Amsterdam, the city of sin where all your drug and sex related dreams come true legally.
Jess, my lovely English friend who I worked with in London flew in for 3 nights to meet me which was great. By the time I arrived I was very tired and very sick so we had a relatively quite 3 days which was nice. It was pretty flippin cold the whole time so that did not make me too excited about getting out and doing stuff. I think people should hibernate in the winter, but at least it was making me look forward to India where it was bound to be warmer. Actually the whole October was really nice weather…just the Netherlands was a bit average. But anyway first night had a bit of a walk around and checked out the red-light district. Really bizarre and in your face prostitues. Have their little rooms with windows in which they hang out in most of them looking bored. Its all surprisingly unisexual and more matter-of-fact, definitely different from Manchester st back at home! Along with the interesting prostitutes and a lot of sex shops and live sex shows theres also Amsterdams other major draw card for backpackers….legal marijuana. They definitely have gone all out with this, and there are ‘coffee shops’ every few meters and a distinct smell pretty much everywhere. We found a shop will a whole lot of plants just growing in the corner. Its very weird that its all just so open coming from everywhere else where its illegal. So you need to be careful where you wander in looking for coffee and if your paying more than 3 euros for a muffin or brownie, well its probably got a few extra ingredients! There is more to Amsterdam though and we got to check out the big museum there, a flower market, a whole lot of very very cool shops, Anne Franks house which was amazing. Amsterdam is just a very cool city, very arty and cool. So many bikes and trams everywhere it is surprising that there aren’t more people killed on the streets!
The last night there I dragged Jess along to the sex museum, one of the more interesting museums I’ve been to! With porn photos through the ages, ancient sex toys, some interesting photos. Documentaries, a giant penis and mannequins that flash you….all very interesting and actually informative. Like the red light district it’s all very un-sexual, is on a main street and people don’t give you funny looks when you walk in (check out my photos). So yeah I really enjoyed Amsterdam, a cool easy to get around city, really nice canals everywhere and a cool vibe. I like how everyone in the Netherlands seem like that kind of hippys with lots of organic stuff and everyone using bikes, its cool. Which is good because while I was here I went a couple of hours north to check out a town with a uni that I want to do my post grad at in a couple of years.
Groningen and back to London
Doesn’t matter that I can’t even pronounce the name of the town but am very keen to do my masters here (yes its in English) So had a night here, its smaller than Amsterdam but not as obsessed with drugs and sex which is nice, only saw 1 coffee shop. The rest of the town is full of bikes, cute streets, cool shops, heaps of bars and café’s. The uni is right in the middle of town and just about everyone is a student. Stayed at a very quite youth hostel where I was the only one in a 18 bed dorm. And the staff probably were wondering what I was doing there. Didn’t arrive till late afternoon so just had a walk around, some food and poked around the uni which seemed cool. So altogether thumbs up for Groningen and hopefully I’ll end up here in a couple of years. The next day was my long journey back to London, decided to take the train-ferry-train combo as flights were expensive and sick of flying. Took 7 hours and got into central London at 9 but wasn’t a bad trip, nice ferry etc just long. Got the hell security check on arrival to the UK. They pulled aside random people and questioned us about what were we doing in Amsterdam, who did I talk to, Did I talk to anyone on the ferry, did I make any friends, why was I there, am I carrying any packages??? Was kind of expecting something like this after being in the weed capital of the world, but I got through OK, they didn’t find the 3 kilos of hash strapped to me…just kidding…but I’m sure some people try! So got into London and went to stay with Jess’s mum (Jess is studying in Glasgow now unis back) She lives right near the pub so picked up some stuff I’d left there, all new staff which was a bit weird. Had about a million things to do but didn’t get much of it done. Same with the morning, sent some stuff home and brought some supplys for India, rushed around like a crazy person then it was off to Heathrow for the next leg of the journey…6 weeks for India and Nepal…a bit of a change from Europe I’m guessing!
photos from the last 5 weeks are here: