I have avoided writing this post for quite some time as I didn’t know what people might think, but hey… we are all adults here and we all know what most people in their 20′s go to Amsterdam for. No discredit to the city, its an amazing city and had I of done things my way well, they would of been done A LOT differently. When I had just moved into London, it was just after my first Scotland trip and before my big “3 week more food, more beer, no sleep trip” I took a trip to Amsterdam. I was sitting in the kitchen (our only communal space) with my flat mate, lets call him Picasso; who is a big fan of “the green stuff”. The conversation went down like this.
“What are you doing Picasso?” I asked
“Its my boyfriends birthday, I am buying us a ticket to Amsterdam”
“oh thats a great present”
“Yeh he wants to go to Venice, but I don’t like the city, I want to go to Amsterdam”
Me, quite baffled (I didn’t know either of them too well back then or this would of been the norm for Picasso)
“Um.. shouldn’t you get him a ticket to Venice… for HIS birthday and maybe Amsterdam for YOUR birthday” I hinted
This makes logical sense to you right?
“No, Venice is a horrible city. We go to Amsterdam, he will love it… come with us Bec, we will smoke lots of weed”
At this point I should interrupt to tell you that I had never (as a 23 year old smoked a thing in my life. My “goodie goodie” existence has not touch a cigarette, not even a puff let alone anything considered “illegal” so whilst the city and a trip away was appealing to me, his offer was not.
“when are you leaving?” I asked
“Oh no, I can’t, I need to work, its a new job”
Boy was I uptight back then!
After much convincing of “oh come on, you came here to travel, its only one day… and so on so forth my goodie goodie walls slowly were being broken down. Before I knew it I was being woken up at 3am for a flight to Edinhoven. for what would certainly be one of the best story telling trips that I never tell anyone back home. (luckily none of them read my blog – insert sad face here)
No trip of mine is complete without a few fails
When I spoke to some of the girls at work they had mentioned that if I fly into Edinhoven it was a short bus ride from Amsterdam. I was thinking 10 maybe 15 minutes. We also booked the only possible room, as it was last minute for that weekend. These were our two big fails. The short bus ride seemed to take forever and we had no idea where we were. The only room left was about a 20 min tram ride out of the city. The reason we kept getting lost is because we assumed we would be in the centre of town.
That’s Picassos cigarette, im just holding it for him, I promise!
My first weed smoking experience
Since the moment we boarded the plane, better still, the bus to get to the plane, okay, okay… the second Picasso woke up at 3am dancing into my room singing something about “Amsterdam” something gave me the feeling he was not interested in any sort of culture, arts or city exploring on this trip.
We arrived at the very far away from Amsterdam airport that Picasso would call “Edin-fucking-no-where-hoven” with one very weed craving Picasso, yet the poor guy had to wait for me and his partner to get off the plane, get to Amsterdam, get our hotel, socialise and be “human” with our room mate, settle in, get food, walk around… well, thats where he drew the line at… whats this walking around – he just wanted to walk right into a cafe and get the “party started”.
The time had arrived, we finally found a cafe that we liked the vibe of and entered. As Picasso starts rolling the conversation went like this…
“Now Picasso, don’t start smoking until we show Bec what to do” His thoughtful partner said
“Of course… no worries” Picasso replies, whilst probably thinking “Bec-who?
“And don’t make it too strong, she has never done this before”
“Okay… no worries” (with thoughts of, mmmm my level of strong or hers?)
Before I even knew it he has taken about two or four strong puffs and was already stoned. Meanwhile both of them trying to teach me how to inhale the smoke… I really was a lost cause!
I declared that I felt no effects, even after trying a brownie. to which Picasso will always tell the story of me saying to the guy at the counter “um… what am I meant to do, I’m a newbie” Yes looking back I am embarrassed of this as well, what can I say I was nervous.
Its just a cake dad I honestly!
I figured that obviously because I couldn’t inhale, I was not effected (not even second hand in a smoky cafe)… yet; I was paranoid as fuck walking down dark streets, the kebab was by far the most amazing in the world and this weird elephant painting was the most interesting thing in the world… hmmm…. you be the judge :-/
Still not convinced? The next morning at breakfast, the standard chocolate spread was the best I had ever tasted, I put it down to being Dutch… I took several back to London and suddenly they lost there taste on an average day… yup, not only was I most certainly effected that night, but I was still effected that day.
Is Amsterdam more then just cafes?
