March 4th, 2008

amd: smoking picnic

Icelandic Saga IV: Amsterdam

Thursday, we flew into Amsterdam. It was crazy going from all the ice and snow to barely needing a jacket in Amsterdam (not to mention getting a far superior selection of beer for half the price). Our apartment in our bed and breakfast was huge, but it was little too far from downtown. We were on the southwest end of Vondelpark (a narrow, pleasantly waterscaped park), about a thirty minute walk to the city center. Worrying about our flight, K. hadn't slept well the night before, so she napped while I did a bit of exploring. When I got back, we hit a little neighborhood bar for burgers, frites, and beer.

Friday morning, K. and I had went to the Rijksmuseum, where we saw lots of Rembrandts and Vermeers. It was a bit stunning how crowded the place was even off-season. We got a great lunch at this Thai place, but had a hard time getting the check because our waitress had been stolen away by an old British guy who wanted her to talk to his future mail order bride for him since neither spoke the other's language. I don't know much Thai but I'd like to think they were talking about what an asshole he was.

After lunch, I walked K. to the Anne Frank House and then went off to have adventures. In need of a drink and a bathroom, I stumbled into a bar that was playing some excellent glam rock. After ordering, I noticed that the walls were covered in photographs of penises. It was pretty funny. I smoked a nice, fully legal hashish joint at the Ben Cafe on Kolsteeg, then wandered down to the famous Red Light District. It's basically two or three narrow alleys filled with glass doors behind which fully legal prostitutes beckon, tease, and otherwise struggle not to look completely bored while standing around in their underwear. With all the just gawking, non-buying tour groups walking through, there was something oddly zoo-like about the whole affair. Or maybe it's more like an automat, except that after you make your selection, you actually crawl in to the slot with your sandwich. A couple of the ladies opened their doors to try and entice me in, but just the sauna-like heat that was pouring out of their boothes was enough to make me sweat. I can't even imagine how uncomfortably warm I'd be inside one. Still feeling a little high, I wandered through the shops in the Jordaan, eating an qxquisite, chocolate-covered cream puff and lingering for a quite a while at a bookstore that specialized in conspiracy theories and paranormal science. Then K. and I met up for some Indian food and stroopwafel ice cream.

Saturday, I ingested some apparently legal magic mushrooms I'd bought the day before and headed off to trip my head off in a foreign city. The effects were strong to keep me pinned down to the park for an hour or two, then I made my way to a little Irish bar to scribble insane ramblings in my notebook and tried my best not to scare the waitresses while I was putting my head back together. After coming down, I grabbed some mediocre Mexican food, cruised back through the Jordaan, and inevitably ended up back at Cafe Ben to smoke some absolutely legal marijuana. What can I say? When in Amsterdam.... Afterwards, K. and I met up for a big Indonesian feast and our vacation was pretty much over.

Sunday morning, we flew back to Reykjavik, then to Boston, where we arrived too late to make our final flight home, and so got put up at the airport Hilton for the night, which was nice, but wasn't the home we were craving. We got a red eye home monday morning and finally pullled up to the house about 36 hours after starting our journey.