We took a canal boat tour this morning with a gruff captain and a bunch of other tourists. We've tried to avoid these kinds of tourist things, but also haven't been on a boat yet. Nor have we been on a tour, so this was a fun thing to do. The boats are covered, so rain wasn't an issue, although it did obscure the views a little bit. It was fun to see some more of the city, and everything looks a bit different when seen from below.
We also got to see a lot of houseboats on the canals, which some people live on rather than finding apartments. Living in a houseboat in Amsterdam seems like it would be fun for about two days and then I'd be done.
We also saw a giant church, and the smallest house in Amsterdam, which is only one window wide, equating to maybe 7 feet across.
After the boat tour we just wandered around some more and ate lunch. It's going to be a pretty uneventful and lazy last day I think. And that's okay with me.
Just came back from a day out in Europe for the last time. It feels weird and strangely anticlimactic to be ending this trip, but short of some sort of ritualistic ceremony I don't see any other way it could end. We had our best meal of the trip at an Italian restaurant right on the edge of a strip of gay bars. Amsterdam pride festival runs all throughout this week ending tomorrow, so there have been flags and banners everywhere for it. Overall though, there hasn't been a lot in terms of events, at least out in the open.
We ended up finding a big cafe in the park and read there for an hour or so. It was a somewhat chilly day after this morning's rains so we picked a nice sunny spot, ordered drinks, and took our time before dinner.
After crushing our way through the crowds outside a couple of bars, we found this Italian place, and like all but a few of our meals here, ate outside. I'm going to miss eating at tables on sidewalks when I go back home. Beside breakfast, we ate nearly every meal of this trip outside, from my first lunch in Paris nearly 2 weeks ago, all the way up to today. Eating this way keeps you feeling like you're interacting with the city while you eat. I'm fact I don't remember the names of any of the places we ate because the locations mattered so much more.
After dinner we took one more walk through the red light district. It still weirds me out that there are people you can pay to have sex with you standing four feet away, but the area really doesn't feel that seedy. I think part of the reason it's so popular, even with people who don't partake in its most notorious offerings is that it gives you the opportunity to be immersed in this world without actually participating. It's like a Disneyworld of the sex and drug industries. I like that the environment mingles the guilty participants, the curious bystanders, and the reluctant voyeurs all together and let's them sort out their own place in the mix. It also sports the greatest cross-section of people you can find here. I saw families, party boys, business people passing through, and couples of every type and every age. Although the red light district may be more tame than I expected, I found it fascinating and won't soon forget it. I'm just glad we didn't have to sleep there.
I'm looking forward to getting home tomorrow, seeing my parents and girlfriend, and settling into my own bed. Since I left for Europe right after E3 this year, I've been on the move basically non-stop since mid July. I wonder if it will be nice or difficult to settle back into my normal schedule again? I know it could be hard to go back to teaching, but I'll settle in again. This trip has actually been a really intense version of what my work life is like anyway. I know where I'm going and when, but never know exactly how it will be until I get there. So all I can do is take a deep breath and let it all wash over me one more time.