The last few days have been great, but I’ve slowed down a little bit. Staying up late, drinking beer with new friends, then getting up early to see new places has started to catch up with me.
On my way out of Brugge, I stopped in Antwerp to have lunch with a friend I met last winter in Thailand. The next day was spent in Eindhoven, with a friend I’d just met in Brugge. It felt really nice to spend a couple days not feeling so much like I was traveling. Getting to slow down and have lunch and some great conversation was the first I’ve done anything ‘normal’ feeling in about a month.
I continued on to Amsterdam for a couple days. To be honest, I think my knowledge of Amsterdam prior to going was that they have the red light district. I got in late in the evening, so I decided I’d go down there and check it out. First thing that sticks out is the coffee shops (why don’t they just call them weed shops?) throughout the city. I got into the red light district a little early in the evening…some people were out, but it didn’t feel a lot different than an area with a bunch of bars in any other city. I wandered aimlessly for a bit, and about an hour later ended up back there…and my how things had changed. Neon red lights were switched on above glass doors, scattered along the main streets, and lining the alleyways, which added to the already sketchy feeling of a dark alley.
And then there were all the people…anyone you could imagine…
Large groups of 20 something year old guys, some combination of drunk and high, daring each other to take a couple minute detour from the alley, and emptily promising each other they would later in the evening.
Couples, with some of the girls far more jealous than others. Some walked around casually, seeing the situation as you’d expect them to when they’d voluntarily entered. Others sped through, the girl keeping one eye on her guy, the guy wearing virtual blinders, knowing he’d be slapped if his gaze strayed anywhere from straight ahead.
Lone men, wandering the alleys, maybe on every creeper’s dream vacation, or maybe just passing through on a motorcycle.
Kids, strolling around with their parents…I find it strange when parents have kids out late at night…but bringing them to the red light district takes that to a whole new level. I don’t know at what exact age it would be acceptable for a person to come here, but I do know that it’s somewhere north of 4.
Anyway, a couple pictures of Amsterdam during the day…cameras are frowned upon at night…
On my way to Amsterdam, I stopped and saw this functional piece of art…Moses Bridge. Rather than being above the water, this bridge cuts through it, with the water surface just below the railings. Really neat to see, but it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere.
Another interesting “bridge” in The Netherlands was Houtribdijk. It’s 27km long dike built between 1963 and 1975, and its just wide enough to have a road going it’s entire length. To allow boat traffic to pass, there’s a bridge at the SE end, and a naviduct (basically a bridge for boats) at the NW end. A naviduct seems like much more of a hassle to build and maintain, but if nothing else, I guess it’s neat to drive under a suspended river.
Clearly, these are not my pictures, I couldn’t get helicopter rotors installed in time before starting my trip.
In other news, I was planning to get a Canon G15. I have the G7 and have loved it, and after 6 years of abuse, I’m not surprised that it’s acting up. For the last couple days, though, I haven’t had any issues, so I’m going to hold off on spending money on a new one for now. In the meantime, if any camera folks out there have any thoughts on this or other options, I’d love some advice. I like the idea of something kind of in between point and shoot and DSLR.
There is actually a good reason they call them coffee shops and not weed shops. It’s because it’s still technically illegal. The government just doesn’t enforce the laws, as long as businesses and people follow some “guidelines.” I’ve not been there, but it’s my understanding that the businesses can’t explicitly advertise or post pricing and customers must initiate and ask to see a menu. This explains why they still retain the word coffee shop. It’s an interesting issue, and I’d recommend looking into it.
Ah, makes sense, I guess. But I find it kind of strange that there’s a law in place that isn’t ever enforced…seems like the only reason for this would be for the government to be able to spring it on someone unexpectedly.
On to my next question…what’s the purpose of an engine with two crankshafts and two pistons sharing one cylinder? Get on it Salsman!
I believe they maintain the laws for trade purposes. The United States and possibly other countries wouldn’t favor trade with a country that has legalized several drugs. It is also for this reason that the government does periodically enforce the laws just to show that it is still illegal.
As far as the engine goes, I think the purpose would be to convert gasoline or some other energy source into motion to propel some object forward in space. The non-smartass answer is that I don’t have any idea, possibly to increase power or efficiency in a smaller space? Did you see this on an old motorcycle or something?
The engine I saw was in a museum, it was from a plane.
I just looked a little bit, and it looks like they were supposedly a bit more efficient as a two stroke engine (compared to a conventional two stroke), but didn’t really have any benefit as a four stroke