So It’s been some time since my last post and there is quite a bit that has gone on in the past weeks. The last few weeks have been filled with day trips, long nights, and even a weekend in amsterdam.
Life in London
Life in London is starting to become normal. Besides some of the museums, I’ve seen most of the tourist attractions and London is starting to feel more like a home then some foreign city. Since I only have class on tuesday and just one class on thursday I’ve had to find some things to keep me occupied. Hyde park is a good place to go but only when it’s nice out, I found an indoor golf center which will keep me occupied for the next 30 days (thanks to Groupons), and there is a great old fashion movie theatre a few blocks away. On mondays and tuesdays they show movies for 3 pounds ($5.50) + they serve beer, $6 tuesdays in Woburn better step there game up. I was fortunate enough to go see “The Town” the other night and almost felt like I was back home for a little bit, that was until I stepped outside only to realize I was 3,000 miles away. The food situation has become unfavorable. I’ve tried to scumbag my way through it to save money. I’ve been buying the cheapest things possible from Sainsburys (American equivalent to Price Right) but unfortunately the hamburger meat and sausages I bought for no more then 2 pounds is probably some kind of mystery meat and can not possibly be good for me. So it seems that I’ll have to sacrifice a few more pounds and buy some name brand products to ensure that I do not suffer from malnutrition.
Stonehenge and Bath
The first of my day trips was through FIE (My School) was to stonehenge and Bath (an Old Roman City). Unfortunately I was sick for a few days prior to the trip and was not in the best of shape to wake up early on a saturday and sit on a coach bus for several hours. So my general mood throughout this entire day was fairly negative and seemed to get worse throughout the day due to an unfortunate occurance. Stonehenge although one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world is rather bland and not all that exciting. It only took about 10 minutes to walk around it and theres just not much else to see there. So after about an hour and rather unimpressed it was off to Bath. I was looking forward to Bath and from what I had heard it was an interesting place to see. When we first got there we drove around the city before being dropped off at the Roman Bath house. All the Roman architecture is impressive so I figured I would take a picture of the front of the building, but much to my dismay my camera which had been perfectly fine at stonehenge somehow managed a crack on the bus ride, and you all know the type of crack I’m talking about. It’s the type that turns your entire display screen white and renders the device 90% useless. It’s the kind that makes you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut and can’t breath, all you wan’t to do is take your rage out on someone because your thinking in the back of your head that warranty you paid extra money for is not going to cover a cracked screen for dam sure. I was still able to take pictures the old fashion way via the point, shoot and pray method.I felt like a was in the stone age not being able to review my pictures to see if it had come out good. Therefore If you had seen some of the pictures in my album from bath and were asking your self if I was that incapable of taking a half decent picture you now have your answer. Besides my misfortune Bath was a pretty cool place to see and visit for a day.
After Bath I tried finding a place that might have some highly unintelligent salesperson who might accept my warranty and replace my camera but I had no such luck. Fortunately I had a gift certificate to Harrods so I found a camera there, Unfortunately that meant 6 to 8 delicious meals at any of the various restaurants at Harrods went down he drain. (Thank you Auntie Anne you’re a Life Saver) Now onto more Important issues
So most of you are probably reading this blog to find out how Amsterdam was. You’re all probably wondering Is it as crazy as it seems? Is the red light district nuts? What’s the deal with coffee shops? Is it really like how movies tend to portray it? Well sorry to disappoint but it’s not like the movies.......It’s better!!! The trip to amsterdam was more of a last second type trip we (Kelley, Becky, and I) only planned it a week before. We flew out on a thursday after class and after a short delay and a 45 minute flight we touched down just outside of amsterdam. We got through customs easily and then tried to figure out the train we would need to take. This seems like it would be easy but when everything is in another language it tends to make things difficult. Once we figured the train out we made our way to Burger king like typical Americans. After about 15 minutes on the train we where at central station in Amsterdam with no real clue how to get to our hostel. Yet somehow we managed to get on a tram and miraculously find the street our hostel was on. The only problem was that we probably walked by the hostel 5 or 6 times before realizing that a random door next to a restaurant with virtually no sign lead us into our hostel fairly sketchy I know. We stayed in a room that had 3 bunk beds and wasn’t so bad. I had the misfortune of having to climb on the top while some stranger slept below me.The shower situation was a different story. Lets just say there was no separation between the shower-head and the toilet. and the shower curtain doubled as a shade for the window, it was just weird.
