Day 2 - Arriving in Amsterdam

Monday, August 20, 2001
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Elevation: -10 feet
Number of digital pictures Larry accidentally deleted from my camera: 2
Number of vehicular collisions witnessed: 3
Data transfer rate at the Internet Coffeehouse: 56 Kbps

We checked into the Schiphol Airport Hilton and Helene and I received our first phone call. It was "Hans" who said in his Dutch accent that he heard that there were two girls just in from America and did we want him to show us around? It was Andy posing as "Hans."

We took a taxi to Central Station. We had lunch in some "Platz." I can't remember the name. Andy was not scoring points with our waitress. He wanted a cappuccino and asked how it was prepared and the waitress kept saying to him, "We only have one kind of cappuccino." When Andy was thirsty for water, he took a sip from his Camelback bladder because he was afraid to ask the waitress for anything else. Speaking of water, Andy already started carrying Helene's water in his backpack and we hadn't even begun hiking yet.

Lunch in some "platz" in Amsterdam

Andy had a map of the city and starting circling points of interest. When I looked at the map later, I saw his notes: "Sex," "Erotica," "Jewish," "Dope," "Heineken," "Anne Frank," and "Stedelijk." Unfortunately, we didn't make it to all of those hot spots, though the Anne Frank museum was memorable. So was the part about when Fred got hit by a car. Larry happened to be on the telephone with Linda as Fred was hit and Larry said, "Oh my god! That car just hit Fred. Now he's rolling on the car! Now he's falling on the ground. Fred, are you all right?" Thank God Fred was all right.

Marcee in Amsterdam (photo courtesy of Andy Katz)

We visited the Van Gogh museum, walked through the Lido, watched a life-sized game of chess, sat at the Spui (pronounced "spway,") watched Microsoft and South African sponsored trolleys pass by, watched a parade and witnessed 2 more vehicular collisions. The loudest collision was when a car hit a bicycle and the parts went flying in the street.

Sitting at the Spui waiting for an accident to happen (photo courtesy of Andy Katz)

On a more romantic note, there was a guy giving a girl a leisurely ride on the back of his bicycle and Andy said, "Chivalry lives."

Peter and I started talking about the last minute required gear that we were told we needed and Andy said, "What required gear?" Peter and I said, "You mean you didn't get the letter?" Andy said, "What letter?" Peter and I said, "Oh my god! He didn't get the letter." Andy was getting impatient and said even louder, "What letter?" We told him that the letter said that a down jacket, trekking poles and Nalgene water bottles were now required gear. Andy was frustrated that he didn't get the letter.

Peter and Andy looked into where we could find a good Indonesian restaurant. They found Kantjil and we had an amazing dinner there. We celebrated both Fred's and Larry's birthdays. We called Brad Ramberg from the restaurant to tell him we wished he came with us, but that he was right not to come because we were already feeling unwell from the very high altitude of 10 feet below sea level. We spent a lot of time talking about our prophylactic medication plans. We also started slamming back fluids. Hydrate or die, as they say.

After dinner at Kantjil restaurant

We visited the red light district and the guys enjoyed looking at the women in the windows. Helene asked, "Is tipping allowed?" Then Peter said, "They're trying to tighten it up around here." For some reason we thought both of these remarks were absolutely hilarious and we roared with laughter. As we were laughing, a giant phallus sprayed Andy with water.

I called home to check in and Elana asked me if I had finished climbing yet.