30 December 2008


Well, here we are in Amsterdam, sitting in our bed at Lloyd Hotel, where we decided to have an hour of sleep at about 4pm and woke up at 11pm. Heh. So much for willpower. I can barely remember the alarm going off! And so we have decided to try to stay awake until 2 or 3, and then catch another few hours of shut-eye at a reasonable time. Yay for free wireless access at this place, so I can write to you from bed!

Flights from Melbourne to London were OK. We were in the VERY LAST ROW, which turned out to be quite alright. The first flight to Singapore felt like it was about 48930 hours long, but the longer one went by smoothly with lots of sleeping and delicious curries (mmmm, PICKLES!) There weren’t any screaming children, and despite the usual whatever kind of service and the fact our movies on demand didn’t always work (oh, Qantas, why so average?), it was fine. I watched Mamma Mia! And despite a couple of issues, which I managed to ignore slightly, I LOVED IT, OMG. SO MUCH FUN. And the crappy sound quality meant that Pierce Brosnan didn’t sound half as bad as I expected!

For a second I thought we had free wireless in Heathrow Terminal 5. I got the laptop out and all (after changing in the bathroom and drinking a cup of Earl Grey tea and sharing a sandwich from Eat). I wouldn’t have been TOO surprised, given that it is so far away from anything resembling society that it might as well be . . . well, to get there we went on a sekrit bus with a bunch of tired and/or obnoxious Australians complaining about/loving the cold (STEAMY BREATH!) for about seven hours through a variety of concrete tunnels, and I thought perhaps instead of flying they were going to bus us to Amsterdam.

Alas it wasn’t so. So we got on a half-full plane for the 45 minute flight. The squalling child in the row behind us was more than made up for as I went from side to side of the plane to watch the sun rise – it was gorgeous!

More flight pics

As we came in to land I started squeeing about the frost that was all over the grass, and the fact that some of the wee irrigation channels and whatnot had ICE on the side of them, and that the houses were all pointy and that I saw some WINDMILLS . . . I squeed quite a bit. We touched down and managed to guess our way onto the train to Amsterdam Centraal. When we got out of the station . . .


It was bright and sunny, but OMG, my face just about fell off! Dan got us some tram tickets, and the conductor on the tram was very nice – he got us exactly where we wanted to go. The room at our hotel wasn’t ready yet, but the kind staff member locked up our bags ready for us to return, and we set off to explore.

Walking was nice, even though my trousers seem to be basically the coldest item of clothing in the world – not cold as in ‘letting the cold through’ but cold as in ‘taking the cold and MAKING IT COLDER’. WTF? Tomorrow I will wear thermals underneath! Then again, what can you expect when you are walking around in weather that is COLDER THAN BEING INSIDE YOUR FRIDGE?! I kept having to make detours to crunch the frosty grass, or make finger prints in the frost on picnic tables and cars. I’m really grown up, yo.

We were in Amsterdam for a couple of days in 2005, and back then we went to a couple of museums and wandered around trying to find a vegetarian café that had been recommended (we found it, it was good). This time we were not looking for anything in particular, and it was very enjoyable. We took off in any old direction, along canals, through slightly higgledy-piggledy alleyways, into a shopping centre called SISSY-BOY HOMELAND to keep warm for a bit.

We followed some street signs to HOMOMONUMENT, which is exactly that – a kind of platform over the water of a canal dedicated to men and women who have been persecuted because of their homosexuality (but not you bisexuals and other queers, sheesh!). We saw an ad for Kiki on Steroids, but it’s only open from Wednesday to Sunday (it was Monday) and closed on the 4th of January (we’re back through on the 5th). ANNOYING!

After that, it was time for a snack, so we went to Sara’s Pancake House. Unlike the person who wrote this review, we had adequate service with a smile (and, like everywhere, the switch to English without even needing to ask), I had a plate of deliciously moreish poffertjes, and D had a kind of pizza pancake. Yes, it was overpriced, but we weren’t complaining – it was warm and we were fed!

We decided to walk along the canals back to Amsterdam Centraal, then catch the tram to the hotel. We managed that without too much hassle, wandering along the less-touristy parts, watching the street cleaners do their thing, seeing the front of a van fall off and the driver almost drive over the top of it, taking a detour through the Bloemenmarkt (so many tulip bulbs for sale!), trying to catch the last bit of the sun as it gave up its feeble attempt to rise to a point that made it look like anything more than early morning or late afternoon . . . Did I mention it was cold? IT WAS COLD!

At about 3pm, we made it back to the Hotel, got our bags and found our room. It is a lovely room – sparsely furnished, but with a big, super-comfy bed, a nice hot shower, and lots of polished floor space. Our views are quite nice – waking up at 11pm and looking out the window, we were treated to a complete change, with strings of lights sparkling over the water. The basketball court down below is now completely frosted over. It’s beautiful.

Well, I’ve just spent 2 hours editing and uploading photos, so now I will post this, then try to sleep for a bit more. Tomorrow we’re off to Ameland, where the top temperature is forecast to be OVER ZERO DEGREES! (The low is minus 4, though.) One of our Dutch relatives is driving us from Lelystad, which is very kind of her, and which might mean we get to stop off somewhere and look around. We shall see!

More Amsterdam pics here!

26 December 2008


one of the tasks i need to complete before we leave is editing and uploading all the photos we've taken since coming back to melbourne in october. you can have a look at them here as i continue to work on it!

23 December 2008



18 December 2008


We will be staying at Hotel Nicolaas Witsen on the 5th of January, between Ameland and the plane to London. OMG WE LEAVE NEXT WEEKEND! HALP!

Tomorrow I hope to get down to the Kathmandu clearance store on Smith St and find the following on special: merino thermal tops; walking socks of woolliness; corduroy trousers (I tried them on months ago, so I REALLY HOPE they still have them in my size).

Other things to think about. We have to coordinate all the clothes washing in between working Christmas hours at our shops. Which packs will we take? Which books? Shall I take some uni reading with me? Laptops? Which coats (thick coat and thin jumpers/shirts, or thinner coat with bulkier jumpers)?

All of this thinking is making me hungry!

4 December 2008


We have booked a night at Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam for the night before we head up to Ameland. Close to the station, which is nice, and a private room, which is also nice (I feel a bit wary of dorms and shared bathrooms being trans and all).

And EXCITEMENT! I am going to visit one of my online friends in Italy! I am flying from London to Bologna on the 14th of Jan, and returning on the 16th. DB will be staying in London and catching up with family and friends over that time.

Oooh, now it's feeling a lot more real. And soon! Ahh, so much to dooooo!

3 December 2008


We will be leaving on December 28th for the Netherlands, and more specifically for Ameland for a kind of family reunion thing. We're looking forward to it, although we are both so busy with uni and Christmas retail work that we haven't really thought about if much. After Holland, we will be spending a couple of weeks in England, including a long weekend in a cottage in the Cotswolds. We return to Melbourne on the 20th of January.

It is going to be cold over there in the back-to-front season! COLDER THAN COLD CAN BE. We need to stock up on winter-type things. Do any of you Northern Hemispherians have suggestions? What kinds of trousers do you wear? Will I be OK with jeans over thermal leggings? Or are jeans crap because they get damp and really cold? Lots of thin layers, or a huge coat to take off inside (because central heating is much better/more existent there than here)?

Also, does anyone have a suggestion for a good hostel (with a double/private room) or good cheap hotel in Amsterdam?

Thanks in advance!