Thursday, April 10, 2003

European Whirl - day 1

April 10th'03

London 06:00 … Royal Hotel - Russel Square

It’s a very cold dawn. Even snowflakes had the chance to flying around from the hazy morning sky, at April. I met 2 girls in the tube station, which turned out to be my roommates for almost 10 nights out of 14 nights. They were Ji Su, a young timid Korean girl and Fren, a young vivid Thailand girl. We checked in, got our baggage weighted and find our place in the bus. Off we went to Dover. All the way, the sky was still looked gloomy. Snow was flying all around us, really afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see what my friend adore as “the Parisian blue sky” for these 15 days. There’re 48 of us, half Asian, 10 boys.

The driver’s name is Craig, and the tour manager is Kristy. We drove towards East London, through Greenwich to Dover. A policeman came to our bus to check our passports. All we had to do was open the front page with our pictures, put it near our face and smiled as similar as possible with our passport photos. Then … on we went to the ferry. It’s a very big ferry and very well organized … how I wish the ferry from Java to Bali was also such as good as this one.

For this trip, “Life is a Highway” was chosen as our National morning song. Rock and Roll … it turned out that Craig likes only Rock or techno music; no jazz, blues, and forget about classics! I have no problem sleeping anyway.


We said “Good Bye” to the White Cliff Dover, happily, unlike the English army that went off war from Dover harbor years ago. For them, the meaning of White Cliff Dover is ‘home’. For us … adventure! ^.^ The ferry has any facilities you can imagine. Restaurant, Shops (of course), bureau exchange, game center, and sofas for us to sleep ^.^ It took around 1,5 hours before it hit the land of France.

We drove across France, through Belgium, and arrive at Amsterdam at the afternoon. We stayed at the Youth Hostel, 4 persons in an in-suit room. The Contiki group prepared our first dinner. Not bad, just don’t think that chicken and beef barbeque with salad and bread are Dutch traditional meal. But it was the first good hot meal I had for this Easter (since my hall doesn’t provide any meal in holiday term *.* And there’re 2 more girls who arrived at Amsterdam earlier.

First night at Amsterdam … excited!! Kristy already introduce us to how liberal Dutch is. Drugs, liquors, sex … “feel free to try, but don’t bring anything outside Holland, or I’ll kick you out from the bus!” We had an excursion for tonight, a candle light canal cruise! There’s 2 hours free time between dinner and the cruise, so I decided to leave my footprint at the South part of Amsterdam. There’s a guy, Australian boy, who also wanted to use this spare time. He asked me if I wanted to accompany him for ‘a cup of coffee’. “There’s a coffee shop that sells heroine in Leiseplein,” he said. “No thanks! I don’t smoke!” So we split, began my architecture journey! It’s too short to see Amsterdam just in an hour time, but enough to make me amaze of how different it is. First, of course the bicycles. I even saw a policeman fine a bicycle rider! Second, the canals. And third, the trams that runs along with bicycles and cars. It rained a little bit, but I still managed to catch some shots.




The candle light canal cruise costs 26,5 Euro … not a bad bargain considered we had a chance to know each other for the first time, with a small cup of Apple Champagne (I called it that way because it taste like Apple soda but made me blushed ^.^) and different type of cheese, and wine or beer of orange as much as you want after. It’s a good tour since one of the Contiki crew said few things about few histories of these buildings and those bridges. And the most important thing was … it was the first time in my life to encounter with one of Renzo Piano’s work … though up till now I still don’t know what the name of this building is! ^.^ Somehow, not doing homework before going to a place gave some excitement … but loosing more I suppose ^.^



After the cruise trip, there were 2 choices we could make, went back to the hostel with the bus, or to the Red Light District! Nobody wanted to go back ^.^ So all of us began to move towards the direction … a place where male is more than female. It was an easy place to find … really red! Red curtains in any floors, either draws closed or opened. Window cases show girls and old women wearing mini underwear that glows under the florescence light. Life shows with pictures and sounds, either peeping or glaring … and males starring at us who wear long coats! What a liberal city! I don’t think I’ll let my children come to Amsterdam before age 25 ^.^ We split … some want to peep, some wanted to glare, some wanted to visit the Sex Museum, few wanted to go back; Gillian, a pretty Jamaican girl and me. I decided to use my one and only night in Amsterdam, by walking back to the hostel instead of taking the tram. Lucky that Gillian didn’t mind too, so we walked. With a few wrong-taken- roads, it took us 2 hours to reach the hostel. I felt a little bit weird to realize how quite it was the area apart from the Red Lights District. Some window cases were awesome, without girls of course, that still have lights on. We met some nice people who showed us where we were and where should we go to be able to reach our hostel.


The roof of the Rijksmuseum looked extremely beautiful that night, because it told us that we were almost finished our journey (our hostel just 20 minutes away from the museum). We walked through it, accompanied by the Vivaldi’s 4 seasons symphony – spring – that was played by an old guy underneath the museums’ gate, through the dark Museumstraat that was lightened with a long floor lights – with a girl sat in a corner tried to draw under a torch and some boys playing skateboards. Tired, but happy! Thanks God still loves us and protected us, because the next morning, Yuki, a Chinese girl, said that it was very unwise to walk in Amsterdam at midnight, “it was not as safe as you thought!”


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