Friday, December 28, 2012

PHOTOS | European Christmas 2012 | Amsterdam

On Monday, December 10th, I left Washington, DC and headed for Amsterdam, Holland. This two-week trip was set to include Geneva, Switzerland; Rome, Italy; and Paris, France, before heading back to Amsterdam to return stateside.

On this trip, I took lots of pictures.

Disclaimer: I am a photojournalist at heart, and I take pictures of what I see, so that you can see them. I do not necessarily endorse, partake in nor support the images or actions depicted in the photos displayed on this web log.

My traveling companion, Paige, watching our satellite location on the plane.





We were delayed in DC for hours, and had to connect in Detroit, and then an 8-hour flight to Amsterdam. They left our luggage in Detroit. Of course. Hence the looks on our faces. That's Lynda on the right.



We headed to our hotel, the Marriott Amsterdam.



We ate dinner in the Marriott. Surprisingly, they had "Maryland style lump crab cake" on the menu. I ordered it.



It was a vicious lie.



After dinner, Lynda and I attended the Action Bronson concert at Melkweg, a 9:30 Club-like venue, just a block from the hotel.









Paige was immediately propositioned once we got inside.



I saw a Redskins hat!



Action Bronson is a 320-pound rapper from Queens, New York. And he's good.



He must like Amsterdam because he gets to smoke on stage.





But the crowd wasn't giving him enough energy so he jumped into the audience. And kept rapping.









Then he got back on stage to rap some more. And took Lynda with him.



The shirt she's wearing says it all.



Then, out of nowhere, he flipped Lynda over his shoulder like a caveman. And kept rapping.



He seemed pretty proud of himself. And then he kept rapping. It was awesome.



Back into the audience again. He let people take pictures with him while he rapped.







What a great show. The next morning, we emerged from the hotel to see the smallest car I'd ever seen.



We got breakfast next to this spot called The Bulldog. I'll tell you abou The Bulldog later.



I got Dutch pancakes. Which must just mean teeny tiny miniature pancakes.



The breakfast spot was a bar too, I guess.








Then we went next door to The Bulldog. We heard the free smoking laws in Amsterdam would change soon, and we saw this notice at the front door.



The Bulldog is kind of like a bar, but it's a smoking bar.








Interesting spot. Then we left.



Then we shopped. A lot. Although it doesn't make sense to shop in Europe because our dollar is so weak. So when I say "we shopped", what I mean is "we browsed a lot and only bought items that we couldn't find in America."











Seems like everyone in Amsterdam rides a bike. It really is the way to go.







There were kitschy stores all over.













Amsterdam is very metropolitan. Buses and trams run every 2 minutes. Lots of people were out shopping two weeks before Christmas.



















I kept seeing this brand called Redskins. Of course it caught my eye but has nothing to do with the Washington Redskins. It's a little expensive too.



There's an H and M seemingly on every street.



This plaza looks much cooler than it really is.



Hot waffles are sold everywhere. You get all kinds of toppings and they are so good and sweet.









I found Jelly Bellies!





And other stuff.



Snacks. They love paprika-flavored things, it seems.



There was a skating rink near our hotel. Oops at this frozen shot of the ice skater.



That's better.



There are canals everywhere. Every. Where.









If you want to use the public toilet, you must pay. I didn't see one for more than .50 Euro though.



We went to Hard Rock cafe for dinner.




I got a bunch of Euros at the airport. $100 equals about 71 Euros. But things cost the same as they do in America. Like a $6 value meal at McDonalds is still 6 Euro in Europe. Our dollar is so wack there.



In the souvenir shops, there are lots of shirts like these. Amsterdam must be one naughty place.



We wandered until we found the Red Light District. We weren't sure what we would see, but we recognized it once we arrived. Gone were the clothing and shoe stores.























There were these theaters with men trying to usher you inside. You could pay 40 Euro and watch all kinds of "acts" being performed on stage.










Every street in Amsterdam consists of rowhouses. Like Georgetown or other areas of Washington, DC or New York City, many are residential homes, while others are storefronts. In the Red Light District, the rowhouses are showcases for whores. They stand there in the window, looking pretty, waiting for a trick to come inside and pay them for sex. There are signs to warn you not to take photos everywhere, and someone will run out of the house towards you if they see you taking pictures. [Not sure what would happen, but I didn't want to take the chance.] So I would take pictures from far away, as stealthily as possible.



This is in front of one of the sex theaters, as patrons exited.



We ducked into one of the "coffee shops". The coffee shops in Amsterdam actually do sell coffee, but they also sell weed. They all have special smoking rooms in the back where you can roll and smoke. They have menus for cookies, brownies, etc.








Of course, just like any other street in Amsterdam, each side is separated by a canal. But THIS canal, the one separating a street of whores and porn, was filled with the most beautiful white swans I'd ever seen. I found them in no other canal in Amsterdam.





The next day, we headed to the Anne Frank House/Museum. On the way, we saw this memorial of flowers on a dock, and wondered what it was for. Had someone died there?



No. It was the Homomonument. A literal monument for Homos.



Made it to the Anne Frank House. It was in the attic of this house that she and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II.



As you know, we are not allowed to take pictures inside the house. Let's proceed.



This is a yellow star of David that Jews were forced to wear.



This is an actual page from Anne's diary.



These are the extremely steep steps that lead to the attic of the house, where Anne Frank and her family hid. You have to walk sideways to travel up, otherwise, your foot won't fit on the step.



An excerpt from Anne Frank's diary.



This is what Anne Frank's original diary looked like, before she ran out of space and had to use other paper. You could buy a replica from the gift shop and start your own diary.

 

After the Anne Frank House, I walked. You do a lot of walking in Amsterdam. I don't think we ever traveled more than 3 miles from the hotel. And I took pictures of what I saw.









By the way, it was cold there. Just as cold as it was in Washington, DC, in December, probably 40 degrees or so. I had on three layers of clothes at all times.






This must be why everyone in Amsterdam takes a tram, walks, or rides a bike. Parking is stupid expensive. This says parking is 5 euro per hour, which is like $7/hour for us.



I saw cars you'd never see in the states.



Wanna ride your bike, but have a kid? No problem.





Later, I went to the FOAM photography museum. There was an exhibit featuring the work of New York City photographer Diane Arbus.



I have to say, I didn't get her shots or composition and I was so unimpressed. She photographed seemingly mundane images in the 60s, which, maybe were controversial at the time. Some were drag queens in their dressing rooms. Of course, today they are perfectly boring. There would be a photo of a perfectly ordinary girl standing in the park and it would be titled, "Girl in Central Park." Who gives a shit?







I was more intrigued by this anonymous graffiti on temporary construction at the end of the block.





Later still that day, I went to the Hermitage, one of the Van Gogh museums. This is the entrance. It was raining.





In front of the Hermitage is this oddly-placed but beautiful egg-shaped art.



In the distance, I could see that something lit up the sky, but I couldn't see what it was.



Oh. That's what it was. Although I still don't know what it is, hovering over a canal cruiser.



It seems like a pretty thing for no good reason at all. Which I support.



Next up: Geneva, Switzerland.