A Trip to and in Amsterdam - December 2004

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A Trip to and in Amsterdam - December 2004

Postby Santoka » Wed Oct 05, 9:54 pm

I've been working on this for a while, off and on. It's not much, but I know how I enjoy reading a detailed travel report & wanted to give a little something back to Channels, through which I've learned so much about Amsterdam (and other things!). Thanks go out to Last Hamlet, Banks, Viking, and all you other wonderful people who set the trip report bar so high. Thanks also to Max Flower, UKBL, and the many others who are vast repositories of information on Amsterdam and things. Special thanks go to El Tesoro (aka Chief Smoking Drum) who I met through Channels and have gotten high with quite a few times. We encouraged each other to stop procrastinating and finish these accounts so other people could read them. Thanks, man!

Here it is - I'm breaking it up into one day per entry. Hope it gives you a little taste of Mokum...

Getting there – Thursday 9 December 2004

I eloped with my wife, who I’ll refer to here as ‘K’, in December 2003. We had been living together since 1999 & didn’t want to go through the fuss & money drain that a wedding usually entails. Plus, the thought of all our relatives concentrated in one spot was enough to make us consider never marrying at all. But marry we did, in a mercifully short ceremony in a lawyer’s office with no relatives present. A few hours later, we were on the plane to Amsterdam. To celebrate the occasion of our first anniversary we returned there to stay for a few nights on the same houseboat where we spent our honeymoon in 2004, a boat rented out by Frederic Rent-a-bike (it’s “Houseboat II” if you click on the “rooms” link there.

When I first started writing this we’d been back only a few days, and I still had a phantom smell of pot lingering in my nostrils. Linger in a coffeeshop long enough and you’re permeated by the skunky scent to such a degree that you’ll feel like there’s a green mist floating around your body once you leave. Of course, that could be because of what you inhaled. Smells thankfully not lingering in my nose are those associated with the Red Light District – piss with a hint of cheap perfume - but mainly piss.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Getting to Amsterdam was by no means an easy thing this time. In fact, our flights to and from the Netherlands via Philadelphia were torturous affairs for different reasons. On the way there, we thought we would end up stranded in Philly. The plane we were to board had some sort of unspecified mechanical problems, so we were told to move to another gate. We were also given $10 of credit at either McDonald’s or Le Petit Bistro, the 2 restaurants in the concourse. I could’ve gotten a week’s supply of food if I’d spent that on the McDonald’s $1 menu, but I chose a marginally healthier option at LPB. Our new boarding time passed and we got on the plane, waiting for it to push away from the gate. That’s when the captain announced on the intercom: “Sorry folks, there’s a mechanical problem with this airplane, so you’re going to have to go back into the airport.” It really seemed as though we were being tested as to how serious we really were about going to Amsterdam, especially when the senior citizen retrieving his luggage from the overhead bin dropped a heavy bag on my wife’s back. I was quickly becoming a candidate for air rage, and we were still on the ground.

At this point it was past midnight and the passengers on a flight that was supposed to have left at 8PM were not happy. As we shuffled to the next gate I watched several particularly irate passengers tear into the unflappable gate agents. I didn’t stick around to see if losing your temper somehow got you 1st class seats on another flight. This is USAirways after all, and at the time they were close to bankruptcy, so there seemed to be an attitude of: what do they have to lose? The next plane was due by 2AM, so people started lying down on the floor and going to sleep. We were almost the only people left in the airport. All the shops around us had closed, and our gate agents were the only ones we could see on the concourse. Just as many people had made themselves comfortable on the durable carpeting and were slipping off to a few uncomfortable minutes of sleep, a guy came driving up on an industrial floor-polishing machine that looked like a converted riding mower. I think this guy had aspirations of being a zamboni driver, because he wheeled that thing in graceful arcs on the marble floor right near us, showing off his moves. Hopefully he was oblivious to all the hatred directed at him from the people trying to sleep. I can only guess that he must have thought there was a skating rink owner on that flight, because I can’t figure out any other reason why he’d have spent such an inordinately long time on the stretch of stone right next to us. Eventually he moved on, and I noticed some wet snores coming from one of the larger people I’d seen earlier. He was one of those guys with a stomach sticking out like he was 9 months pregnant with twins, one of whom was sitting on the other’s shoulders. His gut protruded so far in front of his body that I was imagining he was like one of those mice they used to grow a human ear on its back, only he was maybe growing another head under there. He slept on his side, and the amount of noise he was making as he snored made me think that I was probably right about the second head.

Eventually the plane arrived and the sleepers woke up and boarded it. To everyone’s surprise it actually took off this time. Once you are rejected by 2 planes, you automatically assume that the third will also refuse to fly. It becomes part of the USAir anti-customer service agenda. I miraculously slept a few hours on the plane, the only time I would sleep while in transit for the entire trip. The movie on the way over was “I, Robot,” which was bad viewing both with and without sound, though slightly more so with, as Will Smith’s annoying one-liners grated on my nerves. The sound of Isaac Asimov rolling over in his grave was faintly audible.

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Day 1 – Friday 10 December 2004

Postby Santoka » Wed Oct 05, 9:56 pm

Day 1 – Friday 10 December 2004

We landed at Schiphol and left the plane to find that some Dutch USAirways people were handing out bouquets of flowers to whomever wanted them, as though that made up for everything. I passed on the blossoms. That’s all I needed at that point – something else to carry. We changed some money at the ABN AMRO with our bank cards & bought our tickets to Centraal Station. I called Frederic Rent-a-Bike to make sure they didn’t think we weren’t coming. I had sent them an email from my phone in Philly when I knew we’d be late, and when I spoke to them on the phone they seemed unconcerned and told us to take our time. It was 5PMish, and already dark, but the city’s lights were a welcome sight, and that first view as you walk out of Centraal Station made me feel as though we’d come back home.

Down Niewendijk to the Brouwersgracht we went to Frederic’s, where Marvin was there to meet us. We chatted, paid up, and set off with the keys to the boat. It hadn’t changed too much in the year since we were there. Smelled of incense. Soon the coots/marsh hens in the canal were squawking and it was as though we had never left. Deciding to take full advantage of the boat’s kitchen this time, we headed over to Super de Boer on Westerstraat? and loaded up on supplies for the next few days. Though exhausted, I was determined to stay up as late as I could so I would be able to adjust to jet lag by going to bed at a normal hour. Headed over to the coffeeshops around the Niewendijk/Haarlemmerstraat area to make my pick of which one would be the place I’d make my first buy.

It was by now past 8, and some coffeeshops were closed. Among those that were still open I was looking for one that wasn’t too crowded and noisy. After the airplane ride I felt like someplace a little spacious. Walked around a lot, then settled on Siberië, where I had hung out on my last trip, but not bought anything. It wasn’t too crowded, and a guy was DJing. I waited on line (there were about 3 people ahead of me) and then it was my turn at the counter. Looking for wiet, I asked about a few strains and was shown Tupperware containers full of each variety, so you could get an idea of what each looked like and how they smelled. I told the budtender that I wanted something with some energy, and after she showed me a few strains I settled on a gram of skunky-smelling Jack Herrer/Haze mix that seemed just right to me (€8). They provided me with a fresh bong, and a few hits later I was tingling all over, ready to stay up for hours more, though I probably should have been sleeping.

Headed back to the boat to find that K had made spaghetti from what we had bought at Super de Boer along with carrots from a jar left by the owner or a previous renter. The spaghetti we bought was hollow in the middle, which seemed odd. I was quite happy to eat it, though. Unable to sleep, I tried to think of things I could do without turning on the lights & waking K up. Took a picture of the Brouwersgracht out the window, noticing that some of our fellow boat-dwelling neighbors appeared to be staying up all night. By the very faint light coming from the streetlights I tried to read a strange book that was part of the boat’s library, Georges Bataille’s Story of theEye. I don’t recommend it as a book one might want to read to promote drowsiness. However, at some point close to 5AM I managed to nod off, and as I did I suspected that waking up was something that wouldn’t happen for a long time.

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Day 2 – Saturday 11 December 2004

Postby Santoka » Wed Oct 05, 9:57 pm

We may have set an alarm for the next morning, but we slept right through it. We had planned to get up early and hit the Boerenmarkt (near the Noorderkerk) and almost missed the entire thing. As it was, we got a very late start but managed to find what we were looking for there – a concoction called rabarbermos that K’s dad recalled from his days in Utrecht in the early 1970s. The market has a section of food stalls selling everything from cheese and meats to jams, jellies, and sweets. It was bustling with people, and everyone was friendly. It stretches down several side streets, where Christmas trees and the usual clothing, books and assorted junk were also on sale. We also bought some chanterelle mushrooms (from Canada – oh well) and some Maasdammer and aged Gouda goat cheese. Back at the boat, I made a yummy mushroom and cheese omelet.

Having slept most of the day away, we resolved to head out to at least one of the museums we wanted to go to & buy our museumkaart. We strolled along the Prins Hendrikkade and eventually reached the Scheepvaartmuseum. We bought the cards and had enough time before the museum closed to go aboard the replica of the Amsterdam, the wooden retourschip at the museum’s dock. I had wanted to visit this ship after reading Batavia’s Graveyard a few years ago. A replica of the Batavia is moored somewhere else (Hoorn, I think) but this one was a convenient substitute.

I guess I should explain about the museums. I felt bad that we didn’t see more of Amsterdam’s wealth of museums last time, so I figured that the museumkaart would allow us to see one museum a day and pay for itself fairly easily. I’ve been to Amsterdam many times, and have already seen the Rijks and Van Gogh museums several times each. I’m not inclined to keep going back to the same museum again and again. In fact, I’m pretty burnt out on museums. My mother had a degree in Art History, and used to drag me to museums and churches whenever the family went on holiday. So, I was conditioned at an early age, and later continued to go to museums on my own, as though it was expected of me (which I suppose it was). Years ago, I realized how ridiculous this was and stopped going unless I couldn’t get out of it. Eventually I came around to the idea that some museums were more fun to visit than others, and as long as the entire day wasn’t taken up with them, a visit or 2 would be fine. K and I both suffer from “museum torpor” or “museum legs” where you begin to feel as though lead weights were attached to you after 30 minutes or so in a museum. Luckily, K had none of the conditioning that I did when she was younger, so she does the National Lampoon European Vacation version of seeing a museum – breeze through in about 30-45 minutes unless something particularly interesting catches your eye. In retrospect, this probably worked out for the best, as I was often so out of my head in some of the museums that I could have become trapped inside until they closed. I relied on her to keep us on schedule (if we had one) and navigate when those tasks were too much for my addled brain.

Coming back from the Scheepvaart Museum, I realized that I had the gear, but nothing with which to smoke it. Last time we stayed on this houseboat, there was a pipe someone had thoughtfully left behind. This time, no such luck. There were rolling papers, but I was too lazy to use them. So, I began browsing for pipes in the many stores that sell them along the Nieuwendijk. So began the usual dilmma – what kind of cheap pipe do I want, knowing that it will be discarded later? Stone or glass? Wood or metal? Small or tiny? The shopkeeper wandered over to gauge my interest. Seeing that I was pipe shopping, he began recommending ones I was looking at. For some reason, he found it necessary to instruct me in the use of the pipe. He picked up a small, inexpensive stone one I had been looking at, explaining: “See! You put the hash in here, then you smoke through here. Then you get hiiiiigh.” I bought it. Must’ve been the sales pitch.

We returned to the boat, had sandwiches. The salty salami we had bought at the Boerenmarkt went well with the cheese. Or more likely everything went well with the ganja I’d smoked. Soon we were ready to go back out into the dark. It was gloomy the entire time we were there, though it only rained once, later. I’ve gotten so used to seeing Amsterdam in the cold with low clouds and mist that I hardly recognize the pictures other channelites have taken where the trees have leaves and people are out in short-sleeved shirts. I again made use of the pipe and we set out on a ramble through De Walletjes. There were lots of people out window shopping for the ladies. We watched the prostitutes watching the men and the men watching the prostitutes, meandering up and down all the alleys and lanes. I hadn’t been on the Zeedijk in years, and enjoyed walking along it. It has a lot of the charm of that part of the city but without as much of the traffic (at that time of night, anyway).

Back at the boat, we realized we weren’t doing too well on our one museum a day plan. We decided to hit the Rijksmuseum & the Van Gogh the next day, and my rule was that for every museum visit there should also be a corresponding coffeeshop visit. This suited K fine, as she enjoys lounging in coffeeshops, though not for the same reasons I do. For her, the coffeeshops are nice places to sit, watch people, and have some hot chocolate. For me, it’s all of the above plus some nice tolerated substances to make things a bit more interesting.

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Day 3 – Sunday 12 December 2004

Postby Santoka » Wed Oct 05, 10:44 pm

Day 3 – Sunday 12 December 2004

The coffeeshop of the day on day 3 was Paradox. It had been recommended to me the year before, but I hadn’t gone. Marvin from Frederic Rent a Bike mentioned it to me again this time, and I had read about it in the freeuk coffeeshop guide site, so I thought it was worth a visit. We walked there along one of the farther out canals, Lijnbaansgracht, then over to Marnixstraat and across and up Bloemstraat, then onto Eerst Bloemdwarstraat to Paradox. It was a nice walk & we got to see an interesting, if less picturesque part of the city. One of the more surreal moments of the walk for me was finding a vintage AMC Pacer, an old dud of an American car from the 1970s, in fairly good shape. Eventually we made our way to Paradox, then went a little farther to eye another coffeeshop up the street that I can’t remember the name of, then returned to Paradox. I’m glad I did, because Paradox remained my favorite coffeeshop even after visiting a few more. I don’t think it was the place itself, as much as it was the time of day and the fun people who were in there. That’s why we have to take these coffeeshop recommendations with a grain of salt. One person’s mecca is another person’s hell depending on their mood and half a dozen other factors that vary wildly.

We definitely felt like tourists in this one, as it looked like a local hangout. The budtender was a cheerful, wisecracking Dutch guy with an especially crisp alstublieft every time he gave you something. Looking at the menu, I was drawn to the “Purple” for some reason. He told me it was medium strength stuff, showed me a bag. When I smelled it, I realized it was none other than the Lavender I had been reading about on Old Hippie Dave’s posts a month or two ago. I bought a gram & I think it was something around €5 or €6, green tinged with purple, a bit like the color of some asparagus. I sat down with a bong to try the Purple and began to notice the other people in the shop. There was a Volcano vaporizer in the corner of the room, and several guys were near it, talking to the budtender. Over near the window another guy was reading the paper as he smoked a joint. In the other corner were some quiet people who may or may not have been tourists. They were probably Amsterdam regulars if they were. I had my eye on the vaporizer since I had never used a Volcano before & wanted to try it out. While I was thinking about this, a man and his wife came in. They looked to be in their 50’s, he in some kind of civil servant-type uniform – something with epaulettes, like a postman. He went straight over to the Volcano and fired it up, eventually walking back to his table with the giant bag full of smoke in hand. I watched with growing respect for the man as he emptied and then refilled the bag 3 times over the course of 30 minutes or so. I had had several bong hits of the Purple by now, mixing it with the Herrer/Haze from Siberië for more of a kick. I must say that it really was like smoking real lavender. It took the skunky edge off the other stuff. I kept thinking that I would ask this Dutch postman how to work the Volcano, but I was eventually too high to do anything other than watch him suck more vapor into his lungs as his wife laughed at him.

