. I had noticed that on the CS webpage for Amsterdam there was to be a CS meet up at a local bar. Since I am solo, I decided it would be a great way to make some friends or people to tour around with. I google mapped the directions to the bar, memorized them (or so I thought) because they were pretty straight forward. As I left the hostel, I asked the lady at the front desk which direction a certain street was located, just to make sure I was heading in the right direction. She told me and off I went. 45 mins later...I am still wandering around with a map that has been torn in half, and I had seen almost every side street in Amsterdam, but still no bar. I was getting to the point where I was so fed up of walking around I was about to say screw it, but something inside of me wanted to go after so much time was invested trying to find it. I am very glad that I did because it resulted in some really good friends. I walked into the bar, that was roughly half full at this point. Since this was the local watering hole for CS, the beers were only one euro....Can't been that. This made people much more social and before you knew it, the bar was filled with people, some even standing outside in the cold at standing bar tables. I chatted with a fellow from Mexico, some others from the UK, but two that I stood out, were a couple from Valencia, Spain. Of course we hit it off because I told them that I was just there, and I really did love it there. Angel and Marta had just moved from Spain to Holland just a few days prior, so they were still getting to know the city for themselves
. We had several drinks, good laughs and good times. We exchanged numbers and emails, and at the end of the night, we all left together and they pointed me in the direction of my hostel. Off I went, it took me a hour or so longer than it should have, but I eventually made my target destination. Now about a year ago, I was chatting with a good friend of my Koz. We were chatting about my travel ideas, and the idea of the two of us meeting up in Amsterdam came up. You see, Koz has never left Canada before, other than perhaps a small trip to the US, and meeting up with me in party central sounded like it a good way to start his traveling resume. He had informed me of the Cannabis cup that took place every november there. Now the cup is basically the Olympics of marijuana. I know that some of you may be rolling your eyes or thinking that this is something juvenille, and I agree. But it did sound pretty cool to atleast see it. Why the hell not? Koz and I bought our passes, and began to make plans. However, it was not meant to be. Koz ended up buying a new truck which ate up most of his money. I was a little disapointed, not because he was backing out. This part I understand. Plans change...nobody knows this more than me now. I was just looking forward to spending some time with him since we had not seen each other in over 3 years. I still went in honor of you buddy ;) The morning I went to go and pick up my judges passes that we had bought, there was a massive line outside this warehouse looking structure
. You could quickly see that by the organization of this event, that it was clearly put together by stoners. No one seem to know exactly what was going on. There was no shortage of the smell of pot in the air either. Even though I know it is legal here, it still looks funny to see people so openly rolling and smoking pot. When we finally got into the expo, there were booth after booth of people selling every single possible thing you could imagine related to do with cannabis and cannabis culture. Brownies with hash in it, cake with weed, pipes of all shapes and sizes. 16 year old Matt would have been in heaven. Some of the booths even had vapourizers set up that take the THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and turn it into a smokeless vapour. One guy standing at one of the booths saw me wandering around looking at it all, and offered one to me. Why not give it a go? You live once. I can defintely say that I left that booth with a monster smile on my face. Everything in the place was completely over the top. It was also extremely funny to see some of the characters that were at this event. I thought that it would have been mostly filled with younger people. But was I ever wrong. There were old guys that looked like the old chinese man from the Karate kid, old biker looking characters, women dressed to the 9's, you name it....they were they. One of the most amazing things to see was a vapourizer that filled a 5 meter long bag with vapour, then they would go running around the floor of this factory, offering free puff. I swear you didn't even need to have some, just being in the building was enough. Take a look at the video I will add with this link to fully understand the whole effect of it all. There were judges and voting stations where you could vote on which type of marijuana was your favorite as well. Very democratic potheads. Following a large munchie meal of falafel, I left and made my way back to my hostel to get some rest. There was a couchsurfering couple who had agreed to let me stay at their place in Amsterdam, so long as I promised to make them my vegetarian pizzas
