Red Lights and Musuems – Amsterdam, Netherlands

On the train out of Germany, I found my my mood getting lighter. As enjoyable as it was, the history was quite heavy so it was nice to see cornfields and windmills. The countryside changed quite drastically in a short time. I was playing a very lucky game of Yahtzee in which I got 4 Yahtzee’s in 2 games! Michelle didn’t want to play games any more with me after I had already kicked her butt in Gin so I decided to study the scenery.

There were fields of green and farmers tilling their land. The houses became tall and steep with very pointed roofs. I stepped off the train in Amsterdam into a train station FILLED with sweets, bakery, ice cream, pizza….oh you name it. It dawned on me that I would probably put on a few pounds in this stop.

I walked out to find my hostel and the streets were very crowded. More than anywhere else I had been so far. Ahead of me was the Heineken Brewery (mental note to remember location for tour later) and very tall historic looking buildings. There is so much to look at here…something for everyone I am sure.

I found my hostel, The Bull Dog, which is overlooking a nice canal in the heart of the red light district. At first I wasn`t so sure as I climbed up the in construction stairways but it appears to be quite safe. The streets are riddled with coffee shops (where they don`t sell coffee) and other strange shops (where they also don`t sell coffee).

I wasn`t sure where the term red light was coined because as far as I could see there were not a lot of neon red signs. Later on, after I had settled in and had a bite to eat, I decided to venture out again. Now it all made sense. There are scantily clad women for sale in windows which are a lit up in red. I felt sad about it. I wondered if they were happy sitting in these little red rooms waiting for a “customer”.

There are people here dressed up in costumes and lots of others that just act funny. One guy jumped in a canal and was happy about it for the first ten seconds until he realized it was cold and dirty and screamed madly to be fished out. My hostel shows movies so its nice on rainy days like yesterday when everyone gathers in the TV room and visits. Some people were commenting on how nice it was until yesterday and that I must have brought the rain…I thought, you have no idea pal.

I went to the Van Gogh Museum which was really nice except that it was much smaller than I had originally thought it would be. Still, it was a nice display and I learn quite a lot about the man.

I also went to the Anne Frank house and experienced a taste of what it was like to live in hiding from the SS during the war. I was touched by the bravery and honesty of this amazing child. The house has been preserved and it has excerpts from Anne’s diary throughout. They also have on display her actual diary.

Near the end there is a plethora of educational materials, many interactive multimedia. There is also a room where you can watch a short film supporting Freedom of Expression and then one supporting Anti-Discrimination. Then at the end of both arguments, you push a red or green button corresponding which which you agree with. Then it shows the room how many votes each got. It was very enlightening and thought provoking.

I met Nicole from Calgary and tonight is her last night in Europe so she, Michelle and Alice who are my new Oz friends, are going to out and celebrate. We have tickets to Boom Chicago which should be fun from what I hear. Its a comedy improv act. I hope all is well where you are. I will try and come back to write again tomorrow.

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