Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How many things can you do in Amsterdam in a day?

September 7, 2011

We got an early start and visited the famous Amsterdam Diamond Museum that was conveniently located down the street from our hotel. It was very odd to navigate and, of course, they were tempting you to buy jewelry around every corner, but it was pretty neat to see. Sadly, most of the diamonds in the museum were replicas but it was very informative on how diamonds are mined, cut, and buffed to be the beautiful little stones they are. I shockingly escaped the gift store without any souvenirs from this place.

After the Diamond Museum, we took a train out of the city to Zaanse Schans to see the windmills. Of course, one cannot venture to Holland without seeing windmills. It was cold and rainy but Zaanse Scans was still adorable. They actually moved many old Dutch houses and reconstructed them in this small village to demonstrate how things were made in the olden days. The different homes specialized in different things such as clog making or cheese. We helped ourselves to every single cheese sample they had and saved on lunch. Luckily, the rain held off right until we were about to leave. The woman in the iron casting shop told us that every time we have bad weather in the U.S., they get rain days after. So essentially we brought Irene with us. Awesome.


Upon our return to Amsterdam, we visited the floating flower market. The flowers were amazing! I went crazy taking pictures and you're only seeing a few of them below. They even had cannabis growing kits. I'll let you know if I can get it through customs!

Next, we visited the Van Gogh museum. It was really incredible and not too packed since it was towards the end of the day. His paintings were amazing and I was shocked to learn that despite his large body of works, he only painted for about 8 years! His original paintings were very dark, as well, and consisted of peasants and the countryside. His bright colorful works sure have come a long way from where he started. Again, no photos were permitted in the museum so you'll have to see this one for yourself.

After dinner in a traditional Dutch kitchen restaurant, we checked out the Red Light District. It felt like we were in the throws of hell. The streets reeked of weed and alcohol and women were in every window selling themselves under the red lights. It felt like we were on another planet. A black cat crossed our path, go figure, and swans floated down the canals in the glow of the red lights and pure mayhem. We stopped for a drink in the Black Tiger bar and actually met a ton of great people. It is always interesting to hear other people's perceptions of Americans. I had a group of British guys ask me if it was really true that "Americans think our accents are posh." I told him yes, unless they sound like Oliver Twist and then I want to cut off my ears. Our bartender was from Egypt, hates Obama and loved Bush. He said his homeland is so different and unsafe with Obama as president and Bush actually did a lot of great things for them. Things you never hear about in the America bubble... We also made friends with some other Americans and ended the night drinking beers and placing bets on how long Flutter Fingers (our favorite prostitute, who we named) took with each of her visitors. It was quite interesting and disgusting and although we had fun I hope to never visit that section of hell again.

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