Thursday, 25 June 2009

Amsterdam on High

The first time I visited Amsterdam, I was in my early 20's. A group of us drove there via Rotterdam (don't ask!), in a battered white transit van. We were following our favourite band of the time who were playing at the Paradiso Club. We camped. It was cold. It rained. I had pink hair! We drank lots of beer and indulged in some of the other cultural pursuits of Amsterdam. When in Rome and all that ...

The most shocking thing about that trip for me, was ofcourse the famous red light district. I had long held a romantic notion that beautiful ladies here would waft around in fine silky negligee's seductively peeking out from behind the luxuriously curtained windows of their large and grand homes, or perhaps they would just casually lounge around on plush velvet chaise long's, in bay windows, waiting noncholantly for a bit of passing trade, not that they needed the money....

My eyes were on stalks when I saw the reality! Shop windows, no negligee's, and not enough space to move never mind waft! It's a business, it's busy, it's cutt-hroat, and it's ... well it's what it is. Sex for sale in shop windows. And lots of it!

My second trip to Amsterdam was a few years later. There I am on the right, pregnant with Jimmy. It was a day trip, it was hot, and I was there with British work collegues to meet our Dutch counterparts (that's her there on the left - the others didn't turn up!). It was an altogether more sedate affair, and we spent the day sipping delicious coffee and discussing our bosses before catching a business class flight back to blighty that evening.

This time, my 3rd trip to Amsterdam, the red light area hasn't changed except for the addition of silicone implants, the canals are still there, it was warm and sunny, very very relaxed and I am now very very tired. However, I'm either much more grown up now or i've been lulled into a state of utter paranoia because this time, I found myself busily consternating over the state of European health and safety laws - no barrier between pavement and canal, brakeless bicycles driven by lunatic cyclists on cobbled roads driven over by maniac motorists dodging two way trams - and that's not even considering the perils of getting your bicycle wheel stuck in a tram line! My biggest H&S issue though, was the open urinals on the street which i've never noticed before, but which have been there for a very long time - only in the red light district I hasten to add, but yes, there is one every few yards with apparently no drain to suck everything away, and consequently being downwind of one was somewhat unpleasant to say the least!

Perhaps that's why I spent a great deal of time gazing skyward ..

For when I downloaded my pictures at home, I was amazed to find that I seem to have suddenly developed a roof fetish! This is just a small selection of roof pictures! Very pretty and interesting roof's, they are, and all of them had pulleys' attached to them, we guessed for hoisting furniture through the windows (another h&s issue?).

We did grown up things. We visited the botanical gardens where my companions explored the palmtree roof walk while I bravely stayed on the ground and offered to photograph their expedition.

There was a Darwin exhibition showcasing some of the botanial samples, notes and specimens that he brought back from his far flung adventures, and there were more elevated walkways.

Did I mention that I can't stand on a chair without getting vertigo?

Luckily, the butterfly house was not in the sky. Here are three Julia's in a row.... The orange butterflies and us two ladies on the bench there..

On our way to a museum, we passed Madame Tussaud's. I couldn't resist taking a picture of the doorman! Do you recognise him?

And then my corset fix of the trip. Isn't she lovely? And possibly worn in a window at one time.

Because this exhibit was in the sex museum.


dottycookie said...

I've never been to Amsterdam, and I've always wanted to. All my impressions come from an odd little 80s film called Dutch Girls that starred a very young Colin Firth. Sigh.

dubgirl said...

Wow, loving that pink hair! I've never been to Amsterdam and it is on my list of things to do someday! Hae you ever thought about going back to pink hair? x

Gina said...

Looks like you had a lovely time. I never noticed the urinals when we were there but then I was so agog at the sex shops I probably wouldn't have noticed anything else! I loved Rembrandt's house and the flower market best!

Sue Mobilia said...

I laughed out loud at your fabulous descriptions. Yes don't we all worry more as time goes on? It's a wonder any young people survive to become worriers.

Rengin Yazitas said...

I enjoyed so much to read your post and I laughed a lot for your lovely descriptions:))
I just remembered some old memories from my youth. I didn't have pink hair in the past but I always wore blue nail polishes.
Rengin, in Istanbul

Billie Jane said...

Julia you have just had me screeching out loud!!! why? Well because I lived in Amsterdam for about 6 months in 1975 and my favourite haunt was Club Paradiso... saw loads of really cool bands there too... and I had forgotten all about that... they used to have a really nice fish tank in the basement along with a salad bar and they also had a cinema upstairs where I watched the original Casino Royale for the first time. Ah such memories! Loved your pink the time you were doing that I was having babies and trying to be all conservative! Give yourslef another 10 years and you'll be saying to hang with h&s... lets live dangerously!

Diane said...

Only the Dutch (and perhaps the Germans) would pay hommage to Fred Scuttle!! I love the way you told this story. Don't we change so much without ever realising it. Ive noticed when we have been in France that they have a blatant disregard for health and safety - or have we just gone H&S mad (the latter in my opinion!!) Glad you had a good time. xx

Jo Power said...

I went to Amsterdam some 21 years ago when I was 14 (god am I really that old) however it was by plane and I was picked up by my godmother who lives in the Hauge in Holland so I didn't get to see much of it but would love to go back one day hopefully sooner rather than later. Loved your photo's xx

Anne said...

Ah, your post brought back happy memories of my own visit to Amsterdam. I'd love to go back.

The pulleys are usually for getting pianos in and out of the houses.