Tuesday, March 20, 2007

-Amsterdam Part II- Coffee Shops and Red Light District

Onto the lighter portion of our holiday in Amsterdam. Today we really had nothing planned except to explore the city and sight see different areas. So we walked around all the small shops in the Rembrandt Plaza area and main road. I was a trip just to people watch and check out all the folks riding bicycles! We hit a few more Coffee Shops and met some locals in the area. It was a pretty laid back day...

Later at night we met up with our friend Tony and got to check out the much anticipated "Red Light District". I wasn't sure what to expect.... boy, this was one eye opening experience for sure. For the few who may not know what this place is about.... well... think of sex as a business.... yep.... soliciting sex is completely legal... as is many many other things just like smoking marijuana.... This place is undescribable in words... you really hafta be there and see if for yourself to get it.

Amsterdam is a pretty Liberal town... that's all I hafta say about that. ;)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

London then.... Amsterdam!

This was our last day in London and was pretty muggy... rainy and cold... but that didn't deter us from heading to Buckinham Palace and witnessing the chaning of the guard. What a ceremony.... it took about 45 min for the traditional soldiers to march up to the tower while playing instuments as they walked. They set up inside the gates and put on a show for all the traveler from around the world. Cassia took a bunch of pics while I just tried to not freeze my toes off! ;) Seriously... this was by far the coldest day there!

Shortly after the ceremony, we headed off to Harrod's and "Tea Time" at a local hotel. Funny enough, as we sat and had our tea I looked over at the bookcase to see what books they had and noticed the newest Harry Potter. I grabbed it off the shelf and to my surprise was actually signed by J.K. Rowlings and dedicated to the hotel we were at. What a trip. We imagined sitting in the same chair as Rowlings and sipping on tea, as I'm sure she probly did! Cheerio! What a wonderful end to the London portion of our trip!

Click image for more pics of London.

We flew into Schiphol at night and stayed in Den Haag, better know to us American's as The Hague, which was about 45 minutes outside of Amsterdam, so we really didn't get to see much of the city that night. The next morning we woke up to a partially sunny day, which was pretty rare in our trip, we hopped on a tram and then the train headed to Amsterdam. The train ride was perfect we got to see a good portion of the Holland country side, which is absolutely breathtaking. The train dropped us off smack dab in the center of Amsterdam and we were ready for our adventure in another city!

We decided to head straight to the Anne Frank Museum/House. I guess I really wasn't sure what to expect here and mentally I was concentrating on not getting lost that I really didn't think about what we were actually going to be seeing. Once we got to the area it was unusually empty, we later realized that we came on a perfect day when there wasn't a huge crowd. I'll tell ya... this was by far the most moving part of my trip to Europe. Up to this point we'd seen artwork and landmarks that were breathtaking... this one... was... mentally and physically heartbreaking. The whole Museum recreated Anne and her family's every step and walks you though the entire house including the small area that they all hid for nearly 2 years! For the next hour I couldn't speak.... and I found myself shedding a few tears for what, not only Anne's family went through, but for what all the Jewish families must have had to deal with during this time. I hope that they all can find some peace in their lives... and that we never forget. I'll leave it at that.

It was hard to keep going after Anne's house, but there was so much more to see in this beautiful city... so we marched on to the Van Gogh's Museum. I had never realized that Van Gogh had only been an artist for roughly 10 years... and in that time created some 200 paintings, 500 drawings! Wow!

Next we were off to Rembrandt's House! This was another amazing tour. They walked you through his whole house filled with original paintings. His house was quite a site... and pretty impressive for the times. As an artist we're usually more financially successfull after death.. but Rembrandt was actually pretty popular in his day and used his house as a gallery as well... entertaining clients! Pretty cool!

What's a visit to Amsterdam without going to a traditional Coffee House!
On to our last stop we headed to "The Greenhouse". We had some delicious coffee and entertained ourselves with the lovely views! Nuff said. ;)

Click image for pics of Amsterdam.