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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Amsterdam

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 07/10/2012 00:55:49

The main impetus for my current Europe trip was to visit two of my uni friends that are now living in Amsterdam. Two months into a crazy adventure filled with ... well ... crazy adventures, the opportunity to stay with some good friends in a normal house (complete with home cooked meals) was certainly a welcomed respite. I assume Amsterdam isn't the city most frequently associated with rest - but it certainly was for me (but I still managed to have a great time amongst all the resting).

Once I arrived at the central station, Carolyn picked me up and we went out to see the town. I love having a local point out the parts of a city that they enjoy the most - something that I could never replicate on my own. We started out travelling through the main squares (Dam and Rembrandt) and found a nice boat bar to have a quick beer and delicious local snacks. Fried, cheesy and taste-filled is how I would describe them - even if I did have a better vocabulary.

Everything on this sampler plate was delicious and quickly consumed. I think we actually finished the food before we completed the tiny amount of beer remaining

Walking towards our next location I had a true WTF moment that took me by complete surprise. There we were walking through the middle of a bustling, populace-filled square when I noticed a guy turn around right in front of me while he was zipping up. His tallywacker had just been in his hands, and now he was relegating it back into it's denim prison. I took further stock of the situation and realised he had just been peeing on a semi-wall, semi-drain thing. He basically had just used an open-air urinal in the middle of the city - and he looked very pleased with himself (post-urine euphoria I guess). Carolyn had seen this exchange and just looked knowingly towards me - her expression saying "yep, that's a street toilet", her grin daring me to reject such a bizarre concept. Turns out they have street toilets in Amsterdam. No matter how badly I have needed to pee in Melbourne on various occasions - I am glad we have not followed the Europeans in this trend.

As most toilets in Europe require a small payment for use - the argument can be made that street toilets like this provide an opportunity for homeless people to take care of business. To that I say "Europe, stop charging for toilet use - and don't ever allow people to pee on the street"

Once the shock wore off, we continued our walk through the city and checked out some pretty cool buildings and squares. Other than the improper use of urine, Amsterdam is a really nice city to walk / ride around in. I trialled some delicious cheese in the inventively named "Cheese and More" store, and then Carolyn took me to a really cool bar called Wynand Fockink. An impressive range of liqueurs were available - served by the eccentric barman that required an enthusiastic "slurp" of the liquid at the bar before the drink's vessel could be lifted and taken elsewhere. After sampling Japanese Cherry and Brides Tears we made our way back to Carolyn's place to pick up Jesse and head off to dinner.

Seriously - what is happening here other than Rembrandt showing some thigh?

Regular flavours are joined by inventive names like "Quarter to Five" and "Your Uncle's Socks". There was no "Desolation" flavour - so I was confident I was not about to taste any Barcelonian Pringles

When I first arrived in Amsterdam Carolyn buoyed my spirits with her initial dinner suggestion - Everything on a Stick. True to their word, pretty much all options in the restaurant came appetizingly on a stick (even though I was slightly disappointed that they had not invented technology to consume beverages using stick glasses). The food was very delicious, and while I'm not ready to say that this is entirely attributable to the stick-based delivery system - I am positive the skewer to meat ratio had an impact.

Jesse's thumb positioning only begins to describe how content I was after this delicious meal

After the meal we made our way back to Carolyn and Jesse's home via Amsterdam's famous red light district - De Wallen. Although not entirely sure what I was expecting - the red light district was much classier than I thought it would be. Firstly, it was full of both male and female tourists rubbernecking their way though the crowded streets and alleyways. Interestingly, the quality of the ladies in the windows improved the closer that you got to the centre of town, yet the percentage of closed curtains (indicating a successful price negotiation - and sexy times) did not seem to vary. Being so up-front and visible it felt like there was nothing untoward about the whole situation - until I read the wikipedia article to see De Wallen is rife with sex trafficking and forced prostitution - which is no fun for anyone. After finding some friends for Ducky Poos we returned home and called it a night.

When uploading this photo to Facebook, it helpfully suggested I tag my purple-faced friend. I'm guessing Facebook's facial recognition software is evolving with the times (and expecting duck face more frequently)

The next day in Amsterdam started in style - consuming a fried delicacy from FEBO, the vending machine-based snack repository. If I am ever in the situation where I need to move to Amsterdam, you can be sure I'll be living close to one of these stores (and as far away from urine-ville as possible). After the morning snack and purchasing supplies for dinner, we decided to have a pancake lunch (thankfully Carolyn and Jesse apply a similar import to food as I do). I think I had the best pancakes I have ever consumed (it was in the top three at the least) and was left in an excellent mood. The rest of the day was appropriately lazy, culminating in an excellent home cooked meal and a spirited YouTube party (where I was introduced to Gangnam Style for the first time - I can't believe I missed this one).

We call Australia "The Lucky Country" and yet we do not provide our citizens with FEBO. Something doesn't add up

Ham, onion and goat's cheese. Just try to order a more delicious pancake - I double-dare you!

If I had more time, I would love to start another blog comprised entirely of delicious meals with Jesse giving the thumbs-up in the background

My final full day in Amsterdam was going to be consumed by a visit to a cat boat and checking out the Van Gogh museum. Once arriving at the cat boat to see it was unexpectedly closed - I went back to the apartment and napped away the rest of the day. After appreciating another wonderful home-cooked meal (unfortunately no thumbs-up photo for this one) I slept my final night on the comfy air mattress and prepared to head off to Belgium. Thanks again to Carolyn and Jesse for a great weekend, and a much needed chance to recharge.

This is the 24th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012

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