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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

AMSTERDAMAGE: First night in the party capital of Europe

How does one write a blog about Amsterdam without A) saying something that must have already been said or B) incriminating oneself? In addition, after four days in The ‘Dam, who on earth wants to sit down and write a blog? Well, it might take me a few days to get it done but for now I will start with the first night.

I have been to Amsterdam several times but this was the first time I had flown, so the hour or so on the plane was a pleasant change from spending endless hours on train/bus and boat. This meant that even though we did not land in the City till gone 11pm, we were fresh and ready to hit the town.

So after dumping our bags we set off in search of ‘coffee’ in one of the city’s many coffee shops. We found ourselves in the ‘Smoking bull’ a cool little place in the Red Light District and made ourselves at home. We had not planned staying there all night (although I am not sure we actually had a plan), but we eventually floated out of there at stop tap (1am) and went for the first of many walkabouts around the Red Light District.

I am no expert on Red Light Districts, but I doubt if there are many that are anything like Amsterdam’s. Yes there are little windows everywhere with ‘ladies of the night’ displaying their wares, and lots of gentlemen visitors wandering around, but the district is also home to some very nice restraints and the bulk of the city’s 200 coffee shops.

The famous Dutch liberal tolerance means that you are just as likely to bump into the MD of a diamond business walking home with his wife after a meal as you are a stag party or a ‘lonely business traveller’. You will find the odd drug dealer hanging around on the bridges but they do not pester you. To be honest the only thing that comes even close to making the district a bit leery are the gangs of drunken Brits who have not quite grasped the concept of café culture.

Even though I have no interest in the sexual delights on offer, a walk around the district is quite entertaining, and I suppose a bit of an education! Unfortunately, after several hours in the Smoking Bull, trying to keep the hand steady enough to focus my trusty Finepix was a bit of a problem, not to mention the possibility of getting the camera smashed if the lens wandered in the wrong direction!

Anyway, that is enough for now, I will now try to remember the rest of the stay and work out how to blog it without incriminating myself! Watch this space.


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