So there's been a bit of a storm since I got home yesterday and while many are without power, I was without internet for a whole day. Woe is me.
July 16 continued
So after going back to that beer house in Munich and getting drunk on a liter of Dunkel (I don't know what that means either, but it was dark), I walked around town and found a science fair of sorts. And what did I see? ROBOTS PLAYING SOCCER! I saw Paul and Gerd against Jupp and Jan. Then they brought out the massive Robotinho to walk around and...I don't know what. While walking around the nearly dead city I made a few realizations: Sunday is Accordion Day and that I still hate street performers who paint themselves in either all gold or silver.
Then I went to the airport and from there to Amsterdam. While flying into over the Netherlands I saw windmills, the newer ones, everywhere. And houses on every sliver of land up against the water. Why are they living there? Why haven't they been flooded yet? Oh, and lots of greenhouses. God, they love flowers. (Tulips, perhaps?) At the Amsterdam airport I found a locker to store my stuff and thinned out my personal effects: pen, disposable camera, wallet in front pocket, gum, sheets of paper torn from other notebook to write thoughts on. I changed into jeans and my shoes and practically skipped to the trains. I got out of the station and it was starting to get dark. I didn't have the map I wanted to tear out of the magazine on the airplane, so I couldn't find Anne Frank's house, the Van Gogh museum, etc. It was all closed with it being a Sunday night anyway.
I followed a group of people around and it looked like a giant parade through the small streets beside the canals. It honestly had a Disney World for sex/drug-craving kids feeling. I saw several "coffeshop"s - places where marijuana is tolerated- with rasta/Ethiopian flags and murals to advertise their wares. And I swear I saw Jay from Degrassi. Then I remembered that I thought I saws Craig froM Degrassi on a boat in Austria.
I walked around and eventually found myself in the red light district and it was so abrupt I was shocked. I got tired of the pros and decided to walk around further and try to find the Anne Frank house or Van Gogh museum, though they were closed. But I ended up getting lost in Amsterdam suburbia. Eventually I heard music and started walking towards it. I kept walking toward the music and started to see crowds of people both heading towards it and away from it. Then I realized I was approaching a concert. I realized I heard "We Be Burnin'" by Sean Paul and thought I was at a DJ hip hop show. 'Fuck it', I thought. I got closer and tried to get a ticket. It was open-air and the guy at the gate told me, "No more tickets!" like I was the millionth to ask.
So I started to walk away but then heard "Get Busy" with Sean Paul singing live. I started to laugh and was so incredibly amused by the fact that I was near where the guy was performing that song that I love and all my friends hate...in Amsterdam. I held up my camera toward what looked like the stage/tent and kept walking/giggling to myself.
I eventually got a taxi back to the city center and found myself near the prostitutes again. I soon found myself walking in front of homes even and thought how funny it must be for a family to have people looking into their window hoping to find sex, but instead finding them watching tv or eating dinner. I later realized this probably never happens because people aren't as dumb as me to realize the only places with women in windows have red lights around them. There were so many ladies in the windows though... in so many varieties. Lots of transexuals- I overheard a girl explaining to someone that transexuals are denoted by the blue light that also appears in the window. Many will open the door and start talking to passersby. Most will be on their phone or yawning, and quickly look interested when someone comes by. It was all really bizarre. Especially seeing a window closed with the curtain over it, then a guy emerging.
But then the Disney World of sex and drugs thoughts kicked in again. I was seeing families walking around. I saw older couples and people across the spectrum- again like it was Disney World. I didn't get it. Throughout the trip I'd been thinking about some places that have almost only tourism as their industry and how tourists may be annoying, but chances are they wouldn't have moved their without their town's fame and wouldn't survive without our business. I understand Amsterdam is an old city with an artistic history (I kept seeing Rembrandt stuff...) and ties to Judaism. But c'mon, most people come for the legal prostitution and "legal" pot. I know it seems like utopia (ha), but having all this concentrated in one area doesn't seem as much of a good idea as having a little bit everywhere. If I were Amsterdam I'd welcome the sex/drugs tourism, but I'd prefer that not to be my main draw.
I eventually found a bar and drank. I tried to make nice with a group near me and the bartender but people were kind of cold. So I decided to head back to the airport. I took off to try to find the train station and saw people sleeping outside, but found a way in. I showed my ticket to a guy at the door and he pointed me to my train. I got on and started to nod off, trying not to. I woke up at one point and were stopped in the city. There was some construction or something. I fell asleep again. At one point I mumbled to the guy near me, "I'm going to the airport, is this going there?" He confirmed it and I fell asleep. I woke up again to the train stopped again. It was getting light out and I was getting nervous. Did this really need to take two hours? Why did I see a sign for The Hague? Where the fuck was I?
I asked the guy if we'd passed Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport and he looked at me stunned. "I thought you meant Rotterdam Airport! We passed that a long time ago. We're almost at the Rotterdam station though. As soon as they figure out what the fuck is going on." I woke up and got focused. It was around 5:40 by this point. I had another 2 hours. I asked the guy what to do, he said trains were frequent so I'd be fine to catch one back. When we got to the station at 6 I saw that the next train wouldn't leave until 7. I found a cab and he told me it'd be 100 euros and that I'd have time. I bit the bullet and ran to an ATM. I enjoyed my little tour (about 40 miles) of the Netherlands but felt like puking (because of my stupidity) the whole time.
I made it to the airport, got my bag, didn't have time for food/didn't feel hungry, checked in, got on the plane and didn't move for the 8 hour flight. I slept for 20 minutes every so often, constantly hitting next on the random playlist on my iPod. When I got off in Detroit I went through about 5 security checkpoints. They'd ask about the Netherlands, but nothing about Amsterdam since they noticed it was only a layover. I went inside this machine that looked like something from Total Recall and it blew this air at me and checked something else. Finally I was grilled on my business overseas, "The World Cup ended a week ago, though..." and my bag was barely searched. They didn't find the mini absinthe bottle. Makes me think I could've brought back so much more...