Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Greetings from Obenbare Bibliotheek, Amsterdam!!


Yes I AM still alive and it's high time I wrote a post. As you might have guessed, I'm writing to you from the main library in Amsterdam, where me and my fella are currently on our hols. Finally I've had a chance to find a computer and access the net (by the time I get home I should have proper internet access there but it STILL wasn't working before I'd left...God, I've got an axe to grind with certain internet providers...) The library itself is pretty amazing - a relatively new construction which is very modern and spacious inside and close to the Centraal Station, in the centre of the city. As I write this I'm looking over into a large atrium with these funky mobile nuclei things hanging from the ceiling (I could be inside the Dr's brain in "The Invisible Enemy"). Very cool! What's even better is that computer/internet usage here is absolutely free and for as long as you want, so I'm taking advantage of it...why can't us Brits offer the same in our libraries, eh??

Me and Gustavo have had a good time here so far, although I'm pretty shocked at how expensive everything is thanks to the Euro (and the Recession of course...) Shopping and going out here have proved to be a pretty pricey business...So we're going to have to have a few ultra-cheap days that don't involve spending dosh; actually a lot harder than it sounds! So far we've been to:

The Red Light District - has to be done, even if you're not looking for the obvious thing ... the prostitutes in the shop windows are an "interesting" bunch, but it has to be said, not exactly what you'd call attractive. Most of them resemble old Mums or Grannies that have tarted themselves up to the nines and aren't wearing very much. I suspect the Recession and its resultant lack of cash may have had a lot to do with it, but many of the laaaaydeeeees me and Gustavo passed seemed a very desperate, not to say, less than aware bunch - as soon as we caught the eye of one the women, she'd start playing with / jiggling her boobies, or make "suggestive'" expressions with her tongue in an attempt to entice us...obviously the poor dears didn't recognise a pair of poofters when they saw them ... or maybe they did and were making do. Funny, but ultimately rather sad. And why are there no men "on display"? I feel hard done by ... Whilst in the Red Light area we also visited the Erotic Museum. Trashy for sure, but with some fun exhibits on view. When you walk through the entrance, you're immediately greeted with the sight of a Dutch lady in traditional regalia on a bike, with an, erm, dildo moving in and out of her privates. Nice! I did take some pics and may have to post them up here later, well, if you really want to see them ...

The Van Gogh Museum - the polar opposite of the Red Light District - obviously. This was my third visit here (I've now been to Amsterdam some 7-8 times so am getting to know the city pretty well). I guess visting the Van Gogh is a bit old hat and I probably wouldn't do it again but it's still worth a visit (and this is Gustavo's first ever visit here so I thought we should go...) Van Gogh's style is pretty diverse - there's the brighter, more colourful pictures like the infamous Sunflowers portrait and other self-portraits by the man himself; then there's the "doomy" and more depressing paintings such as the potato eaters and shots of farmhouses - admittedly still pretty powerful but not really stuff I'd want to hang on my lounge wall (I might end up doing a Van Gogh and lopping off an ear...)

The Vondelpaark - Amsterdam's main park which stretches on and on with lots of nice bits by ponds, cafes and plenty of room for cyclists. Oh and there's also a gay cruising area in the flowerbeds (not that I needed to go there, just thought I'd mention it...) Me and Gustavo spent one afternoon there when it was sunny - weather is pretty sh*tty today though! Booo!!

Kinselmeer and Holysloot - two small places on the Dutch coast - don't you just love the names - by bicycle no less! My Dad (who we are staying with) is a major cycling fanatic (his flat actually resembles a bike shop and his idea of heaven is making bikes from scratch - clever guy!!) and he took us on a trip to the aforementioned places. Must have taken us about five hours so good exercise all round and we passed through some lovely scenic places with some very cute Dutch houses. And the fact the land is so flat round here makes cycling soooo much easier. Gustavo was knackered afterwards though, probably due to the fact that he hasn't cycled for nearly 10 years. Mmm, a five hour expedition was maybe not the best idea!!

The Waterlooplein - an area in Amsterdam with a largish fleamarket, selling lots of cheap clothes, shoes, CDs etc - rather like Camden in London with bargains to be had! Just been there and picked up some nice sneakers.

Later on in the week we're planning on "doing" the Gay scene properly - I've been out here many times on previous visits, but there's loads of good bars and clubs and I look forward to showing them all to Gustavo. There's kind of 3 main gay areas in the city, one of which is the Reguliersdwarsstraat (try and pronounce that one, cos I can't - the Dutch language is strange, for sure). As luck would have it, this street is about 10 minutes' walk from my Dad's house. Yay!

So that's about it for my Dutch adventures so far. More anon. And I didn't actually mention how much I really do love Amsterdam - it's a fab city which manages to be vibrant, thriving, chilled, cultured, sleazy, diverse and open-minded all in one go. If you've never had the good fortune to visit, then DO!!

Quick quiz for you. As I said, the Dutch language contains many weird and wonderful words, with lots or "rrrrr" and "oooo" sounds. Two of my favourite Dutch words I discovered are: "Slagroom" and "Prikweg". These are actually describing something entirely different to what you might expect. Which of you knows what these words really mean?? Answers on a comment, please...

One other bit of news to impart: I am now the official owner of a car! I bought myself a Ford Focus - 2000 model (so not brand new, but who cares) it's metallic blue and is a very nice little mover indeed. I've got to say the combined costs of car insurance, MOT, road tax and etc are steep, but I'm thinking about the benefits...hooray! I hope it's still there when I get home...

Well I best shoot off now (no, I'm not going to the Red Light area, erm, yes, how tasteless) but trust all is well at your end and you're having a decent Summer...

Byzie bye ...
OC xxx