After staying in Hannover, Germany with my foreign exchange student from 20 years ago, my friends and I decided to go to Amsterdam for two days. That was where my friend John was going to be flying out of on Friday, so we thought we’d make a trip out of it. My exchange student dropped us off at the train station at eight in the morning and we boarded for a 4.5 hour ride to Amsterdam.
I really didn’t know what to expect going there. I was excited to see the infamous Red Light District and of course, try the weed because… when in Amsterdam? John booked us a AirBnB after an unfortunate experience at his first hostel with us in Prague. To make a long story short, he was on the bottom bunk terribly located under an amateur drinker with even worse bladder control. After waking up to his first Golden Shower (I’m assuming his first anyway), he decided he’d prefer to wake up dry. Weird. He found an AirBnB in the heart of the Red Light District.
We arrived at the train station about 2:30pm and had a rainy 10 minute walk to our place. We walked a ton of canals and bridges but the very first thing i noticed was how many bikes there were. They. Are. Everywhere. We made it to a corner building and John points up “I think this is us.”
“Number 69? You’re joking.” The house clearly labeled on the side of the building.
“How did you not once mention this to me?!”
“I didn’t know until now.”
“Well, if this isn’t a solid omen for our trip I don’t know what is.” And if that wasn’t enough, directly across the canal from our place was a bright neon red sign lit up that said “Sex Palace.”
Katie and I sat in bed on the second floor and looked out the window. This was going to be an excellent people watching location. We stopped at the corner store and grabbed some supposed weed brownies and lollipops. We thought we’d eat that then get ready and be at a prime state to properly explore the area.
“We’re gonna have a good time. Also, I feeeeeeel like we should open up Tinder and make sure that happens.”
“Agreed” Katie confirmed.
A few swipes, outfit change and we made our game plan: food and drugs. In that order. Whatever we bought at the corner store wasn’t legit. We zigzagged through the red light district and finally came across a good burger place, per TripAdvisor’s recommendation. After our bellies were filled, we googled “coffees shops” and found a popular one. We promised John after we partook in the green we’d go to a bar for him since he wasn’t going to get high- probably because he has spent many nights with Katie and I drunk and knew he needed to be prepared for whatever the night may bring.
We walked into this coffee shop and stood in line trying to figure out the menu situation. I saw no clear labeled marijuana leaves and no signage whatsoever. A few minutes pass and someone sees a small arrow pointing downstairs for this. Down a tiny, narrow, curved stairway (which is super common in Europe I’ve found out), were about four tables with ashtrays in the middle and on the left side of the small room, were two men to take your order.
We had decided not to buy the premade stuff, both because of our corner store let down and that Katie had researched that it wasn’t as good.
“So what do you want me to get?” I asked her.
“I don’t know. Whatever. I trust you.”
I walked up to the counter and the man hands me a weed menu. Choices I couldn’t even remember because weed is so foreign to me. While it is legal in my state as of a few years ago, it’s not something I’ve ever really participated in. Occassionally, and I mean like every couple years when I was hammered in my drinking days, I’d think it was a good idea and do it, but other than that, I’ve not had much interest in it. I guess because I’ve never needed assistance to be lazy or to sleep. BUT.. Amsterdam. This was not a time to NOT try it.
The guy asks me “so what do you want?”
“Well, uhh… i dont know. I’ve not really done this before so…”
“Do you want to roll your own joint?”
Shit. I did not consider this in the non-premade purchase plan. I have no idea how to roll a joint.
“Probably not. Well, maybe.. is it hard to learn?” I’m sure this guy is enthusiastic of giving a weed-rolling 101 class to a stupid 30-year-old American girl. I’m totally making his day.
“Okay sweetheart…what about these?” He pulls out a mini carton of four joints in a delightfully titled “Reefers” package.
“Those will work!” My anxiety blurts out. I’m clearly inconveniencing this guy and so stressed about this exchange I just want to not be standing in the front of a room feeling like everyone is watching and judging me. Side note: |ANXIETY IS GREAT.|
After completing my first succesful drug deal (transaction?) I walked back to the table. Katie asks me what I got.
“Uh… these premade drugs.”
“Oh good! So you stuck to our plan perfectly!” Sarcastic bitch.
” I panicked when he started talking about rolling joints and equipment involved and I saw things called grinders and I’m not sure what all goes into that because I thought that was an app but they are selling it here and everything was stressing me out…”
“Ahhh… okay. That makes sense.”
We shared one joint, worried we’d get too high as we didn’t know the Amsterdam weed or our own threshold, being the non-smokers we really are. We left and walked to a bar so her and John could get a drink.
