Amsterdam: It’s okay, we guess

After the 24 hour Iceland Blitz, we took a quick flight to Amsterdam to start the main point of our journey. None of us had been to Amsterdam before, and we figured that two nights and three full days would be plenty of time to explore the city.

Believe me, it was plenty of time. I put off this entry for a while because I didn’t really have too much to say about Amsterdam. It was exactly what we thought it was.

Amsterdam is essentially the Seattle of Europe. It’s a pretty progressive place with plenty of commercial activities going on, and has a couple big claims to fame. People know generally what they’re all about, and they’re both pretty swell places to live and work. They aren’t a super top tier city, but still fun to visit for a day or two.

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Oh look canals.

Amsterdam is very much a canal city that retains many reminders of the historical times when they were one of the most prosperous trading centers in the world. For most of the first day we simply wandered around getting oriented and seeing the locations of many of the sights and scenes from outside. It was decidedly a  recuperation day, and we ate a lot of kabobs, cheese, and perhaps some beer.

BUT GUYS DID I MENTION WHERE WE STAYED. FOR REALS.

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Yes, that’s a converted bulk cargo carrier with sunroofs, and the entire part of the ship is now a houseboat.

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There was plenty of room, “internet fun time,” and a real quiet place to relax.

We had some Mute Swan friends too.

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Amsterdam is a city that has three main claims to fame: legalized prostitution, semi-legalized marijuana, and a bike culture. If you visit, you will encounter all three very quickly. The bicyclists will not hesitate to completely obliterate you if required, the prostitutes are easily seen in the old part of town, and grungy “coffee” houses dot the back alleys.

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The highlight of this city was likely the Anne Frank House, which is both a required experience as well as an extremely harrowing museum to visit even when you’ve managed to go through American public school without reading her diaries. After getting good and depressed there, we eventually made it to the Dutch Resistance Museum, which chronicled their efforts in fighting the Nazi occupation in World War II.

You can find windmills too.

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Amsterdam had these really weird advertisements, where it has a human citizen being molested by a large person in an animal suit. We think they have to do with paying tickets of some sort, but really. Just for reals avoid the giant furries. Just ‘cus.

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Probably the most notable event we ran into was the beginning of the Dutch Christmas celebration. You probably know something about Santa and his Eight Moorish aides who help him distribute presents, and may have some idea of how this may be a little bit, um, racist. Our houseboat host tells us that there’s going to be a big parade and event at the town center with Santa and the whole gang, and while we don’t go out of our way to run into it, the center of the city is pretty small and we ran into it.

Oh, did we run into it. Did you know that Santa actually rides a white horse, and is armed with a longsword? Or perhaps that almost all of the parade consists of white people wearing blackface and elf outfits? The blackface individuals also pass out (and in some cases force) these really terrible looking crackers to frightened children. AND they’re riding around in parade contraptions that seem to reinforce this racist concept even further, if possible. As Brian noted, “If we had this in America, there’d be riots.”

After more than plenty time to visit the city, we left late on Monday via the Thalys train to Paris Nord.

I’m so unspired, here’s just some more random pictures.

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They do have awesome fonts on their buildings.

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Sometimes they move houseboats in the middle of the night.

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The graffiti was decent.

View the full flickr album

 

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