Giddy Up Europe

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Amsterdam, July 2 - 4

Jon, Allison, and I left Stuttgart on the morning of Saturday, July 2 at 1:26 AM from the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof to Amsterdam Centraal on a night train. It was supposed to be a non-stop train and we expected to arrive around 9 AM. This was not the case. We found ourselves in a maintenance yard at Koblenz at about 4:30 in the morning. There was apparantly an announcement in German informing us of a change, but we were all sleeping. A maintenance worker woke us up and we did a walk of shame down the tracks to the station. We had some coffee and then hopped on the next train to Amsterdam. Our Eurailpasses had also been incorrectly stamped, causing us to lose a day of travel, but Allison managed to get that fixed at Centraal Station when we finally made it, only one hour late.

The easiest way to describe the city in general is New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Amsterdam is not a particularly clean city and the legalization of marijuana has not created a kind of weed utopia. The city is overrun by tourists and almost no one you hear speaks Dutch. However, the canals and overpasses running throughout the city are charming and if the city itself was a little better maintained, it would be great. Of course, you can't go to Amsterdam without checking out the red light district, so Allison and I walked around one night and we only really found one canal with window shops along both sides. Girls sit in rooms behind windows and wait for people to walk in for some action. It was nice to walk through, but not very exciting. Though there were people selling drugs and lots of drunk men, it was pretty safe, due to the sheer number of people there.

Along one of the canals.

This was a coffee shop in the red light district that apparantly knew I was coming. I didn't get arrested, though, if that's what you're thinking.

Amsterdam is crawling with cyclists everywhere; you have to be wary of getting hit by cyclists when you're in the bike lanes. Amsterdam is supposed to have over a million bicycles; not bad for a city with only 730,000 residents. I believe this is a group of tourists renting bikes.

They even have huge biking lots. Here's one by Centraal Station.

And if you're saucy enough, you can rent one of these bad boys. This is a bad photo of a multi-person cycle where everyone sits around a table, has a beer or two, and cycles. You can view the city biking on a bar on wheels.

We hit up a local cafe and Jon and Allison got huge omlettes served in a sort of bun, so they had their eggs Dutch style. That's pretty intense.

Seductive eating.

We hit up the Heineken Museum, which gives you three short beers and a free glass for an admission fee of ten euros. It's basically Disneyland for college and backpacking age travellers and you just get a brief overview of the Heineken process and history before everyone hits the bar. You also get to experience what it's like to be a Heineken bottle being made in a sort of rollercoaster simulator. They had pretty cool interactive games with info; definitely worth it if you want to start drinking afterwards, but get there quick because the doors close at 17:00.

Here's how you make Heineken beer for all you mechanical engineers.

Jon went back to the States after Zurich on July 7 - 9, but Allison and I have been in Wien (Vienna) July 10 - 11 and we're going to catch the train in about an hour to Budapest. Next update will be about Paris and Nancy when we were in France.

Check out some more of the Summer University at Stuttgart.

These are from the Welcome Party at the beginning of the program. Part of Team Singapore: Yong, Toby, Vincent, Alex, and Carin with Aneta and Jason.

Here's Ryan, Navin, Martin, and Jake getting to know each other. Over some alcohol, of course!

Jeff and Dieter with their host family.

Aneta, who apparantly doesn't like pictures taken of her, and Laura.

Josh and Brad were roomies as well. Bis dann.


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