Through My Eyes

Some people say I talk too much, that I always have a story to tell. I don't know what's round the corner so my blog is about life through my eyes and making every day count.

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Amsterdam

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This started off as a short blog post and has perhaps turned into my longest blog post yet!!!
As far as traveling goes i am more of a sunshine and scenic sort of traveler, I love coastal views, scenic places, peace and tranquility! So I am still asking myself why I thought for my 30th Birthday and once chance at some holiday off work I chose Amsterdam! I think it is just one of those things I wanted to tick off my imaginary list of things I have experienced!

So the total trip for 2 people without spending money was £450. This was including ferry crossings and 2 nights I. A central hotel so not bad I thought. The ferry crossings were the overnight ferries with a room so 2 people, 4 nights plus crossings and transfers for £450 seemed ok.
On arrival in Amsterdam the first thing I thought was how busy it was! Everyone going at a really fast pace, if you stopped walking to look in a shop window for example then you got run over by other people or push bikes! Push bikes were absolutist everywhere and they don’t stop for you, you just have to move for them!!
The hotel was very central and 1 street away from the Red Light District so great location but very noisy and busy. The room was not exactly the normal standard I stay in and had a bit of a funny smell but was clean and tidy so no complaints!

Amsterdam itself on a whole is quite a strange yet endearing place and I really feel I need to share my experiences with anyone interested and looking to go! I will start with the good stuff! The bits I loved and enjoyed!
I am not normally into buildings but found the architecture quite fantastic. All the buildings were very tall and amazing looking and all minimum of 3 floors. I went in a shop called Forever 21 which was women’s wear and the shop was over 6 floors! I found myself taking a lot of pictures of all the buildings.
The other significant thing about Amsterdam is the canals and the canal network. Every street pretty much has a canal running through it. I really liked this and loved looking at all the boats going up and down. The Atmosphere in Amsterdam is quite something, it’s very busy and everyone Is happy (maybe something to do with the drugs being smoked!)
The other main thing I liked in Amsterdam was the food and restaurants! We love a decent meal and love eating out and my well built steel erector husband could live off steak if he had too! The streets are just lined with Argentinian Steak houses! Why Argentinian? I don’t know and have the answer, maybe Argentina produce the best steaks?! Either way you found one street could have 10 steak houses to choose from! We must have eaten in about 4 different steak houses over the few days and the steaks were good!!!

So now on to the bad stuff, in fact no not the bad stuff at all, none of it was bad, it was just different, more of a strange experience than an enjoyment!!

firstly my views and experience on the lenient drugs laws! A very strange going on but not something I am going to criticise! I don’t do drugs, never have, I don’t even smoke cigarettes so had no intention of smoking anything in amsterdam just because it’s legal! Its interesting to see though, in certain areas the streets just stink of it, you may not plan on smoking it but walk past a coffee shop and breath in at the wrong time and you don’t have a choice!! The one thing I do find really strange is my husband lit an ordinary cigarette in a bar as he occasionally smokes and got shouted at by the bar maid, “no no no” “no Tabbacco, only weed” So it’s legal to smoke drugs in bars but not cigarettes!!
As mentioned above I have no interest in doing drugs but when in Amsterdam it is so normal! It’s not seedy or wrong, it’s just the norm! That said I still wasn’t going to be smoking anything strange as I like to feel in control of my mind and don’t like getting really drunk never mind stoned……famous last words!
Not sure whose idea it was to eat space cake but when a nice slice of Chocolate cake is presented to you smelling delicious then a few bites won’t hurt!! Well an hour later I am sat in a bar feeling a bit hazy laughing at anything and everything! I didn’t feel like I had taken drugs but more just really happy! Literally giggling at everything like an idiot! I can understand why people do it because everyone likes to be happy but it won’t he something I will be repeating again anytime soon!!

