The Journey: Day Four

Before I get to today, there’s late yesterday.  Amsterdam has a Red Light District.  Signs advertise “Peep Show”, “Erotic Boutique” and “Live Sex”.  Vertical windows are decorated with red curtains, which are mostly closed during the day.  But then there’s the night:

This is Oudezijds Achterburgwal.  I resisted the services being offered, other than sipping my cappuccino.  I sat in a row of chairs within touching distance of the crowds walking by.  I was curious to see how many people would pass in front of me in a minute.  I probably did the test ten times and I’d guess the average was fifty.  That’s a lot of folks who want to be in the neighbourhood of sex!

In this photo, there’s an arm being extended to the fellow on the right side who’s looking left:

I made eye contact with many semi-nude women.  Almost all of them quickly averted their eyes.  Gosh … guess I’m not young and sexy anymore!



I’ve walked past at least one hundred homes with a bench in front, on the edge of the sidewalk.  And I’ve wondered: “Am I allowed to sit here?”

This morning a fellow emerged from his house, and I asked him.  Big smile in response and an offer to clean the bench so I could sit down!  Two of his friends walked by, and he asked them.  The consensus?  Yes.  If someone doesn’t want me to park my ass, they’ll say so.

Thus assured, I sat down, looked at the guy and said, “Coffee please.”  Four huge smiles erupted into the universe.

Now I’m sitting on a bench in Amsterdam centrum.  I’m cold.  My hood is up.  I appear to be the only one warming my head.  Oh, there are a few ball caps but that’s it.  Lots of women are walking around with bare bellies and legs.  A few men wearing t-shirts and shorts.  And I get it … this isn’t good or bad.

There are so many cyclists and I haven’t seen any adults wearing a helmet.  Lots of talking on their cell phones.  Packages carried under the arm.  I even saw a fellow carrying a flexible pipe that was three times as long as his bicycle.

Smoking seems far more common than in Canada.  And many young people are vaping.

A new world for this young man.


I went to an art museum this afternoon.  I didn’t like it.  I saw huge horizontal paintings of well-dressed men – twenty or thirty of them at a time.  They were all trying to impress.  In one painting, everyone had a weapon.  I focused on the only kid on site.  He had a spear far taller than him:

Almost all of the women painted looked so suppressed.  And then there was this one “work of art” that depicted a massacre in great detail.

I’d had enough and made a quick exit.


Tonight will be a delightful contrast to sourness.  I’m sitting in Johan Cruijff Arena twitching in anticipation of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  Oh my God, I’m here!  I set this up months ago, well before I knew whether I’d get a Belgian visa.

Life works!  Here are two pics of what all the fuss is about:

Give ‘er, Bruce!

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