A 21st Birthday with a twist (and an AA van)

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Amsterdam

Most people want to have memorable 21st birthday celebration, and I certainly did; unfortunately not all for the right reasons.

I am the type of person who likes to learn something every day, and I also enjoy looking at how different people live their lives. Not to mention the fact I don’t get away as often as I’d like, which is why I was delighted when I discovered my partner had arranged for me to go on a P&O Ferries mini cruise from Hull to Amsterdam for my birthday.

Despite the trip being booked in order to celebrate my day of birth 21 years earlier (13th January), it was in fact just less than a couple of weeks before the actual date (2nd January to 4th January), but this is an unimportant fact.

Given the time of year, we obviously expected it to be very cold; forecasts even predicting lower temperatures than I had been experiencing at home. We therefore packed accordingly, with plenty of knits and sweaters. The cruise was booked for a bargain price of £36 per person, but food and drink were of course not included. That meant we had to have a comfortable amount of Pounds Sterling to see us through the 2 evenings we were to spend on the cruise ferry, and Euros to enjoy the day in Amsterdam.

The morning came to leave for Hull, and so we proceeded to our destination, 10 of us separated into 3 cars. Before even getting onto the motorway, my car left the other 2 behind, as we stopped at a local garage as somebody wanted a drink. This was no major issue at the time, as in a sense of finding the way I was the most prepared, having both a Sat Nav and AA directions printed off.

I presume it was an omen that my directions were from the AA, as their emergency breakdown number stared at me when I managed to break down 59 miles away from Hull. Luckily I was moments away from the Hartshead Moor services when needing to stop. Fearing my gearbox was not right (judging by its refusal to go into 5th and horrific rattling); I had no option but to call and join the AA, much to their delight I’m sure.

The Hartshead Moor Services

After joining, my girlfriend, friend, brother and I were left to wait for a couple of hours for a recovery truck to come and take us the rest of the way.

Sitting in the passenger seat of a yellow van, on the motorway travelling at no quicker than 56mph and £200 worse off for an hour and a half is not exactly what I’d describe as the pinnacle of my life so far, or indeed my birthday trip, but on the bright side without the AA we would’ve not been going to Amsterdam.

By the time we finally arrived at the port, I had started to feel less sorry for my wounded bank balance, relieved that we’d still managed to get to the cruise.

The ship, named The Pride of Hull, Hull is one of the world’s largest ferries, with the facilities spread over 12 decks, holding 1,360 passengers. It was adequate for our 2 nights aboard, with all of the basics in the cabin; beds, toilet, shower and sink. There was enough entertainment, with several bars, performers, two cinemas, a café, restaurant, duty free shops and more. All of this, and being taken to and from Amsterdam was a bargain price for £72 for 2.

After an evening of enjoying the bars on offer, which were reasonably priced along with cheap cigarettes (£3.69 for 20 L&B) most of us went to bed ready for the 6a.m. wake up call, which I can assure you left the entire group regretting the decision not to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Some took advantage of the 90 minute bus journey into Amsterdam, having a light snooze, before we finally arrived where we’d paid to be, the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, with it’s historic canals, array of museums, and ‘coffeeshops’ if that’s your thing.

First things first, we needed breakfast. So we set off in search of Dutch cuisine; and found Subway.

My personal aim when I originally wanted to go to Amsterdam was to visit the Anne Frank House; this may be because I’m a history geek or it may not, but I and the others (appeared) slightly dejected when we saw the queue. We did however visit the sex museum, which was comical in parts, yet entertaining and interesting in others. Either way it was an eye-opening experience.

Click here to read my review of the sex museum.

Walking past the famous red lights was also an experience in itself. Not one of the women looked particularly inviting to passers by though, with sullen expressions and a lack of eye contact which was contrary to what I’d heard and read.

As it was only a day trip, and a hung over one for most of the group, we didn’t really get to see much more after wandering around, given the 6 hours we had. But for that reason alone I would love to return, possibly spending the night in Amsterdam.

After visiting a coffeeshop, and enjoying some more traditional Dutch food; in a Chinese restaurant, we then returned to catch the coach, and repeated the journey in reverse, and I dreaded what on Earth I was to do about my car when we got to Hull.

