Sunday, August 27, 2006

Beautiful Tulips..Legalised drugs ..?!?!

Today I was reading an article on BBC News website about this Man who was brought to court after being found with 3 million pounds worth of Drugs at Essex!

Sure wouldnt have been a problem if the country he had imported the drugs to was Holland! In Holland, drugs are legal.. so is prostitution!

My trip to Amsterdam was in the second weekend of May this year. My friend and I took an evening train from Darmstadt. We had to ofcourse change 5 trains to get there. Real chore and had to run from one train to the next within a matter of minutes. And worse still, our second train got delayed and we had to wait in the train station for long till we got the next one. We reached about an hour later than we should have.

Another friend of ours had reached there earlier and found a place for us to stay. We reached at about 9pm and took a walk to our youth hostel, 'Kabul' to leave our luggage. As i walked through the narrow streets with multitude of shops on both sides, the liveliness in the air induced excitement in me! 'Kabul' hostel was friendly and it was the first youth hostel i had been to. The room we were allocated to had around 20 beds and several lockers.

That night we went to the famous stand up comedy show, Boom Chicago. It was held in a small stage attached to a pub like area. The comedy show was simply amazing. They played several games involving the audience and everything was impromptu!! For instance, they would create a funny story with random sentences given by different people in the audience.."The apple is yellow.." and " I am late for work" .. for instance... And a whole lot of imaginative ideas added in between to connect the two sentences!! My first ever visit to a live stand up comedy show!

The next morning we had breakfast at our youth hostel which was by the river. One thing about Amsterdam: There is seriously no scarcity of water anywhere. There is just water, water and more water. This is the scenery that one would see facing out of Kabul Hostel:

That day we were going to "Keukenhof".. The place famous for its Tulip flowers. We had to take a one hour trian to Leiden Centraal and then a bus to "Keukenhof" ..

Mann! It was the most beautiful place ever ! I have never seen so many flowers of so many different colours in one place.. It is a huge garden. Indians: If you would have seen the movie "Anniyan" , one of the songs was shot here. I have no words to describe the beauty of Keukenhof.. Check it out yourself in the following shots! :

At the park i met a woman clad in the tradional dress of Netherlands:

That evening we returned to Amsterdam and took a relaxing ride on a ferry around the city. There are innumerable canals! So much so that it is called the Venice of the North! Even with the enormous amount of 12,000 bridges and 160 canals, the city has no problems with water prone diseases, floods, pollution, etc! The next best thing about the waters is the houseboats! Buying a plot on the water is more expensive than buying one on land in Amsterdam!!

As we were cruising..we also realised that buildings in Amsterdam were tilted. Apparently, this is because of the nature of the soil which is generally soft due to the presence of abundant water.

Before retiring to bed that night, we saw a very interesting place :- The red light district!! (A place probably more dangerous to men than women!) Prostitution is legal in Holland. The red light district is really huge and almost located right in the city centre!

I can afford to say that it came as a culture shock to me! Nowhere else on earth are the women so straightforwardly on display,(just like we have clothes on display in any of our shops) sitting sparingly attired on stools behind windows. Nowhere else except in the other main Dutch cities, because this conspicuous window prostitution is distinct to the Netherlands, as distinct as the habit that many of its residents have for living their lives behind open curtained windows.

As u can see in the above picture, the red curtains are drawn, this indicates that the XXX activity is taking place. When it is not, the curtains are open, and the women stand behind those glass doors displaying themselves..

After a good rest that night,, we went to the Heineken brewery. As you would probably know, Heineken beer comes from Holland.
It was very informative as we learnt the process of making beer. At the end of the tour we even got to try pouring the beer into a beer glass. I never knew it was such a tough thing to do. The lesser the foam the better!

The last but the most exciting of the whole trip was Mike's bike tour! Basically, we went around the whole of Amsterdam and to the outskirts of Amsterdam with a tour guide and entirely on bicycle! It was real cool.

As he took us around he explained various things about Amsterdam. The easy availability of drugs, even in Cafes was one thing i was shocked to learn about! We visited the windmills and the cheese factory!

Overall, the Amsterdam trip was a wonderful one and I would recommend it to anyone who would consider a Europe tour!

Friday, August 18, 2006

My experiences with the Weltmeister..aka Worldcup

woohoo! Glad to be back in Singapore.. clean roads.. 2000000 dustbins.. automatic doors.. my old life..and most importantly.. my dahlin friends!!!! So glad to be back with u guys!

Been meeting up with my friends.. one grp a day for the past few days.. and they generally have two reactions when they see me..

(1) " You have not changed one bit.. u look the same!!!!!" .. Compliment or insult? I know not
(2) " You were there during the world cup!!!" .. Indeed something that i should feel lucky about!

The Weltmeister, 2006 is indeed an event that has captured a permanent place in my mind. Though I ofcourse did not manage to watch any of the matches at the stadium, being part of the fever..was something I would never ever forget..

We watched one of the first few matches.. England vs Paraguay at the floating screen in Frankfurt.. It was simply amazng..
Ya, so ttz the floating screen.. We were allowed to watch the match on either side of the river.. Casually sit by the river side..with a nice drink..and enjoy the fever and the cheering! ;) ..All matches were played live on this screen.

Well, the rest of the matches, i watched it in Darmstadt itself. There were plenty screens all over.. Every shop had a tv and there was a crowd watching.. There were flags everywhere.. Also, Karlshof had residents from nearly every country in Europe..and no matter who won or lost.. there would be celebrations and partys going on the whole night..
The one match that is etched in my mind.. is Germany vs Argentina. A friend of mine and I had gone to watch it at a place, Lichtwiese which had a Biergarten (an open air place to drink beer) where they had erected a huge screen. Most of us were nearly sure that Germany was going to lose against the very strong Argentenien team. But unexpectedly during the penality shot Germany won!! The nervous and anxious atmosphere broke into a joyous and excited one!! My friend and I proceeded to the City centre to celebrate. The mood was simply superb! Many were cheerin "Berlin, Berlin, wir fahren nach Berlin"..this meant.. that the german team would make it to Berlin where the finals were going to be held.

We painted our faces..and were in the city the whole night cheering away! It was an amazing experience!