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February 2008
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April 2008

AMSTERDAM - MARCH 08

AMSTERDAM: 

Must be 18 years or older to read this edition!


Land of flowers:


wooden shoes:



bicycles:



tall people, hookers, and pot!

Whew….where do I begin?  What a beautiful sweet little city with a raunchy side that rivals no other.  Did you know that cannabis, marijuana, pot, hooka, whatever your generation calls IS LEGAL!   You can buy it (as long as you are over 18 and it can not exceed 5 grams) so there are hundreds of  “coffee” houses/shops where people buy it and openly sit and smoke it. 


Just walk by and the smell tickles your nose!   
And for those of you wondering.......no, we DID not smoke any!

What else is legal in Amsterdam ?  Prostitution.  I tried to take a photo in the “red light district”, but photos are NOT allowed and you can get into a lot of trouble for taking them.  Most are in the major tourist section.  It is a network of alleys containing several hundred tiny one-room apartments rented by female prostitutes (and some ladyboys – you do the math) who offer their services from behind a window or glass door.  Most of the girls are very cute and skinny with flat 18 yr old tummies on them.  There were very few “ big boobed American types”.

The red lights run along the side and tops of the windows and the women stand in the windows.  When the lights are on, they are open for business.  When a man goes in, they close the curtain.  We stood in one area for about 15 minutes and we saw four men entered various rooms and saw one come out.  He was very happy.  The rooms looked clean (we’ll at least from our vantage point), almost clinical and they constantly wipe their windows.


This photo is not a good one of the two of us, but the background captures the city so well, the red lights and the silhouette of the man. 
I could write the entire blog on this subject, but as my mother-in-law would say -  move on. 

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands .  It is a city built on canals.  The canals are all beautiful and picturesque.  Our hotel was a 300 year old canal home.
 



It was at the end of this canal on the left (close to the bridge).


This was the view looking out our bedroom window.  The rooms were filled with antiques and each morning our breakfast was brought to us on a try with nice china.  The two men who ran it were so friendly and went out of their way to help Donald print a few copies of a work document.

Work report – Donald really worked this trip.  A LOT !  All day Sunday – Friday, with three evening dinner events.  I did go to one dinner with him and we managed to squeeze in pomme frites and capture our traditional frites photo!


So the pictures you are seeing of Amsterdam are Cathy’s Amsterdam vacation!  I spent a lot of time just wandering around the canals.  It was so peaceful.


I went to the Van Gogh Museum where I saw the famous bedroom in Arles painting.http://www3.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp
There was a very interesting artist on view, John Everett Millais (1829-1896) Britain ’s most successful artist of the latter half of the 19th century.  You might know his most famous piece Ophelia http://www3.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?page=127004&lang=en. I also visited the Willet Holthuysen Museum , a 17th century canal home that is fully furnished:  http://www.willetholthuysen.nl/.

And always very important finding the perfect BEAD shop!  This was one of the best I have ever been in.  And the very best part of my visit – Donald was not there so I could say as-long-as-I wanted to!  He had many old beads on display, and the owner told me many interesting facts about lost of the beads…..so technically it was a museum.

This was in the main square.....birds everywhere.



The funnier photo would have been of me - trying to keep the birds off of my head while I took the photo of him.  They were flying all over everyone......gross!

It is hard to describe how many bicycles are in Amsterdam.  They say there are more bicycles than people, and more bicycles per capita than any other European country.  They actually have a bicycle parking problem.
There isn't enough space on the streets and sidewalks to put them. The theft rate of bicycles is extremely high so most of them are very old and beat up.  They use big locks and secure them to all kinds of odd fixtures; anything that is cemented to the ground or bolted to a building is fair game. They have bike racks around town, but they are all filled to capacity. The scene in front of the train  stations is especially amazing; hundreds and hundreds of bikes chained to the racks, railings, sign posts, each other. 
Here a man is giving his small child a ride.

You really have to watch out for the bikes as they have the right-of-way (or at least they think they do) and they will ring their bell at you and THEN run you over!


There are many bikes with "fun" personalities.




We had a celebrity sighting - Brian Adams, rocker from the 80's.  We were in the hotel lobby where most of Donald's co-worked were staying.  As soon as I saw him I told D that's Brian Adams.  Sure enough, he answered his cell phone this is Brian.  He had a small entourage with him.  He knew that I knew who he was as he kept smiling at me.  He did make the comment - "what's with all these tall people in Amsterdam.  Makes me look really short!"  We all laughed...it was my "moment" with fame.  I did look him up and he had a show that night........guess he is trying to make a come back.  For those of you trying to remember who he is...he sang cuts like a knife and summer of 69.  Was not bold enough to take a photo.

 


and to end this blog  - one of my favorite photos of the trip.

First part of April:  Cairo Egypt!  Now that will be a cool blog!





SPECIAL EDITION - BODY PAINTING CONTEST - MARCH 08

Please keep in mind this is ART.

This weekend was the 26th Annual Fantasy Film Festival in Brussels and one of the exhabits was a body painting contest. 

K

For a small fee, you were allowed to enter the artist workshop area and watch them paint.....and take photos.  We took over 450 photos between the two cameras.  When we were allowed in, they were already partially painted/covered.  The painting went on for approx. 2 hours.  It was facinating to watch.  After a short break, the contest began.  The contest/show was equally as interesting because each "paintee" did a little skit with music.  Some danced, some did comedy, one sang.  It was a difficult task to narrow our photos down to a select few......but here goes.  Oh yeah, we decided that, next year, we will enter the contest.  Donald will paint and I will, well uh, ummmmmmmm select a women for him to paint  :  ).  Enjoy!


This artist was last year's winner. 
He did not compete in 2008, but did a special exhibit and was in the lobby entrance.

1a_2  1e_3

This was the 2008 winner.  The details were amazing and her contest act was very animated.

2c_2  2a_2
2f
One of our favorites, the music fairy. 
She danced to Madonna's Take a Bow.

V1
V4_2 V3

S2 S3
This is another of our favorites, the painting was beautiful and showed so well on stage.
P2 P5

P7

Front......

K4_2

and back
K5
3a
3f
3h
 
F2 F1





Most of the artist were females and were fairly young.
D2 D3

K1





E2










4c Q5
M1