We then wandered down to the Museumplein for the Rijks & Van Gogh museums. They had started to fill the ice skating rink, and we could see the uneven ice that had just formed there, with all these hoses where the water had frozen coming out of them like some strange meat grinder, or a giant’s pasta maker. I had been to the Rijksmuseum many times before, and in my state I was content to follow K as she looked at what she wanted to.

By the time we went into the Van Gogh, I was dragging. That’s another museum I’ve been to before, so I looked at my favorites then sat on a bench and watched people as K did the whole thing. I wasn’t in much of a museum mood at the time, and the people began to represent individual works of art to me. I decided to watch them instead of looking at old canvas. Afterwards, we wandered around looking for someplace to hang out in the Leidseplein area, as we were going to a Boom Chicago show there that night.

We did a quick walk-through of the Bulldog and decided not to hang out there, but went farther afield, looking for alternatives. I remember hanging out in a coffeeshop for a little while, but the name escapes me. Could’ve been Rookies or something near Leidseplein, but I’m not sure. All I recall is that the place was large and unfriendly, had pool tables, and served alcohol. I’m sure it would’ve been fine in other circumstances, but we just wanted a quiet place to chill. After a brief rest there, we went out in search of food & settled on a Nepali/Tibetan place. The food was good, and we headed from there to Boom Chicago, where we watched a funny improv show & I drank several beers, Polm I think. For a Sunday in December, Boom Chicago was pretty full, and we were packed in at communal tables with a mix of tourists and locals. On the way out after the show we stopped at the bar & signed up for a St. Nicolaas Boat Club tour for the coming Wednesday.

Exhausted, we returned to the houseboat on the Brouwersgracht via the RLD, looking in on the brisk trade going on there. Back at the boot, K filled up the tub with water so hot that you could have cooked potatoes in it. We managed to ease in, but the heat drained us of all energy & we both ended up lying on the bed like lobsters waiting to be cracked into. Drank what seemed like a gallon of water and drifted off to sleep until around 2, when I woke up thirsty again. Leaving Georges Bataille’s disturbing bedtime stories alone this time, I eventually drifted back to sleep.

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Day 4 – Monday 13 December 2004: Volcano + museums

Postby Santoka » Wed Oct 05, 10:45 pm

Day 4 – Monday 13 December 2004: Volcano + museums

This day we left the houseboat to move into the Hotel Brouwer on the Singel. It was no houseboat, but turned out to be quite nice. We were at the very top, in the Breitner room, which one reached either by taking a dizzying corkscrew of stairs or via a coffin-sized elevator. I took the slow elevator only once, sticking to the stairs after that. One problem in taking the stairs was that each landing looked about like the one above and below it, and none of them were numbered. I eventually got used to counting how many spirals I did coming up the stairs, but at times it seemed as though leaving a trail of breadcrumbs would have been easier, especially when I was returning to the hotel baked out of my mind at night.

Don’t recall how late we slept, but I was determined to try a Volcano vaporizer before I left. It seemed like a good idea to head over to Barney’s for lunch and a nice vapo bag before heading off to the 2 museums (and one coffeeshop) of the day. The Volcano I had my eye on was in the restaurant side of the Barney’s, and since we were having a meal I didn’t make any purchases at their coffeeshop next door. I still hand plenty of Purple and Jack Herrer/Haze to go through. I know that there is an ongoing debate about Barney’s quality/lack of quality on this site, so I guess I should explain that the year before, on our shorter trip, I had made my one weed purchase there. Returning was something nostalgic for us, as we’d had a good time eating breakfast there on our first day, when our heads were done in by the time changes. The weed I tried there in Dec. ‘03 was AK47, chosen for me by the very friendly Irish budtender when I explained to him that I had been smoking horrible ditch weed for months and could he recommend something nice that wouldn’t reduce me to babbling incoherence? He chose wisely, further endearing himself to me by saying, as he delivered our 7PM pancakes: “Ahh, breakfast and a bong! Nothing like it.”

This time the atmosphere was far less congenial. The restaurant part was fairly crowded, and the waitstaff consisted of one surly Dutch woman who looked like she had given up smiling at least 5 years earlier, probably more. Not wanting to ask her how to operate the Volcano, I decided to see if I could work it out from what I had observed from across the room in Paradox the day before. As I unscrewed the various parts, I realized I hadn’t a clue, so I asked the humorless Dutch woman for help, which she gave with the quick efficiency of someone showing a toddler how to operate a light switch. It didn’t matter much, because as soon as the vapo bag was full of a nice Purple/Jack Herrer Haze mist, I was inhaling it and forgetting about any sour attitudes of the moments before. This was my first Volcano bag, and though I use a vaporizer regularly, it’s the smaller & simpler Vapor Brothers variety, which doesn’t provide the sheer volume of its efficient German-made counterpart. Let’s just say that I remember very little about the meal, or really about a substantial part of the rest of the day. I still read other Channelites’ descriptions of the Museum of Dutch Resistance and the Troppenmuseum and realize that I’ve been to both, but recall so very little of what was in either one.

