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Sunday, 2 December 2012

We're in Amsterdam.


The ferry PA system woke us at 6.30 am, far too early. Our plan was to get up, have a leisurely breakfast, and be one of the first off the ship. We went back to sleep and woke up at 7.30 when the first call went out for passengers to disembark. Just after eight we walked onto an empty car deck, pointed the bike at Holland, and rode down the ramp into a lovely four degrees and rain. It's funny really, we didn't see much rain in England at all, but as soon as we lob in Holland it rained on us.

I rode to the immigration checkpoint. The guy in the little booth looked at us, twice, and for a long time each time. Then he said "Why are you here?" To which I replied "We're on holidays". He thought for a moment, checked the other stamps in our passports, and asked "It's summer in Australia now isn't it?" Suzanne said "Yes. We're crazy aren't we?" He smiled and said "Yes". We got our stamps and were on our way to Amsterdam.

As much as we liked the UK, it was good to feel the wheels rolling on the wrong side of the road in Europe again. Something different is something good. 

Amsterdam is quite a pretty city. There are lots of old style buildings and the architecture is easy on the eye. The canals add a touch of interest as well. I had no idea there were so many canals. We rode around looking for somewhere to have breakfast and finally found a place that looked good. I dropped Suzanne off and went to ride around the block and park the bike. Suzanne said she wanted her passport in case I didn't come back. (Insert sarcastic tone here). As if I'd do that. So off I rode. A couple of left turns and I'd be back where I started, park the bike at the end of the street, and walk to the restaurant. 

Hmm, no left turn. OK, I'll go down another block. Five minutes later, not one left turn, I had no idea where I was, and I'd crossed a couple of canals as well. Oh oh! I really did think I might have seen the last of Suzanne but I'm sure she would be happy in Holland. Then I saw a building that we rode past on the way into town. I backtracked and found Suzanne standing on a street corner (Working already?) looking a bit worried. The restaurant we stopped at hadn't opened yet. Ten minutes later we found one that had just opened the doors. I don't have any idea what the parking laws are here, but we parked on the footpath and went inside the nice warm restaurant for breakfast. They had the best coffee I'd tasted in ages.

Then it was off to find the Ibis Styles Hotel. These places are great. They're cheap, but present very well, and include free breakfast and wifi. OK, they don't offer the facilities of a five star hotel, but we're only sleeping there and spend the rest of the time exploring. They're perfect and about the same price as a backpacker's.

The Amsterdam itinerary so far consists of a visit to the Heineken (My favourite beer) Experience, the Ice Bar, the Cat Museum (Yes, that's right), some other museums, and of course, a tour of the red light district.

We left the hotel to go to the ice bar and made it about twenty yards before we stopped. There was a restaurant on the corner that looked OK and we were hungry, so we went inside. We had one of the best dinners ever. The fish with risotto was deluxe (and I don't like risotto normally). I'm not a desert person either, but our main was so good I decided to give desert a try. I had figs in orange syrup with ice cream and chocolate drops. It was brilliant.

We had a chat to the owner, who was a really nice guy, and when he found out we were Australian he told us about his other restaurant which serves lobster dishes, and invited us to visit. I like my food, so I think it's a date.

We wandered off toward the Ice Bar. It was now that I realised my super light running shoes offered no warmth at all, and that the rest of the world is not like Perth (It's only taken six months!) and you can't go out at night wearing only a thin shirt. I was bloody cold.

Anyway, we made it to the Ice Bar.

A photo of a dodgy tourist photo taken inside the Ice Bar.

OK, lets be honest. The Ice Bar is nothing more than a tourist trap. Imagine a couple of refrigerated shipping containers, running at ten degrees below zero, turned into a bar, complete with Perspex replicas of ice sculptures. They charge you to go in and give you a two "free" drinks, show you a 3D movie, and kick you out after forty five minutes in glasses made of ice. I'm not complaining, I had four vodkas because Suzanne didn't like any of the drinks on offer. Do the sums. About thirty people, at fifteen Euro, ten times a day, plus drinks. Not a bad little business eh? The highlight was the girl running the show, Anita, was from Melbourne. Bloody Aussies are everywhere!

With Anita's directions we decided it was time to visit the "Red Light District". We walked off in the right direction but were distracted by another bar, and after a drink, decided it was time to call it a night (Suzanne can't keep up) and grabbed a cab back to the hotel.

Hopefully tomorrow's weather will be a little more kind to us. 

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