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Published: September 7th 2006
The Yellow Pages Visitors Guide to Amsterdam is a superb little reference book that the tourist offices in Amsterdam keep well hidden, mostly because the tourist offices seem to be keen on making what money they can from inferior "official" guides and maps.
You shouldn't walk into a tourist office in Amsterdam expecting to pick up handfuls of leaflets and brochures if you're not willing to part with lots of money (and queue for half an hour).
Not only is the Yellow Pages Guide concise and helpful, it also provides an interesting social commentary. For example; in the "Police and Safety" section under the heading "Urinating in Public", it states: "Dirty habit, always committed by men". Clearly the author has never been on a night out in Aberdeen...
It then goes on to say that if your really do have to go and you can't find a public loo; visit a police station! I've been trying to picture a Saturday night at the top of Leith Walk if this advice were applied in Edinburgh. Having scoffed their Steak pie suppers from Piccante, the lads head round the corner to join the queue outside Gayfield Police Station. Hmmm.
Oh for a wide(r) angle lens...
Note: Rijksmuseum in the background. Spent hours appreciating Rembrandt, Vermeer and some other arty chaps.
"Act in a normal manner" is the over-riding advice at the top of the page. Normal includes: not undressing in public, no jumping in the canals and only carrying knives "or other weapons" in districts where they are not prohibited. All very comforting.
Finally, the last observation I'd like to make about this book is that it's almost useless as a copy of the Yellow Pages unless you want the services of an Escort. While looking for an Internet Cafe I noticed that the "Cafes/Bars" section is only half a page while the "Escorts and Sex Clubs" section is seven pages! (I'd point out at this juncture that I know this only because the book fell open at that page...)
And on the subject of the Red Light District - guess where our Hotel is? That's right. But before you ask, I checked the Yellow Pages and it's not in it, which must be a good sign.
There is something very peculiar about leaving your home to find that the neighbour is in her undies on a stool in her front room window. Mostly they all just look bored. We passed one who was passing
Amsterdam by Night
Note the lack of red lights. This was because they were all on our side of the canal!
the time doing a spot of sewing. With glasses perched on the end of her nose and a look of concentration on her face she seemed to have no problems threading the needle despite the less than favourable red light. Not that I'm in any way an expert in the difficulties presented by coloured lighting in a sewing related scenario... its pure speculation. Perhaps she was a member of the Amsterdam Working Girls Sewing Circle. It would be nice to imagine that such a group exists as a kind of Social Club - perhaps meeting every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 (they'd obviously have to work out some sort of shift rotation scheme).
Actually, perhaps a Bicycle Maintenance Club would be a better idea. They could expand it to provide informative, instructional demonstrations in their windows. Stag nights from Newcastle could leave Amsterdam having watched ... lets call her Trixie... explainig the intracacies of upgrading your existing gear system to a Shimano XTS group set.
They'd never run out of bicycles for demonstration purposes either. Amsterdam has a population of 750,000 people yet there are over 1 million bicycles on the streets. I reckon its
A Room With A View
The view from the Mondriaan Room of the Hotel Brouwer. A highly recommended place to stay in Amsterdam. Crackin' breakfast an aw.
because people chain their bike up and the forget where they left it, but rather than worry about it they just get a new one since they're so cheap.
If you stand still in Amsterdam , the chances are that someone will try to chain a bike to you. Trees, lamposts, mailboxes, scaffolding, legs; they don't give a damn. If its attached to the earth and they can get a chain round it then they'll lock a bike against it.
Finally I'd like to comgratulate the residents of Amsterdam on being the most accomplished bicycle gymnasts I've ever seen. First place must go to the girl I saw yesterday who managed to cross a busy junction whilst holding an umbrella, dialling on her mobile and smoking a cigarette. And she only had one arm! (Ok, that last bit's a lie).
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