Thursday, September 30, 1999
Arrived in the Netherlands at 9:00 a.m. at a crappy little industrial port town called Ijmuden. The bus ride to Amsterdam was surprisingly rural after that.
Along a canal in Amsterdam
We took a fairly long trek in the rain to the Hotel Atlanta on the Rembrandtplein. We had made Internet reservations which they knew nothing about, but they had a room for us anyway. We were on the top floor, and the stairs kept getting steeper and steeper each floor. The final ascent was almost ladder-like. The room was big, but the bathroom smelled due to plumbing problems. I could get to the roof to smoke, but the views weren't great because the surrounding buildings were just as tall. It was decent for the money.
We left the room almost immediately to find some "coffee." Before we did that though, we went to the floating flower market, which is actually barges in the canal docked to the sidewalk. We ate outside at a little Italian restaurant overlooking the floating flower market and the canal. It was very good. We looked around at a little liquor store with a butthead proprietor who would not allow anyone to touch anything. He obviously wants to keep all the goodies for himself. Most of the store is roped off so you won't be tempted to touch. It seemed more like a liquor collection than a store.
Now for coffee! We ended up going to the Grasshopper because Jana and BK had spent some major time there before. BK bought the first round, and we vegged there for quite some time. I didnít want to leave because the outside world was moving too fast. The sidewalks in Amsterdam are crowded with very fast walkers, kamikaze bikers, and knee-busting iron posts designed to keep cars from parking in prohibited areas. It's just safer indoors.
We decided that going on a canal boat would be cool, and it was!!! We rode outside on the back of the boat and got a bit wet, but the views were awesome out there. Jana took dozens of pictures. It was Amsterdam from a different angle. We saw a really weird-looking Amsterdamian hippie seaman driving a houseboat with a decapitated mannequin on display.
A houseboat hippie and his headless wife
The "Homomonument," a dual pissor in the red-light district
The canal boat rides are near the train station, and we decided to secure a strippenkaart to avail ourselves of the trams for the next couple of days. This turned out to be quite an ordeal. Those Amsterdamers were in a hurry. We were just about crushed by the humanity in the train station. Then it turns out you buy the 'kaarts' just outside the station anyway. Mission accomplished! After that we returned to the room to veg for a while and regroup.
Central Station, Amsterdam
We went for Italian again in the evening, Pinnochioís on Rembrantplein. They have great food and greater beer. In fact, all the beer here is great!
Later we went to the Whisky-a-go-go, which BK and Jana knew from prior trips, and threw back a few. Then we decided we should have more coffee, of course, and lo and behold, there was a place right next door - how convenient!
We all slept well that night.