We found a bar as we were walking with a food sign and seats, so I voted for that. I sat in a high wooden chair at the table and John ordered drinks at the bar. I started to feel sleepy and wondered it if was the weed or if moving around all day was catching up to me. I started to wonder how long it would take John to return. I wondered why they had a food sign outside the window but when I asked for food the waitress said she didn’t have any. Was that a translation miscommunicated or was this lady trying to help me out on my weight? If that was the case I should tell her it’s a lost cause. I wondered about the statue outside and how many times a bird poops on it in one day. I wondered if everyone in Amsterdam hates bicyclists like we do in Seattle, or if it’s just accepted since they are all bicyclists. I wondered about the larger-sized lady I saw in the red light district standing in the window. Is business good at 430pm on a Wednesday? Do they rent the window by the hour or is this a pay-per-customer situation? Do they call them hookers or prostitutes? What is the PC word to use? Is PC a concern in this situation? Do they call themseles dancers like the strippers in the USA? Dick dancers maybe? They probably don’t call themselves that.. but they definitely should. I would. Mental note to self: check out cost for renting space as a dick dancer- strictly out of curiousity, people. I wondered about that statistic I read that said somewhere between 8% and 92% of the dick dancers are possibly forced into the work. I wondered who the hell hired that guy and what his final grade in his statistics class was… I’m going to guess a F. And also, who hired him? I wondered how much I could wonder. Is there a maxiumum amount of thoughts your brain will hold? Will mine ever shut the fuck up? I wondered why they didn’t serve food here when they had a sign with food on it. That thought was still lingering as the thought of food sounded better and better.
I also wondered if I was high yet. I couldn’t be. Or was I? What exactly does high feel like? I’m tired. And I’m hungry. That definitely fits the description of being high, and also fits the description of my personality. Maybe my personaility is high. What does that even mean? That’s definitely a stupid high thought. No, thats a stupid thought. I was arguing with myself. THIS IS A SAFE PLACE!- third me intervened. I know how internally hangry I can get and was trying to do a preemptive damage control to myself.
Okay. Maaaaaaaaaybbbbeeee I’m a little high.
I looked up from my daze and glanced at Katie. She’s been sitting in front of me in silence the entire time staring at a wall. I forgot she was here. Maybe we’re BOTH a little high.
Then, after complete silence for two minutes or two hours, I have no idea which, Katie mutters out “My neck feels heavy.”
And I lost my shit. LOST IT. I couldn’t breathe. I had tears flying down my face. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t talk or say one word. FOR TEN MINUTES. The laughter went on so long, so hard, both my friends had time to picture, video and snapchat, the entire event.
When I was finally able to breathe, and talk, I had some follow up questions to ask.
“Don’t you mean your head?!”
“No. It’s my neck.”
“How can you feel your neck? I’d never think my neck is heavy. I’d think it’s my head that is making my neck heavy or sore.”
“It’s not sore. It’s just right here” she motions to both sides of her neck, “It feels…. heavy.”
Another burst of laughter out of me. The description of her neck being heavy was just the funniest thing I had ever heard. She’s definitely high and this is really entertaining to me as well. Obviously. The laughing intermittently continues until we decide it’s time to eat.
We returned to this dream dessert place I eyeballed on our way to burgers earlier called “Sweetella”. I took it as a sign I needed to eat there since Nutella and Straciatella have been my two biggest obsessions, consequently nicknaming my growing belly “Baby Tella”. I definitely needed to eat here.
The dessert artist described a triple layer waffle and crepe heave-sent masterpiece, handcrafted by God and decorated in whipcream and delicacies. High and mouth-watering, I was ready to commit but my friends weren’t on board. We ordered a waffle and nutella crepe to share for three of us. I will say it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted in my entire life and I don’t know if the mind-altering substances played a part in that or not.
I don’t remember what we did after that but I know at some point I also ate at an Irish restaurant where I had nachos, and later at the Airbnb demolished an entire family sized bag of Paprika chips. After dinner we agreed to call it a night. We’d have a long day of exploring in the morning and I was exhausted.
We laid in bed people watching the customers of the Sex Palace from our window and Tindering in between. One of the guys messaged me about meeting up. He was a 35-year-old attractive Dutch man and I briefly considered it. Too tired from walking (see:smoking), I decided to be lazy instead.
“I can’t meet tonight. I’m sorry.” I probably told him. He’s since deleted his Tinder (or me) so I can’t quite quote the conversation.
