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I wonder how anyone did anything before the internet. Of course Al Gore’s invention didn’t really catch on until the last handful of years, but now that it’s here I can’t imagine what I’d do without it. From using this blog as a way to keep in touch with you to my current favorite website: Meetup.com. Without Meetup or the interwebs I don’t even want to think about how much longer it would take to meet people here, find my way, and settle in.

Saturday night, after a day of doing less than nothing (but enjoying it this time) I made my way into Amsterdam for a Meetup at an Irish pub, Molly Malone’s. At it’s peak, there were probably 40 group members at the pub. The place was packed with people from all over the world who have also found themselves living and working in Amsterdam. This is my third event with the group and it’s nice to start recognizing faces and remembering names, but also to continue meeting new people. I find that I gravitate toward the Americans I meet, but everyone is friendly and genuinely interested in one another. It’s a great group and atmosphere. If it weren’t for this social outlet, I’m not sure how long my sanity would stay in tact so I’m extremely thankful for events like this one.

If you’re ever looking to get outside your social circle or start a new one, at home or away, I would recommend Meetup.com as a great starting point. There are thousands of groups for just about any type of interest you can imagine. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s easy to start a new group and meet like-minded people.

Since it had been a lazy day and I was ready to get out for some fresh air, I made my way into the city a couple of hours before the event. The bar is located near the Red Light District, a part of Amsterdam I had not yet explored. What a weird place. In the middle of the District is Oude Kerk (Old Church) so, as I read somewhere, this church is basically watching over the area. Having driven through the Nevada desert a fair number of times, I’m used to seeing the signs for the Mustang Ranch and other brothels on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. But in the Red Light District it’s right there, in your face.

Up and down the canals and through the narrow side streets, the tall windows are framed by red lights (neon in the newer spots, red lamps in the older). Behind the glass and light stands a girl in a bikini or underwear drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette, or just staring out the window. It’s such a weird thing. I realize it’s legal and accepted, but something just feels so wrong and dirty walking by those windows. On the lighter side, Amsterdam is beautiful at night, especially away from the tourist traps and busy areas. I have to work on getting better night photos, but I was able to snap a few that came out half way decent.

As for today, Sunday, I’m being lazy once again. I’d thought about taking the train to Brussels for the day but after getting in at 3am and having my fill of beer over the last couple of days I decided to save it for next weekend. Instead I’m doing laundry, watching the news, and contemplating a trip outside. Maybe find my way to the library. See if I can get a card and find some good travel books. In English.

UPDATE: So much for my plans for the day. The shopping center and library is apparently only open one Sunday a month and it isn’t today. Trying to make the most of the remaining hours of light, I decided instead to check out a bike and go to Amsterdamse Bos. Pedaling to my destination felt great. I was getting exercise and going somewhere new. Until… the chain broke. DOH! I was halfway there, about a mile from home, and had to turn around and head back. Blerg. Since the bikes have to be returned to the front desk and the front desk is only open until 4:00 on Sunday I was now out of time.

Seems my plans for the day aren’t working out as I would hope. Rather than face more failure, I think I’ll just stay in, watch movies, and cook some dinner.

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