Saturday, October 06, 2007

Almost Done. Honest.

(Disclaimer: I know all of this is terribly boring. Do try and bear with me)

Our last evening in Rotterdam we met up with a fellow Canadian, and the three of us took the train to Amsterdam in the morning. I guess one has to figure that the place is pretty unique among cities. First, it’s built atop a network of canals. I can’t quite recall if I knew this before I showed up, but it must surely be similar to Venice in that regard. Second, all the buildings were made for height; they’re all crammed in together, sacrificing length, but rise 4-5 storeys high. The stairways inside are all pretty vertical, and I wonder how the elderly manage to get around. All of this means that Amsterdam has character in ways that Rotterdam, perhaps, did not.

In my defense, it's terribly difficult to lean against one of these things and not look gay

The three of us made our way to the Heineken Brewery the first day we got there. It was less a museum than an advertisement that you have to walk through, and I have to say I was disappointed to find out that it hasn’t been a working brewery since the 80s. Still, something to do, right?

Not long afterwards, we headed to the red light district. Gotta say… a bit underwhelming. I was expecting this giant neighbourhood spread out across many city blocks, a hooker displaying her wares in every window. I wanted to come out feeling like a bad human being for having set foot there. As it turns out, it’s small and actually pretty clean to the point of feeling… antiseptic. It just doesn’t feel like you’re walking down a street staring at a bunch of paid, filthy whores eager to do the things to you that 49.9% of you wants to pay them for. And, I mean… it’s legal. And they’re clean! I’m not a bad person! And, sorry Ror, but I guess you lost that bet.

Amsterdam has other stuff besides hookers, like Anne Frank’s house. It all seems a bit silly, lining up with tourists in their touristy t-shirts and cameras to walk around in there. Once you get into the place, though, and realize you’re literally walking around in their footsteps (as opposed to figuratively hiding from the Nazis for two years, I guess), I have to say it sorta gets to you. It’s surprisingly effective, too, the way they’ve blocked the windows with these heavy screens; you can sorta see outside, but not enough to distract you from what the space you’re in means. By the time I left, the museum had become less a place to have been to just to say I did, and more of an actual, honest-to-goodness touching experience. In these cynical, post-Letterman times, isn’t that saying something?

Towards the end of our stay in Amsterdam, Andrew and I took a day trip into Zandvoort to sample its beach on the North Sea. Nothing like being on an ocean, and now I’m up to four of ‘em, baby. It’s hardly a half-hour from Amsterdam, and it’s funny to think of what Toronto would be like if we were only a train ride from water worth swimming in. There would be no point in doing anything else. Another great thing was the three topless chicks just lying out there, one of whom I had sex with in the beachside changeroom.*

For all to see and do, though, I find that my limit for most cities is about 2 days. We did 4 in Amsterdam, and I have to admit that it was wearing a bit thin towards the end. You can’t be on your feet the whole damn time, and Andrew and I took advantage of the quiet moments to read a few books between us. I don’t think I’ve read that much in such a short period of time, and I guess it reflects pretty poorly on me that I’ve hardly read a page since I got home.

Next: London!

* Demonstrably false.


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