Holland driving- very flat
It took about 3 hours to drive between Brussels and Amsterdam today- we took a 30 minute traffic-avoidance detour down beautiful rural roads, passing windmills along the way. Do people live in those? It sure looked like it with little windows and doors- very picturesque! That traffic detour sure beat sitting in traffic on the interstate.
Apparently, our campground closes between 12:30 and 1:30 with the gate locked out front. We got to talk to the guys in front of us, scope out the place, and teach two teen girls how to empty their cassette toilet (I gave only verbal instructions- ha!).
It is a nice campground, with a well-stocked store and lovely grass sites with trees. The people working were very nice and helpful, although I didn’t understand much of their English.
Amsterdam train station
We did, however, manage to find the metro station by asking a few people along the way. It’s a nice walk through a park to get there and not far. We bought 4 round-trip metro tickets (1 hour duration each) for 20E total (5E), which is quite pricey. You could buy a day pass for 7E, but we didn’t need unlimited for our half day of exploration.
Amsterdam has beautiful architecture and bright sunshine today- the temperature is balmy and perfect. Still, the feel of the city is rather smarmy. Our accidental wander through what may later be the Red Light District didn’t help the feeling any. We only saw a couple inappropriate shops, and headed back toward the flower market.
The flower market was all along the canal and lovely, although we were too late for the morning sales event that I’m sure is fascinating.
We got our sticker, a “shoe bank” for Lia (instead of a piggy bank, it was a wooden shoe), and a small Christmas ornament.
There’s an AC/DC concert in Amsterdam tonight, making this raucous city even more exciting. Most of the tenters in the campground tent section are headed to the arena tonight for it.
Jazy was reading through the Amsterdam 2009 Visitors Guide, scanning the yellow pages, which were filled with appalling “Escort Services” pages. It’s a rather smutty city with its “coffeehouses” that serve marijuana, along with the "Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum" (no kidding!) and worse.
There is a section in the Visitors Guide for “Police and Safety” in the Red Light District, which includes informative tips for things like “urinating in public” and worse.
Here’s one statement: “Too much alcohol often causes irresponsible and childish behavior like undressing in public, jumping into canals, and so on. Please don’t make a fool of yourself… show some respect.” But my favorite line was: “If you visit one of the women, we would like to remind you, they are not always women.” O-K..
Amsterdam flower market
We debated which city was smuttiest: Las Vegas or Amsterdam. Admittedly, we did not visit the Red Light District at night, while we did walk the Las Vegas strip at night, which has more lights and advertisements than actual human examples of smut. And most of the bad stuff is actually legal in Amsterdam. So, Amsterdam does not feel like a particularly classy place with classy visitors. It is the opposite of Luxembourg!
Still, Amsterdam has many admirable, upstanding museums and sights if you have the time to explore.
We enjoyed the afternoon in the city, to the metro back, got dinner at the nearby park, and are relaxing at the campground. Tomorrow night is our ferry to England and so we need to get ready to leave the continent. There is no “Camping On Board” except between Italy and Greece, so we’ll need to pack a bag for our cabin, which I’m grateful to get.