Amsterdam, although the weather had cooled quite a bit and was pushing to get to 17°C. Of note is that I didn't see anyone wearing clogs, nor did I see one windmill, so I think those stereotypes are completely false. Also, we saw the return of lane splitting motorcycles in the more high traffic areas as we got close to cities around the 5 to 6 pm timeframe, which is a sight we hadn’t seen since Italy. I also noted that the gas stations are void of beer, and there were numerous cars that stopped for a break at the rest stop where the people would jump out and share a beer that they were carrying for the occasion while having a smoke.
We got to the Novotel Hotel in Amsterdam at about 7:30pm and ran into Hanno, Isabel and their
friends from Romania as they were leaving for the city centre. Antonia and Nadena are sisters and daughters of a client of Hanno’s that are living in Stuttgart and going to school there, and Hanno and Isa are keeping an eye on them for the parents. We set up a time and place to meet in the city centre and set about to get our room and get our gear unloaded. Major parts of the hotel were under renovation so they had set up a temporary building housing a lobby and restaurant. The security staff had us park our bikes right beside the main entrance under overhead cover and well within their sight and recommended we keep them there and travel with local transit due to the number of bike thefts in the city.
Once we got cleaned up, we jumped on the tram to our meeting place and had no trouble finding the guys. We were amazed at the number of bicycles around…they are clearly the transportation of choice in this city and everyone uses them. The city is well set up for them too, with separate bicycle lanes between the sidewalks and roadways, and you better be looking out when you cross these lanes as the bicycles have the right of way and let you know it with the wild clinging of bells.
We had a few drinks at one of the many outdoor cafés and soaked in the night life of this amazing
lively city, then we started walking about looking for the Red Light district. The city is as amazing as the pictures I’m sure everyone has seen, with mazes of waterways lined on either side by roadways. It was while we negotiated the maze of road/alley ways and waterways that we started to notice how many Coffeeshops there were. Now, for those
not inclined…if you want a coffee, you go to a café…if you want Marijuana or Hashish, you go to a Coffeeshop. The other thing we noticed was that the smell of Marijuana smoke was everywhere and you couldn’t go around a corner without encountering a whiff of it.
After asking numerous people for directions to the Red Light district, we finally found it. There were posts with red lights in the roadway that prevented any cars from using them, which was handy due to the massive number of people walking about. Lining the streets was a diverse combination of sex shops, live sex shows
and red light houses with women for hire. We wandered about this area for a while then made our way back to the city square to grab a nightcap and a cab back to the hotel as it was already 3am.
Once we left Belgium and entered the Netherlands our trip was pretty uneventful all the way to