Friday, August 26, 2011

Amsterdam and Nachos

A trip to Holland had been in the makings for awhile as it came highly recommended from a couple friends at school. We split Alex a day after graduation or maybe a couple of days later thanks to the incompetent booking agent, yours truly. The agenda for the flight back to the states included a week's layover in Amsterdam/Gent/Alkmaar to pack on a couple of extra kilos. Mission accomplished.   

They call Amsterdam the land of bikes. Taking a morning stroll is teasing God, tempting fate, and more or less playing human Frogger against the well dressed commuters.    

Typical and uneventful canal shot. 
Westerkerk and Westertoren (western church and tower) along the canal next to the Anne Frank House/Museum on the edge of the Jordaan neighborhood.  
The Anne Frank house was at the top of Ana's list. We stood in line with a girl who just broke up with a friend and decided that she would come to Amsterdam alone, the best part was she tried to scam her way into the museum then got busted for her aggressive picture taking skills. Sadly no cameras were allowed to show the narrow and steep stairways leading to the secret house within a house (annex). To learn and see more, visit the website by clicking here. The Anne Frank statue in front of the Westerkerk by Dutch sculpture Mari Andriessen.  
By the artist known as Laser 3.14

A well dressed Dutch lady delivering her floral arrangements. Car, we don't need no stinking car.  
Mummified wiener dog made from recycled rice bags.

Stencil, freehand, and sculpture.  
This could be your garage but isn't. 

This might make sense to someone. 
For KLM passengers in not-so-much of a hurry. 
A quality lock. 
I would wager to guess that one of the two real reasons why Amsterdam is a hot tourist destination are "The Coffeeshops" where you can buy weed and cannabis edibles. Hans, the owner of the room we stayed told us not to eat any muffins because of their unpredictable effects, in other words he didn't want to take us to the ER as he had done so with other house guests. Bernard Rappaz Swiss hemp farmer known for his routine hunger strikes when in custody. ps. nice mullet.   
Sex tourism is another one of Amsterdam's appeal. The Red Light District is all about window shopping. There were no shortage of gawkers. I once worked with a guy in Alabama who paid for sex, his logic was purely economics...he argued it cost him more to wine and dine the ladies (money plus time) so he went straight to the source.    

We might have missed the Heineken Experience (the fancy name for the museum-since it is more than just a's an interactive experience. yawn.) but we didn't miss out on experiencing the hometown brew. Just in case you're curious, Heineken does taste better on draft in Amsterdam than it does from a can made in Egypt.  
A house we liked near the Oud-Zuid district. 
Don't leave your handbag or laptop in the car.  
In our never-ending quest to find the perfect nachos, Taco Mundo came up a little short.
There are other attractions in Amsterdam other than sex and drugs, for example The Van Gogh museum. The highlight was the reconstruction and restoration of Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles. We learned that the floor to his room was made from tile and not wood as one might conclude based on the color and lines in the painting. To learn and see more click here.   

One of the highlights of a canal tour are the incompetent tourists who rent paddle boats and back themselves into a wall or a corner and can't paddle out. If they do manage to break free, it is almost certain that they will find their way to block one of the tour boats. If you can find a nice patch of grass along the banks bring yourself a blanket, bottle of vino, some cheese and crackers and enjoy the show.  

Buildings along our canal tour...highly recommended. You'll also learn about all the cars, bikes, cameras, and just about everything else that somehow ends up in the canals.  

Need to move your piano to the second floor? You might as well nix the plan on using the stairs in lieu of the top floor pulley.   
The highlight of the Rijkemuseum was the Real American Hotdog cart. Our accommodations were right across from the national museum and yet we somehow didn't make time to view the Dutch masters. Next time we promise.  

Attention Hippies, no bongos.  
Vondelpark was also a short walk from our room. A nice break from the city. An ideal place for running, riding, and an afternoon picnic.

Thanks for cleaning up after your pet. 

Anarchist cats meet in this secret location. The google translation reads:barricades closing off streets but open perspectives 
The cold cuts were smelling a little funky.

Poster inside the jazz club Cafe Alto. Hans took us here our first night in town only to find the famous composer Lawrence Welk's estranged twin brother trying to conduct the music on stage from the bar. Sadly we didn't have our camera that evening.   
Also in the sadness department, we missed the toothbrush museum...ok, maybe it wasn't exactly a museum but seldom does one encounter a shop dedicated to mouth hygiene...much less with tooth brush couples on a ferris wheel.
All good toothbrushes go to heaven. 
I'm not sure what to say about these. Camel shoes? 
Hans getting all excited.