a community serious about adventuring
I heard a funny story about Amsterdam once. Not being a huge pot smoker, my friend found him self in one of Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops. He requested something mild and giggly. He was handed a pre-rolled doob and shared it with Friend Number 2. Friend Number 3 didn’t smoke and wanted to make a move from the coffee shop. Already feeling the affects of the mild joint, Smoker Number 1 had become temporarily immobilized and spent the next several minutes conversing with Smoker Number 2 about having lost his legs – “I’ve lost me legs” said Smoker Number 1. “Where’ve they gone then?” asked Smoker Number 2. The same two sentences was as deep as the conversing would go. When disinterest began to set in, Smoker Number 1 attempted to make his way out of the shop and found Smoker Number 2 with his nose pinned up against a mouse-trap type chocolate dispensing machine. He was putting in euro after euro. It wasn’t the chocolate he was after, it was the cycadellic journey each candy took to come out that he was lost in.
Double Reggae; it was our first official coffee shop in Amsterdam – not to be confused with a cafè shop where you buy coffee beverages. We split a Space Cake and a very skunky Amstel Light. We didn’t stay to trip out on the raspberry goldfish, but headed outside to find the famous Red Light District. We didn’t know where it was and felt a little embarassed asking since it seemed like something everyone would be required to know upon entering Amsterdam, kind of like knowing not to eat food with your left hand in India. It’s a factoid that would save you a lot of future embarassment. We decided to follow some random men around thinking that that would be where they most likely would be heading only to end up asking for some help. Trekking through the district, we waited for the effect of the cakes to kick in and could’t help but think we had just bought a really expensive chocolate muffin sans The Space.
Amsterdam is heaven for bikers. Bikes own the street. There’s a tram line that runs through the middle of the streets, a single lane for car traffic and then red bike lanes running on both street sides. Biking is so serious here it’s not even considered a hazard by any means. No one wears a helmet – not the little kids who double up on mum’s bike (one on the front and one on the back) and not even the bike police. They even have custom designed bike seat covers for the rain. No one rides a bmx, just regular townie-type bikes and most of them are decrepid and rickety. It’s very common to see bikes that look as though they’ve been left behind by tourists who have purchased a cheap ride and left them chained up together and are now all mangled together. There are seriously so many bikes that Amsterdamians just leave their bike locked standing upright in the middle of the sidewalk.
Our hostel in Amsterdam was the Hortus Hotel. We had booked a private room, but arrived late due to our delayed Easy Jet flight in London. We ended up getting a private room roughly the size of an extra large shoe box and kiddie-sized bunks. There was litterally two feet between the bunks and the wall, but it was home for the moment. We unloaded our bags and payed a visit to the promised ensuite washrooms we would be sharing. I’ve made it a habit to check out the toilet situation at each new abode. A toilet says a lot about where you are and this toilet was great. It came equipped with extra toilet paper rolls, a towel for hand drying and a seated toilet complete with a westernized flusher. All good. Except the exit. I couldn’t unlock the door and found myself trapped in the flusher for what felt like forever. Morgan, who had heard my feeble attempts to free myself, thankfully came to the rescue. On the verge of tears, but half laughing out of sheer panic, it was there and then that I fell in love with Amsterdam.