What an unexpected gem. A place I’ve heard about many times, but only two things are ever mentioned; weed and the red light district. There is so much more!
The first word that came to mind, unusual. Unusual Amsterdam! It’s a melting pot of so many different types of people. You’ve got young and old men lusting at the Red light, tourist snapping pictures, cute old people taking strolls on quite streets, silent assassins (bike riders) monopolizing every corner; I’m telling you it’s like a game of Tetras. You’ve got to be prepared to dodge, turn around, move left, move right. Wherever you fit, just to get to the other side. Half the time you’re walking in the middle of the road and don’t even realize it. If you hear “ding” keep your arms close to your body, close your eyes and say a prayer.
My first full morning was spent in NEMO, a kids science center. I was like Tom Hanks in BIG. The only adult acting like a child and I loved every moment of it. Even had little girls show me how to play a dance game where you step on arrows that light up. FUN! After four floors and three hours of this, I walked across town to check out the Heineken Experience . A pit stop at a cafè had me fully content with a new book I bought for €1, fresh strawberries with sugar on several coin sized pancakes and a cappuccino-of course.
I quite enjoyed the Heineken Tour. It was a great way to see how they make terrible beer. Not going to lie, it’s much better out here. There’s actually flavor to it. They use A-Yeast which is exclusive to them. It is why the taste has been consistent since day one; But it’s still not flavorful or heavy enough for me. Did I drink the two “free” samples they gave me….yes. Did I enjoy it….yes. That’s all that matters.
I did contemplate seeing the red light district that night, but didn’t feel safe alone. I had my blade glued to my hand. While I was in Germany I was given a black, freshly shaved pocket knife by Dave. It helps me feel safe. They might take it away when I fly, but I’ll take that risk. Thanks cuz 😉
The next morning, after breakfast, I was mapping out a possible route from the hostel boat to the Rijksmuseum. Matthew ,a Texan with a gnarly beard, was doing the same thing. From that moment forward me, Matthew and his brother, Jason, an All American kind of guy took over the town. Our minds were blown for a good five hours at this museum. We were trying to stuff our minds with as much knowledge as possible. Boy were we full. We spent the rest of the day dodging traffic and exploring the town.
Now that I had bodyguards I was able to see the red light district at night. To me, it’s sad. Most of these women don’t want to be there. They’re taken from Eastern European countries. They stand in front of a window texting and smacking bubble gum in their mouths. Others, not many, are winking and flirting. One woman looked at Matthew and started pointing at him. She kept stroking her imaginary beard. He might have blushed, but at this point I was staring at the cobblestones. I didn’t need to see any more.
We walked into a grimey mafioso bar and played two full games of pool. I beat Jay. Matt beat me. Jason wasn’t happy about that. Men are very competitive. That’s why it’s that much sweeter when you crush them. Okay, so I won because he scratched on his last shot. So what. I have no shame.
The energy in the room shifted quickly. The bar was closing down. We weren’t asked to leave, but we sure felt it.
We laughed all the way to our dock. A very scary place to walk at night. Our goal: don’t fall in. There are canals all around the city center, no railing.
We’ve learned two very crucial things so far; don’t die on the street and don’t fall into the water. Check.
The following morning I needed to catch a 3:30pm train to Bruxelles. I had a burning desire to see Anne Franks House so I woke up early to ensure enough time. This is where I met, Dean, a balding English bookie with glasses and a big heart. He taught us a card game named Shit Head. Guess who that was…Jason. I won, of course.
Dean’s on a three day holiday with his Mrs. We were exchanging information on places to see in Amsterdam while eating breakfast on our rad hostel boat. The brothers showed up and we were off to our next journey.
Anne Frank’s House is a place you need to visit if you are ever in this area. When I walked into the hiding rooms I was overcome with tears. I felt the heaviness of what happened there. The pain, frustration, anger, confusion, hopes, dreams and desires were stagnant in the air. An imprint of emotions were held captive in that house. A whisper of their souls lingers.
They had facts and quotes written on the walls. My heart broke when all her wants and needs are everything I have. The freedom that she dreamed about. I live that every day. Anne’s writing motivated me to keep going. Her journals look identical to mine. She wrote in cursive. My favorite style. It was very moving.
The guys and I needed some fresh air. We walked to Vondel Park. Every open area had pairs of people laying on the grass. We found a perfect little spot that was tranquil. There was water shooting out, in the middle of the pond. The sun was beating on our cold skin. A moment so wonderful I decided right then to stay another day. Everything felt peaceful and easy. I felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart all day. I knew I wouldn’t get on that train, but I felt I had to because I booked a room for the night and I was checked out of the hostel boat. Then I realized, trust in The Lord!
Before heading back to the boat we were on a mission to find a Cafè Dean suggested. Once found, low and behold Dean and his Mrs were sitting in the middle of the room. It was toasty. Something we all needed after walking in the cold. After a hot cup of tea we left.
When I got to the hostel, Lilian, the boat watcher wasn’t there. She stepped out for thirty minutes. So, it’s 9:30pm and I’m not sure if I can get another room. I relaxed and waited. When she arrived I told her I decided to stay another night. She painfully said they’re all booked for the night, but quickly offered the couch in the reception area. I was more then okay with that. I was just in Haiti, I know what real struggles and needs look like. I wasn’t about to complain about anything. We talked for a little while, like we did the first night I checked in. I thanked her several times. Her reply “be the change you want to see in the world.” She threw that Ghandi knowledge at me.
There’s a huge awareness that people aren’t always nice and some people just don’t care. I followed The Lord’s will and He provided. Lilian is as beautiful as a Lily. She was my angel in Amsterdam. I will forever be thankful for her providing me with shelter and breakfast the next morning.
Now I’m on a train to Belgium. Let’s see what stories come out of here.