My initial post was removed because I posted some pictures from a clinic dedicated to sex workers and I made political commentary so I have made some adjustments and re-postedWHY AMSTERDAM?
Amsterdam was our second stop on an 11-day adventure to three countries; Latvia, Holland and Nigeria. My brother and I were filming three episodes of our video travel blog, The Globe on Call. As physicians by day and travel junkies by night, The Globe on Call is our attempt to marry the worlds of travel and medicine. Our first episode in Latvia examined alternative Latvian medicine ranging from traditional Latvian sauna therapy to the burgeoning rapid alcohol and heroin detox industry that is drawing people from the world over because of it’s use of cutting edge implanted medications. In Holland we documented the changing Dutch perception of sex and sex workers and we even had a chance to interview the world famous Folken twins. Our last stop was Nigeria where we visited the village of Igbo-Ora which has the worlds densest population of twins. So yeah, it was a whirlwind week and now it was time to head to Amsterdam.If you want to read the full trip report with all of the pics and vids, click herehttp://www.twindoctorstv.com/amsterd...-on-airbaltic/
If the light version works for you, here ya go.........GETTING TO AMSTERDAM (airBaltic):
Our day started with an early airBaltic flight from Riga to Amsterdam’s Schipol airport. Given the choice between flying KLM or airBaltic on the route, there was really no choice. airBaltic is a relatively rare carrier that I likely would not have the opportunity to fly again anytime soon so airBaltic it was! The airBaltic check-in area at Riga was bright and alive even at this early hour of the morning. While I’m generally not a huge fan of lime green, I think airBaltic makes it work. What do you think?
Despite the crowds and long lines, security moved quickly and we were soon entering the departures area. Riga, like many other airports, is designed so that you have to pass through the Duty Free stores before getting to the heart of the terminal. I managed to resist the urge to partake in a little retail therapy and went straight to our gate. Our flight today was leaving from gate B4. I will take some of the credit (or I guess blame) for the darkness of the photo BUT, in my defense, the terminal was really quite dark.
Being pretty far north in the late fall meant that the sun rose pretty late. The still dark sky juxtaposed against the freshly fallen snow made the ramp look frigid and our snow covered Boeing 737-300 didn’t make the scene look any warmer. Today we were flying on YL-BBS, a 1999 built Boeing 737-300 that spent it’s life flying with Deutsche BA and FlyGlobeSpan before joining airBaltic in 2009. Interestingly, this aircraft had a three month stint with Wings of Lebanon in 2015 before returning home to Riga. I bet she enjoyed the change of weather even if it was only for three months.
I think the Riga departure board was pretty impressive, especially given the early hour. Of course airBaltic dominated the board, but there was also a fair showing of other European carriers. Here is my proof of life pic, my boarding pass for airBaltic flight BT617, scheduled to board at 07:05 for an 07:35 departure. You can see my mom in the background enjoying a borderline stale breakfast pastry that we bought from one of the airport shops. After carrying two of us for nine months and mustering up the strength to push us both out (and I was number two, so I greatly appreciate that!), buying her an stale breakfast pastry is the least I can do.
Boarding was called about ten minutes late and we were soon boarding this airBaltic Boeing 737-300. We were definitely going to need de-icing before take-off. That big headed black guy with the blue glasses in front of me is none other than my brother Dr. J as we crossed the thresh-hold of our first airBaltic flight. I love the classic ceiling and overhead panels, they really remind me of flying during my childhood in the 80’s and early 90’s. This was my first BT flight but I have a feeling this is probably the interior from this plane’s Deutsche BA days.
I checked out the scene on the tarmac as I got settled into my seat which was comfortable enough for a two hour flight. Another BT 737 was boarding next door as the sun finally started to rise on another day here in Riga. The load factor was pretty good this morning, I would estimate roughly 85% if not a bit more. Our fellow passengers kicked back as the CFM engines came to life and the flight crew did their safety presentation. By the time we pushed back close to 08:00, the sun was almost completely up. I like the look of a wingleted 737 but I was glad that we were flying on a more classic looking bird.
As we got close to the end of the active runway, trailing behind a Wizz Air Airbus A320, we pulled off to the right to what I assumed must be the de-icing pad. A company Dash 8-Q400 now took our place behind the Wizz Airbus having already been de-iced I’m assuming.
As the Wizz Air Airbus started it’s takeoff roll, we took our place on the de-icing pad next to another airBaltic 737 who was also being de-iced.
You have to feel for the poor guys up there in those utility buckets in the freezing cold with all that de-icing fluid blowing around. Must suck for them but always one to search for a silver lining it definitely made for a nice shot for me.
It was clear the our turn had come as I heard the de-icing fluid pummeling the aircraft while orange fluid streaked down our windows.https://youtu.be/ra2VELvGF7U
If a picture is worth a thousand words a video is worth 2,000, so here is a video of the de-icing.
