Day 4 – Amsterdam via White Cliffs of Dover, Calais and Belgium

Left this morning from the Royal National Hotel at 6.45am. George kindly dropped us off. Our tour manager Meche (Mecca) gave us our intro talk on the way to Dover. Saw the white cliffs of Dover on the ferry to Calais. Met some American girls who are on our tour, they are from Sacramento. I heard a girl behind me on the bus mention Albury and it turns out we went to the same high school and she graduated the year after me.

Got to Amsterdam and checked into our dingy looking hotel. For the man and I it was actually pretty decent, big enough room, nice comfy double bed, plasma tv and an ensuite. Apparently everyone else’s rooms were very average*. We didn’t even know until we were raving about how surprisingly good our room was. After dinner at the hotel (also average) we headed out into town. Meche explained the difference between coffee shops and regular cafes. For those who don’t know, in Amsterdam coffee shops sell special cakes.

We stopped off at the Grasshopper – a coffee shop and went in and had a look. The smell of pot was very strong. But unfamiliar to me. Some people bought some joints and cakes and stuff but you had to smoke them at the place. Then went for a walk through the red light district which was interesting to say the least. After that we went to a bar but I was wrecked, I could hardly keep my eyes open so when Meche and Rocket (our driver) said they were heading back we went too (along with most of the group). We caught a tram back and it was a terrifying trip, about double the speed of our trams and they don’t slow down – they just stop.

Our comfy bed was great! Got up had average breckie and headed out to Edam for our relaxing bike ride around the canals. The bikes were crazy as was our hilarious dutch guide Claudia. She called the bikes granny bikes because of the massive handlebars. The bikes were back pedal brakes and she told us about some groups ending up in the canal. I could see that happening what with 40 people on these bikes and cars all over the place. After the ride we drove down to a cheese and clogs place where they had a demonstration about how gouda cheese and clogs were made. Bought some awesome cheese.

After we came back we were dropped off for a free afternoon in Amsterdam. We went and checked out Anne Frank’s house which was cool to see. Lots of steep staircases. There was a long queue to get in and we got talking to Taryn from Albs and Erin & Mel who have all moved over to the UK and are doing this tour before settling down to find work in London. We were commenting on the number of crazy dutch people on bikes when a big bearded guy on a bike came roaring up singing at the top of his lungs in dutch. When he got to the queue everyone scattered and was trying to move out of his way but there were too many people so mid-song he screamed ‘SHIT’ and hit the brakes. He pedalled off singing again while everyone else just cacked themselves. Funny stuff.

After Anne Frank we messaged the man’s friend Muz who was in Amsterdam at the moment as well. We knew that because he’d called us a few days before in a rather giggly state. So we met up with him which was great – its awesome seeing a familiar face! We went and had a beer and some chips and mayonnaise which is a choice food in Amsterdam. See that ‘choice’ – we have been hanging out with too many New Zealanders. Everything is ‘choice’ and ‘hey’..and if they are making fun of themselves -‘cuz’. Muz took us for a walk around to find another drinking spot. Basically you pick a laneway and end up in a pub. He took us through a museum on the way and also a little courtyard thing with all these little picture blocks that used to be used like an address to identify a house. They were pretty cool. Also amazing are the way houses lean! Some forward and back and sideways.

We ended up sinking witbiers in a square, good beer. By the time we looked at our watch we realised we had 12 minutes to get to the boat for our canal cruise – on the other side of the CBD. In a mad panic we left at a quick walk, power walk, slow trot, run and then sprint. We left Muz for the last part of our sprint. We arrived to see everyone sitting around and not even Meche had arrived yet. It took me a long time to get my breath back. The cruise was really good and we started hanging out with Kara and Paul from NZ. After we went to the Chinese Sea Palace for a banquet dinner which was pretty good. Or the Chin Sea Palace as the sign says. Its a floating Chinese style palace. After dinner we went to a bar with other tour groups. A weird bar where the bartenders didn’t know how to make nice shots. The man bought sambuca shots. Bad the man! We then walked around the city for about two hours before getting a taxi back to the hotel.

The driver said he knew where our hotel was which was good, but then five minutes later he goes ‘we go to Rotterdam yes’ and we all shouted ‘NO!’ we freaked out and then the guy literally cackled and Paul worked out he was taking the piss. While we were stopped traffic I glanced down the road to see a very white male arse next to a taxi a bit further up the road. We were giggling at that until the guy turned around and we all stopped and go ‘…is that…is that Meche’. The guy then took off down the street and then came back after the run. When he got back to the taxi the man got out and yelled ‘MECHE….MECHE!!!!’ – who then froze like a deer in the headlights. His taxi took off and our driver started chasing it! He only just beat us back to the hotel where we gave him heaps.

Went to bed, woke up. Had very average brecky then jumped on the bus to Berlin. Meche got ‘dick of the day’ for his nudie run. People can nominate you for saying or doing stupid things. Means you have to wear a jesters hat all day. On another tour a girl got DOD because she didn’t know Mozart was dead. Everyone thought that was hilarious. Then I heard a girl on our bus go ‘oh is he!’ Far out.

– Jen

* Very average in my posts means really..REALLY bad.

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