After being in the rain for two straight days in Fontainebleau and not foreseeing any stop, we examined the map to see where we could go to escape. While unblocking our phone at the SFR, we discovered that we could use the internet in the store (another free source, yet you can only use their device, much like at the library in Font). We looked at the forecast and saw that the rain was to continue for four more days and then we looked at the map...and that is when it hit me. Steve had to go to Amsterdam, so that is what we did. The next morning, we packed up and headed for Europe's version of the sin city, with it's brown cafes, "coffee" shops and red light shananigans.
We found a lovely campsite immediately on the outskirts of Amsterdam proper, called Camp Zeeburg. We arrived at the camp in the evening and decided to make dinner and keep it mellow for our first evening in the Netherlands; the next day, we would truly begin our Amsterdam adventure.
We woke up the next morning and decided to rent bikes, as Amsterdam is the most bike friendly city in the world and it takes a mere 20 minutes to pedal to the center of town from the campsite. Off we set on our two wheeled cruisers to the AMAZING Van Gogh exhibit at the Hermitage museum. The normal Van Gogh museum was closed for renovation so it had been relocated and re-imagined in this alternate location. Then we walked through the town center, watched a fire juggler in the square (Vin would have been psyched..contact fire BALL juggling), discovered a flea market near the music concorde, had another chance to enjoy a Döner, and enjoyed our requisite walk through the Red Light district so Steve could see the ladies of the night...
The next day we were a bit sore from our day on the bikes, so we decided to take the metro for the day instead. To get to the metro, you need to walk about 1.5 km but the day was crisp and dry, so we grabbed a backpack and headed out. We began our day at Vondel park, a beautiful park in the center of town near the Rijks museum. I had spent several days in the park many years ago on a previous visit to Amsterdam; I had a friend who worked at the Teahouse, a round building in the middle of the park, where you can hang out outside of in, eating delicious sandwiches and drinking delectable Belgian beers. We walked around the park until we arrived at the Teahouse and stopped for a bite, while enjoying the beautiful weather. Then we set off to find the perfect sunny spot to have my first juggling lesson (actually, my second, I faintly remember Vin attempting to teach me for a short time in Alamo square once before). I thought it was time to try something other than climbing as my belly grows.
After an almost one complete volley of three balls, a quick Yelp search returned a Belgian restaurant serving a large selection of beers of the same origin. With time to kill before dinner we hunted down a small photography museum called Foam. It was a refreshing change from paintings of Jesus, the usual fare in European museums. These included some particularly moving portraits of young gypsy children taken by an extremely talented young female Dutch photographer who died at an early age while visiting Guatemala.
This being our last night in Amsterdam, we felt that we had to attempt to go out and enjoy some of the nightlife. After dinner, we headed off to the Paradiso, a local nightclub where we could see both live music and hear some local djs. Unfortunately, the band we ended up seeing was not quite our cup of tea and the music played by the local djs pandered to a much younger crowd and was overall pretty terrible. We stayed at the club for two and a half hours and really gave our best effort, but in the end, we just couldn't handle any more than that. We headed back to the campsite, still yearning for a night of good music and dancing. I guess we can try again in France or Spain.
We left Amsterdam the next day and headed back to Font. We originally thought that we might want to visit Brussels on our way back up but realized that visiting cities puts quite a dent in our budget and that we needed to get back to our usual modus operandi - wild camping, home cooking, and hard climbing...