Today was a day of good and bad. Amsterdam is beautiful and there are amazing things to see, but its not called the city of sin for nothing... i got pick-pocketed! Luckily I took the advice off all the travel books and kept things in multiple places, so all I lost was about $150 american, my US medical insurance card, and my california drivers license. all replaceable.
But... this city is amazing, there is so much to see! Our cute hostel had free breakfast, then we headed out. We took a FREE (!) 3 hour walking tour of the city, which took us through all the different parts of the city and told us the history too. We saw a bit of the red light district, with women standing in windows looking for customers, even at 11am! And there are amazing churches even in the middle of the red light district. The tour guide pointed out how a lot of the buildings are crooked, cause they were built on man-made islands and they are sinking, basically. We saw the famous 'coffee' shops and a carnival with some rides that you couldnt pay nina or I to ride. We learned that XXX is actually a historical symbol for the city of Amsterdam from back in the trade days, and its just ironic that its the symbol for the porn industry today. After the tour, we had coffee sitting outside next to a canal, across from Anne Franks house. The coffee in Europe is sooo good!
For a little culture, we hit up the Rijkmuseum, which had original Rembrandts and Veermers. Then we went on a mission to find a brewery in a windmill we heard about, and after taking 2 trains (1 in the wrong direction), and walking through parks where we almost got killed by bicyclists, we never found it. You would think a large windmill would be hard to miss! Instead we ate pancakes for dinner. Yum.
We went back to Leidseplein square during the night for a beer. As we sat outside enjoying a Heineken (an Amsterdam beer), we met 2 local girls who told us that they loved the US, based on what they saw on the OC. Great. Then they took us to a local students hangout, Bubbels. It was a dance club just like in America, except the odd mixture of Dutch music, hip-hop, and music from the musical Grease. Strange culture here in Amsterdam!