A Partner in Crime

20 06 2007

June 4th, 2007

Today I was joined on this epic foolishness by my friend Gerry, who flew into Amsterdam from Singapore a couple of days earlier. We’d arranged the time and place well in advance (thanks Google Maps), and we both managed to find the place – Boxmeer train station – at more-or-less the agreed time. I had quite a frustrating time trying to find a sane route to the station – every time I got onto a decent road leading to Boxmeer, I was foiled by a sign declaring ‘No Bicycles’ – I wound up having to snake my way through dozens of suburban developments (and use a ferry-crossing) in a very round-about way, finally arriving at the station about 30 minutes late. Thankfully Gerry had similar issues, so we both arrived within five minutes of each other. My love affair with Holland’s cycling paths having soured considerably, we were happy to be on our way.

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When we decided to call it quits for the day, we found ourselves a campsite at the very aptly named “Camping de Weerd”, then headed into town. We found a beautiful big church – in front of which was a travelling carnival in full swing:

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Lots of noise booming out of the various rides and attractions, with the loudest by far being the mighty ‘Body Shake’, parked right in front of the restaurant area – guaranteeing a chat-free mealtime. We couldn’t help noticing that the painted couple featured on the ‘art’ for the ride were more than a little busy:

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Ahh, the Dutch – you’ve got to love them. They sure do.

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Amsterdam

20 06 2007

June 3rd, 2007

Jumping back to chronological order – We (Simon, Debbie & I) decided to leave the bikes at home today, and catch a train to Amsterdam for a bit of sightseeing.

Shortly after arriving, Simon and I opted for a little ‘mystery treat’ – some species of fried thing we extracted from a wall of mini-ovens in the train station. It tasted pretty good actually, but I’d really rather not know what it was…

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What a city! SOOOO many bikes, I really just couldn’t quite believe it – they’re literally locked to every available inch of the endless canal railings, as far as you can see in any direction. Absolute bicycle nirvana – though I will say the bikes themselves are not the kind of bikes I’m really familiar with. Dutch bikes are an interesting breed – a bit like the Japanese ‘mama-chari’ (domestic bike), but with different DNA, and some very strange personalities. And all of them had enormously heavy chain locks and D-locks that must have been more valuable than the bikes themselves – an unfortunate necessity in this city. How anyone ever finds their ride amongst the chaotic mass is beyond me, though the colourful customizations may be of some help…

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This is Amsterdam station ‘bike rack’. Yes, really.

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Useful for getting mates home after a hard day’s night:

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Lunch and more…

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Sorry Dave – didn’t buy.

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Amsterdam has a lot of character, a lot of very crooked buildings, some rather interesting ‘coffee shops’, and for me, a huge amount of charm. Not one normal person to be spotted anywhere – I’m definitely coming back some day, when I have a little more time to explore and appreciate everything Amsterdam has to offer. Well, maybe not *everything*…