I planned on arriving in Amsterdam during the day. I missed a lot of trains and ended up arriving after 9pm. I needed to find internet so I could get a hold of Tim who had beaten me to Amsterdam by like 8 hours. I can't find internet anywhere as usual. I see a district with neon signs, which usually means internet. I wonder down the streets which were filled with tourists. As you guesed it, it was the Red Light District and I am pinched in between hundreds of perverted men. I heard going to the Red Light District at night was dangerous, but it was about 11:00pm and I felt safe. Compared to the district I saw in Brussels, this was PG. The ladies all wore tops. Some in lingerie, others in minimal clothing. All and all an interesting experience, but not too exciting.
Now for the interesting experience. I rented a Dutch bike, the bikes that are really tall with the funny handle bars that angle back towards the rider. I take about a 6 hour bike ride through the city and all around the outskirts of the city. I was on a quest to see tulips and windmills. I found windmills and beautiful scenery, but the tulips must be out of season.
So to stop making a short story long.... I decided to take one of the bike routes towards a neighboring town of Amsterdam. I end up in an area known as the Highlands. The area is in the country and is covered with marshes and trees. I find a large fenced in island with a gate that allows people in. As with every other sign in the Netherlands the words were in Dutch. I looked at the sign and thought to myself, "This must be words explaining that this is a nature perserve or some kind of great site." The sign seemed inviting and there were bikes all around the entrance. I walked 20 minutes into a beautiful haven of wildlife and great fauna. While I am walking I notice a lot of people are spread out throughout this island. I could not understand how there were so many people in the preserve beings it was a Monday and people should be at work. I justified this thought by telling myself that it was Pentecost and the Dutch are on holiday.
I reach the dead center of the reserve, preserve, or whatever it was. I find two naked men fondling each other on a table cloth. In this same area there are about 5 men all standing about 50 yards from each other. One man had a Tour De France Bicycle style shirt on, but was wearing no pants. None of the men were watching each other they were just hanging out. Now I am feeling a little awkward so I decide to walk towards an open patch of grass. I notice a man behind me on his cell phone. I am in paranoid mode now, so I walk faster. The man continues to follow me into the open area. I stop. He stops. I turn around and walk past him. He turns around and follows me. There are little deer trails that go every direction in the woods. I take one, turn onto another, and then another. The guy is still following me. Now I am scared! I sprint through the woods for about 3 hard minutes. I notice men everywhere staring and smiling at me from their little nooks in the forest. I stop to get my breath. I had finally shook this weirdo.
Okay so now I realize what is going on. I have stumbled across the Netherlands version of "The Bird Cage." Two more gay guys pass me. One of them turns around and is looking at me like a fat kid looks at a piece of cake. I continue to walk towards where my bike was. The guy is right on my heals. In retrospect I realize I brought this all on myself, because I kept looking back at the guys wondering if this place was really what I thought it was. The guys probably think I am interested and playing hard to get, I have no idea. The man follows me to my bike. He stays at the gate just watching and smiling at me. He finally decides to start walking back into the woods. I turn back to yell across the fence to the man "Is this some kind of gay hangout." But instead, the guy gives me a really creepy look so I get on my bike and get the heck out of there.
I get back to the bike station and explain to the owners what happened to me. The owners were these burly biker men and they were laughing so hard. They couldn't believe I had biked that far. They took out a map and showed me how far I had wandered away from Amsterdam. I showed them the highland area I was at and they just laughed. They called the area a "Cruising Strip" they compared it to restops on I-80 back home. They said the gate was clearly marked. I guess there was a regulation that was passed that allowed these men to turn this area into a cruising strip as long as they posted signs warning people. Good thing I can read Dutch! They told me that I was lucky. They said earlier in the year the cops found a young man naked and tied to a tree out there. They said he was not a usual, just a random stranger to the area. I hope they were joking!
I am alive and straight! That was a close one.