Amsterdam, or, as we have learned to refer to it as, Amsterdamage is a vibrant and radiant city of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is the fifth most popular tourist destination in all of Europe and after stepping foot into this city, it is not hard to see why. The red light district houses countless sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, erotic museums and brothels. As if all this isn’t already enough to make a city exciting, there is of course, the added bonus of the legalization of marijuana. I am by no means a pot-head. I don’t even touch the stuff back at home, but since we are in Amsterdam, and it is legal, I guess I have to add it to my list of things to do.
Our first day is spent riding old granny bikes through the back streets and down the canals of Amsterdam. During one of our rest points, our bike tour guide tells us that the grassy areas by the sides of the canal are called “dykes”. She then proceeds to tell us to “stick our fingers in the dykes” so that we can tell everybody back home what a wonderful experience we had “fingering dykes” in Amsterdam. Pretty sick, if you ask me. But sure enough, she cracked a giggle and a smirk out of me. The bike ride was not strenuous and was rather enjoyable.
We are taken to watch a traditional clog making presentation. Clogs are a type of shoe or sandal made predominately out of wood and are a traditional item amongst the Dutch. The clog-maker was able to whip up a pair from scratch within minutes; quite impressive, as were his looks. I bought some miniature clogs as souvenirs for my grandparents and I. They were so cute, I couldn’t help myself.
That night we got told we were going to a surprise activity. I had a hunch for what it would be, and decided to sign up to tag along. Our group gathered and got shown to our seats in a small theater. Unfortunately, I was split up from the rest of the girls and was given front row, dead center. Dun, dun, dun, DUNNNN!
The “fill-in” act comes out on to the stage while the crowd settles in before the main action begins. It is a semi-attractive skinny, blonde girl wearing barely anything at all. She is smoking a cigar. I lean over to Suzi on my right and whisper to her “I bet she’s going to smoke rings with that thing… not from her mouth, though…” She lays down on the floor and positions herself with her legs clipped behind her head. Alas, I was right. Oh dear. At this moment I thank God for my bad eye sight and for not reminding me to bring my glasses along. We have been brought to a sex show!
Throughout the night we are allowed several drinks which were included in our ticket price. This dampens what is going on right in front of me, helping make it a tad more amusing rather than frightening. Act after act after act, a couple come out and have sex on a rotating stage right before my very eyes; in every position imaginable and some I never thought were quite possible. Every last shred of my innocence is lost right here, right now, at a Dutch sex show.
After the show is over we go to the Grasshopper which is a recommended “coffee shop” by our travel leader. Coffee shops in Amsterdam are where people are able to purchase joints and brownies then go into a little room to smoke/consume their marijuana; it is absolutely and totally legal. I was actually surprised to see people in their sixties, seventies perhaps, smoking bongs and joints out back. I tried to picture my grandma smoking pot. I could not process the image. Way too strange.
The next morning we awoke early as we were extremely keen to make our way over to Anne Franks house. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl born in the city of Frankfurt, Germany in 1929. Anne and her family moved to Amsterdam in 1933 after the Nazis gained power in Germany. As prosecutions against the Jewish population increased, Anne’s family went into hiding in July of 1942 in hidden rooms in her father, Otto Frank’s office building. After two years, the family was betrayed and transported to concentration camps. Seven months after her arrest, Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Her father, Otto, the only surviving family member returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that Anne’s diary has been saved, and his efforts led to its publication in 1974; “The diary of Anne Frank.” After getting lost, we eventually found our way there just before the line started to rapidly grow. The house we were about to step foot in held so much history. Knowing I was about to walk through the same corridors that Anne Frank once had left me feeling a tad weird and spooked.
Tonight is our last night together as a Contiki group before we head back to London and go our separate ways. We have a canal river cruise together where we enjoy snapping many last photos with each other whilst dining on cheap champagne; such class. It was enjoyable, but rather sad knowing that our 37 day European Adventure was coming to an end. 37 days have flown way too fast! After our cruise, we are free to have dinner where ever we choose. Our group decides to eat at the Sea Palace restaurant. It is a traditional Chinese restaurant so I make use of my minimal Mandarin skills to communicate with our waiter. Through out the night I greet her, thank her several times and wish her farewell in Mandarin. I think she is rather impressed to see an Australian white girl speaking Chinese!
Back to the Grasshopper we go. Amsterdam, you are amazing.