Grant and Susan in the Netherlands

30-31 August, 1996 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

We're in a hotel in Amsterdam today, drying out. We lost all of Wednesday in Germany holed up in our tent in the pouring rain, then it dried out enough for us to pack up and ride yesterday, but it rained steadily on us all afternoon. Yes, there are times when I envy people in cars and buses - yesterday was one of them. So, today the hotel room is festooned with all our stuff drying.

It looks like Berlin had the last summer weather Northern Europe will see for awhile. Today the temp is 14-15 Celsius, (last week in Berlin it was high 20s). Definitely time to head south.

Bicycles on one of the many bridges over canals in Amsterdam

Bicycles on one of the many bridges over canals in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is easily the most cosmopolitan city we've encountered thus far in Europe. This is high tourist season still, and lots of tourists from all over wandering around and people on bicycles everywhere. Today the weather cleared and we took a canal "bus", which is a good way to get around here since the canals are all through the central core of the city, almost every other street. The canals are laid out in a spider web, and it's actually amazing how much water and how little land there is in the center.

There's a real attempt to preserve the ambiance, with newer apartment buildings designed to look similar to the older buildings. It's quite pretty and I've taken a few pictures to get the sense of it. There are many old houses which have the same problem as Stockholm's Old Town - built on landfill hundreds of years ago, they're sinking and tilting as they sink. Quite interesting to look at, but probably not much fun to contemplate if you own one of them!

Bicycle in front of painted wall in Amsterdam.

Bicycle in front of painted wall in Amsterdam

We saw the famous "red light" district, (which is very much on the beaten path in the tourist area) and I had to beat the ladies off Grant with a stick! Not really, the way it works is they sit or stand behind closed windows wearing sexy lingerie and posing. We never saw any of them outside their doors, so we assumed they aren't allowed to actively solicit customers. They do have red lights above their windows, though, and you can certainly tell what their profession is. There are also lots of sex shops for videos/toys, etc.

The smell of marijuana abounds (I do remember what it smelled like, even if, like Clinton, I didn't inhale). I understand Amsterdam has very loose drug laws, so I guess you could say this is the city for "sex, drugs, and rock and roll". Probably better appreciated if you're in your teens than in your forties, unfortunately!

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