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.