I swished through the customs and passport check, and met up with Amund and Trond, who had only been waiting for me for five hours without having found a place for us to stay in Amsterdam. The International Fashion Week was just over, and all the models had been passing by on their way out of the country, so Trond and Amund had been rather busy watching.
I bought an Amsterdam guide book for 33 guilders, and a ticket to the express-train to the city for 5.75 guilders, and off we went. Noone checked that we had tickets on either way on the express train. At the train station a rather suspicious looking bum came over and asked if we wanted to rent a flat from him for 30 guilders per person per night. This was SO suspicious that we just had to take it. So here we live now. De Wittenberg street, or something. It's in an ok part of the city, it seems, but rather expensive, compared to what I have paid for accomodation in the US. Then again, this isn't the US, this is almost Norway.
I am not tired at all, but the others are, and they slept for a while before we walked around in the city a bit. Trond was offered extasy 3 times, and the density of rather cruel pornography in the shops and uhm... everywhere, actually, is the worst thing with this city. Pizza seems to be the cheapest eating around here, so we had one of those.
The climax of the evening was without any doubt when we found an Internet Coffee Shop. Two guys were standing in front of the computers looking very puzzled, so I walked over, looked at them and sat down and tried to connect with the Net. I had no luck, so I got up again and asked if the two guys were students too. "No", they said, "Have you heard about GNU?" "Yes of course, why?" "Well, that's us."
So, I was talking to semi-gods of the international Linux world (which you shouldn't be ashamed of never having heard about if you don't), so we nerds were sure to get the autographs and handshakes of Brian Fox, the man behind bash, and Joe Arceneaux, the father of Emacs 19. *gasp* So, now we are back, it's the middle of the night and I am tired. Good going.
Exploring the city along the canals, rain suddenly started to really pour down. I wasn't too far away from "home", so I am here now, just waiting for the rain to stop, so I can walk around a bit more in this city of a thousand suspicious odors. I got up at nine this morning, and I just had to wait two hours before the others became alive. Well, more zombie-like, actually. I am not jet-lagged whatsoever. I managed to go to the shop and buy us breakfast, so we were soon ready to go straight to the sightseeing.
We walked to the railway station, which has a canal-boat station outside. From there I spent an hour with Trond and Amund on a "Lovers Cruise". Hrrmpf. I could easily come up with others I'd rather have been there with. But I survived. Afterwards we walked around until we found the Anne Frank Huis, which I long ago had decided to see. Amund went along, and after having convinced Trond that seeing this place would win him a lot of respect among potential girlfriends, he agreed to come along as well. 8 guilders. Probably a good investment for him. And us, possibly. The Huis was a lot spacier than I had imagined from the book and the movie. It is really amazing that they could stay hidden in such a large flat for years.
Oh. It has stopped raining. I'm outtahere.
Mmmm. I found KFC here, and just had to have a last bite of it before returning to Norway, where chickens are so expensive, we can't afford to eat them. It is still daylight outside, so the red lights don't show yet. After having walked around in streets that all look the same, I stumbled upon Amsterdam Sex Museum. Hmmm... It wasn't even close to as bad as going into any shop in this city, but there were a lot of uhm... Things to see, anyway. And they had managed to put a lot of humour into it, as well. It was a little bit strange to walk around there, being a modest Norwegian, surrounded by grandmothers and grandchildren who were pointing and laughing at everything. Still... It was interesting.
The density of pairs consisting of one young, beautiful woman and one old, uhm... normal-looking (at best) man is very high here. It seems the brothels have no problems with making a profit. Neither do the drug dealers. I was offered free cocaine, "since it's your first time!". I think perhaps the Amsterdam way of being liberate about drugs isn't a very good one. It leads to the availability of ALL kinds of drugs. I politely said "no thanks". I was a bit surprised by my response, as I had imagined I would become really mad and hit the "supplier" or something. Hm. Oh well. When in Rome...
Before going to bed last night, we walked around in the Red Light District, and the openness around the brothel activity is really amazing. I never thought it was THAT tolerated. A lot of people walked from window to window, checking out the "merchandise", and eventually found someone they liked.
On our way back I had a competition with Trond, about who could get the most drug offers. I won 3-2. All mine were Coke, and I doubt it was the carbonated version. I asked if they could get me Solo, a Norwegian brand of carbonated, and "Sure, I can get you anything. Just wait here." I didn't wait. Except drugs, I think everything in the Netherlands is just as expensive as in Norway.
It is now 34 minutes until boarding on flight KL163 Amsterdam-Oslo. In Oslo I am going more or less straight to a cousin's wedding, where I'll meet my parents. That will be good.
My pen is dying. It is the same pen I have used all the time. I think the trip is over. It seems like The Great Journey was succesful, I survived and I live to tell the tale.
I hope you enjoyed it.
(C) 1995 BC Tørrissen