Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter - time for happy treats and mystical animals

By the title of the blog, you can probably guess that I spent my Easter in Amsterdam.
Firstly, Amsterdam’s flag is red and black with a white triple X in the middle. This may not be a piece of trivia that interests you, but I think this flag is more an advertisement for what’s about to occur in your experience of the city rather than just a symbol.

Amsterdam itself is a lovely city for its museums, canals, friendly Dutchies, silent trams that can creep up on you when you’ve experienced the more intoxicating side of the city and a shitload of bikes of which none are under 30 years old.

On the northern tip of the city, squeezed in between the ocean, the main rail station and the city’s large market place is the red light district. The red light district is a playground. Anything you want, you can get. Women in windows, live sex shows, legal marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms, and much much more. It’s the Toys R Us for over 18s.

Mum – stop reading from here.

Now there aren’t a lot of photos in this blog or on my photo website as the red light district in Amsterdam forbids photos at night. They don’t police that rule a lot – the pimps just come out and stab you. So with the majority of our time spent there, we didn’t get too many happy snaps.

After arriving on the Thursday morning I had some time to kill before the rest of the entourage shipped in at midnight. I decided to walk the streets and do some proper site seeing. This lasted seven minutes.

Walking past my first coffee shop I noticed a lot of people taking photos of one particular establishment, and just my luck, there was a seat right out the front. Now I’m not a stoner so I have no idea, but apparently the coffee shop of choice was the Bulldog, the original Amsterdam coffee, and hence its popularity. The rest of the day really blurred by, but I know I ate something, got scared shitless when I walked past a window girl and someone opened it and then went and sat in a bar watching premiership darts for nearly two hours.

Come midnight the fellas rocked up and we decided to have a search around. That’s when I realised the key thing in Amsterdam – if you are semi-attractive the prostitutes and strippers will love you. It beats the hell out of a fat old man on a rugby trip. Unfortunately I didn’t realise this until a window opened right next to me and I was grabbed – quite forcefully actually – by a pair of hands trying to drag me in to her booth, shouting: “hey sexy, leave your friends and come in here. I give you a special price. I give you extra 15 minutes for free.” The only thing I could come back with was ‘but my friends and sexy too’. After prying my way out of her grip for the third time, I managed to get through the alley, with a few of the boys suffering a couple of bruises from similar altercations. Now I’ve never paid for sex and I never will - not because I’ve got morals I’m just cheap - but some of these women in the windows are stunning. Sure they have more diseases than the monkey from outbreak, but now I understand why women window shop and don’t buy. However there was one on the main strip that, after I called her as the best, was titled my girlfriend, which led to conversations like:

“Bart, are you going to go and see your girlfriend?”
“No not tonight, she’s working.”

After wandering the streets for a little while we called it a night to prepare for the next day.

After purchasing our little bags of goodies (I was eating my vegetables Mum) it was off to the park in the sunshine. I did feel guilty sitting right next the Van Gough museum and not going in, but after being that out of it to cut off his ear and give it to his lover I reckon he was probably doing the same thing as I was in his day. After a half an hour later we decided we should get back to the hostel. Walking became an issue. Depth perception was shot. Crossy had to be in the worse state for this. After tailing a few metres behind the rest of the pack we wondered why he hadn’t crossed the road.

“Crossy – hurry up.”
“I’m watching the parade.”
“That’s just cars driving up and down the road champ.”

After walking for 45-minutes we didn’t seem much closer to home, prompting my call ‘I just want the safety of the red light district’. This is a place that we had seen one man on the ground out the front of a night club bleeding from a head wound, another get stabbed and slashed in the face out the front of a coffee shop and later that night we were to see a nightclub fight with one of the participants running out of the club chasing his intended victim with a steel vase. But at that exact moment, walking though one of the poshest areas of Amsterdam, that little hamlet of sleaze was the place that we wouldn’t be judged. After finally finding it, we plonked down in the bar and whittled the hours away watching two girls paint a room in the building across the canal, convinced ourselves that the toilet was talking (angry because we hadn’t invited it out with us and locked it alone in a little room) and looked for Toddy’s shoes for 30 minutes without being able to find them and came to the logical conclusion that he either ate them or he never brought them with him. Then we lifted up a jacket and found them.

A pub crawl at 8.30pm to explore the local bars provided for an interesting evening with every man going AWOL at some point.Saturday rolled around and it was time for a sex show (being good boys and all we decided not to go to a sex show on Good Friday). So in we went with the promise of cheap beers and some lovely ladies. This is where I discovered that not only window girls, but strippers really like me, with a lot of attention focused on me. To quote Dave: “it’s because they think you’re a child and want to adopt you.” He’s probably right.

There were candles, other ‘things’ and Jordy being kicked off the stage when invited to participate in the show when he committed a faux paus with a banana; but I ask who really knows the etiquette involved with that?? Then came the sex show. I had to say I was rather disappointed. If I wanted to see such a bored look from a girl I’ll just pick her up myself. Ah well, I went and saw one in Amsterdam, but I don’t really mind if the Alzheimers in my future wipes that memory away.

Bar provided eggs on easter Sunday

That night we found the best nightclub of all time. I’ve been to Ibiza and the ‘super clubs’ that claim to be the greatest, but Escape in Rembrandtplein comes in at number one for me. The music, the set up, the people, the everything. The Dutch are stunning and are a great bunch of people to party with, so a good night was had, although they don’t seem to have a lot of staying power. At 5am when the club closed the Dutchies were rather confused that we wanted to keep partying. But alas the Dam closes down about 7am and the really ugly window girls get rolled out. However the hostel bar opens at 8am, so we waited. After a few breakfast beers, it was off to the Heineken Factory. Now it’s not really a factory but a museum nowadays, but they do have sampling areas. Three free beers was the only incentive we needed to chuck down the 11 euros and go on in. Powering through the history of Heineken section we were gunning for the sampling areas, that was until we walked past the room where you could play with a DJ booth. That was a little too much for our head space so we had to move on after a little bit. Sitting down at the last sampling area we went through our second and third beers. This is when great things started happening. As the last sampling area you got two beers, many of the tourists didn’t go for the second, and started giving us their tokens. Now I’ve got no idea what says we like to drink about five dishevelled blokes sitting in the Heineken factory in clothes they wore out the night before, but by the end of the one hour tour we had spent 15 minutes looking at museum and two hours in the sampling area – which wasn’t even a bar – and had the staff gawking at us when we finally emerged.

This one's for you Smithy

I won’t really go in to the last night in too much detail, but our old friends Columbians, Amazonian, Philosopher’s Stone and Mexican fungi came out. Apart from me being convinced I was in the circus and everyone around me being dressed as clowns, with streamers and balloons everywhere, it was a basic Sunday night. Although I have a lot of strange photos on my camera where I was trying to take photos of the pretty colours everywhere – not sure why they didn’t come out????

Just your usual Monday morning

Only being a one hour flight from London, Amsterdam is a great place to have fun, as long as you don’t take it too seriously and leave after a few days. Even when I got off the plane at Gatwick I had a laugh when I saw my bag. Why would you feel the need to security check a young bloke on his way back from Amsterdam?

Actually that’s probably a good call. Stopped laughing when I saw they had cut my lock to get in there though!

More photos here.


At 12:14 PM, Anonymous LaLa said...

I saw the sex show when I was there. Apparently they are all real couples. No wonder they look bored.


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