Got our stuff together and walked to the nearest bus stop. There was a bus that would take us through to Ghent where our connection to Rotterdam was leaving from. Little did we know that the bus would take a little over 2 hours to do the same distance the train takes 23 minutes to do. We were well in time for our connection, but still twiddling our thumbs after an hour on the bus. We did get to go the very scenic route and saw just how flat Belgium really is out in the countryside too, and guessed that The Netherlands would be much the same. Thats why bicycles are so popular and have right of way over any other traffic because there are so many of them!
Waited for our bus connection and it was an hour late anyway. It eventually got there and I showed the driver our reservation number as he was supposed to have our tickets. His English was particularly poor and I couldn't speak any Slovenian that he was, so there was little of Pam's fists of fury that came out when he said no ticket, no bus ride. I tried to explain we had booked online so wouldn't have the actual tickets. One of the other passengers suggested I go round to Eurolines office and get tickets printed out. I told the bus driver to wait for me, so Pete stayed at the bus while I sprinted round to the bus office, got the tickets, then sprinted back, half expecting Pete to be lying in front of the bus so he wouldn't go without us. Anyway, got back and shoved the tickets in his hand, and told him that even the lady at the ticket office said he should have had our tickets and he was wrong. We were allowed on the bus after that and two and a half hours later arrived in Rotterdam.
Went to Rotterdam tourist info to get directions to the campsite and got the bus up there. The place was just a large open field with a toilet and shower block...all you really need for a couple of nights. Later we walked out to the local supermarket. Food & beer are a little more expensive than Belgium, but still very cheap. We even got a voucher for a free bottle of South African wine from the campsite.
There was a large group of Spaniards who pitched up near out tent. It seemed they were on a camping tour, but decided to have a party that night which lasted til the wee hours of the morning.
After a night of bad sleep I woke up with a huge right eye, almost like I'd been punched, but it wasn't bruised. Made me look a bit freakish, and we figured I either slept funny on it or was bashed by Pete or myself in the night. After a couple of hours it looked pretty normal again. We had some fruit & yoghurt for brekky and I made some cheese spread sarnies, but realised I had nothing to put them in, so ended up eating them too. Got our stuff together & walked to the city centre to get some more info on the city.
Found a walk it yourself city guide. So off on that tour we went and started at the city hall and square. There were some huge red lamp posts that you could move up & down using a computer in the middle of them. Walked down the main shopping area that has a gutter shopping area to join two sides of the main road together underneath it. Found ourselves a gas cooker here, so we can eat hot meals again! Got some gas & a funky salt/pepper/spice shaker too to add some flavour. We then walked down to the harbour museum and along the docks out to the main port area.
The red bull challenge was happening in two days time so that was all being set up. I reckon you wouldn't even get close to the harbour then without a ticket. Rotterdam has Europe's largest harbour port, and some impressive architecture too - very cutting edge and modern. Amazingly we learnt that it had been bombed flat during WWII and spent the following decades rebuilding. Walked back up to the central station. It had been raining all day & got really heavy now so we hopped on a bus back to the campsite.
Had some beer with backgammon, and had to have salad again because of the rain. Will use our new cooker soon! Rotterdam has good modern buildings, but is very much a working city rather than a tourist attraction, so there was nothing more for us to see here.
Next day on a train to Amsterdam we got and got some really nice scenery on the way. Windmills and fields of tulips is what you see in pictures. Wasn't quite like that, but still very pretty. The area between Rotterdam & Amsterdam is some of the most populated in the world and there are loads of small towns that are home to millions of people. So got to Amsterdam after a little over an hour on the train and went in search of tourist info. We found a very unhelpful one that sent in the complete wrong direction to the campsite. Luckily we checked with a local outside the train station and he set us in the right direction. From the minute we arrived I guessed it was quite a tourist trap because you even had to pay 2 euros for the city map. Everywhere else they give them away for free.
On a tram, walked over the bridge and 30 minutes later we had our tent set up at Zeeburg camping ground. It was a campsite aimed a people that wanted to come to Amsterdam to smoke dope. They crammed the tents in so tightly that people were constantly tripping over each others guy ropes. Not the best probably especially when they're all half stoned, and it was also made a bit unpleasant because of all the rain, the ground was a huge mess of mud and puddles. We stayed in Amsterdam for 6 nights of which it rained for 4 days & nights. Sometimes the rain was hard and sometimes it was really hard. It got a little depressing after a while, but when the sun did come out, the place turned into a glorious city with such a vibrant atmosphere.
It was great. First night there we had hot mashed potatoes with frankfurters & tinned tomatoes. Very good to have hot food again, but was very filling after eating nothing but salads! Had a really good nights sleep and next day we decided to see how long it would take to walk into the centre of Amsterdam. Ducking and diving out of shelters with the rain going from drizzle to full on slaughter we eventually got to the city centre after an hour and a bit. At one point we ducked into the museum of infrastructure and entrance was free so had a quick look around. It was so boring we left even though it was still pouring down. As we left Pete said to me "What is Dutch for your museum is rubbish"? I replied "U museume iz kak"! We walked round waterlooplein that had a market with touristy stuff. Anything made out of canabis you could think of. Canabis lollies, insense, gum, tea, seeds, pillows etc etc. The only thing you couldn't get was the actual stuff to smoke. You have to go to the coffee shops for that.