De-icing complete, we made our way to the active thresh-hold.https://youtu.be/L1gGFfNk-Uo
The engines roared to life and we were soon off, airborne over a cloud covered Riga.
By the time we finally broke through the dense clouds covering the countryside, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise. Having been on the run nonstop for the last 5 days, not even the sunlight flooding the cabin could keep me awake and this was the last sight I remembered before seeing….
this sight, us descending over the suburbs of Amsterdam. DAMN! even as an adult, I hate missing large parts of a flight. According to my mom, who shamefully was able to stay awake when I couldn’t, the in-flight service was strictly buy on board so I didn’t miss much there. I guess I have a mean streak because I remember as a child intentionally not waking my sleeping brother up if he feel asleep before take off or landing just so that I could see his disappointed expression when he woke up to find us either leveled at 35,000 feet or on the ground taxiing to the gate. I guess turn about was Fair-play here. Seeing this long canal stretching below us confirmed for me that the flight crew had not made a mistake. We indeed were in Amsterdam as advertised.
With a firm thud, we were officially in Holland as a small bit of mist flowed over the wing. The 829 mile flight had taken just under two hours, an hour and 55 minutes to be exact. This meant that with the hour time difference we were arriving in Amsterdam at primetime. It’s always a comforting bit of home to see that globe (still wish it was a tulip but whatever, moving on) on an airplane tail in the distance.
Even though there was no snow on the ground, that vapor in the air let me know that it was still cold.Bags claimed, we were soon outside of the terminal making our way to the taxi stand to get to our hotel, the airport Hampton Inn. In know, I know, we were real a-holes for taking that taxi driver out of the long taxi line for such a short drive but we were in a rush and we gave him a healthy tip so hopefully we made up for it. We only had a few minutes to drop our stuff off before heading to P&G292, a clinic dedicated to treating sex workers. Welcome to Amsterdam!EXPLORING SEXUALITY IN HOLLAND-Visiting a clinic devoted to sex workers, interviewing 74 year old twin prostitutes and of course checking our the Red Light DistrictIf you want to read the full trip report with all of the pics and vids, click herehttp://www.twindoctorstv.com/amsterd...olland-part-2/
If the light version is all you need, read on......
With only 24 hours in Amsterdam, time was of the essence. After dropping our bags off at the Hampton Inn Schiphol airport, we were off to our first stop, P&G292, a clinic dedicated exclusively to providing medical care for Amsterdam’s sex workers. P&G292 is housed in a nondescript building in a quiet Amsterdam neighborhood. While the outside of the building was muted, the outside…..
was anything but with colorful themed artwork lining all of the words. The topic matter of the artwork left very little question where we were.
I really wish I could read Dutch because I’m dying to know what exactly this woman was saying. Is it just me, but looking a little closer to this picture, I really can't figure out what is going on with that man's leg.
Checking out the artwork definitely kept us occupied while we waited for Annelies, one of P&G292’s public health nurses. We had a great discussion about Dutch attitudes towards sex and sex workers as well as the healthcare concerns unique to sex workers.
I’m not sure why this poster was in Spanish but atleast I could read it. The woman kicking this creep in the family jewels clearly took the basic self defense class that P&G292 offers to sex workers.
No matter what your opinion is of sex work and sex workers, the unique services and education provided at P&G292 are important to keep both sex workers and the public at large healthy. Outreach is a big part of what P&G292 does.
P&G292 even created the only magazine exclusively for sex workers.
After leaving P&G292, out next stop was Dam square. As we waited for our taxi I couldn’t help but capture this very Amsterdam shot with the classic Dutch architecture and the man riding his bike. They don’t call Amsterdam the bicycle capitol of the world for nothing.
A quick taxi ride and we were at Dam square checking out the sites and waiting to meet the world famous Folken twins. Dam square is the historical center of the city and it is frequented by locals and tourists alike. Anywhere that you have tourist, you’re going to have street performers like this woman whom I affectionately called Bubble woman.
Apparently Dam square is amongst other things known for it’s damn friendly pigeons. Friendly or not, as long as pigeons still move their bowels indiscriminately, there is no way that you will ever catch me posing for a picture like this but I’m glad she took one for the team.
Okay, I consider myself a pretty smart guy, but I have absolutely no idea how this man is doing what he’s doing. Heres a closeup for you. If you know how Yoda is levitating, please let me know because even now I still can’t figure this one out.
Amsterdam wasn’t as cold as Riga, but it was still chilly so I definitely had to get one of those damn good cups of Dam Good Coffee.
