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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Cruising Amsterdam's Canals - Canal Cruises

Amsterdam's Canal Cruises
We're in Amsterdam!
 Making our way to the port...
 My friend drove us there, as I was really exhausted.
 Pictures I took along the way.
 We're about to reach our destination.
And here we are!
 Our destination and point of departure.
The ticket booth where we purchased our tickets.
Lovers Canal Cruises, it sounds a little wrong to me...
Walking towards our ride.
 This is where we boarded our ferry.
The ferry was a glass-domed motor launch cruising down 
canals flanked by gabled houses.
Our splendid looking ferry that took us around these waters
 Beautiful looking ferry!
Wonderfully designed!
The trip was a one-hour round trip through the canals in this luxurious canal boat passing by impressive canal houses with clock gables, spout gables and neck gables, the zevenbogenbruggengracht, Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) across the Amstel, the VOC ship and the port.
Our beautiful captain of the ship!
The waters here in Amsterdam were very nice and the surroundings added a nice touch of calmness
 And our journey begins!
Amsterdam is all the more spectacular seen from the water.
 The Canal Cruise in Amsterdam also takes you to many of the city’s highlights in just one hour. The Westerkerk, the Anne Frank House, the narrowest house in Amsterdam: you’ll also be able to see all of them during this canal cruise.
 It’s the most relaxing way to get to know Amsterdam, as you’ll have your own personal audio guide. As the boat departs and you put on your head phones (available in MANY different languages), you embark on an amazing journey through Amsterdam’s rich history.
 The #1 Canal Cruise is THE way to get to know the city.
 The Amsterdam canal belt is officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Like what it said, Lovers Canal Cruise
 BTW, I mentioned earlier that my wonderful friend drove us here.
This is him, thank you my dear brudda from another mother!
Really scenic views can be had along the way!
Another wonderful picture I took here!
Colors like these bring Amsterdam to life
Hehe! =P
Cruising the waters around Amsterdam
 Here're the rest of the pictures of our cruise around the canals!
 I really hope you enjoy the pics I took!
Alright now, we've almost come to the end of this post!
 I sincerely hoped you enjoyed reading and stay tuned for the next part of our discovery of Netherlands!
 Please feel free to follow me via GFC.
It's right at the top of my blog.
You can't miss it!
Part 3's coming right up!
(We're heading for Volendam next!)

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Amsterdam - A night in the Red-light District!

Amsterdam is full of nice people...
Boy...What a night!!~
They speak fluent Japanese!

Let me start here from the very beginning...
Much much earlier today...
 Stopped by a local kiosk to refill!!
 Here we are, finally arriving in the Netherlands!
 This was where we were staying at!
It was a really beautiful place to put up for the night!!

Gonna be getting our ride...after my smoke!
(Bad bad habit, old habits die hard)
Although we were outside enjoying ourselves most of the time!! =)
And here we are!
The name says it all, Amsterdam Centraal
Amsterdam Centraal.
Amsterdam Centraal Station
And this is Amsterdam Centraal Station.
 Very close by, and home to the famed Red-Light District of Europe.
(Before I continue, I would LOVE to thank my WONDERFUL lady. She's really open, compared to other Asian girls. And as I've said before, "You only live once, live it to the fullest". It appears she shares the same thoughts and I cannot imagine having a great time in Amsterdam with any of my Ex-(s). 
Thank you, baby!)
Sensitive issues concerning legal implications
The Netherlands, although a signatory to the international conventions about combating drugs, have a tolerant approach to the drug abuse, treating it more as a health matter similar to the alcohol abuse or smoking of the tobacco. 

The Dutch perceive addictions as much wider issue, pointing to addiction to prescriptions medicines, addiction to to gambling or to the modern video games addiction.

The Dutch policy of not prosecuting the minor drug offences, and not enforcing some the existing laws regarding the sale of small quantities Cannabis (Marijuana), is unique comparing even to the most tolerant countries in the world.
It is a common knowledge throughout the world, that in Amsterdam you may just enter a coffee shop and buy drugs; even more – you will be handed a menu with drugs of the day, and there might be even a special on the menu. It is all accessible - for four joints you will pay the same amount as for twenty cigarettes. Nobody will arrest you, because it is all LEGAL. 
So what kind of laws are these? Aren’t the Dutch concerned about the real dangers of drug abuse? 
Dutch drug laws evolved as the law in other countries during the past century, but the solutions taken in the Netherlands, differ from the rest of the world.
Smart shops in Amsterdam
A smart shop, very smart...
Smart shops are shops selling herbal products - i.e. Smart drugs, named because they were supposed to stimulate the mind and improve memory. These include energy substances like Guarana, Cola nut, relaxation stuff like Skullcap, Valerian or aphrodisiacs Muira Puama, Gingko Biloba, among others. 

