places to eat quite a few times. We picked up the bikes with little hassle. Credit Card, Cash, signature, and we were off. It took us a while, but I think that I’ve got the hang of riding in traffic. (There are bikes everywhere in Europe. People use them INSTEAD OF CARS! Not just for recreation. Novel!) I just assume that some of the same basic rules of the road apply, but there are random people everywhere that seem to breaking them and it’s really no big deal, so I break some too.

We went to the grocery and made sure to get food from all 3 traveling-around-in-Europe food groups: cheese, bread and wine. We rode to the park, found a cozy spot and spread it out. We finished our meal off with chocolate and White Melon and chilled.

Dutch Hot

I’ve seen a lot in the last 2.5 weeks and here’s what it all boils down to… The votes are in and I must say, Dutch men take the pancake! OMG.

2008-06-23 14.22.36Roxanne! You don’t have to put on the red light!
Last night, we met up with Robert, who we’d met online through Couch Surfing. He’s a nice guy. A programmer, which is not unusual in this network. Is that why the couch surfing website rocks? He asked us what we wanted to do, it was totally up to us. “What are you into?” He asked, “do you want to go to the red light district?”,  which I have no idea what anyone else replied. If I had found my cool at any point in this city, maybe I just lost it a little again. We walked down long narrow halls lined with windows showcasing the working girls of Amsterdam, lit up like mannequins in store windows, but with real eyes… eyes that say, “I know you”. Should I have had some idea about this? I guess that when I heard about the red light district in Amsterdam for the first time, I was a kid and it sounded gross. A bunch of grown up perverts walking around with their dicks in their hands. But now I’m all grown up, among those perverts and likening it to being in a candy store!

2008-06-25 15.20.47Our guide is great. He has been here a few times before, and knows just where to go. “Do you want to see the Big Mama/Ebony area?” YES! “Do you want to see the transsexuals?” Yes! “Do you like them like school girls?” Yes! “muscular?” Yes! “Skinny?” Yes! Yes! Yes! There was a moment as we left the Absinthe bar that I had to consider my new career as a blog writer… it’s only 50 Euro to go inside! I admire them a bit. I imagine that they are really strong women. We see an Asian goddess ushering a short, stout balding man out of her den. She looks at us and rolls her eyes. “Bad day at the office, honey?”

2008-06-25 17.07.24There’s no way I would have missed this, but I can’t really imagine myself coming here without him. Men are all fired up, so I don’t imagine that you really want to be alone here as a woman.

Will you take this Pannenkoeken to be your lawful wedded…

2008-06-26 04.29.22Went to a Pancake house today. We had to pedal around for a while we waited for them to open… at noon! Found a vintage store along the way and scored my goods. They had so many options, but the waitress gave us her opinion and so we ordered her favorite savory dish, the Salmon with Cheese and Dill Sauce and her favorite sweet, Apples and Cinnamon. I don’t care what you say, I AM going to try this at home.

2008-06-25 13.48.42Veggie Heaven!
We went to a vegetarian restaurant last night that we happened upon, by pure luck. I ordered the specials which consisted of 5 vegan dishes that were each a main course. It was incredible. They don’t do doggie bags here, so you either control yourself and just let it go, or you eat it all. I ate it all.

Getting lost in Amsterdam

Getting lost is inevitable here. The street names are long and impossible to remember:
HERENGRACHT WW. KERKSTRAAT, SARPHATISTRAAT, OUDEZUDS VOORBURGVAL, VALKENBURGERSTRAAT, RAADHUSSSTRAAT… etc.

If that’s not hard enough, streets change names every few blocks. Forget about using anything but intuition to find your way around.

Any Day

Today I went cruising after a pit stop at Any Day. Cynthia had to head home to work. When I’m just pedaling around, I just can’t help but randomly turn right and left and left again and right. I try to keep a vague idea of the direction I’m heading in and how to get back to where I came from, but that’s impossible too. Of course, partly to blame is the most amazing marijuana I’ve ever smoked in my life. Getting lost for over an hour when you’ve got some place to be (which always comes around at some point) is not fun (I know ’cause I did it just yesterday). I manage to commit myself to a snaking pattern, so that the main drag can only be to one side or the other and by 300 meters or less. That plan works for a while, until it doesn’t.

Luckily my best travel companion quality, if you ask Cynthia, is that I’m willing to ask anyone anything at any time. So that helps.

2008-06-26 05.31.46Lost and Found

At one point, I suddenly realized that I was no longer wearing my new scarf. I remember getting warm and loosening it about 5 minutes earlier. Damn! So, I start trying to retrace me steps. Part of me would rather entertain the idea that as I wizzed by on my bike, it came undone and floated behind me, following my breeze and then gently fell to the ground. I know that the idea that I’ll find it is ridiculous, but I kind of like the mission. About ten minutes later when I have no idea where I am, I find my scarf in the middle of an incredibly busy street. I was so happy. I shared my joy with a woman who had no idea what I was saying.

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One thought on “Amsterdam: Blowing my head

  1. If you look at picture DSCN0966 — the city square with the bank — to the right of the bank is a little alley. Down that alley was some of the best shopping I have ever found; better than Italy, better than France, better than Japan. They have the latest fashions from all over the world; at great prices.
    But I can never find my way there by asking for street name. Actually about six blocks away there is a restaurant with my last name; it’s located on Kloveniersburgwal 30.
    http://www.hollandhotels.com/restaurants.htm
    Wow, I love reading your posts!! You should spend more time being a travel writer!

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