As I sipped my coffee, I spotted two women who looked like mirror images of one another dressed in red with American flag scarfs. Yep, that had to be the Folken twins.https://youtu.be/HP0w0ZT7snA
As we walked the Red Light district chatting with Louise and Martine about their 40+ years working in the sex industry, people frequently stopped them to ask for pictures. I can only imagine what a picture of yen and yang my brother and I looked walking arm-in-arm with Louise and Martine. Our interview with the Fokken twins was eye opening to say the least. We discussed everything from how the married sisters got into the sex trade, how their husbands became more like their pimps, what lessons they learned working in the industry for over 40 years and what advise they have for young people in love. You can check out our episode of The Globe on Call here:
There is no place quite like Amsterdam and the Red Light district are unique. Where else can you enjoy cannabis ice cream while…
shopping at the world’s first condom specialty shop? The assortment of condoms was dizzying even for two OB/GYN’s. After finishing our interview with the Fokkens we made our way back to the hotel for a quick nap before doubling back to the Red Light district for a night-time tour.
Despite being a cold, drizzly night, there was just something beautiful about the canals of Amsterdam, especially at night.
You know you are either in Vegas or Amsterdam when you have an entire center dedicated to hangovers and information about hangovers.
For those who have never been, the Red Light District is called the Red Light district because you have, well, red lights. To be more specific, you have sex workers standing in windows offering their services and if a red light is on, it means the worker is there and available. You might also see blue lights and these tend to indicate male or trans-sexual sex workers. I know what you are thinking, why did you take a picture of a sign saying “No Photos!!”? It is consider a no-no to take pictures of the sex workers when they are in the windows, you can however take pictures of the windows (like this one) when they are not occupied.
Again, this is one of those only in Amsterdam kind of things. Where else would you find a museum of prostitution?
Now there was no way that we could leave the Red Light District without visiting The Bulldog. The Bulldog is part of a chain of cannabis bars throughout the Netherlands. Interestingly it is legal for establishments to sell marijuana and for consumers to buy and use marijuana in the Netherlands, but it is illegal to grow or sell it on a large scale. So that means the people selling cannabis to the coffee shops are actually breaking the law.
No, we didn’t indulge in any of Amsterdam’s best known coffee shop products, but if we had, this completely automated restaurant across the street would likely have come in handy. I can only imagine how many people come here stoned out of their minds with the munchies trying to figure out how exactly to purchase food. Ain’t automation amazing? Welp, having explored the Red Light district it was now time to head back to the hotel for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow we were leaving for Lagos, Nigeria and we had an early flight to Frankfurt. Little did I know that not much sleep would be had that night! It was election night in the US and being in Europe election returns were coming in well into the wee hours of the morning.
I managed to get a couple of hours sleep before my brother woke me to update me on the results of the US Presidential election. By the time 5AM rolled around, I was already up, showered and ready to head to Schipol airport for our 7:20AM flight to Frankfurt.
After a quick check-in and immigration clearance, we made our way to gate B-17 where D-AIPM, a Lufthansa Airbus A320 was waiting to fly us the 227 miles to Frankfurt Main airport.If you are an aerophile like us, you will want to check out part 1 of our Latvian adventure, The Journey to Latvia, right herehttp://www.twindoctorstv.com/latvia-getting-there/
.If you want to check out part 2 of our Latvian adventure detailing our time in Latvia, you can check it our right HERE. I think the blog is pretty cool but if you don’t want to take my word for it, click the link just to see the two headed dog!http://www.twindoctorstv.com/latvia-...encing-latvia/If you want to check out our episode of The Globe on Call in Latvia, you can right here:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gVMXptyTm7Q" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>If you want to check out our episode of The Globe on Call in Amsterdam, you can right here:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HP0w0ZT7snA" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>AND DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT OUR OTHER TRIP REPORTS:Latvia Part 1-The Flights to Latvia:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/latvia-getting-there/Latvia Part 2-A Two Headed Dog, Rapid Detox and a Polar Plunge:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/latvia-...encing-latvia/San Diego Comic Con Part 1-Flying There:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/san-die...getting-there/San Diego Comic Con Part 2-The Con!:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/san-die...17-part-2-con/San Diego Comic Con Part 3-Flying Home:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/san-die...-geeks-part-3/Hajj, My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth Part 1-Flying to Saudi Arabia:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-my...ebirth-aprt-1/Hajj, My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth Part 2- Exploring Medinah:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-jo...art-2-medinah/Hajj, My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth Part 3-The Hajj:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-jo...n-part-3-hajj/Hajj, My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth Part 4-Flying Home:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-jo...-heading-home/Part 1-Farewell to the Queen Flying to Seoul on a United 747:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/farewel...getting-there/Part 2-Exploring Seoul, the DMZ and all things K-Pop:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/farewel...-part-2-seoul/Part 3-Flying Home, The Farewell Flight United 747 flight ICN-SFO:http://www.twindoctorstv.com/farewel...rt-3-farewell/