Amsterdam – The Netherlands & Brugge – Belgium.

Amsterdam:

Amsterdam was the final leg of my Topdeck tour. Upon arriving in Amsterdam we went to a clog and cheese making demonstration. The man who demonstrated this was a new level of excitingly strange and gave us a few laughs. He was rather odd, very sexually free, but also under the assumption that all women liked men which was a complete contradiction.  The cheese was delicious and we bought some for a picnic to have together later. We saw the windmills scattered through the Dutch countryside as we made our way into the town.

We went on a short walking tour to see some of the main points, followed by dinner with a few of my tour mates. Then we all re-grouped and went for a walk through the infamous red light district. It was exactly what I had expected and yet the opposite all in one. The women (or men) were dressed scantily as one does when selling their bodies and all in private booths/rooms with glass windows that they sat or danced in front of to draw attention. Once their booth was occupied, a curtain was drawn so you could not see inside. A walk through various areas (gay, straight, larger, smaller, black, white) led us to the establishment where we went to a live sex show. The faces on some of my travelling companions during that were absolutely priceless! As someone who myself is very comfortable with sex and sexuality, it was interesting and entertaining. For a couple of the young boys on tour, or the women who had never seen porn, it was a little overexciting/overwhelming. A bunch of our tour boys were asked up on stage as props that were grinded upon, teased, and had a close up view. We cheered them on as various women stripped, danced and then items were placed in, or removed from womens orifices. Finally, a man and woman engaged in the initial stages of intercourse before us, and we left. It was a very tasteful and respectful show, or at least as tasteful and respectful as sex shows can be. A couple of quiet drinks afterwards ended off the night.

The next morning we went on a bike tour through the town. We were merely a few of the thousands of bicycle riders in the town. you need to watch out for bikes more so than cars when walking or looking to cross the street. If you do not move out of the way, they will hit you, and give zero fucks about doing so. This is probably the only aggressive part about their culture here.We saw the main sights and learned a little about the culture of the place, which is basically that anything goes. I fell in love with the culture in Amsterdam. People are very carefree in regards to most things in life. Obviously they are known for drugs but other things such as sexuality and gender etc are very carefree. People are friendly and accept you for who you are. Unless you’re a pedestrian in the way of their bicycle.

A group of us then just walked around, did some shopping, lunch etc and visited Anne Frank’s house. It was interesting and as people had said – the stairs were narrow and steep so if you have access issues, this might not be the best one for you. There was a wait in line for some time though (about an hour), even though we were travelling in winter. Most other places on our trip so far had seen shorter queues thanks to travelling throughout January/February and apparently in summer this line is at least double to triple the size. For me though, it was worth it. It also helped having friends in the line with me, to tuck our hair into our beanies around our face and make it look like we had hectic beards going on, and generally have a laugh with each other.

We had plans to leave here and go to a “coffee shop” to try out some of what Amsterdam is famous for, but to be honest by the time we did that, and grabbed some groceries to have with our picnic (remember the cheese we bought earlier), we couldn’t be bothered! So we grabbed a drink or eight instead in the hostel as we got ready for dinner.

For our last night we enjoyed dinner on a river cruise which started to get messy very quickly with free wine. We stumbled off the boat and it was definitely more to do with the wine than the sea legs. Afterwards we went on a final pub crawl, starting with a shooter bar (over 150 types of shots available), and a few other places. We were loud and rowdy and danced until the early hours of the morning. A group of us girls escaped to do one last snap of our #notopdeck topless photos on the streets of Amsterdam by the canals. We were cheered on by locals in the street and gave us a lasting hilarious memory of Amsterdam to hold on to. This would likely have been one of our messiest nights thus far, perhaps even on par with being “Switzerland Drunk” or that of Prague. The shots continued, as did the dancing, and randomly kissing each other. Two people on tour came out (that hadn’t been openly gay/bi before this night) and one of our fellow Topdeckers was so drunk he was on the floor unable to stand up, but still requesting we buy him another round of 10 shots! I bailed once I reached my limit and helped get another girl from tour back home. We started walking but had zero idea how to get back to our hostel. We found another of our comrades walking the streets alone doing the same thing so we all pee’d at Maccas (McDonalds for anyone who is non-Australian) and I got a taxi to take us home. I helped get a couple of people to bed, and finally crashed out myself.

 

Brugge:

 

A long bus day saw us stop off in Brugge, Belgium for lunch and a walk around the town. After the highs of Amsterdam, the emotions of my recent breakup came crashing back down upon me today.

Church bells chimed choruses in the town square and the sound of horse and carts clopped around as tourists rode in the carts around the town. It was like a step back in time to a beautiful medieval village. I sat in the sun in the town square for a long time, pondering life and what to do now after my travels (in 2.5 weeks time). I still don’t know where to go or what to do, and that is both exciting, sad, and terrifying all at once. I ate food and sat back in the square, soaking up the atmosphere and in deep thought. It was a rather poignant moment for me.

On the ferry over the English Channel, we ate the cheese / our picnic together and reflected on the past 24 days together.
After we arrived back in London, those staying at our drop off point (hostel) had one final dinner together and said our goodbyes.
I’ve met an amazing bunch of people and have shared experiences none of us will ever forget. These memories will be treasured for a lifetime.

 

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