The next day, Kelly, Jill, and I took a country bike tour of Amsterdam with Mike’s Bike Tour. Our tour guide, Petra, was hilarious! She was very entertaining and informative at the same time. She showed up at the tour saying that she’d just had a joint for breakfast and was ready to go. She seemed like what I would consider to be a typical Amsterdamian (yes, I know that's not a real world). The bike tour started out riding through the city on our way to the country. We stopped on the “skinny bridge” over the Amstel river, which is a bridge where a protest was staged in the early 70s. The women of Amsterdam were upset that there are lots of places for men to pee (like the “urinals” mentioned in the last post... even if it is just a cylinder that runs off into the canal), but not many places for women, so they staged a protest where they all assembled on the skiny bridge, lifted their skirts or dresses, and peed all at the same time. The protest didn’t help though. They just ended up with soggy shoes. From this bridge, we also got a look at some very old buildings that have started to lean because the ground below them is sinking. Petra told us that the law is that if you can’t fix your leaning building, you must sell it to someone who can. Interesting. One more interesting thing is that "Amstel" beer was named such because it was made from the Amstel river... the same river that people used to empty their "waste" into before the city had a sewage system. Yum.
The tour quickly left the city and headed into the country. Our first stop was at a real-life windmill that doubled as a house. The Holland windmills are mainly used to pump the water back in to the canals. The windmill that we stopped to see had been destroyed at one point (as were most of the windmills in the area, until the people of Amsterdam realized that they could make money off of them when tourists came to see them), but they rebuilt it because it had commonly been painted by Rembrandt. We had fun taking pictures of this windmill and coming up with silly poses (although I'm sure they've all been done many times before).
Our next stop was a factory where they make both cheese (gouda, to be exact) and wooden shoes. The cheese tasted wonderful, and the shoe-making process was pretty cool. I was a little disapointed that they don’t make the shoes by hand, but the “copy machine” that they use was really neat. We got to take some fun pictures with an extra large pair of shoes too. Here's Kelly and Petra, our tour guide.
On the rest of the tour, we also saw a Picasso sculpture that stays outdoors (it’s one of only 2 in existance, the other is in Chicago), the Hilton where Yoko and John Lennon stayed and wrote all over the walls (this room was never “cleaned up” and rents for about $3000 euro/night), rode through Vondel park, and saw fields of tulips. The tour was 4 hours long, but we never really got tired… just a bit cold since it was around 40 or 50-something degrees and raining for part of the tour. It was great, and I’d highly recommend it!
After showering and recovering from the freezing cold, we grabbed Keith, Ben, and Nina to head out for a tour of the Anne Frank House. It was crazy to be in the house where all of that actually took place. I have seen the movie at least once in school, but I’m looking forward to watching it again when I get home. Kelly has committed herself to figuring out who turned the family in. Her current working theory is that the secretary did it because she was in love with Otto and wanted him for herself. She may have a little more work to do to prove that theory though.
Next we were all starving so we found a nice restaurant for dinner. Apparently white asparagus is really in season right now, because we discovered that it was everywhere. Kelly and Keith split an asparagus soup, and both had a traditional Dutch meal, but I was all about the brinner so I skipped dinner and went straight for the french toast dessert for my dinner. It was super yummy, and I don’t regret it one bit!
At Kelly’s insistance, Keith, Kelly, and I hit the casino before calling it a night. Everything was electronic so I didn’t really trust it much, but the minimums were really low (like 20 euro cents) so I saw down and tried my luck at the electronic roulette wheel for a while. Kelly and Keith were doing well at roulette too, but they eventually ran out of the initial 20 euro that they had gambled, so they moved on to blackjack while I stayed at the table. I realized that about 1 out of 10 times, the same number would hit twice in a row (see… don’t trust a game that isn’t run by humans and subject to human randomness), so I started betting my regular numbers plus whatever number had hit previously. I ended up doubling my money with that strategy. Good times.
Enjoy the pictures of our 2nd full day in Amsterdam!