Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Munich and Amsterdam

I think that I will squeeze both of these places into one entry coz we didn't spend too muchtime in these places.

First to Munich. We took a trainfrom Berchtesgaden to Munich - via Salzburg. It was a prettyquick trip and got us at the main train station (hauptbahnhof - that's about the limit of my German :)to follow our now familiar ritual of trying to find accomodation. We finally managed to get rooms at aplace out in the burbs, but least it was really nice, in a sort of cafe district.

We went out exploring the city, starting off at the famous Marienplatz. We walked around the cafesand beer gardens for a while, and even though it was pretty early in the day (a week day at that!)the place was full of people downing beer from massive (probably 1 litre) steins. After seening theglockenspiel (sp?) which was pretty sad - and the bells were out of tune! - we decided to catcha movie.

We had tried to see Van Helsing in Salzburg without luck (no English versions) but we managedto find (with the help of the people at the hostel) an "art house" cinema near the Deutsches Museumwhich showed movies in English. Oh, and Van Helsing - pure Oportos magic. Easily the campiest movieI'd seen for many a year. Probably in running for best Oportos movie of the post-uni era along withHebrew Hammer.

After that, the only other place we wanted to visit was the Deutsches Museum. Kinda like the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, except like 100 times bigger. We spent almost an hour in the first room, which was on ancient ships. Once we realised that there was over 200 rooms like this, we went through it quickly..But even the seven or so hours we spent was hardly enough to scratch the surface. Definately coming back to the Museum.

After finishing up at the Museum we decided to take an overnight train to Amsterdam to save 14 hoursof travel. How bad could it be, right? Well, pretty bad, actually. For starters, the rooms are absolutelytiny, with bunks for 6 people. It could maybe fit two or three in comfort. So, six people would have beenok, if we got some nice germans to share the room with... but instead of nice Germans we got a bunch of drunk Croatians! Funny thing is that all along the trip we had met people who had gone to Croatia and weresaying how nice everyone was.. probably coz all the assholes were visiting Munich!

I mean, these guys didn't understand a word of English or German, would just talk (shout) all the timeand stunk like they had been in a gutter all day. The best we could hope was to stay in our bunks and justpretend to ignore them.. that was probably the worst time we had on the whole trip.. God it was awful!

Anyways they left in the morning, at the last town before crossing into The Netherlands... we got to Amsterdamat about 10 am. We had booked accom in the only hostel that had any vacancies, The Shelter. This was aChristian hostel right next to the red light district... oh well. :) So we finally manage to find it, aftersetting off in the wrong direction and walking for about two hours.. the place wasn't too bad, the staffwere very friendly, and everything looked nice and clean.. Only problem is that they seemed to have a"turn no one away" policy and quite a few of the people staying there were illegal immigrants! All throughthe day you could hear people talking about how they've been moving from place to place and avoiding thepolice and stuff. Very nice.

So we were in Amsterdam for a few days.. we did the usual.. took a walk around the city during the day.. visitedthe sex musuem (yawn) and the van Gogh Museum (yawn - I'm not a fan). But luckyly the van Gogh Museum had an exhibition of Dante Gabriel Rossetti - which I abosolutely LOVED!

Apart from that we walked around the red light district.. Paul was quite keen to go take in a show.. but I hadmoral objections and Lucky had monetary objections, so he didn't go.. That didn't stop him from stockpiling anumber of special DVDs that Amsterdam is famous for... :) Oh, and a word of warning, if you want to have a smoke,don't ever buy joints coz they're mostly tobacco.. roll your own...

Amsterdamn was also the first city we had been in almost three months with a sizeable Asian population. So we took every opportunity we could to eat asian food. We did pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) on the first daythere, and we did Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian for the rest of the time there. It was good to eat familiar stuffagain!

After a few quick days our time in Amsterdam was up, it was off to the Airport and onto the plane to Edinburgh!!

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