March 2005: As part of a larger 10-day trip to the middle east, I visited Amsterdam and Haarlem on a multi-day stop-over. it was easy to get around by train, on foot and by bicycle. In Haarlem, I rented a bicycle and rode it along bike paths near the ocean. In Amsterdam, I took a canal boat cruise, visited the Anne Frank Museum, a young Jewish girl in WWII made famous from her letters she wrote. The museum is located in the home where she was hidden by her neighbor from the Nazis until she eventually was captured and died in an extermination camp. I also had to see the marijuana cafes, but it isn’t my thing, so I didn’t try any. Lastly, visiting the famous Amsterdam red Light District to see all of the small booths where sex workers are sitting in the window hoping to attract business is a must see for any visitor. The casualness of prostitution there is shocking. Amsterdam on the most part is very gritty, and interesting because it was one of the first cities to flaunt the vices so taboo everywhere else in the world.




While I was in Amsterdam, it was freezing and there was snow on the ground, an occurrence I learned is extremely rare. It is also one of the most bicycled big cities I have ever been to, and bicycles are commonly used by Dutch people to get around.



Canal in Amsterdam

Me with a random wooden statue of an alien looking man

Because somany people were urinating in public in the open and in the canals, these street urinals were set up to provide just a shred of privacy and sanitation. 

One of the canals with snow covering the cars and sidewalks  

One of the streets calk full of marijuana cafes, legalin Amsterdam long before they were anywhere else

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