. Of course to me this is the least I can do to say thank you, so I gave them my word. They were a young married couple by the name of Attila and Lorraine. He was Hungarian and she was Dutch. The first night that I arrived at their place, Lorraine had prepared a nice soup among other things. The soup was so nice to have as it warmed me up from the inside out. I miss having nice soups on cold winter days. We sat down and got aquainted with each other trading some travel stories. Attila and Lorraine had also done South America, so we chatted about our versions of our time there. I really like to sit and talk with others that are serious travellers to hear how they spent their time, and to hear their impressions of the same things that we saw. They're apartment was very nicely decorated and they even had a whole room for myself which was very nice with view over a quiet side street. They were also nice enough to give me my own key to their place, and my favorite part....a bike of my own. Now I haven't riden a bike in.... well.....actually I can't remember the last time I was on a bike. The bike was an old dutch styled bike. I loved riding this thing around, I found myself purposely getting lost just to ride around more. Now this bike also had a bell on it, like any other random bike in Amsterdam. But one querk which I found with the bike however, was that the bell would go off almost randomly sometimes. Really it wasn't anything big at first. But when some guy is walking down the side walk with his girlfriend, and no one else around or in the way, it didnt look so good. After a while it just ended up being funny and I would sometimes break out laughing 30 seconds down the road after passing some people that think my bell went off because of them. One nice point over my time in Amsterdam, was the fact that I got to reunite with yet another friend I had made while traveling. Joyce is a dutch girl I had met during my time in Colonia, Uruguay. We were in the same dorm room in a hostel, and along with everyone else from that room, we became a gang exploring and doing things together
. Since we had not seen each other in several months. Both of us had quite a few travel stories to catch up on since we last spoke. Joyce took a good part of one morning to come and meet me in Amsterdam. I had thought that she lived there, but she actually travelled an hour and a half by train to come and spend a few hours with me one morning. It was good fun, we had a nice lunch and I brought my laptop and we went through several pictures, with many laughs. Thank you Joyce for your help, your time, and just spending time with you....it was good fun. I hope that you get to go traveling again yourself sometime soon. Now my last couple days in Amsterdam, I didnt know exactly where I was going to go or where to stay again. I didn't really want to do the hostel thing again, as in Amsterdam, the hostels are usually filled with party party party people. I didn't really feel like being around that again. I made plans with Angel and Marta to meet for dinner one nigh, and the two of them spoke and offered me a place to stay for the last couple nights. It is truly amazing when your friends come to your rescue....right when you need it most. Not only did they invite me into their home, they also made a delicious meal, some homemade tortilla. You can't get any more authentic spanish cooking....because it was done by a true Valenciano. We had some really good times in the short time that we spent together, and I knew that it would not be the last time that I would see them. Thanks again Angel and Marta, you guys are awsome
. So this is really just a taste of what really happened in Amsterdam. Some stories will be saved for my book (if I ever do that), or very least my memoirs. Thank you to everyone in Amsterdam that made my stay here so memorable and fun. I hope that you are all doing well still. Now it was time to pack up my big pack again and get moving down the road to do some more touring, and more importantly, figure out what the hell to do next.......Cheers for now.
Sorry if this entry sucks, I tried to proof read it, but I just have too much on the go to do it. If it doesnt make sense, please slap me so I can correct it.
Amsterwham...I mean dam. The city where pretty much anything goes. The Netherland is my 17th or 18th country to visit (something like that....I've actually lost count). Of course a visit to Europe cannot be complete without a visit here. After the 7 hour drive from Berlin, I was dropped off just on the outskirts of the city at a train station. When I walked out of the very busy Amsterdam Centraal station, I made my way to the red light district where my hostel was located. One lesson I learned very quickly in Amsterdam is that you have to look both ways when crossing the street...twice! Once for the cars, and once for the bicycles. I can't tell you how many times I heard bike bells ring and turn my head quickly, only to look like a deer caught in the headlights of a bike. When I safely arrived at my hostel I rested up a bit and unwound from the long day of being on the road. There was a large group of Italians in my hostel room that had made themselves at home on my bed....very gracious of them to have their feet on my towels provided. I did not want to spend anymore time with this large group of people in my dorm room, so I packed up and headed out to see the town