Next walked to Dam square which is centre of the city. Had a couple of beers in Barneys coffee shop whilst watching a load of people buying weed and rolling joints. The new smoking laws forbid you to smoke anything with tobacco inside, but you can still smoke pure joints inside - it seemed a little strange to me. It was interesting to watch. Walked a little more around Amsterdam and then took a tram back to the campsite. On the way back we shared a cone of chips with garlic mayo. I remember watching Pulp Fiction a few years back. Vincent Vega says - you know what they put on french fries in Holland? Mayonnaise. And I don't mean a little bit on the side...they f*ing drown 'em in it. Well funny enough he was right!
Next day headed back into the city and went to a mass read in Latin. It was very different ... and bit too much insense was used (hopefully not canabis scented!). Neither of us understood what was being said. The church was again a very old Gothic style one with amazing sculptures and stained glass windows. After that we had the munchies so went for a coffee & a muffin as a treat. After that we walked around Chinatown area. Some of the restaurants had such funny signs in them, reminded me of being in China! One was 'All welcome, except for dodgy people' and another was '8.50 euros for all you can eat in one hour'. Makes you think if they actually time you or maybe use an egg timer on your table. After an hour you get refused service. How funny! Frustratingly we forgot travel rule no. 1. We left our camera behind and there were all these cool things we saw. Never mind, I get to tell you all about them with my gift of the gab!!!
Later we got a slice of mushroom and capsicum pizza to share, then went shopping for dinner. Back at the campsite we claimed our place for the washing machine as there was a bit of a queue and played some interesting games of backgammon with our own rules made us. Entertained us for several hours while the washing was being done. For dinner we had the most delicious mixture of minced pork with carrots and peas over chunks of potatoes. I love cooking over our new gas stove as I have a bit of a challenge sometimes to think up tasty dishes cooked in two small mess tins. So far so good!
The following day we had ear tagged for sightseeing in Amsterdam. Woke up and it was once again pissing with rain, and was forecast to rain the whole day. This however did not deter us. We were going sightseeing the seedy side of Amsterdam! So undercover in our wet gear we headed out and started in the Sex museum to get a background view. Now if you didn't know, Amsterdam is quite a liberal place and was the first country to legalise prostitution and same sex relationships. It also has very broadminded views on drugs. The canabis coffeeshops and the Red Light district being the main draw cards to the city.
So the sex museum was only 3 euros to get in, and was supposed to give a detailed description of sex through the ages. Instead it was like porn through the ages with a animatronic flasher that accosted you as you walked past and a plastic bum that winked and farted at you as you walked past it. There were various nudey pornographic style photos from when camera's where first created up until more recent. There was a bit on Marilyn Munroe and her many men, and various Viennese erotica. There was even an example of a chastity belt which almost seemed out of place there! There was also a bit of Mati Hari who was the first ever strip tease artist and was shot for being a suspected spy during the world war.
After the museum we headed for the red light district. You even get tours at night you can join! First we had to go through a maze of sex shops, sex cinemas (with private booths...yuck) and more coffeeshops. Eventually found the windows the ladies stand in. We weren't able to take photos outside the booths, but got pictures of the red lights. They have to rent their windows and so it obviously pays off to be a little provocative. Some were opening the doors and stroking the guys as they walked past. It was a very weird thought that people visit these girls. You got such an variety of shapes and sizes too. From your glamour girls through to your big fat mammas! There was something for everyone I guess. Apparently if you have a p****of desire it will set you back around 50 euros for a quickie. Monday morning when we were there was supposed to be the time most Dutch business men would visit as businesses were closed then.
We stopped in at an irish pub for some Irish cheese on toast (cheese mixed with Guinness) for lunch and got ourselves stocked up with portions of tomato sauce & mayo! It was good to get out of the rain and in the warm for a while. After that we walked round to Anne Franks house. A big disappointment. You couldn't even see her house from the outside as it was all built around as a big museum now to preserve it. We didn't fancy paying 8 euros each to queue up for a lady who we frankly knew nothing about! (excuse the pun there?) I know she was a Jewish lady hiding from the Germans during the war who wrote a famous diary. So we got a picture outside and headed back into the city to Rembrandt square to get a picture of 'The Night Watch'. Rembrandts famous painting that another artist had made into sculptures later on. It was good.
Back at the campsite Pete had a little slip and ended up spraining his ankle pretty well. So Dr Pam prescribed a days rest for the injured patient. I went back into the city the following day to gather information on Eurolines to Germany and took that back for us to ponder over. We had an easy day, and by the end Pete was able to walk a bit better. We even had waffles with chocolate on again, prescribed as very good for sick and injured people! Met a couple of Danish girls - Tabita & Carina. We sat talking to them for a while and they kindly offered us a lift into Germany the next day, but we ended up staying in Amsterdam for another night after they left as Pete's ankle was still badly swolen. May well go up to up to Denmark to see them at some point though. We ended up getting a whole load of food from them which kept us fed for a couple of days! Thanks guys!
Headed into town with a partially healed husband the following day and booked some tickets on Eurolines to Koblenz, Germany. We bought a discount card for future travel too, so saved 25% on that. Went to internet cafe after to call mum in S.A. All good there, so went off back to the red light district to see what it looked like when it was sunny. Yes it was sunny today. The first sunny day in nearly two weeks! Most of the girls in windows were hanging around outside the windows so you could see the goods properly I suppose. After that we went to the supermarket for supplies, then chilled out the rest of the day.
We have an early start tomorrow, off to Koblenz in Germany, which is along the Mosel river. Supposed to be a really beautiful area that grows mainly Riesling wines. Will tell you all about in my next session of verbal diarrohea! Amsterdam has been an eye opener. There are things you can do here legally that you can't even think about doing in some other countries...canabis, sex & crazy cyclists. Its been a place we will never forget.
P.S Don't have time to add photos from last 3 entries now, but will add asap as there are loads of great ones!