|Now, what is there to say about Holland, well, Amsterdam to be more specific that already hasn't been said. Not much, all that you have heard about Amsterdam rings true.
If I would pick three words to sum up Amsterdam I would say these three:
Free, Bikes and Weed!
Unlike the Coffee Houses back home where you scurry in to order your coffee, wait impatiently for a total of one whole minute then run out drinking scolding hot coffee as you walk briskly without spilling any onto your clothes. That is what I call a Sydney CBD Coffee.
However here in the Dutch capital, life is a little more laid back, you enter the coffee shops here in Amsterdam, happy, laughing with some friends with not a care in the world and then you exit 3-12hrs later, very docile, calm, with glazed eyes, hunger pains and no sense of direction....Welcome to Amsterdam.
Another infamous stretch in Amsterdam is not only the various amounts of Coffee houses that rarely sell coffee but foods of the Spacey variety, hint hint! And of course what I call medicinal herbs, ie, Marijuana and Hash for those of you who can't read between the lines.
But you have the infamous Red Light District. This in it's self is some experience. It's one thing to be told about something, some place, some notion, anything, but another to experience it. So there I am walking down these tight alley ways observing some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in these windows, including bed, bathroom and other agreeable assortments, inviting you to be a guest for an hour or so as they pleasure you and you pleasure them by giving them your money.
To be honest, I'm a hot blooded male and can see the attraction here, but i'd rather not pay for the privilage so I wander through at a snails pace mind you watching the ladies trying to seduce the men into their nests.
One lady actually got out of her room and grabbed onto my collar, she asked me several times to come in but I had to be the bearer of bad news as I explained to her that my girlfriend worked in booth 52 and I was just comparing the competition. Well, that didn't bother her so much and she told me she knew I was lying but she was impressed by the lie then she let me go on my way.
You actually haven't seen Holland until you see a Windmill, and I saw a few as I booked myself on an excursion. Unfortunately many tourist who come to Holland come just to see Amsterdam as they try the drug and ladies scene. But there is such an expanse of beautiful country here that you real need to explore the country side before you get a real appreciation.
One place in particular called Marken was my favourite as it's traditonal here to paint your window frames white, so the whole town is a contrast of dark colours generally, blue and black with white window frames. Marken itself used to be an island but they have built a road to it now, no not a bridge because its only 3 meters deep so they just piled a lot of dirt and built a road to it now, so its actually turned the island into a penisula.
Holland has always interested me, mainly becasue I had no understanding why they called their people Dutch but the country is called either Holland or the Netherlands. Luckily for me the tour lady brought this to my attention as she explained that the name Holland originated from the words Woodlands as Holland was once plentiful with forests. They also called it The Netherlands which means Low lands because its the country in the world which has the most amount of land submersed under the sea at a a staggering 42%.
Now that cleared that up, but why do they call themselves Dutch, ill look that up soon or one of you smarties will be more then happy to explain it to me.
Amsterdam I have to say is a very beautiful city. Only on a few occasions have I fallen in love with a city on first impression, but Amsterdam keeps getting better. The canals are spectacular and the people very pleasent and they all speak English - Hooray!!!
One noticeable thing is the amount of bikes and of course bike riders around, its fantastic. There is actually a larger space for bike riders then pedestrians on the foot paths. One thing I noticed is that NO one wears helmets, that's a $50 fine in Sydney. Not only that but the bikes are diverse, these bikes have been engineered specifically for peoples individual needs.
For example, you have the shopping trolley bike which comprises of a wheel burrow style bucket placed at the front to hold kids, groceries, even a Xmas tree I saw one guy carry. Then you have the train bike which has one, two or three seats following the first one as a family of four ride past. Then you have your bombs, if most of these bikes had to be registered then there would probably be only 100 bikes on the road.
The reason for these crappy, rusted pieces of steel on two wheels is because the biggest theft in Amsterdam is bikes. So if your bike looks like a piece of s#@t then no one will steal it. But it still doesn't stop the locals buying these incredibly expensive locks to secure their bikes from thieves. Similar to some expensive stereo systems my friends have in their cars which cost more then the car itself! And you know what the thieves do with 63% of the bikes that have been stolen, well they dump them into the canals. That explains what I kept seeing bobbing around in the water.
All in all I have had a great three days in "No Rules Amsterdam". What would of made it more enjoyable would of been having some company. So far in this trip I would recommend every where to travel alone, as a couple, family, etc, but here in Amsterdam I think a more enjoyable time can be had with a group of friends as you laugh at each other as you make fools of yourselves.
Next stop is in Germany where the Kruse family name originated from.
PS: The Van Gogh Museum is a must, wish I had my Dad with me because I know how much he would of enjoyed seeing the actual works of his favourite artist.