Monday, November 19, 2012

My Amsterdam: Beyond the smoke and red lights

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I'd say it is beyond its stereotypes.  Amsterdam’s real jewels are its streets and the people, something left untouched by the travelers who pass through it every year.  The city was always presented to me as the world's ultimate sin city.  When our HR manager was working on my Schengen visa he asked me what cities I am going to visit and his eyes lit up when I mentioned Amsterdam as though images of narrow windows and smokey shops appeared in front of him.  It's kind of frustrating that after all this time most people only see that small "seedy" part of the city.  When I made the itinerary for this trip I knew that it was more than the prostitute-ridden lanes and coffee shops, I discovered there was more to behold in this Dutch capital.  

After our museum tour and a jolted afternoon at our stop at the Heineken Experience, we took a quick shower back at the hotel.  Without wasting time, we continued our city tour.  We went to the Heineken brand store, took our time souvenir shopping along the flower market. 
I am!

A good way to orient yourself to the city is with a walking tour. You’ll learn some history and be able to see where all these windy canal streets take you.  After that one busy boozed up morning, we had a change of clothes as we hurriedly headed back to the street to do some more exploring.  

Lift. Automatic.
I am!
For Apple
Tinalo pa ako ng bata
Eh di kayo na!
Makaupo na nga lang dito. =)
Go figure!
Waiting for the tram
And more!
Love this!
Magic Mushrooms!
TOYS! hahaha!
Refillable RIBS pa, BONA? =)
On our way to the RLD
Red Light District - I was certainly intrigued and excited to check out this infamous district. I like the filth, the grime, the passionate surprises, and I really like things that challenge my way of thinking – so I had high hopes. From the Central Station, it was a short walk going to the RLD. Have you ever wondered why it's called Red light district in the first place? Why not Yellow? (maisingit lang yung favorite color nya eh no.) I bumped into some site and here's the answer on my question about the term's origin.

Origin:The phrase "red light" district is no doubt because of the fact that at least in the most famous of these, Amsterdam, they do in fact have red lights in the windows. This to let prospective customers know that it is a house of prostitution.The term originated around 1900 and seems to have come about from visiting railroaders leaving their lanterns on the porch of the cat house while conducting business inside.Red lanterns where required equipment for all railroad crew members, with the possible exception of the engineer. Prior to 1900, a train would likely have an engineer, conductor, fireman, and two or more brakemen (brakes being manually applied on a car by car basis). They were used for signaling as well as lighting, since red light does not affect night vision as much as white.A train being brought into a yard would have its crew surrounding it, most carrying red lanterns to signal the engineer that all was well. They would then use these same lanterns to illuminate their path to wherever they chose to go.And the question is why did the railroaders leave the lanterns on the porch? Apparently to indicate to other prospective visitors that the venue was in use.

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, with the exception of street walking. However, only EU citizens can work legally in the industry, since no working permits are given for prostitution.  As we passed through a narrow street, assuming we were getting close, I caught a glimpse of a neon red glow from the corner of my eye.  We were there.  Until finally we passed by this old brick building, there were three large windows bordered with glowing red lights. Inside each window stood a young, sexy woman dressed in skimpy underwear.  I felt like it was rude to look at the women but then you'd get that feel that for them, it's just work and those stares means earning money.  They make careers out of being looked at. 

Central Station
Sex shop
Hello Christian!
Hello Tom!
Yes you can!
Cancan dance!

The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theaters, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops.  Part of the Amsterdam experience is wandering around the neighborhoods and seeing what will be around the next corner. Coffees hops here are as varied as the neighborhoods and the people which they serve. Many times it is a great surprise to find that a small neighborhood shop is just the ticket to a well spent afternoon of taking it easy. So until finally we found a place to relax.  And we sat there for hours.

A variety
Coffee and then some
Grabbed from my Instagram account. Taken inside the coffee shop. SMILE!
Scratching off bucket list item no. 7
What a fez!

Baba Coffee Shop
Warmoesstraat 64 1012 JH Amsterdam, Netherlands
020 624 1409

And so after that exciting night at the RDL, we had a few hours of sleep.  Woke up really early to see what's left to see.  We carefully plotted out our plan for that day, so with the help of our reliable map and a lot of self trust, off we went.  It's a good thing there's a tram station about 2 minutes away from our hotel.  We took a tram going to the Central Station and took another one going to our next destination. 

At the tram station
Good morning!
Us three
Central Station
Tourist office
Bought a new map, sa sobrang excited naiwan namin sa hotel yung sa amin.
Unending canals
Asan na ba tayo?
Behind us is Anne Frank's house
Eto talaga bahay ko. =D
Taray ni Rach! Hahaha!
Anne Frank's house
My lalalabs!
Naging RLD and peg nina ate. Tse!
Just look at that long cue
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
As I am not a fan of cheese, this Cheese museum is something fairly not that fascinating to me. But I have to admit, saya makakita ng malalaking keso. Hahaha! Weird.
Cheese, anyone?
Cheese tasting
Galing sa dodo ng cow moment =D
Anong mas matimbang?

Amsterdam Cheese Museum
Prinsengracht 112  1015 EA Amsterdam, Netherlands
020 3316605

Behind us is the coolest photo shop
Oh yes, we all do!
I can stand here all day. Love love Graffiti! 

The plan was to go to Noordermarkt flea market and do some shopping.  Here you’ll find a mix of second-hand goods for sale, ranging from antiques and books to clothes and household kitsch. Unfortunately, there was no market schedule that day, so all that was left to see was an empty space.  It was so disappointing.  

