Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A day out in Amsterdam...

Recently I had a day out to Amsterdam. Big deal you might say. Woo hoo, I say, yippee, a day off, without kids (I mean without my little cherubs of joy and happiness). We really didn’t care where we went, a day off is a day off! So the agenda for this day out was a) go to a museum b) check out the red light district and c) drink beer. I’m pleased to say all were achieved, but an unexpected event did take place, I had a massage. First, let me set the scene.

We arrived a tad weary and foot sore after a standing train trip (temporary insanity and pure delight from being set free, led to a quick – read crazy - decision to journey on a longer trip than necessary). Keen to get away from the Central Station hullabaloo we found a tram to take us to the museum district.

Walking tall (the Dutchman) and smug (both – but mostly me) we passed the very long and rain soaked Easter Saturday queue into the Van Gogh museum, having gladly purchased our express tickets online. We raced around the seriously over crowded museum at a cracking pace, trying to quell the rising disquiet. The novelty of the multi lingual crowds including a few Australians wore off quickly (I stopped myself to running up to people and saying, are you Australian? where are you from? you see I don’t hear English that much living in downtown Zoetermeer, it’s all Dutch). After a somewhat empty museum experience (not overly enamoured with the art, apologies to the Van Gogh enthusiasts) we were pleased to find the exit and burst out into the fresh air and temporary sunshine.

A little frazzled, we found our way into the red light district, and I was surprised at the age of some of the women in windows (both young and old). It was seedier than I expected and the aroma from the coffee shops filled the air. Keen to escape we ducked out of the rain into a bar (after our third attempt we found one decorated in pirate theme – and no we weren’t looking for a pirate bar) to discover the no smoking rules are rather loosely applied (yes we were looking for no smoking – I’m a reformed smoker snob). The beer still tasted good and we downed a couple and set off for further adventure.

We found a delicious Japanese restaurant, and I realised how much I missed Japanese cuisine, which I haven’t had in NL (the Dutch clearly haven’t embraced Japanese like Aussies have). It was an added bonus the menu read the same as Japanese in the land down under, and unlike other Asian food here was not Dutchified (read - with an odd curry flavour).

Tummies full, we stopped outside a Chinese massage shop (looking pretty legit – it even had a picture of a body with acupressure points on it). The Dutchman opted for a foot massage which took place in the shop in comfortable leather (probably pleather) chairs. For my head, neck and back massage, I was asked to go downstairs by a Chinese lady who by rough estimates was a third of my size (I’m no Amazon, just a healthy Australian, a little bit chubbier for two kids and a few too many stroopwafels). The stairs were so tiny and narrow I had to do a quick calculation to see if I would even fit! Making it successfully down and a quick miscommunication between the miniature masseuse and I, it was established I had to be naked from top to waist, with my jeans undone. Okay, I can live with that, but I wasn’t expecting her to watch me get undressed (she might have been thinking, crikey I’ve got an oompa loompa here – really I’m not obscenely obese, she was unnaturally tiny). She administered a somewhat unorthodox massage (I spent much of the time giggling and wondering if she was going to offer a happy finish – while at the same time being pleased it was me and not my Dutchman getting the massage). My miniature masseuse had obviously watched Meet the Fockers (think the scene where Gaylord’s mum massages Pam’s dad), and spent much time kneeling over my body on the bed while kneading my shoulders and basically riding me like a pony. It took all of my resolve not to laugh really loudly, partially through fear out of what was going to happen next, and mostly because I kept having flashbacks to another unorthodox massage I had in India (I had a man massage the majority of my body, paying particular attention to my lady lumps – and if that wasn’t humiliating enough – he put me in this quasi shower and washed me down – and, can you believe this, I even paid him and a) did not die of embarrassment or b) get sexually violated any more than I've already discussed here. It turned out he wasn’t the man recommended by the lonely planet he was just filling in).

Having escaped my interesting massage in Amsterdam experience the Dutchman told me they were all laughing upstairs about the squeaky bed downstairs, and joked about what the (skinny mini) masseuse was doing. So that was my massage in Amsterdam!

We finished off our big day out with many more beers (Palm and Jupiler) and the Dutchman finally dragging me home to my awaiting family. Back to being a mum again...


  1. "I stopped myself to running up to people and saying, are you Australian? ..."

    I am always so tempted to do this too, so I know the feeling. It happens more often when I'm overseas (e.g., Oslo, Prague) than in the Netherlands. Also after so long without talking to Australians (I don't speak to my family that often) I often can't tell an accent when I do hear one anyway ...

  2. Hey Nicole, it's good to know I'm not the only one! It's probably not such a bad thing you can't pick an Aussie accent, it means they are not saying "crikey, yeah na, she'll be right mate" :-)