It’s terribly sad that I basically blanked on the Resistance Museum, but what can I say? I thought I was ready for that bag of vapor, but it rolled a heavy fog into my mind that didn’t allow me to remember much for a few hours. K took charge and led me to the right address, and we went through the museum. I was so beside myself that I didn’t even take any pictures, but hey, let me tell you. Those Nederlanders resisted, dammit. They must have. There’s a whole museum about it. Unfortunately my brain has resisted retaining an impression of the museum. My apologies to the good people of the Netherlands.

Once we were at the Troppenmuseum, I began to regain the ability to focus on objects in front of me, but could not really understand their significance. This made for an interesting museum trip, as I was regularly freaked out by bizarre displays that either had no explanation near them, or had an explanation written or recorded somewhere that I was incapable of finding (or understanding if I did find it). The museum was in the process of setting up a display of mannequins in Indonesian dress, but when I saw them they were just nude statues of plastic Dutch people, and it took me a while to figure out that this didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the tropics at all – yet! Things didn’t get better as I looked at some of the established exhibits. There was a section in which mannequins represented Nederlanders who had gone abroad and accomplished various things. Each one was dramatically lit, with some significant part of it transparent and glowing. I pressed one of the buttons near a mannequin only to hear a long speech in Nederlans. Or maybe it was English. I certainly didn’t understand it, and found myself creeped out by a frighteningly realistic mannequin of a woman with a transparent clear plastic ear and forearm, which looked as though it was reaching out for me. The more I looked at the mannequin, the more it began to look like my deceased mother, so I quickly left that section. Looking now at the photographs I took of the museum, the next picture is of a canoe full of carved wooden creatures with elongated heron heads bearing down on me. I was finally able to find a bit of levity - the next pictures from the museum are of me with a smiling cow sculpture. There was also a large sculpture of a devil sitting on the toiletas angels hold him aloft in a bizarre bathroom. I wasn’t sure what this had to do with the tropics, but I liked it. Reminded me of the expression “feeding the devil”, which refers to eating whilst on the toilet, something I take pains not to do.

We’d finally had enough of museums, so we headed to ‘het Ballonetje, the coffeeshop I’d marked on the map. It’s a very cozy little place, near a university & with a nice loft-like space up top where you can look down on what’s happening in the shop itself. I bought some light maroc hash there and headed up to loft, where K and I had coffe & watched people. We decided that this would be a good evening to sample Ballonetje’s space cake, which turned out to be some kind of spongy yellow muffins tasting faintly of cannabutter, as good space cake sometimes does. We wolfed it down and wrote a bunch of post cards to our friends back home as I sampled the hash. About 45 minutes or so later, we were ready to leave & already feeling the effects of the space cake. No hit or miss this time. It was definitely kicking in.

Now, my wife is one of those folks who doesn’t mind weed, but doesn’t like to smoke it. Her lungs aren’t in the best of shape, and one of the reasons we needed to get out of ‘het Ballonetje when we did was a crowd of about 8 Italians at the next table who were smoking hash/tobacco joints and really stinking up the place. We had been laughing earlier in the day about passing people in the street who had obviously just come from an especially smoky coffeeshop & were leaving a trail of vapor behind them. Well, leaving Ballonetje *we* were suddenly those people! My wife, unused to the creeping high that space cake brings on, suddenly had no idea where we were. She had been leading me around like a lost lamb all day, and suddenly Amsterdam was an unsolvable geographic puzzle to her.

I didn’t get it. Having smoked most of the day, everything seemed about the same to me, only funnier. I had no trouble finding my way back up the Singel, as K clung to my arm and kept laughing at things. She was like a first timer, totally unused to the effects and marveling at what was happening to her mind. We kept having the classic stoner conversation where each person forgets what the other person was talking about and eventually comes back to the subject, repeating everything. It took us an hour and a half to have multiple versions of this back-and-forth:

K: You really like this feeling? It makes me feel so stupid!
Me: It’s not making you feel stupid. You’re just having to think about things in a different way and it seems stupid to you.

Sounds simple, but we went back and forth on that topic for what seemed like forever thanks to our considerably shortened attention spans. Deciding we were hungry, we began looking along Nieuwendijk for someplace to eat, eventually deciding on a falafel restaurant that looked good. Though I was pretty fucked up, I was able to hold it together enough to work on deciphering the menu. I probably forced myself to be somewhat responsible as K was showing signs of being increasingly out of control. She would go into fits of giggling and would be unable to stop. The waiter came over to take our order only to find K unable to speak, tears of laughter streaming down her face. I tried to tell him that I had just told her a funny joke (lie) but I’m sure he needed no explanation considering the number of coffeeshops in the vicinity. Eventually we were served & ate our falafel, then returned to the Brouwer after another stroll through the RLD. Once back, we were almost unable to recognize which floor we were on.

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Tuesday 14 December 2004 - Kröller-Müeller Museum & the

Postby Santoka » Wed Oct 05, 10:47 pm

Tuesday 14 December 2004 - Kröller-Müeller Museum & the Hoge Veluwe

This was the day we had reserved for our one out of town foray. We had hoped for more, but there was too much we wanted to do in Amsterdam for us to justify heading off all over the Netherlands. K’s father had taught at the University of Utrecht briefly 20 something years before, so K had vague childhood memories of a family outing to the Hoge Velouwe parkon one of the hottest days in the history of the Netherlands. It was to be quite different for us.