Bona and marsie
Ayun pinasaya na lang ang sarile =)

Jump shot


Here goes the highlight of my Amsterdam trip. I checked out some record shops online before our trip.  I was planning to buy second hand vinyls for my dad.  I stumbled upon this record store and it was so fascinating to know that the owner used to be Arthur Conley's drummer.  He made the song "Sweet Soul Music" famous.  The shop is a bit hidden, it's near the Anne Frank museum.  They have an amazing collection of cd's, cassette tapes and vinyls.  In here I found extremely rare items.  Sa totoo lang eh nasiraan ako ng ulo nung nasa loob ako hinde ko alam kung saan ko ipapaling yung paningin ko. Famous people who frequently visit Back Beat Records are Jools Holland, Brecker Brothers, Omar (Dykes) and the Howlers, Arthur Conley, Mick Jagger, Hans Dulfer and a lot of known DJ's come to buy their vinyl.

Sa labas pa lang ang saya saya ko na. =)
Going gaga!
Happy happy me
My NFFs!
We exchanged e-mail addresses
The finest in Jazz
Sige isaisahin mo =)
I'm super happy!
Back Beat Records
Egelantiersstraat 19
1015 PV Amsterdam

Tel./Fax: 020 - 6 27 16 57.

To begin with we were famished.  We were actually in search of the famous Japanese pancake house, it was in our plan to have lunch there.  Unfortunately, the restaurant is closed for renovation and that didn't help at all since we were all in the mood to have pancakes.  Good thing there was another pancake house nearby, and until now I can't help but lust over how good those pancakes tasted.  Sobrang YUMMY!

Sweet pancake
Salty pancake

Moeder's restaurant
Rozengracht 251  1016 SX Amsterdam, Netherlands
020 626 7957

After that sumptuous lunch, we headed back to the Red Light District to visit the Amsterdam's oldest building and parish church.  Oh yes, a church in the middle of the RDL, sounds interesting huh?  Rembrandt was a frequent visitor to the Oude Kerk and his children were all christened here. It is the only building in Amsterdam that remains in its original state since Rembrandt walked its halls.  Inside, the Oude Kerk has a very spacious feel, thanks to the Calvinist simplification. The vaulted wooden ceiling bears faded paintings dating from throughout the 1400s and 1500s, depicting various saints, ships, biblical scenes and coats of arms.

Shopping strip
Busy street
Oude Kerk behind us
Church's exterior
Red light windows just beside the church's walls
Impressive organ from 1728 by Christian Müller that is regularly used for recitals

The church's interiors were rather enchanting, but we were so surprised at the exhibit being held inside the church at that time.  

The Pride Photo Award
The Contest 2012
Pride Photo Award is an annual international contest for photos about sexual (LGBT) and gender diversity. Features top quality photography on the following topics:
1. non-stereotypical images of gender, masculinity and femininity
2. the diversity of the LGBT community
3. the way people react to non-traditional sexual and gender identities

About the contest
Stained glass
Yan ang PRIDE!!
Marsie checking out the photos
blijf vrolijk - Stay Cheerful!
Pride day ba ngayon?
Where's Rona?
Behave kame.
One of the rooms
Strangest thing we found outside the church

Oude Kerk
Oudekerksplein 23  1012 GX Amsterdam, Netherlands
020 625 8284

We wandered the streets after our short tour of the Oude Kerk.  Some pretty interesting places we found.

More coffees shops
High Snack!
Rembrandt Square
Amsterdam Dance Event
Ikaiinit ng ulo ni Jose to. Hahaha!
French fries or chips are probably the most famous single food items in Amsterdam, and they are likely the easiest to find as well. 
Napakalaki ng binili namin gusto kong ipaligo kasi di namin maubos eh!
Ben and Jerry's!
Inside our hotel room
Rest muna saglit
Tapos gora na ulet!

We decided to visit a park after our quick hotel stop over.  Tamang tambay at nature trip naman.  The Vondelpark is Amsterdam's most popular park, attracting tourists, residents, and everyone in between. Yearly, the park has around 10 million visitors. In the park is an open air theater a playground and several horeca facilities.

Anong ginagawa namin dito?
Amazing tree!
Anong inaabot Bona?
Bikers galore

Film museum

Vondelpark 1  1071 AA Amsterdam, Netherlands 014 020

Model ng bike! PAK!
Small Talk
Love that bench

We visited the Stedelijk Museum after our relaxing afternoon at the park.   It is a museum for modern artcontemporary art, and design.  Their souvenir shop is the coolest.  Kung ano ano na naman ang nakita namin. =)

In search of?
Isa isahin natin!
Heroin and Cocaine
Draw your mind
The museum's facade

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Museumplein 10
020 5732911

Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped by the I amsterdam giant letters in front of the Rijksmuseum. We took some photos and called it a night. 

A couple
YMCA dapat to minus the C, hahaha
Nainitan ka? Sure ka? =)
Upo naman.
Tulak tulakan
Girl's bestfriend

Elegant, serene, friendly, tolerant of differences, Amsterdam has become a Global city. Even it’s "filth" side is part of it’s charm. Whatever your looking for you can find it here. There aren’t many cities in the world where doing nothing is so enjoyable, but Amsterdam’s neighborhoods are the perfect place to experience the joy of simply exploring. This city is just A-MAZING, I am definitely going back very soon. =)
“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”


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