Ok, so Amsterdam! It was great. I had planned to head over to The Hague that Friday because one of my law school professors has connections at The Peace Palace. However, I found out (before leaving luckily, since The Hague is 45 minutes by train from Amsterdam) however, that the Palace was closed that day. So I resorted to Plan B, which was to hear part of the hearing for a trial on war crimes taking place at the International Criminal Court. I emailed them about it and goddammit, the hearing had been canceled for that day! That day (the whole weekend, really) is a holiday in Sweden, called Midsummer--it's like our Fourth of July as far as celebrations go, but it's the other big holiday here other than Christmas. I don't know what the deal in Amsterdam was, but it meant I got to sleep in.
That hotel, btw, was fabulous.
It's a life-size dollhouse on acid! And it's just outside Zandaam Station, woot!
I got a bigger room than usual because I got a deal online. That bed was magical, I wanted to never leave it and all its fluffiness.
It's true my Swedish dorm bed is not the softest thing in the world, but it does the job at least. It's better than my Japanese bed in my old gaijin house...hell, the floor would have almost been better...
The tub was surprisingly tricky to figure out, ya know? Each side of the faucet had a little button, and I think one made the hot water WAY hotter and the other side made the shower nozzle activate. I never really did nail it down.
Centraal Station! This place was fucking huge inside. Trying to figure out my return platform the first night was one annoying adventure. (I made it, yay.)
Really gorgeous from the outside, though...
I took some pics in Amsterdam but not too many in the inner city, since there's a lot of um, well, I don't want to say shadiness, but it's not always a good idea to have your camera out (especially one like mine) snapping pics. I've read it's frowned upon in some areas, let's just say that. In particular, the red light district is a big no-no, but looks just as you think it does.
I got this off google images, and yup, this is it! It was weird--even when I went at dusk rather than night.
But once you get out at Centraal, it's easy to find the twisty, windy neighborhoods full of shops--the shopping area is one big area, also a big concentration of coffee-shops and bars, and then further in are the sex shops, cinemas and red light district.
Simple little alleys, and I made lots of effort to note landmarks or stores in my own Hansel & Gretel mental-breadcrumbs-sort-of-way, so as not to get lost.
So it's no big secret or surprise that the "coffee-shops" are hash and marijuana joints (see what I did there?), but "smart shops," as you can perhaps figure out from the window, sell magic mushrooms, should one be into that sort of thing. One would probably not specify whether or not one tried any in the privacy of one's own hotel room while watching nearly all of season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on instant download, but this is the sort of place where you could buy them if one did. (Also, one probably never realized before just how incredibly well-suited season 6 is to psychedelic substances, but I personally would not know.)
More inner streets. The bars were the best places to watch the games. I really enjoyed watching the games here, although it was sadly in Amsterdam where I saw the US bite it. I wish, wish, WISH I had been there just one more day to see Holland trounce Brazil in a stunning victory. I can only imagine the insanity of such an upset. (S and some friends saw the Denmark game in Copenhagen the night I left and I have to remember to steal those pics and post them here--it's stunning.)
I'm not sure what they sell here... ;)
I can't say I went in, but the store front windows were entertaining. Oh, but nothing beats...
This shit is just disturbing.
It leaves me sort of speechless, really.
I know, I know, you're like, dude, how many pics of this did you take? I hear Amsterdam has lovely ARCHITECTURE! CANALS! HISTORY! And I'm taking multiple pics of freaky-ass condoms. Yup.
I will upload the rest later--more pretty stuff, too! But this is our last week of classes and I wanna be caught up since there are plans here and there the rest of the week. We have a thing on Wednesday with a judge from the Court of Appeals (which is very, very cool), and prior to that I'm meeting with one of the university professors who is not teaching in the program (he is actually French and not Swedish--and it pains me to think of how many languages he probably speaks) who specializes in EU law. (Of which I know nothing! Rah rah rah! This is going to be a special kind of humiliating.) But at least we're meeting for drinks. I could get used to this whole "European" thing.
And then Friday we're doing a Fourth of July thing for the Swedish students, and I have no idea what that entails, I just know I'm supposed to go. Unlike the beautiful Midsummer celebrations they made up for us, a few of us snarkily asked what the hell we're supposed to do in return with this--"Barbecue, beers and fireworks?" I mean, sure, why not, but where these things may come from is another matter...
So in about a week and a half it's off to South Africa where it may take me a while to get over being spoiled. No more room all to myself, for one thing. And actual work instead of studies. For an idea of that, omfg, how cheery does this sound?
A typical day at the office varies between work in the office doing research, conducting interviews or providing legal advice with refugees or victims of Human Rights abuses, reviewing cases from the [redacted], meetings with various different Human Rights organizations throughout Cape Town, lectures by the Human Rights supervisor, etc. Office work is combined with out of office "excursions" or "missions" to prisons, abused children/women homes, HIV/AIDS victim shelters, juvenile detention centers, refugee camps, Home Affairs Office, etc. [....]
Party on, Wayne.