He tells me he has meetings on Thursday night but is free Friday and open to a pizza eating competition. This man speaks the words to my heart. However, I tell him I’m leaving Friday morning so that won’t work. He messages back at some point saying I can stay with him Friday and he will drive me to Germany Saturday morning. I decide he’s out of his mind and go to sleep. (Later I’ll agree to something even crazier, but we’ll get to that on the next blog.)
The next morning we wake up at a reasonable hour to make it to our 9:30am tickets to the Van Gogh Museum. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an art enthusiast by any means, but this museum and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona were my favorites. I highly recommend it as it walks you through their life, and what was going on internally and externally as these were crafted. Additionally, I had just finished reading Lust for Life, Van Goghs biography per the recommendation of one of my best friends, so it was even more interesting to me.
After the museum we got a quick bite to eat and walked to the Dam Square to meet up for our 1:30 walking tour I scheduled. Another thing I swear-by when traveling internationally. These free walking-tours have been offered in almost every city we’ve been to and are anywhere from two to three hours. A local is the guide and they tell you about their history, interesting things of their city, good local places to go for food or drinks, and more. At the end of the tour you tip them what you feel it’s worth and it’s always been good at the least.
We saw a lot on the Amsterdam walk so I’ll summarize the cool shit, both because there was a lot of information and because I may have decided to smoke on the walking tour because…well… I could, so some other things are foggy.
- Marijuana isn’t legal in Holland, it’s “tolerated” meaning they look the other way to spend the city resources on harder things, like cocaine and heroine.
- You can buy, sell, and smoke weed but it is illegal to grow it. They use helicopters with heat sensors to find grow roofs and prosecute the offenders. In winter, they just look for roofs that don’t have any snow on them.
- This means the transport from the grow location to the coffee house is illegal. The weed shows up sometime in the night, and the second the weed is in the building, and available for sale, it’s “legal” again. So, to reiterate: illegal to grow. from the time you start growing until they are cropped and delivered, you are in violation of the law. The moment it’s sold or available for sale, it’s “legal” again. This is very strange and even the Dutch people agree.
- They have a similiar weird law to squatting. Up until 2012, squatting was legal in Netherlands. The rules were the location had to be vacant for at least a year. Once it was, and squatters entered the property, they would put a bed, table and lamp in the house and call the police to report their residence. The police would then contact the owner who would then decide if they wanted to work out a contract with the squatter(s) or try an eviction process. The weird part of squatting was this: It was still illegal to break into the house. So, sleeping outside and watching it to take up residence: legal. Breaking a window and entering the house: illegal. Taking residency one you are inside the house and contacting the police about it: legal. It was very weird and our tour guide said they hope to get some consistency on all of those things in coming years.
- We saw the thinnest house in Amsterdam. Measuring somewhere under 2 meters wide, the man that lives in the house now is actually taller than his house is wide.
- The property taxes used to be decided by the width of your ground floor street side. People started building up instead of wide to avoid paying higher taxes. This is maybe the first form of tax evasion.. okay that part I made up- probably not true.
- Their stairways and halls are SO narrow because of this. Remember the coffee shop alley I mentioned earlier? This makes moving stuff through them nearly impossible. Builders made the houses tilt just slightly forward, and most have a huge hook like thing at the top so they can use a pulley to get furniture up in their house and not break their windows! Fun fact!
This red house is the thinnest house in Amsterdam.
After the walking tour Katie decided she wanted to try a real edible from a shop. She was disappointed from our corner store space cookie the day before and also found out I smoked on our walking tour and wanted to join the party. We went to a shop and she ordered a brownie. She ate half. She asked the person how much she was supposed to eat. He said one brownie per person. She ate the other half. It was one gram of Dutch weed in that mofo. In a couple hours, we will find out this was SOOOO MUCHHHHH WEEED. But first! We had an awesome idea: Let’s get Brazilian waxes!
While we were on a walk the day before we saw a place that advertised it. We talked about coming back. We decided now was a good time as we didn’t have anything else on the agenda for the evening. We told John we’d meet up with him later and we walked there. We found the tiny little store called “Chinese Beauty” and a small Asian woman greeted us in. She locked the door behind us, as this was apparently a one person shop, and took us down a small windey stairwell. I’ve heard so much on “special massages” internationally I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a place for that. I wondered if she knew exactly what we meant when we said Brazilian. We’ve looked all over Europe for a place that did them and it didn’t seem to be a thing here. We were so excited when we found this one. We also saw there was one for just five euro more called “The Hollywood”. I was SO curious what that was.
