The third stop on my whirlwind Eurotrip was Amsterdam.
Let me start off by saying… that this city is crazy. Honestly I don’t know how many times I said it to my friends how strange I thought it was. It’s got such an interesting mix of drugs and promiscuity combined with history and beautiful architecture… it kind of boggles your mind a little.
Upon arriving in the city and settling into our very small hotel room (up 3 flights of the steepest stairs you’ve ever thought of), we headed off to experience an aspect of Amsterdam that college students and hippie wannabes everywhere dream of fondly, almost as if it were the promise land. Of course I’m talking about the coffeeshops wherein customers are invited to smoke weed. Legally. Can I just say that purchasing our 3 grams of Laughing Buddah weed, sitting down with a bong and a lighter and ordering milkshakes and cappuccinos was a very surreal experience. We laughed to the point of crying and spaced out like the best of them. It was quite strange.
Cue us then wandering around the city, on our first night, stoned off our faces. It was quite funny, really. After 3 or 4 hours of this, we headed back to our hotel where we sat in the lobby, had fika and nommed on chips and candy that we had bought at a convenience store, giggled up a storm, and probably pissed off the man working the front desk. The next day we did much of the same thing. Wandered around the red light district and stumbled into many a coffeeshop. That night we ended up wandering around the red light district and even ended up catching ourselves a show at the Moulin Rouge. Let’s just say when the sign says something and you think that they’re being coy or exaggerating what’s really going on in said show… they mean it exactly as they say it, for example… a live sex show, literally means there is live sex happening on a stage in front of you. In retrospect, I don’t know how we could have not seen that one coming.
By day 3, Jill and myself had gotten a touch tired of spending every waking hour searching for every coffeeshop in the city, and insisted that before we enjoyed us some lovely greenery, we were going to have a cultural and educational experience. We ended up going on a 3 hour FREE walking tour of the city that was absolutely excellent. The tours are done through a company called SANDEMAN’s New Europe Tours and I highly recommend them to anyone traveling to a destination where they are offered. It was so informative and after the tour, our tour guide invited us all to a place where they served a traditional Dutch dish called stammpot that was essentially mashed potatoes with vegetables and sausage. That night marked my final evening in the city and to commemorate, we went on a pubcrawl! It was very interesting from what I was told the next day.
The lesson, however, that I learned from my 3 1/2 days in Amsterdam was that I really do have an excellent sense of direction. And no matter how inebriated I was, be it drunk or stoned (or a combination of both), I was always able to get us all back to the hotel safe and sound. I left the next day around noon — caught the train to Paris, and left my friends in the crazy, crazy city that is Amsterdam.
Since experiencing it, it really made me appreciate the simple things in Canada like how marijuana is not legalized and how prostitution is not so ‘in-your-face’. While it was interesting to experience and witness, Amsterdam is one of those cities that I don’t feel you can spend too much time in. It is an alternate reality and if you don’t have self control, you can quickly lose yourself to the drugs and debauchery. However, for the 3 1/2 short days that I was there, I took on the motto “when in Rome” and allowed myself to let loose and have fun. I left there after about 80hrs with new perspectives and only a tad bit Amsterdamaged.