The Dam

Trip Start Sep 10, 2009
Trip End Sep 28, 2009

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's 10:30am and we're on a train heading towards Amsterdam, the last stop in our "The Seam up the Middle of Europe" tour. We're excited but also sadden a little that our trip is slowly coming to an end.

Arrival into Amsterdam came without a hitch. We exited the train station and jumped onto a tram. I of course picked the worse seat possible and couldn't see much of anything outside the windows. Before I carry on here, I want to let you all know that this isn't my first trip to Amsterdam. I came here 18 years ago, fresh out of college. I had a great time during the two days I was here. Now that I'm back, I'm curious to know what I remember and if visually, Amsterdam has changed. So back to the bad seat choice. I saw nothing. Since we're staying in the Pijp neighborhood, which is south of the center, I'll have to wait until we make our way back to see if anything rings a bell.

We exit near the Heineken Brewery, walk a block and a half and find our B&B with a note on the door telling us to go around the corner and ring the bell at the second house. No problem. We ring the bell and meet the owner Bibie. She has a big black eye and is walking with a limp. She quickly says she had an accident. I'm thinking "What? The kind where you fall onto someone's fist?" Well that's the way it looked to me. Anyway, she's very nice and shows us our room.

So we quickly decide we'll explore our way back to the center by foot. Tramping along one of the big canals, I'm looking for a VVV. It's what they call their tourist office. I want to get me a decent map. So of course we pass it twice. Why? Well it's hidden inside a canal side stand that's selling tickets for boat rides. Everything about the stand in terms of signage shouts "Canal Boat Rides." Oh wait there is a sign for the VVV, it's a 4"x5" sticker stuck onto the glass just off to the side of the door. So if you're standing directly in front of the stand and just before you enter you look off to the side of the door, beyond all the boat ride signage, you'll see the sign for VVV. Fuck I'm stupid.

Ok back to exploring by foot. Amsterdam is quite different from the other towns we've visited. First there's a lot of people and lot of funky stores and coffee shops and restaurants. Just a lot of eye candy going on. Perfect for people with ADD. We eat, we ogle, we eat and ogle more. Finally we're back in the center. I look around. I guess it looks vaguely familiar. There's only one way to find out. We need to head into the Red Light District. That's where I stayed during my last visit. So we walk and suddenly dildos and graphic sex pics in the windows separate the endless supply of kebab shops. The area looks a bit more familiar. We punch out from the maze of alleyways and onto a canal and what do I see? Hotel The Crown is staring back at me. This is where I stayed, except it was a hostel back then not a hotel. Then I see the coffee shop a few houses down where I got completely twisted. Fun times, the memory is clearer. We head inside of the tiny hotel. It's the same. The bar is also the front desk. The table where I met a few travel mates is still there. Seems like yesterday. 

After a quick beer, we head back into the maze of sex. By now the sun is almost down and the prostitutes are out in full force. Red rooms are lit up. Barely there bikini's are glowing. Ladies wink and smile as you walk by their windows. They're all really good looking, in the high end section. So we head into the cheaper alternatives section and whoa, big difference. Walking by the windows and peering in, well, it's reminds me of lunch period in middle school and I'm pushing my tray down the food line and large cafeteria ladies are serving me tator tots and shepards pie. We head back and ogle the better looking ones. Speaking of ogling. The Red Light district is full of sex but it's also full of tourists and tour groups. So there's a lot of people looking and pointing. The worst are the old people. They'll camp outside of a row of windows that have there curtains drawn (that means the lady is servicing someone.) They'll wait and wait. Even stop friends or other tour members passing by and tell them that someone's in there and they're all waiting for that person to come out. In the meantime they just stand there and stare at the other available women. I'm not talking quick peeks, I mean literally standing and looking. No blinking or turning away. Nope. Hardcore eyeing up. Anyway, a guy eventually exits the lady's little room and the group of seniors giggle and smile at each other. Checking that off their list, they move on with their canes.

A bit more walking around and we eventually end up in a coffee shop. Mila's first time. We start off with a space brownie. It's ok, kind of dry. She ate most of it. Neither of us feel anything and are wondering if there's anything in it. So I grab the menu and buy one their pre-rolled joints. I wish I could say that I smoke two joint before I smoke two joints and then I smoke two more, but I can't. So Mila's starts huffing and puffing and I tell her to slow the hell down. Wait a little. Well she didn't listen and continued puffing like a smoke stack on a coal fed train. Two minutes later she is quiet, glassy-eyed and stoned beyond belief. Being her first time, she probably only need a couple of puffs to do the trick. This joint was a good four inches long, she finished half of it. The upside is she laughed at everything I said. I was on fire. I should be on the Tonight Show killing it. I'm a magical lyricist.
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