September 4, 2013
Amsterdam. How do I explain my time in Amsterdam? Well, I guess I will start out with a disclaimer to avoid offending anyone:
**There will be talk of the following: Marijuana, Mushrooms, Acid, Hookers, Prostitutes, the Red Light district, and many other things that may be considered “crude”**
Now that does not necessarily mean I participated in any of the above, but there may be a mention of any of these items a time or two. Anyway, I have been here since last Thursday, August 29th and I am finally leaving today, Wednesday the 3rd! It has been a wild ride to say the least.
First off, the hostel I am staying at is a party in itself. It’s called the Flying Pig and it has a pool table, a smoking room with pillows, books and games, a cute little bar with great drink specials and an outdoor patio with a hammock. The first evening I was here I sat at the bar and wrote my blog until I began having a conversation with one of the other guests, an Australian with a big-personality named Courtney. We went to walk around the neighborhood and found ourselves in the Red Light District.
This is the ceiling of the hostel – flying pigs! Anything can happen!
Now, I’ve heard many things about this area of Amsterdam and I had no idea just how big and insane it is! There are women in little glass rooms with individual curtains and they just stand there and attempt to entice passers by. When they get a customer they close the curtain and take care of business. I swear, the easiest way to describe this place is it is a zoo of prostitutes. There are a few different areas of the red light that are known for the really “hot” girls and there is an area for the older women, the fat women, etc. the smaller the alleyway the more expensive the lady. (I took a city tour and learned that little tidbit.) You cannot take photos in this district, or the hookers may come out of their cage and smack you. Literally. Or they just tap angrily on the glass and cuss at you. This didnt happen to me but its a crowded place so I witnessed many unaware tourists get the wrath of the zoo animals.
Anyway, more on the red light district later. Courtney and I went to a more mellow little bar called The Black Cobra or something and played pool and had a beer. We didnt stay out late and the next day I relaxed by myself at the hostel until l had John meet up with me. John is an American traveler I met at the train station that is located at the airport. We both were a little turned around and we banned together to figure out where and how to pay for our tickets to the city center. We triumphed. So, John met me and brought his new acquaintance Christian over to my hostel bar so we could all go out on the town that night. Christian is an awesome guy, too! He is Australian and at the end of his three month European tour (don’t quote me on the length of his trip.)
Christian is on the left, and John on the right.
The three of us head out to one of the other local hostels, St. Christopher’s, to enjoy the larger bar and patio area. We walked around a bit and ended up in Rembrandt Square where there is a lively night scene. Everywhere was packed and we wanted to find a spot we didn’t have to pay a cover charge for and ended up in a little bar on a corner. The three of us danced in the center of this huge crowd and we all slowly started to realize there were a ton of women around us… And they all seemed to show me more interest than John or Christian. It was a lesbian bar!! We had a blast anyway and got a kick out of the very tall older lady who had a crush on me.
We made our way across the square to another crowded place and danced some more. In the smoking room Christian and I were approached by a young bald fellow who began telling us some rubbish about being in the Amsterdam mafia. I am pretty sure he was just trying to seem like he was super duper tough and cool, but we found that strange and saw that as our queue to move along to another bar anyhow.
Christian was nice enough to walk me back to my hostel to make sure I got in safe on the way to his hostel, which was around the corner (side note: it was a Hostel of the Christian religion, located dead center in the middle of the Red Light! We all thought it was ironic and hilarious, considering Christian liked to party and his hostel mates DID NOT.)
The next day I met John, Christian and their new friend Dale (also an Aussie) for a full day of Amsterdam fun. We walked to what is considered a “coffee shop” here and bought four joints. Coffee shops are where you can buy marijuana legally. Obviously. And we walked to the canals and paid to rent a paddle boat for a few hours. The boat fits four and the two front people have little bicycle-like pedals and a lever that steers the little boat. Luckily John and Christian were in the front and handled that task for the most part of the two hours and we all relaxed, smoked a little weed, laughed too much, and enjoyed the beauty of the canals. It was the highlight of my trip. The four of us got along marvelously and I realized my new friends are hilariously crude, as I have been known to be so I felt right at home.