We had a stressful trip to Appeldoorn, as people kept telling us different train/bus combinations to get to the park. There was some kind of schedule change, but we eventually got there via Amersfoort without any problem, paid our entry fees, and grabbed 2 of the many free white bicycles that everyone who enters the park is allowed to use. It was a very misty day, so we couldn’t see any of the wild animals that the park was supposedly full of. We pedaled without incident over the largely flat trails, following signs to the Kröller-Müeller Museum a few miles away.

We were hoping to check out the outdoor sculpture garden the K-M is famous for, including one huge sculpture you can climb all over. Unfortunately, many things were locked up or wrapped up for the winter, so we went into the museum to see their small but impressive collection of Van Goghsand other artwork. I lingered over some of the better stuff, but was eager to get back out into the cold weather after hanging out in the wing containing some of the more pretentious modern art. By this time we were hungry & headed to the nearby restaurant, called the Kopperen Kop. It was a buffet style cafeteria, but there was almost no one there except us, so we took a table right next to the fireplace & enjoyed a leisurely meal of assorted Dutch food, most of which was very good, especially after getting hungry from the bike ride through the park.

After the dinner I stepped outside for some hash and we eventually headed back in the dark & misty rain to the bus stop. We caught the bus back to the train station and headed back to Centraal Station in Amsterdam.

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Day 5: Wednesday 15 December 2005

Postby Santoka » Wed Oct 05, 10:49 pm

Day 5: Wednesday 15 December 2005

This, the last full day we were to be in Amsterdam, was reserved for all the things that we hadn't gotten to before. There were museums, coffeeshops, and various other things we wanted to do before leaving, so we chose carefully from the list and came up with a plan.

First there was a museum, the Katten Kabinet, that we wanted to see. The cats idea seemed like a rather silly one to base a museum around, but on our last trip we had arrived just as it was closing, so we felt that we should finally see the place. The other was the Amsterdams Historisch Museum, which we were most interested in seeing as our desire to know more about Amsterdam grew.

This was also the day I had decided would be most auspicious for taking mushrooms. To this end I had purchased a pack of them the night before. The Hotel Brouwer was only a short stroll away from the Magic Mushroom Gallery (which is directly across Spuistraat from Chocolata Coffeeshop). I explained to the helpful people at the Magic Mushroom Gallery about a bad experience Id had on a previous mushroom experience & told them my plan for the next day. They wisely chose the Mexican mushrooms for me, and I took the fungi back to my hotel room, leaving them by the window where it was still cold. It was recommended that I eat them with chocolate to enhance the experience, so we bought some Droste dark chocolate pastilles at Albert Heijn the next morning before walking to the Katten Kabinet.

Located at Herengracht 497, the museum was a short walk for us from the AH, and we sat down at the edge of the canal so I could eat my shrooms. The chocolate helped, but the mushrooms had an unpleasant taste to them, slightly bitter, earthy, & a tad too chewy to really enjoy. I threw a few stem pieces to the ducks gathering on the Herengracht, so they may have had an interesting day as well.

We then went straight into the Katten Kabinet to find that we were the only people there that overcast morning. Paying the entrance fee, (this ones not on the museumkaart) we began exploring. To our surprise, the museum amounted to about 4 rooms filled with cat-themed decorations from past eras. Paintings, sculpture, photographs, ceramics all somehow related to felines. It really seemed like the house itself was the interesting thing. The rooms were far more spacious here than the ones we had grown used to in the Centrum & the older parts of the city. One of the larger rooms in the back looked out over a garden where cats & chickens roamed, eyeing each other warily. We were soon joined by a black & grey striped tabby, who demanded to be petted, then left. Next a feisty calico came in & leapt onto some of the exhibits, making her way to us so she could also be petted. We were told that there are 6 or so cats who come & go as they please in the museum, but these 2 were the only ones we saw inside.

I must also mention the bathroom, which really was like a closet. You opened a panel on an otherwise smooth wall to find a cramped wood and brass alcove. I couldnt help but notice that if one sat on the toilet, the sink basin was right there. Perfect for those times when youve got it coming out both ends.

I was beginning to feel a bit odd at this point, which was about 15 minutes after I ate the mushrooms. As K was trying out the bathroom, I played with one of the cats & took some pictures. Soon I felt like I couldnt stop laughing and smiling. It was as though a gauzy veil was being lowered over things, making them difficult to understand but very funny. I began to forget the schedule, to feel directionless. Time was elongating. I asked my wife to assume her role of guide and get us where we needed to go. She took me by the arm and led me, stumbling, to the next stop, the Amsterdams Historisch Museum.

I was feeling nauseous & light-headed at this point, unable to figure out where I was except in the most general sense. Everything made me laugh, but it was still a bit like being drunk because there was a certain gut feeling that I was going to puke. (Thankfully, this was a paranoid interpretation of the feeling. I never puked.) Hallucinations were brewing, mainly of the sort that youd notice if you stared at any pattern for more than a few seconds. If you did, the fabric of reality seemed to swirl and ripple around a bit, but if you kept your eyes moving things simply seemed blurry. I felt a bit off balance as well, and my temperature increased. It began to drizzle, and the tiny drops felt like cold pinpricks against my skin. They were welcome, though, as it felt like my temperature was elevated. We reached the museum and I went straight to the toilets again. I was worried that the mushrooms had given me some kind of intestinal upset, but I suspect it was the dodgy semi-raw bacon entrée we had at the Kopperen Kop the day before at the K-M Museum. I sat in the stark white toilet cubicle of the Amsterdams Historisch Museum and stared at the eerie blue lighting that pulsed from above, wondering if I was imagining it. Sounds from the museum, the street outside, and from other people in the bathroom echoed down into the little white well I was in. I got out of there as soon as I could. Best to keep moving before you can fixate on something unpleasant.

