Saturday, May 30, 2009

Amy didn't bring a jacket to Europe


We arrived in Amsterdam on Monday morning and once we got there we took the tram to our hotel. Luckily our room was ready even though we were early, so we took a shower since we felt gross from the train and then we went to see the city. We walked around for a while and saw the Dam which is the main center square, some of the shopping streets and a few of the museums. Then we decided to buy the Holland Pass which gives you free entry to five museums and a bunch of other discounts. We decided to do this instead of the I Amsterdam card because it was cheaper, it wasn’t limited to 24 hours and what we wanted to do was included. After we did the tour we walked around a little more and then we did the Canal Tour. The Canal Tour was really cool because it took us down the main canals and showed and explained the history behind the major sights of the city. It was lucky that we did that tour on Monday because it rained all day on Tuesday and was pretty cold on Wednesday. We seem to be bringing bad weather with us. After the canal tour we walked around the Red Light District a little bit and then headed toward the area where our hotel was and found this square with a bunch of restaurants. We had dinner and just hung out there for a while because it was a nice night.

On Tuesday it was Amy’s birthday! We got up and went to Madame Tussaud’s first thing in the morning. We got to cut the line there and at the Rijksmuseum because of the Holland Pass. This was very fun and we took pictures with all the celebrities. Then we went to the Rijksmuseum and saw the paintings. This museum was a lot smaller than I expected and not as impressive as I thought it would be. It was still a good thing to go and see though. After the Rijksmuseum we had lunch. Every day for lunch I just had a sandwich with Dutch cheese which is delicious. Once we were done eating we went to the Museum of Bags and Purses. As we all know, this is my kind of museum. We saw bags that were used all through history and there were some really gross ones with actual lizards, crocodiles and other animals on them. They also had samples of all the different skins and leathers bags are made of which was kind of disgusting. But I actually loved this museum and seeing all the designs and different types of bags. It was like shopping at a really expensive store I couldn’t afford, only better because no one else could buy anything either. Then we went to Gassan Diamonds, which is a diamond factory that has a free tour. When we got there we went and got the ticket and then got to have free coffee and tea in the cafĂ©. Then we did the tour and they told us about how diamonds are cut and polished for jewelry and how they are judged for their worth (cut, clarity, color and carat). Then the guide took us to see some diamonds and just put them on the table for us to see. The most popular cut is the princess cut which has 57 facets and is used all over the world, but Gassan invented a new one which has 121 facets and it’s the only company that makes it, so we got to see the difference between these. After this the guide took out boxes of rings for us to look at and TRY ON! Each one had the description of the diamond and the price on it and there was over 100000 euros worth of diamonds just sitting on the table for us to try on. It was wicked cool. I think a few people actually bought stuff. Then we didn’t know what to do so we had some more free tea and then went to the hotel and changed my shoes because my feet were cold. Then we had some time to kill so we went to the Vodka Museum. This was kind of cool, basically Russia dominates vodka and during World War II the Russian government could not afford to pay their soldiers so they paid them in vodka. We did get a free drink with the tour though. After this we did the tour of the Red Light District. This was cool because the guide showed us a lot of interesting stuff that we would never have noticed just walking around by ourselves. We also learned some stuff like only 25% of the prostitutes are Dutch, they make about 50 euro for 50 minutes, but the girls on the “African” street only make 35 euro for 50 minutes, it costs 150 euro to rent a window for a day and all the girls have panic buttons in their rooms so that they police can be there if they need them. In the middle of the Red Light District there is also a day care center and a church. The streets surrounding it are also very wealthy and it’s an expensive area to live in. A prostitute was murdered two months ago in the Red Light District but before that the last murder was in 2001, so its actually a pretty safe area to walk around in, you just have to watch out for pick pockets. At the end of the tour we got another free drink and then we went to dinner for Amy’s birthday. We actually had trouble finding a place that was serving food since it was past 10 PM and things close pretty early, but we ended up going to a place in the same square we went the night before and it was really good.

Today we checked out of the hotel and went to the Anne Frank Huis. I had been there before but Amy wanted to go. It is a very interesting place to go but also very sad. After that we went to the Houseboat Museum which was a houseboat turned into a museum where you could see what its like to live on a houseboat. Then we walked around for a little while and I bought a pair of shoes. Then we went to the dam and met up with my friend Nadine for lunch and hung out with her for a little while. After that we went back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and went to the train station to go to Brussels. We are actually on the train to Brussels right now and should be there around 6PM.

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