The Nether Regions Part I
Trip Start Oct 20, 2010
79Trip End May 03, 2011
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Where I stayed
Sebas and Myrthe's House, Hilversum
Hilversum is a pretty quiet town really, which is apparently notable for being the place where most Dutch TV is produced, but I wasn't there to see the town, I was there as a base for trips in to Amsterdam. I spent two afternoons in Amsterdam during the first part of my stay.
On the first afternoon I arrived and decided to take a wander up the Damrak, which is one of the main streets leading off from the station. I got about halfway up and found that there was a Madame Tussauds, which was far cheaper than the one in London (that I had tried and failed to go to last time I was there) so I decided to buy a ticket for that and head up to its location at the end of the Damrak.
After killing an hour around notable local celebrities, famous politicians and quite a few international pop/movie stars (the latest additions being Justin Bieber and Robert Pattinson...I despair) I wandered back out and decided to check out the rather amusing Sex Museum, which had a number of unusual exhibits, including a rather bizarre motorised model of a man flashing which is activated whenever anyone walks past it.
The second day was much more sombre and far less ridiculous as I wandered up in to the Jordaan neighbourhood to check out the Anne Frank House. This was a very different testament to the horrors that occurred in Europe in the 30s and 40s as it did a much better job of putting a very human face on the victims than some of the concentration camp exhibits I have seen. The visit was slightly ruined by an American girl, around 3 or 4 years old wandering around disrespectfully declaring (at the top of her lungs) that it all 'looked fake' and that she 'didn't care where Anne lived' and that she 'wanted to see where she hid' to a complete lack of response from her father. Superb parenting.
After that I took a wander up to the Bloemenmarkt, which was a rather disappointing flower market alongside the Singel canal. I was expecting all sorts of brightly coloured blooms, but it was mostly just bulbs and packets of seeds. My Rough Guides book hasn't been on top form lately with its recommendations. After that I wandered back down to the centre, had some dinner and went back to Hilversum.
In the evenings I had been hanging out with Sebas and Myrthe, drinking beer and skittles vodka and making toad in the hole or home made pizzas. This made me look forward to getting back home and doing that thing in my own place even more.
Amsterdam is an interesting city but it is by far the most touristy place I have ever been. Every second shop on the Damrak is a souvenir shop or a tourist restaurant and it is a bit grim in that respect. It's a shame because with the canals and the buildings it is such a lovely city, but it really is marred by just how touristy it actually is.