At this point I could only vaguely recall why we were at this museum & what it was supposed to hold. I recall it was in an odd space that had been redone into a museum with great ingenuity, a bit like the Louvre but with more modern architectural details added. K was adhering strictly to the schedule, and towed me through the museum at a good clip. Believe me, if she hadnt I might still be standing there, staring at a Brueghel as those already brutish faces distorted even further. In some of the older paintings, where the varnish or the paint itself had cracked, I was seeing the pattern of those cracks take over the entire picture, as though everything was draped in vines and scattering into pieces.

My overall impression was very favorable, if a bit sketchy on details. It seemed to be a place where you could easily spend a day or more if you were very interested in the history of Amsterdam. It was fun to see the old maps showing how the land had evolved over the years as the polder was reclaimed from the sea. Before I could get too bogged down in the complexities of the museum shop, K towed me in the direction of the Leidseplein for our assigned time to meet up with the St. Nicolaas Boat Club people at Boom Chicago.

By now it was raining off & on, and we stopped at a vlaamse frites place to pick up some snacks for the upcoming boat ride. I was far from interested in food at that point. The nausea in my stomach had receded but was still there. Food was something I used to eat, but had ceased contemplating for the time being. As the frites were being prepared, my attention strayed to yet another cat, this one belonging to the frites stores owner. The cat was white with white whiskers, and was intent on some pigeons trotting around a puddle outside. As I watched its flicking whiskers the sunlight reflected off them, making multicolored patterns as though I was watching a sea anemones waving arms. Luckily I was soon again being towed to the Leidseplein.

We went in Boom Chicago & asked for the St. Nicolaas Boat Club. They sent us upstairs to wait because we had the fries with us, so we ascended a narrow spiral staircase that led us to a comfortable platform up on the next floor. Eventually a swarthy bald fellow approached us, telling us that he was Diego, the boat captain for the St. Nicolaas Boat club today. Diego, from Argentina, began to gently persuade us to give up on going out on the boat today. He explained that the rain was picking up, that it felt 10 degrees colder out on the water, that the boat was open, etc. All the discomforts were outlined. It was a bit like going to the doctor. My mind, on the downward slope of the mushroom peak it had been on, was still a bit on the malleable side, and I would have been happy to sit in the comfortable lounge all afternoon. Diegos arguments seemed so reasonable, but the real reason I was eager for him to go away was that his face kept shifting erratically as I hallucinated. All the darker flesh tones & what would have normally been the faint patterns of veins in his face were pulsing into an artificial prominence. I was becoming uncomfortably aware that Diego was made of flesh, and it was bothering me.

K, however, was not to be deterred by the Argentines warnings. We had expected this sort of shitty weather because of our last trip to Amsterdam in December, and we had dressed accordingly today, our clothing layered & our rain gear at the ready. Once Diego heard the story about this being our one year anniversary he said: Well, I realize that you guys are serious about this, so I guess I should at least take you out on the water for a while. We were in. No one else had showed up for the ride.

Capt. Diego led us to an open heavy black metal boat & had us climb in as he readied the engine. I think he told us that the old diesel engine boat was from the WW1 era. The boats are maintained by the city, and anyone who has taken a certain boating/safety course can use them. The semi-legal aspect of the thing is that the boat club is not really allowed to operate as a sightseeing, moneymaking entity, so he had to take certain precautions in case we were stopped by the water police (as I think he called them). He was very paranoid, always looking down canals and beyond other boats for these police, though we never actually got close to them. He had concocted a story for them, and coached us on it every time he thought he saw a police boat. You are my friends, friends of Julie, hed say. Youre K, and youreBrian? Right? Brian is not my name, but he kept bringing it up for these cover stories so many times that (probably because of the mushrooms) I began thinking that for all intents & purposes it may as well have been.

Diego was interested that we had stayed on a houseboat. He wanted to rent one for him & his wife (an American working for an advertising firm there) for some special occasion. I tried to steer him the correct way down the Brouwersgracht, but everything looked familiar to me thanks to the mushrooms, and we realized we had gone the wrong way. I never did figure out the route he traveled, as my mind refused to follow anything liner for more than a few seconds at a time. We did end up at one point in the canals of de Wallen, in one of the quiet, residential parts. It looked as though someone had been evicted from their apartment, as there was a huge pile of belongings right next to the canal. We all eyed it with interest as we drifted past. Diego decided, several hundred metres later, that he wanted to go back for a hat hed seen. Without further ado, he pulled the boat over to a slippery wooden pier and leapt out, handing the line to me. The wind caught the heavy boat and began to pull it away from the dock. I hung on, tugging it back & wondering what would happen if K started drifting away as Diego was rooting through someones trash. He returned seconds later, falling on his ass as he slipped on the wet docks planks. He had gone back for a captains hat, which he now modeled for us, disappointed at a large hole he found in it. Thanks to the mushrooms, the whole incident made me feel like I was a character in some Groucho Marx movie - Diego Marx. We eventually got under way again, heading down onto the Amstel & then back up to where wed started near the Leidseplein. At the end of the St. Nick Boat Club tour, you sign the guest book & put a donation whatever you want into a coffee can. The book was almost completely full, and I remember signing it with frozen fingers on the back inside cover. We were generous in our donation since Digeo had frozen his ass off puttering around on the water with us.