The Red Light District – Again a very strange experience but one I would recommend to anyone visiting. Through the day the red light district is a few streets of bars and nice buildings and you wouldn’t even know it was the red light district! Then as the evening settles in the red lights start coming on and it’s a totally different place. If you just stand on the bridge looking down the streets it’s just a sea of red lights glowing but the crowds of people that visit this area is quite spectacular! We had a walk down and it’s just window after window of girls in underwear trying to coax you in!
And one thing I noticed is these girls are not ugly, some of them are stunning with fantastic figures and it saddened me that they are doing this every night for whatever reason.
I started to think about the reasons they do this and why? Maybe some see it as easy money and enjoy it, maybe to others it’s a way of life and that’s all they know, and then there’s the ones that look a little sad, you can see in their eyes they don’t want to be there so either they are forced or they feel they have no other option which is really sad.
We sat in a bar at the red light district and just people watched. It’s not great when you see the curtains closed and know what’s going on but Interesting to watch the men coming out after, and these guys are just ordinary men, not your stereotypical weirdo but men with wedding rings on, or young lads on stag weekends! I thought I would hate the red light district and find it seedy and dark and dirty but in actual fact it was very interesting and an absolute must do for anyone visiting Amsterdam.

The other thing to mention is value for money, the average drink is about 5 euros but in some bars located around the tourist areas it’s between 8 -12 Euros a drink!! the average meal in the steak houses is between 15 – 20 Euros, shopping is very expensive but there are some amazing shops so if you can afford it then a look round the shops is worth doing!
So that was it really, our weekend consisted of 2 ferry crossings, a lot of steak, my first space cake experience and a lot of walking round the red light district! I think we did everything in Amsterdam we could have done in the short space of time we were there but to be honest I’m not sure I would want to stay any longer than 2 days!

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Fundraising while getting fit!!

As mentioned in my previous posts I am attempting to get fit but it’s not a short-term goal but a long-term lifestyle change!
I started shortly after my operation, well actually about 3 months after but it literally took that long to recover and even now I’m not 100% but getting there! Seeming as they took a huge amount of muscle from my back I thought starting at boot camp would help build that back up! 6 months on and who would have thought I would be flipping tyres, pushing cars, running with a 15kg medicine ball etc! Some people think I’m obsessed but I’m Not at all, I just need to stick at it because once I stop it will be difficult to get back into it.
So in June which was 7 months on I completed the race for life muddy challenge and raised £800 for Cancer Research. It was so rewarding to cross that finish line not only as a personal achievement but also knowing I had done it for Cancer Research and that my money raised may contribute to saving lives!

Following on from the race for life I continued to go to boot camp and found that it was becoming a part of my life. I don’t have a huge amount of female friends seeming as generally girls do my head in but the boot camp girls are different, we all have different back grounds and stories but then come together to train and get fit and have a  laugh at the same time!!

I have found that due to my mastectomy there are certain exercises I struggle with, I still do them anyway but not as well as everyone else. exercises such as carrying weights above my head or anything that strains my shoulder as that then seems to pull on my back and hurt a bit but I take it steady and do what I can! We even took it in turns pushing our coaches car up the car park with him in it and I got the second fastest time which I was happy with!!!

So the next thing on my list of crazy things to do is the Spartan Run in Ripon in September. At first when this was mentioned I said no chance but somehow my coach and the girls persuaded me I can do it and I booked on! For anyone that does not know the Spartan run is a 5k run with 15 obstacles! When I say obstacles I don’t mean a few tyres to hop over, I mean crawling through mud under barbed wire, monkey bars across a lake, jumping over fire, carrying massive weights up a hill and a lot more pain!  For me those event is more about personal achievement,  A lot of the obstacles are things we do in boot camp anyway, carrying weights, flipping tyres, sprinting, climbing ropes etc so it will be a good test to see how far I have come since my operation 8/9 months ago.

I am going to run the Spartan race for the Benjamin Gautrey Foundation, A charity that was set up after my pal Ben was killed racing bikes at Cadwell a few years ago. Now I have mentioned this before in a previous post and gone into more detail but its a great charity that helps young people within Motorsports and other sports and helps them achieve their dreams. Too many kids and adults sit on the sofa and don’t have hobbies or ambitions so this charity aims to help those that do.

Benjamin Gautrey

 

The link to my Just Giving page is http://www.justgiving.com/laura-stephenson25 which shows more about what the Spartan is about and ways to sponsor me if you want to!!

I do question that if I complete the Spartan, which I plan to, what will be next, How far can I go pushing myself, I want to do amazing things and achieve amazing things, sounds cheesy I know but I have never had hobbies or a talent so to put my mind into something like fitness and to actually achieve results is a big deal to me!! Watch this space…….

 

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