The fist day in Amsterdam was a little bit of a culture shock. we spent most of the morning just walking around going to different parts of the city and trying to find our way to some tourist locations. Amsterdam is fairly confusing all the street signs are in german and there are a tone of canals that look particularly similar. Fortunately Amsterdam is not very big and you can walk almost anywhere. The most shocking part about Amsterdam was the amount of bikes there are. Everyone and I mean everyone gets around on bikes there. Every railing along the canals was filled with bikes that where chained to it. They even had there own roads and street signals for bikes. Even more strange was the fact that on the smaller side streets there was no difference between the side walk and road. It was like everyone was apart of traffic even if you where walking, it was accepted, no Mass-holes screaming at you to get out of the way, just had to move to the side and let the cars pass and continue on.
After exploring the city a bit we finally where able to find the Heineken Factory. The tour of the factory was awesome, plenty of stuff to keep you entertained. plus they gave you a beer half-way through and the promise of two more pints at the end of it all.I’m not a big fan of Heineken back in the States but the Heineken over here, well lets just say, “I wish it were winter so I could freeze it into ice blocks and skate on it and melt it in the spring time and drink it!”. On the way back to our hostel we were handed a brochure for a pub crawl and figured it would be a good idea. They offered a good amount of alcohol and a free t-shirt so I was sold.
The Pub crawl was crazy, madness and insane and is probably what you all envision a night in Amsterdam would be like. Just going from pub to pub with a bunch of people your age drinking and having a good time. The clubs weren’t to sketchy and the people who where leading us around where cool. Needless to say the night ended with me finding a Japanese place at 3 in the morning while everyone else opted for late night McDonalds (I got the better of that one).
The last day in Amsterdam was much of the same walking around. We made it over to the red light district early in the day to check it out. It was a bit strange seeing prostitutes in window booths. They really do try and sell themselves by dancing and blowing kisses, which lead me to the conclusion that they are not real human beings and this was in fact fake life. I mean come on prostitution can’t really be legal can it? regardless the red light district was just strange during the day time not all that many people around and just a creepy vibe to it. After that adventure we decided to stick it out and wait in line at The Anne Frank house. (Yes I know, not the ideal place to go after witnessing such shocking events in the red light district) Although the story of Anne Frank always makes you feel like 8 people where crammed into such a small place, the area in which they stayed is much bigger then is usually portrayed. Still for 8 people to stay in hiding for that long is shocking nevertheless. (We could not take pictures here).
Another strange thing about Amsterdam is the coffee shop’s, but don’t let the tittle coffee shop fool you. If you want a cup of coffee this is probably the last place you should go. I don’t even think they sell coffee. I mean if your going to Make marijuana legal don’t go calling the place you sell it in a “coffee shop”. Your just going to confuse the hell out of people, I mean god forbid someone just wanted a coffee but every time they went into a coffee shop and the guy behind the counter was like, “oh, sorry guy we don’t sell that here” you would think you where going crazy, right? My point here is if your going to make marijuana legal just call the place you sell it a smoke shop don’t go confusing people.The red light district is already shocking enough you don’t need people loosing their minds over trying to find a cup of joe. But I guess marijuana is the least shocking thing about Amsterdam especially when things like prostitution, and hallucinogenic mushrooms are legal. Yah thats right hallucinogenic mushrooms are legal, at this point they might as well just say screw it and legalize everything ecstasy, cocaine, black tar heroin whats the worst that could happen.......
(In all seriousness it wasn’t like people where tripping on drugs all over the place at least I didn’t notice.)
The last night we were there we decided to head toward the red light district to see it in a “New Light” and besides there where a lot of good pubs just outside the district. Night time is a completely different place in the RLD there are tons of people everywhere and it was apparent that the prostitution places or whatever they’re called save their best for night. I never really felt unsafe tho but don’t get me wrong I was still completely sketched out by the prostitutes. It was even stranger to actually witness a “john” actually go into one of the booths, not to mention that a lot of the booths seemed to be occupied, what a perverted world we live in. Again leading me to the conclusion that this is all “Fake Life”. After that we had a few drinks and took it all in and called it a night because we had an early flight the next day.
In conclusion Amsterdam was a crazy, fun, strange and beautiful place. The canals that filled the city where beautiful especially at night when all of the bridges where lit up, it was like something out of a movie. (I tried to get a picture at night but my new camera is not as advanced as my last one). To all of the young adults out there reading this I would strongly recommend getting to amsterdam if your ever in Europe. It is everything you’ve ever pictured it to be and much more.
My Next Trip will be Dublin in two weeks followed by my week long adventure at the end of the month in which I will be “Backpacking” to Barcelona, Valencia, Rome, and either Nice or marseille and possibly Prague.