I wouldn’t know. I was insistent that I would not come to Amsterdam and do nothing but sit in cafes, I wanted to see the Anne Frank museum, the street art, row down canals, cycle, boats, all the things Amsterdam would be without cafes (or without Picasso). I put my foot down and demanded that we check out the Anne Frank Museum, I was going with or without Picasso (his partner who didn’t even want to go to Amsterdam was on my side) I won and we headed into town, but being so far out of town and rather sluggish shall we say in the morning we didn’t beat the crowds, it was raining and miserable, we skipped the museum (more-so because we were not sure we could trust our giant loveable child Picasso in such a place) but I demanded that we do a free walking tour of the city, Sandemans, my usual just happened to operate in Amsterdam. We did the tour and I loved it… I had gotten my cultural hit and now Picasso was determined to get us experiencing his sense of Amsterdam culture. However, this post is not about that stuff…
The weed smoking disaster
I’m not sure if it was the “smell in the air” but we just could not get settled in any cafes and whilst picasso was quite happy to go anywhere me and his partner were just not. We eventually got sick of his complaining and settled in one. Thats when the disaster stuck.
We sat in a cafe smoking wayyyy too much when being such a beginner it hit me, I realised I was in the clouds… but I had never felt like this before. My head seemed slow, but why was it slow, and my brain seemed to be in a world of its own, things felt cloudy upstairs. Suddenly a girl sitting behind us has decided to “chat to us” This is when the in the clouds feeling hit me and I thought I was going to die… yes you may laugh… I was so oblivious to this feeling that I assumed I was going to die and needed to step out for some air… I excused myself from the awkward surroundings and walked outside where I had brief moments of wanting to jump into the canals as I thought that would make me feel better, but then knew I would probably drown so I made myself walk back in where I found this girl trying really hard to start a conversation, she was trying to get a connection with smart partner and trying to make sense of picasso. I sat down being polite, trying to telepathically tell my friend that I thought I was dying, meanwhile, he is trying to telepathically tell me that we are being set up to be robbed. (this is all rather funny looking back at it all)
When the girl went to get a smoke, smart partner took this as an opportunity to let me in on his suspicions. this was followed by hesitations from Picasso who demanded she was just being friendly.
“Im pretty sure I saw her behind the bar, she works here Picasso, and I saw her chatting with the guys behind the bar earlier. Who in there right mind wants to make friends when they are stoned.” When I look back at the evidence that smart partner mentioned it started to make sense.
The walls and roof of the cafe had murals all over them. Our camera, wallets, phones were all sitting in the middle of the table, she would often try and get us to look up at the murals on the walls and roofs as she would signal for people to walk past. The girl never smoked anything with us, she bought one smoke and never breathed it in before picking up on our vibe and leaving. She kept asking us if we were stoned and what our plans were for later (this only helped to make us more paranoid)
“no, no guys, you all stoned and being paranoid” Picasso would say.
I was ignorant to what the effects of the green stuff was so I didn’t know whos side to go on… but I knew both of them and their common sense level shall I say. So I quickly snapped up and realised, chances are we were being set up to be robbed.
This now put us in a difficult situation, what was there plan? (and then the paranoier probably set in) were we best to leave the cafe or stay? It was pouring down with rain and we suddenly felt incapable of protecting ourselfes. Our hotel was 20 minutes out of town and we were freezing. We decided to leave the cafe, we didn’t like the vibe. Picasso protested as he still had more weed to smoke but went along with us as he didn’t know how to get to the hotel. We would sneak out of the cafe as if we were secret agents, constantly checking out backs, fronts and sides, pretty much tip toeing… meanwhile, Picasso strolls beside us saying “guys, you all being paranoid, she was our friend”
We made our way into a little Dutch Pancake place, where my paranoier would leave me for my hunger… but I wanted to get home, the rain was crap and it was cold, I was not liking this outside air, but I wanted food… what to do?
Oh yes I ate all of that! clearly a reason why I got fat on my travels!
Eventually we made it back to out hotel, safe and with all of our belongings, we quickly just went to sleep, after staying up laughing about the situation. Looking back. I wonder, would I of wanted my Amsterdam experience to be different, would it of been better with cycling and canal rowboats and more culture and history learning, more exploring… well… maybe, but I could always go back and do that stuff… the experience that I had with my one of a kind friend Picasso, could never be exchanged! After all, it is the people that make your travels, not the places right?