London – Amsterdam – Contiki 2011 – Day 2

09/13/11

Woke up at 5AM and left around 630AM on a very brisk morning. The thing is with Contiki, you have restriction on the weight and size of your luggage (20kg) so that morning we had 3 Contiki tours leaving simultaneously lining up to get our luggages weighed and on the right coach bus. Our tour guide was Sophia, a fellow Canadian (French Canadian) who looks like the blonde version of Selma Blair. She is very friendly and very informative (there will be tons of facts being injected into my journals sporadically that are told by Sophia). Our driver was Christian and he is beyond what words can describe but is one crazy upbeat guy. His parents were originally from Sicily and Morocco but he was born in France. We are a group of 51 so it will be interesting – I have the best seat in the house – the very back middle seat so I had all the leg room. We headed to the Port of Dover (we saw the white cliffs of Port Dover) and took the ferry over to France – Galais enroute to Amsterdam. We also passed through Belgium. Being on a bus with around 50 other people, Sophia had multiple icebreakers. We did a version of speed dating to meet the other people on our tour which was cool.The youngest on the tour is 18 and oldest I met was 30 from places such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, USA, Japan, London and also a few Canadians. I even got complimented on my accent… thanks…?

Facts of Belgium:

Belgium has Arnold Schwarzenegger-like cows because they are chemically enhanced.

Belgium is also known for Smurfs, Tin Tin, french fries and the world’s tallest man.

It’s the Japan of Europe with a population of 10 and half million.

 

Facts of Amsterdam:

The population is 17 million for Netherland- 750,000 in Amsterdam.

More than half of the country is under sea level.

They built canals and dykes to create housing and farming.

There are more canals in Amsterdam than Venice.

12 million bikes in Holland alone with 200,000 bikes that end up in the canals.

Some of the best museums are located here such as Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh and Anne Franks’s house.

Pickled herring is a dutch delicacy.

They drive on the right side of the road as opposed to London or Australia where they drive on the left.

They are also known for pancake based foods such as mayo and frites and salted licorice.

Edam and gouda are dutch cheeses.

Yes marijuana is legal. The limit is 5 grams per person if you purchase weed. Mushrooms have been recently banned since 2008. However, you cannot smoke a joint in the street or cafes.

Prostitution is legal and about 25,000 prostitutes work here however they are part of a union called the Red Thread.

We finally arrived in Amsterdam at our hotel for the night – Hotel Nieuw Slotania. The final 2 girls that were to join our trip had arrived. Being a group of 3, one of the latecomers stayed with us. Her name is Alanna and she is from Australia and is our age. She graduated from uni for Exercise Science. Dinner with the group – buffet style and then a “booze” cruise – unlimited drinks for a 90 minute boat ride along the canal. The tour bus drove us to Centraal Station where we boarded the boat. Inside had seating and a bar in the back. It was beautiful to see the different parts of Central Amsterdam. We then docked and majority of my group went to a Sex show where people have sex on stage in front of you. We (Crystle and Klarice) opted out and explored on our own to find some cake to celebrate Klarice’s birthday before heading back to the hotel.