We stayed on a lovely houseboat. It didn't really feel like a boat, more like a static caravan moored in the canal. It was cosy and quirky with enough space for all of us. We spent plenty of time chatting, spread out on the sofa bed, Prosecco glass in hand, crisps nearby. It tell you, it was a bit like in the olden days when hanging out with friends was the norm rather the exception. I don't know how I managed to find such a wonderful bunch of friends. Thank you Angeline, Emily, Laura and Zoe. The funniest thing was that the blokes left behind with a great many kids arranged to meet up also. They enjoyed a take-away and bloke chat. Maybe they were planning a bloke trip or something.
We arrived in Amsterdam at lunch time on Friday. After taken ownership of the boat we explored the neighbourhood, had lunch in a Cafe, wandered around some more and then went back to the boat for food and a wee rest before going out for the night. The plan was to go dancing. There was an 80's and 90's night at a club called the Sugar Factory. We went to an upmarket bar to warm up, where we met the former Dutch prime minister and the bar's very own cat. It was happily sleeping on a sofa, not the least bothered by the noise and all the people. The club was buzzing with people of all sorts and ages. The music was not great. I am not going to mention the word we used to describe it exactly but I shall mention that Ghostbusters and the Spice Girls featured on the DJ's favourites list, as well as Macarena. School disco anyone? I didn't dance as much as I normally would but it didn't matter. I was delightful to see all the happy faces dancing and laughing. There was a marked absence of orangey spray tanned girls with over straightened hair and ridiculous high heels. There were not many track suits to be seen either. The young (and not so young) look beautifully normal, something that maybe the Glaswegian weekend scene should aspire to. We didn't get back until well after 3 am, stopping at the Irish pub for a wee last drink and at snack bar for chips with satay sauce and mayonnaise.
On Saturday we set off with no major plans other than visiting a market, look into some shops and partake in a boat tour. We did indeed all of the above but we also bought a wedding dress for the bride to be. The wedding dress buying came a bit as a surprise, not least to the bride, who already had a dress. It is a beautiful beautiful vintage style dress that must have been waiting in the shop for a very special bride to be from Glasgow to arrive. The dress came to life on her and I am not ashamed to admit that emotional tears were shed. The boat tour paled into insignificance after the experience of buying a wedding dress without actually planning to do so. Still, it was interesting. Houses along the canals seemed a bit wonky, sometimes distinctly leaning in one or the other direction, often held in place by discreet metal structures. The ground is apparently very sandy and soft. I am not sure how comfortable I would be in a flat where you can roll from one end of a room to another without any effort.
It was tempting to spend another night partying but tiredness, hunger and maybe a sliver of common sense drove us in the direction of Chinatown instead, where a delicious Malaysian meal was devoured with relish. We also learned that Google maps should not be trusted for directions and that there is at least one foul tempered tram driver in Amsterdam, slamming the door shut before all of us had managed to spill out of the tram and passengers waiting at the stop could board. It was interesting that the waiting Dutch passengers apologised for the rude behaviour of one of their fellow Amsterdonians, rather than complaining about being left behind.
Sunday was dedicated to our cultural education. We visited the Museum of Modern Art but not until after stopping at a maker's market where we bought lovely handmade things. The queues at other cultural venues were too long to be seriously considered. Instead, we explored some more after dropping our bags at the luggage storage. We accidentally entered the red light district. It is immensely sad to see young girls posing in a window, waiting to be chosen like a Mars bar in a vending machine. It was angering and sobering to see men ogling and equally angering to see people take photos. We left the area as quickly as possible and went back to neighbourhood with independent shops, where more money was spent than planned on a handbag, ear rings and other bits and pieces.
All to soon we had to head back to the airport. I would have liked the weekend to last another day or so. I am happy to have amazing friends who like to spend time with me. I like to spend time with them, too. We are all so different and yet we have a lot in common. I like the person that I am when I am with my friends. It is a happy me. I have laughed so much my abdominals are sore and I may have peed myself once or twice, too. I have added to the general entertainment by being myself - and by being clumsy. Imagine for example how the laughter echoed through the departure hall at the airport when my pull-along trolley slipped out of my sweaty hand and whooshed down the escalator, myself in hot pursuit. My brain could just not compute why I never caught up with the case. We were going up. Nobody was hurt.
And so it is back to normal routines. The children have not missed me one bit but were pleased to see the small gifts I brought them. It is a short week and I am grateful for this. How was your weekend? Do tell, please, for I may not have the time to catch up with missed reading. xx