Schiphol airport was a very pleasant change from the airport in
We came to
Unfortunately, since KLM didn't fly on the 3rd of August, we missed the city's notorious Gay Pride parade. I had hoped to see its outrageous 'floats' which are just that-floats on the canals. But I did manage to catch an open air concert on Sunday afternoon, and the sight of tens of thousands of stylish men sporting shaved heads or very short hair prompted me to do the same the next day. At 'Scissors' I found just the man for the cut!
This was my third trip to
Sally and I were here in 1976, but we had both forgotten what an amazing city it is. This time we stayed at the Jolly Hotel Carlton in a very central location, next to the floating flower market. To re-orient ourselves, we purchased two day passes on the hop-on-hop-off canal boats. We managed to figure out where all the stops were just as the tickets expired.
One of the
While the drugs may not be freely on display, the prostitutes are. In the Red Light District, just steps from where the Brook family was staying, you could look into the windows of buildings marked by red light bulbs to see what was for sale. I could swear that some of the ladies were the same ones I saw in the windows in 1969. But as the official Visitors Guide says ‘If you visit one of the women, we would like to remind you, they are not always women.’
While we couldn't help notice the coffee shops, prostitutes, and preponderance of sex shops, the city's real attractions were the centuries old buildings lining the canals, the houseboats, the absence of cars, and the proliferation of bicycles. Everybody rides bicycles; young and old; in jeans and suits; with and without parcels. Surprisingly, few people wear helmets, and this prompted me to wonder whether we need to reconsider our helmet law since I am convinced it deters many people from riding a bike in Vancouver. Admittedly, Amsterdamers are not racing along on 15 gear mountain bikes with dropped handlebars. They ride sensible 1 or 3 gear upright bikes around the city in specially marked lanes with priority over pedestrians and cars. If you don't ride a bike, you walk or take a modern bus or tram. I was pleased to see a Ballard fuel cell bus around town. I also noticed a few very small electric cars and tuk-tuks. They will soon be more common in
On our last night we did meet up with the Brooks as planned. It had been more than 7 months since we had seen anyone from
After last minute photos in front of a graffiti covered wall, we said our goodbyes and returned to our hotel to prepare for an early morning flight to