Katie went first, and like the weird, awkward, know-no-boundaries best friends we are, I sat in a chair and watched her. ( I was on the head side of things if that makes this any less weird.. it probably doesnt.. but we don’t separate much.) She was complaining a bit here and there, but I was pretty interested in the walls and still wondering if other services were offered. I didn’t think so anymore, since our little friend did pull out wax and nothing weird was asked. She wasn’t fluent in English though, so it was somewhat difficult to have a conversation.
After a while I went to the restroom on the floor but opposite side of the room. I shut the door and I swear I heard screaming. I stopped peeing for a second.. silence. I continued my bathroom break and I heard the screaming again. Like this high pitched intermittent SCREAM. Fuck, maybe two joints to myself today was too much. I think I’m losing it. I tried to stay calm. I didn’t want to be the moron that overdoses on weed.. or claims they did. I don’t even know if that’s possible actually. I did a lot of research before jumping on in to this, clearly.
I came back out and sat in the chair. Katie seemed a bit uncomfortable and then I heard it. The scream. I’m not losing my mind!!!! I was so happy.. quite the opposite of Katie. She’s crying at this point. Actually. Crying. What a little baby bitch bird. She was telling me before she didn’t like the sugaring as much as hard wax, so I figured she was just being a sissy. Which, had I of thought more about it, I’d know Katie has quite the pain tolerance in general. But, I was high and not piecing a whole lot together.
By the end of it, Katie was red in the face from tears, but the screaming had slowed. The lady asked if I was next. I eyeballed katie for the “is this a good idea?” She avoided eye contact with me and sat down in my chair. I guess it was my turn. It couldn’t be that bad. She’s just being a baby. This isn’t my first rodeo, I’ll be fine. I got undressed bottoms down and laid on the same table they do your gynecological exams on.
I’m gonna tell you it started out okay. It did. I didn’t scream or cry. I wasn’t a little baby bitch bird, like Katie. UNTIL. I. WAS. While trying not to be to graphic about my lady parts and another woman in them, there are some parts that are just a bit more sensitive than others. In short, I think this woman was trying to female circumsize me with hard wax. I was screaming. And I was terrified of this late 30’s, 95-pound soaking wet Asian lady. She had NO mercy. She apologized but then she’d laugh. I was laughing, but I do that when I’m uncomfortable, and also when I’m high. As it turns out from a video Katie took during it, I was both.
I’ll never be able to describe the pain from that lady. I asked her if she has lots of customers from the Red Light District and she said yes. I don’t know how anyone has any feeling in their vagina after one of those. It’s been a while and I’m still recovering.
Long story short: Don’t EVER get a Brazilian in the Red Light District. But I am SOOO thankful I didn’t opt for The Hollywood. I would’ve had to use my travelers insurance and been the only backpacker in history to have “vagina damage from wax incident” listed on their claim.
Katie and I have many times discussed since then if it was better or worse because we were high. Katie was about two hours in to eating that entire brownie and we thought she was high then. I didn’t think I was at all until I saw the video. Now, I think I was. You can decide yourself.
We made it back to our place and I don’t really remember what I did. An educated guess would be nap, but maybe I showered. At some point I came back in the room and Katie had been staring off in space for an hour. She hadn’t said one word the whole time and I was worried to ask her anything because she genuinely looked like her head was about to explode. John and I decided to go get dinner. Katie barely managed the words ” I can’t go.” I said I’d bring her back food.
When we returned, Katie’s escalation on the weed was at an all time high (pun intended!). Come to find out, one half gram of Dutch weed is a HELL OF A LOT for one person. She sent me snapchat videos on her singing to Christmas music while I was away. I wish I could share these with the general public, unfortunately, I cannot. But ask me in person and I’ll definitely show you.
She later reports she had a full body high and didn’t know what to do. That the only thing that kept her calm was telling herself over and over she was high. I was unable to confirm if her neck felt heavy. I’m not sure I couldve handled it either. I had laughed so much in the last 36 hours, it made me so glad I have great bladder control, unlike John’s bunk buddy. She recovered just a little traumatized from the overdose and the Brazilian, but John woke up dry for his flight and I ate everything in sight for a couple days with lots of laughs in between. Amsterdam was a whirlwind of an experience and I would like to go back there to explore it a little more, with maybe a little less drugs. Maybe.
John flew out in the morning and Katie and I headed back to Hannover to stay with my friend a bit longer. The Dutch Tinder match wrote me again offering to drive me AND my friend to Hannover if I would just stay to meet him. I felt Katie out, who wasn’t on board, and declined the offer. She convinced me it was a bad idea. In a few days, I’d decide a better idea is letting him drive from the Netherlands, TO Germany, to get in a car with a man I’ve never met and drive us to Belgium where we’d spend a day together. But I’ll get to that on the next blog.. 🙂