Paddle boat! Dale is the cheesy one on the bottom left.
We grabbed some fries (in Europe they are called chips or frites, and they are served with mayonnaise!) and went back for a pint at the St. Christopher hostel. There we met a 20 year old girl named Simone. She ended up being part of our little crew for a few evenings. In the bar Christian requested I be a good little wing-woman and chat with these girls a few feet down so, I did and we added two more to our bar hopping group! We headed out to what is referred to as “the windows” (the red light district alleys) and we browsed the selection of pros. We walked over to the first bar I went to in the city, Black Cobra (?) and enjoyed a few beers and played pool. I beat Christian twice. Go me.
I’m the best wing woman in town 😉
At this point Dale and Simone went back to the hostel they were both staying at and I found a little cozy corner in the smoking room and chatted with a few Brits. At this point my crew started dissipating so I went back to my own hostel and hung out with the friends I had made the last few nights who were staying at the Flying Pig as well. I am pretty sure that night John and Christian left the bar without saying goodbye because they slipped off to “the windows” to indulge in the beauty of Amsterdam. The saying is “if the sailors can do it, why can’t we!?!?”
Sunday afternoon I took myself to a cute little quiet Italian restaurant for lunch and read over a glass of wine. Christian met me and we walked across the canals to meet his two Aussie friends who just got into town. Unfortunately I forget the girls names but they were really awesome and the four of us went out for traditional Dutch pancakes at the Pancake Bakery (a suggestion from my friend Greg Meltzer, thanks Greg!!!) the pancakes are essentially massive crepes with different toppings, sweet or savory.
I left the three Aussies to their catching up and met Simone and Dale at the city square called the Dam. We walked around and sat at an outdoor cafe and had a beer and people-watched. We then walked through the gay district of Amsterdam and chatted with a few interesting characters along the way.
Simone and I!
My good friend Joey was meeting me that night from Berlin so the three of us gathered at the Flying Pig and waited for him to arrive. We had a ton of fun hanging with the hostel goers and once Joey was settled we went out and walked around the red light for an hour or so. It was Christian’s last night and John had left that day so we all kept it kind of mellow.
Monday morning Joey and I got up and went on a free walking tour of the city which was about three hours. It was very informative and the guide was a really cool guy. It was amazing seeing the city from a locals’ perspective!
We headed back and took naps because we were exhausted from the walking and the partying the night before….
**I am sitting next to Joey right now and I keep having to ask him to remind me what we did on what day, but we both cannot, for the life of us, remember what we did Monday night. So we have decided we probably just smoked a ton of marijuana and hung out and that’s why we can’t remember. Even though Joey wanted to eat magical mushrooms or drop magical acid, I’m pretty sure I dodged that bullet. So lets go with we just puffed the magic dragon that night (?)**
The next day Joey, Allyn (our awesome Texan friend from the pig) and I walked to the pancake bakery and ate brunch. Then made our way down the street to the Anne Frank museum. The line was long but the museum was very emotional and very tastefully done. It was a moving experience to really see where the Frank family and others were in hiding for two years! They do not allow photographs so unfortunately anyone who is interested will have to visit themselves.
We walked, next, to the Torture Museum, which was short but pretty cool. The three of us walked down the street that has the tulip market and took in the sights and stopped at a cheese shop and tasted a few local cheeses. I was in heaven! We grabbed ourselves some ice cream afterwards and walked back to the Flying Pig.
After resting, a group of us from the hostel walked to a local hangout cafe/bar and enjoyed a local beer. I was having a conversation with an older Dutch gentleman who invited himself to join us at our table (he was intoxicated, of course) and he ended up telling me that the problem with America are people like me. I got quite offended and didn’t understand why he felt that way, so Allyn and I left to grab food and avoid an unnecessary scene.
Back at the pig everyone gathered and drank and smoked and socialized until the early hours of the next day and here I am now, finally finishing my recollection of the last week in this incredibly insane city.
Allyn is the goof in the left picture.
Tonight JoJo (Joey’s nickname) and I are off to Cologne, Germany! Wish us luck 😉