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Visiting The Venustempel

Reviews
 
The Venustempel – The first museum of it’s kind

 

 

Amsterdam’s sex museum, The Venustempel (Venus Temple), is the oldest of its kind, being the first one opened in 1985. It is located at the heart of the busiest part of the city, Damrak.

Whilst some may think such museums are sordid and in poor taste, The Venustempel was not intended to be a tacky money maker for tourists to visit. Their website states that ‘there were museums for practically everything but sex’ before this museum was opened. They also claim that the point of the museum is to show ‘the most natural thing in the world’ as it is; something that has been ‘translated into a thousand and one different shapes and forms in the course of the centuries.’

The museum boasts an impressive, artistic collection of erotic pictures, paintings, objects and more, all gathered together personally by the museum owners, and then displayed for public viewing.

On your visit to The Venustempel you will witness how sex and indeed eroticism has evolved through time, from Greek and Roman artefacts, to galleries of pornography. There is also a Madame Tussauds style tribute to 1950’s sex symbol Marilyn Monroe’s famous blowing white dress moment in 1955 film The Seven Year Itch.

Marilyn Monroe's famous moment

Perhaps the most entertaining parts of the museum are the numerous human-size figures, who display different kinds of sexual acts. Some talk and some move, others are behind glass; particularly the majority of the display within the ‘Red Light District’ exhibit, which portrays a history of the famous area of Amsterdam, with the women behind their windows.

The museum is open from 09:30 until 23:30 and takes around 45 minutes to an hour to get around; which is great value for money given the admittance fee is just €4,00.

Visitors to the museum must be no younger than 16, and it is advisable to keep an open mind before going in and looking round, as parts of the museum are not suitable for those who are easily offended.

             Museum Information

  • Open daily from 09:30 until 23:30
  • Admission is €4,00
  • Strictly no under 16’s
  • Address: Damrak 18
    1012 LH Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Telephone: +31 (0) 20 622 8376
  • Website: http://www.sexmuseumamsterdam.nl/

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Fans bid farewell to Collingwood

Sports Writing, Uncategorized

English cricket supporters have paid tribute to Paul Collingwood and his services after his announcement  on Thursday that he would be retiring from Test cricket.

Collingwood, 34, made the announcement on the fourth day of the final match of the 2010-11 Ashes series against Australia.

England had already retained the Ashes at the time of Collingwood’s announcement, and the side on their way to winning the final test, the eventual victory ensuring that they also won the series 3-1.

He said of his decision: “I honestly think it’s the right time and in many ways it’s the perfect moment. This is what I’ve been playing the game of cricket for; to be in a position (to win the Ashes) against Australia, in Australia.”

Collingwood struggled with the bat throughout the series, scoring just 83 runs from six innings; an average of just 13.83. However he was still reliable as ever in the field, taking 9 catches to Australia wicket keeper Brad Haddin’s 8, including the incredible dismissal of Ricky Ponting in the 3rd Test in Perth.

Despite his dip in form, supporter Jonathan Hughes, of Lancaster, believes Collingwood’s retirement may have been premature: “I reckon he had a few more years left in him. People often imply that he’s not got a great deal of talent and works with what he’s got, but I think that’s unfair. You only have to watch his fielding to know that his athleticism and hand-eye coordination are second to none.”                           

Paul Collingwood Facts

  • Full Name: Paul David Collingwood
  • Born: May 26th 1976, Shotley Bridge, Co Durham
  • Age: 34
  • Test matches: 68
  • Test Runs & Average: 4259 at 40.56
  • Test Wickets & Average: 17 at 59.88
  • Test Catches: 96
  • For more stats please click here.

Collingwood’s underachievement with the bat isn’t the sole reason for his retirement from the Test side. He has admitted that up and coming players were also a large factor in his decision: “There are a lot of youngsters coming through, so this team will progress.”

It is thought that left handed batsman Eoin Morgan is set to step into Collinwood’s position for the next England Test series this summer, which is against Sri Lanka.

England fan Gareth Fox, of North Wales, believes that it was the right decision for Collingwood to retire: “I think that Collingwood leaving will strengthen the batting order but we’ll miss his fielding and genuine experience. I would bring in (Eoin) Morgan to bat 6, with (Ian) Bell moving up to 5 in the order.”

Whilst supporters will no longer see Paul Collingwood in the longer format of the game in an England shirt, he will continue to captain the Twenty20 side and be part of the One Day team.

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