09.02.2005 - 09.02.2005
What a sight I must be in Amsterdam. I am wearing the same jacket I wore on Kilimanjaro, and it is still covered with mountain mud. My pants are the ones I wore on safari, and they are covered with dust from the Serengeti. I have just gotten off a nine hour flight from Tanzania, and my hair is sticking out in all directions. I must look like a homeless man wandering the streets of Amsterdam.
Not the kind of dirty I expected to be in Amsterdam
It’s interesting being in Amsterdam so soon on the heels of being in Zanzibar, for they have a lot in common. The streets here are very narrow, some too narrow to even accommodate cars. So many people ride bicycles here, much like the bicycles that I saw in Zanzibar.
Lots of bike racks in Amsterdam...
...because so many people ride bikes...
...because the streets are so narrow in Amsterdam.
Not everything is like Zanzibar, though. The Islamic Zanzibar wouldn’t stand for XXX shops, weed friendly coffee houses or windows where the girls ply their trade. It’s only 10 in the morning, but a few of the windows have women in them. In an attempt to say something nice, I will say the women working must have very nice personalities. I would suppose that the women working at night at of a higher quality.
The other thing I thought that was different than Zanzibar was the lack of people trying to guide me around. In Zanzibar every 15 minutes or so someone would try and offer their services as a city guide or driver. That wasn’t happening in Amsterdam, I was thinking, just when I heard a voice. “Hey mate, looking for a hostel?”
I turned around and saw a scrubby looking man. “No thanks,” I replied.
“Do you know where you are going?” he asked, seeing me looking up and down the streets of the red light district.
“Just looking around,” I said.
Soon I was being offered directions around the red light district, offers of history of the place. I eventually was able to brush off the British tour guide, but not before he asked me for some change. I had no euros, so couldn’t give him anything. “Even a single Euro?” he asked. But I had none to give.
It seems I can’t escape the touts anywhere.
Everywhere I look I see XXX. On garbage cans and lamp posts there is XXX. “Wow,” I think, “Amsterdam must be very proud of their raunchy reputation.” But then I start seeing it on garbage trucks and flags and shields on old buildings. There must be something more to this. I later learned that the coat of arms of Amsterdam has three St. Andrew’s crosses on it.
Three crosses form the core of Amsterdam's city crest. These are St. Andrew's crosses, named after the apostle St. Andrew who is said to have been martyred on such a cross. The shield on which the crosses stand consists of three vertical stripes in the colours red - black - red. The crosses are in the black stripe. (From Amsterdam City Site)
How’s that for ironic?
After more touring, I needed to get something to eat. I wandered into the DeWaal bakery and ordered a Saucijzen Broodje, which is basically a pig in a blanket, but it was REALLY GOOD. If you are in Amsterdam, check out Baker De Waal and get yourself one. Best deal for 1 Euro 30 Euro cents.
The other food I had was not that great. I saw so many places called Steak Houses that I figured that they must be a great Amsterdam food tradition. So I decided to check one out. I went into Los Latinos, where Jon Bon Jovi once ate, so it must be good, right? For 13 Euros and 30 Euro cents, I got a tough steak with soggy fries. If in Amsterdam, avoid the steak houses. Just eat more Saucijzen Broodje.