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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And so it Begins...

The date was February 13, 2011 and Braden was sick.  Perfect.  Well, in any case we needed to get over to the Erfurt Hbf and fast in order to catch the train with the least amount of connections to Amsterdam...but we had just enough time to do Farmville :) Except, Braden thought we didn't and ended up running around and throwing a tantrum, so we left.

Things we forgot:

My 4GB Memory Stick...I'm stuck with the 1GB (but I have my exteral hard drive)

Rain Jacket (predictions of rain for that day in Amsterdam)
Nook Light

I think we did pretty good!  We got onto the strassenbahn (street tram) and made our way to Hbf.  I was about to stamp my ticket for the train when a woman jumped up from her seat and said that I didn't need to stamp mine because she had a month pass good for two people.  Also, I'd never been checked in Erfurt, so I thought it'd be fine. And then...lo and behold...we were checked, and the Kontroliers checked her ticket and said that all was well!  She then preceded to talk with us the rest of the ride and said that our German was very good.  I love when they lie to me like that.  She was a wonderful way to say goodbye to Thuringen and Germany.

Then we hopped onto the train after getting our tickets stamped and rode to Frankfurt (which, as you all know is my least favorite city in Germany).  We got there just fine, and while there had some fruit and Starbucks and McDonald's.  Finally, after some reservation confusion on the train to Amsterdam, we had our seats (with a table!) and we were really on our way.  We played go fish, 20 questions, old maid, etc and listened to some Gaga and four hours later arrived in Amsterdam!!

While on the train going through the Netherlands, we noticed something we thought to be only a myth...the country really is flooding...there is water everywhere and we were amazed to see all sorts of flooded things: roofs, playgrounds, parking lots, boats, really anything you can think of that can retain water, was.  It's because about 30% of the country is below sea level and they are constantly having to build dykes and such to guide the water toward the ocean and off their land.  The things you learn...

When we first arrived at Centraal Station, the first thing that comes to mind is water.  Amsterdam is filled with water.  Take time to look at this Google map of the city, and you'll see it is filled with canals:


On the map it looks confusing, but in real life it is even worse (but 10x more beautiful).

We wandered around for a while before we found our Christian hostel "Shelter City".  It feels very safe here and we like it very much.  After unloading we started to walk around the city aimlessly until we decided we might as well start the Hard Rock tour of Europe off with going to one right off the bat. In order to get to this Hard Rock, we needed to go through the infamous Red Light District.  Our hostel is right in the heart of it, but the more we walked around the more interesting it became.  It is amazing what is allowed to be displayed!

It's all very different from home, but also something that is fun to experience. It was not the easiest to find, but I think I did a pretty good job only having glanced at it on the map before we went searching for it.

Upon arrival we found we'd have to wait for a while, which was fine.  We sat at the bar and relaxed after a lot of walking.  When we got a table the service wasn't great, but the food and drink (as usual) was very good.  After getting my Hurricane glass we headed home, totally wiped out.

We left the Hard Rock and saw a King Charels spaniel that looked just like Isabella.  I was then informed on the lore involving a thumb print...pretty interesting stuff.  Braden also managed to find owl figurines in a store window.  He never ceases to amaze me.  We made it back safely to the hostel (Braden really needed to go to the bathroom), showered up, and went to bed.

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