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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tell me about Ghana and Amsterdam

I added a 2-day stopover in Amsterdam to my "Ghana 2008" trip. I don't imagine I'll remember anything about Amsterdam, but I feel like I need to get my planning game up. Usually, when I take a trip it's with my chick so I pretend to plan and shit, but really I'm just sitting on my ass. Soon enough, she figures out that if she's going to have any fun, she's going to have to plan it all herself. That approach normally works. Once, I was forced to plan a trip all by myself because she was on to me. This led me to forget my bags at home. Needless to say, I don't want that to happen this time. She's not coming on this one, so I need to fool someone else into doing all my planning.

Do any of you fools out there know anything about these two countries? Got any suggestions for me?

When I bought my travel guides for this trip, the lady behind the counter at Borders told me she did Amsterdam in a day and a half and all she remembers is bumping into a transvestite and that's it. She regrets that and I suppose I would too.

A friend of mine was born in Ghana and then he moved to the Netherlands and then he moved here and we grew up together. I would ask him about his countries, but now he's a body-builder and I avoid saying much to him these days because if I say the wrong word he might trap my neck in one of his muscles and snap my head off. I've seen too many Schwarzenegger movies to take the chance.

Anyhow, I'm finding that this leaving the country thing has some hidden costs. Friday, I got some deadly diseases injected into me so I can avoid contracting those same diseases while I'm in Ghana. For my trouble, I spent $380, had some slight dizziness over the weekend and soreness in my arm, which my oldest brother made worse by punching me right where I got the shot. When I was a kid he always managed to punch me after I got a shot. After he punched me on Sunday he wrestled me to the ground. My mother then reminded him that he was almost 40, to which he replied, "I'm not almost 40, I'm 36." *snicker, snicker*

Then there's the malaria medication. The woman at the pharmacy asked me for my insurance card before telling me the price. "I don't have one," I told her. Then she stares at me for a moment. "Umm...the malaria medication is $260," she said. I replied, "Oh." She went into the back and did something and dropped the price by $100.

And grandmother is 101, so yay for her...and yay for Obama, don't turn into an Ol' Bama. Here's an alternate version of Monday's song with an extra verse to get him through November:


Abdel Shakur said...

Amsterdam is my favorite damn city in the world. Not that I been a whole lot of places, but I been there three times. I'm not sure what kind of experience you're looking to have, but besides definitely hitting up the Van Gogh museum, I would just make a plan to walk the city. If you into the coffee shops, I would hit that up, but Amsterdam is a perfect place to have a low-key visit. There's interesting stuff everywhere, so you don't have to worry about missing the "real" city.

dh said...

That's two votes for the Van Gogh museum. And there is a decent market near the museum. And there's a massive toy shop in the center of town that looks really terrific from the outside. A friend of mine who is from Rotterdam showed me it but said that is what all the tourists see so we didn't go in. He also pretended to get us completely lost and asked directions from a Turkish fellow who didn't speak Dutch or English. So don't look him up. Oh and Anne Frank's house, not so much because the museum is great but because, well, I'm not sure how to describe it.

I was there in January and it was so shockingly cold and the canals were all frozen I couldn't bear to stay outside for long--so, definitely, walk around the city, the canals, ride the trolley cars, sit at the caf├ęs (don't think I didn't see that link you hid), watch out for the dog crap on the sidewalks, wonder at the lights of the city at night--take it all in. My other friends gave me some kind of pancake thing for breakfast--they're pretty good.

Rion Amilcar Scott said...

Van Gogh museum's now at the top of the list. Thanks!

Keep the suggestions coming guys!

Anonymous said...

i would say just get a handy dandy travel guide (which you have) and plan a little but chill a lot.

walking randomly (do pay attention to your surroundings) is always fun. or you can simply follow the other tourists.

bring a camera (to document, document, document)and check so you can dress appropriately.

learn a few phrases...just because. like thank you and where is...

okay tis all.

dh said...

dank u, and waar is . . . And don't say "dank u" as if it rhymes with "dank, dude." It sounds like "dahnk-oo." To practice, say "dahnk-oo, dahhling, dahnk-oo" until people look at you funny.

The great thing about Dutch is that it sounds a lot like English but with more phlegm. You hear Dutch people speaking and think, "Hey, they're speaking English." But then you listen closer and realize that they're not, because it's completely indecipherable. Fortunately, most people in Amsterdam speak English, although people are almost always nicer when you try to speak the language.

The massive shop in the center of the old town I mentioned is a department store, Bijenkorf, and it's worth looking at inside and out, even if it's touristy. I don't know how to get there, though, because my friend kept jumping randomly on and off the trams, laughing at me because I couldn't read the maps. So, yeah, get a travel guide.

Someone needs to say something about Ghana now.