Smart shops in Holland are special - Basically outlets which sell LEGAL ‘drugs’.
They also used to sell Magic Mushrooms.
Magic mushrooms – hallucinogenic fungi – were made illegal in the Netherlands in 2008.

The ‘Magic Truffle’ has replaced the banned Magic Mushrooms in Amsterdam’s smart shops. Magic Truffles aren’t against the law, but neither are they entirely without risk. 
The only reason that you can still legally buy Magic Truffles, or sclerotia, is that – unlike magic mushrooms – they grow underground. So technically they’re not mushrooms. They are hallucinogenic though, but a lot less so than Magic Mushrooms.
In recent years there has been an explosion of smart shops in Amsterdam, many shops are selling mushrooms truffles, vitamins, weed seeds, grown kits, pipes and various souvenirs and psychedelic art pieces.
Coffee shops in Amsterdam
Coffee shops, not to be confused with cafes, have been a part of Amsterdam since the 1970's, when the Dutch government made a clear distinction in the law between 'hard' and 'soft' drugs. 

Unlike Amsterdam's fully LEGAL smart shops, coffee shops have always existed in a legal grey area. 
Today, Amsterdam's City Council, through agreement with the coffee shop union "Bond van Cannabis Detaillisten" (BCD), allows coffeeshops to operate with the provision of set, non-transferable licences.
These are shown by the display of an official, green and white sticker in the window.
"The Bulldog"
Cannabis Museum
Yes, there is even a Cannabis Museum in Amsterdam!
The museum is called: "Hemp Gallery",  they explain in detail on the civilized use of cannabis, its history and tradition in arts, again repeating the arguments for the wider use of hemp. A small art gallery where individual shows of painters and photographers take place, is located at the back of the exhibit.
The hemp plant is one of the oldest crops known to man, which has been used for thousands of years as a material to make textiles that are similar to linen, ropes and even paper. Hemp has been also a source of oil – which while eatable, has been produced mainly to impregnate textiles, as a fuel for oil lamps, as a medicine and to make paints and soap.
Today, the hemp plant is seen as an important alternative of cotton, but while cultivation of cotton asks for a lot of water and pesticides and its harvest is labor consuming, the hemp plant is a strong, undemanding, versatile crop, harvesting of which may be easily mechanized.
The Red Light District
This is the entrance to the famous RLD of Amsterdam.
The red light district in Amsterdam
Just a short walk from Amsterdam Centraal.
From brothels to sex shops to museums, the Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination. It is very likely that you will have heard about this neighborhood and to be frank, everything you will have heard is probably true , but to really put rumors to rest, you have got to check it out for yourself.
The Rossebuurt, as the locals know it, is unlike any other place. Guaranteed.
Certainly, the Red Light District that everyone knows about is the one where women, of all nationalities, parade their wares in red-fringed window parlors, many ready to offer more than a school boy peep-show in a private cabin.
Another familiar image of the Red Light District is of packs of men, young and old , couples holding hands and pointing in shock of it all, giggling groups of women celebrating a hen night.
Busloads of Japanese tourists toting cameras here for "sex tours" (I swear they do exist!) - except not in the direction of the female entertainers! That is Strictly BANNED!
Amsterdam - RLD
This is proof enough that the RLD deserves a visit, if not a little look in.
Time to retire!!
 As you could see, it was getting really late. 

It was almost deserted everywhere.
Decided to finally leave the Red Light District and head home!

Took a couple more pictures before our drive back to the hotel.
De Nieuwe Kerk
New Church
De Nieuwe Kerk - meaning New Church, is often used for important art exhibitions.
It's a really beautiful structure!
Great architecture too, pity it was already closed! :( 
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This shot was taken on the way back.

Finally, home sweet home away from home! 
I was so damn exhausted!!
Had a wonderful sleep and woke up feeling totally refreshed!
Amsterdam Delifrance
 The next day.
We had breakfast at Delifrance.
Delifrance croissants for breakfast
We were famished and the food tasted really wonderful!
 But that's another story for another day!
I hope you dear readers enjoyed reading.
I've learnt a lot in Amsterdam and i hope you dear readers found this post informative!

Let me know what you think and feel free to drop me a comment!

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