Monday, June 9, 2014

Karl's European Vacation: RED LIGHT DISTRICT & BIKES

Okay, there isn't much Red Light action in this post.  I totally understand if you pull the chute and go check out cat pictures. 

I wandered around Amsterdam on the hop on hop off bus and wound up in the Red Light District.  Awwww yeah.  At 3:00 pm on a Sunday.  Awwww no.  I was expecting to see hoardes of naked ladies in the store windows, and all I saw was one lady in the window, wearing some underwear, sitting in a chair and texting.  Then I saw another in the next window.  Were they on break?  Were they texting each other?  If I want to see people inappropriately dressed and texting in a public place, I will visit Wal-Mart in the summertime thank you very much.

The Red Light District is only a couple of blocks, but it's the place that gets all the attention.  There were about 70 dudes walking along, all with Heineken beer cans and huge eyeballs.  They looked like they all belonged to the same army regiment or something. They stood around for about 10 minutes and finally went into a peep show.  Seeing a military guy giggling like a schoolgirl is a little disconcerting, although I knew that XXX LADIES wasn't going to be invaded by Iran in the next hour. 

I got back to the apartment after my 8 hours of hopping on and off the bus.  I then got a text from a couple of friends of mine who were in town but leaving the next day.  Natasha and Rory were in town.  Let's go to dinner.  What's that I hear?  The party alarm?  Awwww yeah.  I got on the old 21 Bus into Centraal and stood on a streetcorner like a male prostitute checking my iPod.  People were probably thinking "if you want to flaunt your body and check your phone, you need to go 5 blocks over."  P.S. I'm not flaunting, I am just ripped from hopping on and off a bus.

Natasha and Rory had both rented bicycles for the day-- they were incredibly bright green.  The bikes were so green that I saw a guy literally stop walking, whip out his camera and take a picture.  The tourists were taking pictures of other tourists.  We had a great dinner at one of the local pubs and suddenly it was one in the morning.

Since my apartment was 4 km away, the group decision was made to ride the bikes back to my place.  Fun fact: lots of girls in Amsterdam just cross their legs and sit on the back while the guy does all the pedalling.  You know the back shelf on the bike-- the one where the pencil case usually gets strapped in?  There are humans back there in Amsterdam.  No one is even holding on to the guy!  I guess the trick for the girls is to cross the legs and work on their core for ten years leading up to the bike ride.

We took off through the deserted streets of Amsterdam, weaving by people and ringing our bells with authority.  Bright green bikes coming through, people!  Natasha was on the front of the rental bike, because the rinky dinky shelf was on the front (was it safer)?  Rory was pedaling and gaining momentum.  I offered advice: if you go headfirst into the canal, Cross the legs. Two drunk German girls blew past us on bikes-- even drunk German women are pounding it out in fifth gear at 30 km/h.  

Near the outskirts of Haarlem, where my apartment is, the bike path ends.  I did NOT know this.  I was leading the parade, bombing along and feeling the night air in my hair.  Glorious!  Followed by "cla clunk" as the wheels are now bumping along a dirt path.  Uh oh.  How to warn Rory?  I wasn't sure.  I kept pedalling like a coward.

It all worked out--about ten seconds later I heard a high-pitched yelp as Natasha went flying off the bike.  It was pretty dark so I cannot confirm it, but her legs were probably crossed.  A shadow emerged from the weeds.  She was alive!  I felt bad about stealing their bike and her winding up face down in the dirten bikenpath, but we had a mission to complete.  We got me safe and sound back to Doggerstraat and everything was Hunken Duunken.  I highly recommend checking out Amsterdam by bike-- it's fun, healthy AND dangerous!