I’m currently on vacation, on a fabulous road trip going through the Netherlands, Germany, and ending in Switzerland. Let’s say my husband watches a lot of Top Gear.
But there are some things that one can find traveling that you must blog about. Considering how much I’ve been focusing on my setting of Las Vegas in my Beware of Warlock series, this detail just stuck out and had to be shared. It’s a little gem I’ve find on my adventure thus far while battling jet lag.
For anyone that has traveled, the rule to battling jet lag is sight see as much as possible and try to stay up the whole day to watch the sun set. This can be difficult when in Europe in the summertime since the sun doesn’t set to almost ten, and I’d just flown all the way to Amsterdam from California. Not to mention the plane delay, check in luggage lost, and in general staying awake distractions.
So, I had to keep going and partake in as much of Amsterdam as I could for the limited full day my husband and I have to visit. Just to note, I’ve been to Amsterdam only one time before. Going to show my age with this one, but 1992 was my last time here.
While going to school in Paris, I took a tourist weekend to Amsterdam. It was just after New Year’s, and I swore I’d be back when it was summer. Little sun and freezing cold can try a Californian’s patience. But I knew that summer would be a better option to explore the city. Being the starving college student, I used most of my cash to see Anne Frank’s house. And that was it. I had no dinner money. So when the other people on the tour went for dinner and said they were going to the Red Light District, I answered I didn’t want to. Truth was, I had no money for dinner. I bought snacks at the hostel vending machine, and used an orange I brought from Paris to add to my meager meal. It took 20 years to finally full fill that promise.
Cut to 2014, and I’m finally back in Amsterdam visiting in the 21st century. Some things are timeless. The bikes are still here. But there is a three story bike parking garage, and everyone is decking out with orange and soccer balls for the World Cup 2014. (As of this time, Team USA is still in the running for the cup. Go USA!) There is the “I Am Amsterdam” letters in front of the Rijks Museum. A girl ran into me while looking at her phone, and I was staying wisely out of the bike path.
Things are different yet the same. There is the waft of the legal cannabis in the streets in certain parts of the city. The shops have placards of different green and brown buds in the “Coffee Shops”. But being from California, the one difference I noticed was that it was in the street. If you go to some concerts in Cali, the air will be more strong from all the green card holders standing around. There are some aromas that can’t be hidden. No matter where you are in the world when you smoke it.
By 9 pm., I’d managed to stay awake, and headed over to the Red Light District to finally see what people had told me before, girls in windows with red lights on the buildings. Basically, things are not as obvious as it may seem. You could almost miss it if you go down the wrong streets. In fact, we walked by lots of regular shops and bars that bring memories of New Orleans to mind. People partying and hanging out in the streets, and a lot of bicycles. Then something catches my attention. A sign of “Welcome to Las Vegas”. I’m so fascinated, I have to take pictures, because who would want to put the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign in their bar, except that there is a healthy interest for things of American culture in Amsterdam. Don’t get me started about the number of things in clothes stores that say “New York”. Ok, I’ll admit, I had to do a little shopping.
And then I turned my head and saw this. You think the guys standing on a bridge looking down a canal would alert me. But everyone was carrying on like a normal Friday night. But as I turned my head, I started laughing. Because I had found the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign as a clue. I had found the Red Light District with the famous sign that has been in my thoughts a lot from writing Never Fall For A Warlock. And I totally got the joke. This was the edge of Amsterdam’s Las Vegas. And they got it. They got the whole Las Vegas “Anything Can Happen” attitude. And I smiled and thought, hell, I like this town already. Glad I made it back. It was worth the wait.
**Marilyn Vix is the author of Never Fall For A Warlock which is set in Las Vegas, NV. It is the second in her novelette series, Beware of Warlocks. Marilyn is a paranormal romance writer that loves to include her travel experiences in her writing. Her ebooks can be found on Amazon.com.