After the sensory overload of tripping as we chugged through Amsterdams canals, I felt myself coming down once I touched land. We had planned a route that would take us back via the Pijp and Puccini Bomboni, so K led the way. I still felt I was in no condition to be cooped up in a shop, so once we got into Puccini I looked in dismay at all the chocolates. They looked good, but deciding on one seemed nearly impossible. The place was crowded with people anxious to get their holiday shopping done. I elected to wait outside, where it was more fun to look in the windows of the other places on the street. You could even see the people in Puccini making chocolates in their narrow kitchen. K joined me with chocolates in hand & we headed back towards the Brouwer. We were still dressed in the head to toe waterproof garments we had chosen for the rainy boat ride. It was dark now, but only drizzling. The kind of moisture most people in Amsterdam dont even notice. It was a relief to get rid of the heavy coats & head back out to another coffeeshop or two.

I decided to check out the coffeeshops nearest the Brouwer. We glanced at our options. I wanted to try Anyday, where they have set up all these homemade vaporizers at stations throughout the place. I think they give you the top part, and you attach it to one of the stations and vape away. Unfortunately, the mushrooms left me with a lingering paranoia, and Anyday seemed narrow, empty, and uninviting. I didnt feel like trying to figure out their vaporizer setup at that moment, but Id like to go back and check them out one day. We chose Chocolata since it seemed friendly & was very close to the Brouwer and just across the street from the Magic Mushroom Gallery. I liked the symmetry of that choice the days course had been guided by the Magic Mushroom Gallerys fungi, so it seemed fitting that I would end it at a coffeeshop across the street. Got a bong & a Looza & laughed at the tiny x-mas tree on the table as we smoked up in the cozy upstairs room at Chocolata. The Dutch couple up there with us had unfortunately chosen to watch Friends on TV, which I turned my back on. My stomach, long neglected, was beginning to make itself known again.

We wandered around until we found a place called (if memory serves) the Oude Hollandse Restaurant, obviously specializing in Dutch cuisine. We decided that we had to try some hutspot(sp?) before leaving, and this place looked inviting & was close to the hotel, so we went in & had a great meal. It was a fitting end to an exhausting last day, and we couldnt believe how the vacation had flown by, leaving us contemplating a long plane trip back to DC.
Last edited by Santoka on Fri Feb 24, 12:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: A Trip to and in Amsterdam - December 2004

Postby JohnnyHempseed » Thu Oct 06, 12:02 am

Santoka wrote: I noticed some wet snores coming from one of the larger people I’d seen earlier. He was one of those guys with a stomach sticking out like he was 9 months pregnant with twins, one of whom was sitting on the other’s shoulders. His gut protruded so far in front of his body that I was imagining he was like one of those mice they used to grow a human ear on its back, only he was maybe growing another head under there. He slept on his side, and the amount of noise he was making as he snored made me think that I was probably right about the second head.



My Uncle Ed was on your plane??!!

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Tasty Tripping

Postby El Tesoro » Thu Oct 06, 12:58 am

Yo, Santoka, great report!!! Very readable, compelling, funny, familiar. We've talked about your trip face to face before, but reading about it filled in lots of blanks I had. Especially about the mushies. Actually I'd like to hear more about the boat trip and Diego Marx. Details?

El Tesoro

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Postby Banks » Thu Oct 06, 2:16 am

Nice job, Santoka, nice job indeed! We seem to have frequented a couple of places in common, the Tibetan restaurant, and Oude Holland... I had excellent meals at both places!

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Re: Tasty Tripping

Postby Santoka » Thu Oct 06, 2:30 am

El Tesoro wrote:We've talked about your trip face to face before, but reading about it filled in lots of blanks I had. Especially about the mushies. Actually I'd like to hear more about the boat trip and Diego Marx. Details?


Heh, heh - we probably talked about it before and have both forgotten it. You've seen all the pictures, though!

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Postby Santoka » Thu Oct 06, 2:34 am

Banks wrote:Nice job, Santoka, nice job indeed! We seem to have frequented a couple of places in common, the Tibetan restaurant, and Oude Holland... I had excellent meals at both places!


Thanks, Banks. You may recall that one of the things I saw and remembered during my mushroom trip was the Banks restaurant (bar?) that used to be your avatar. Yeah, the Tibetan/Nepali place was good. I was surprised to read all the bad reviews of it on the restaurant link, as the food was good and it was fairly crowded.

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Re: Day 5: Wednesday 15 December 2005

Postby Boner » Thu Oct 06, 11:37 am

Excellent report, really glad you finished it, I especially liked the following I dont normally lol but I did when I read this bit:

Santoka wrote:I must also mention the bathroom, which really was like a closet. You opened a panel on an otherwise smooth wall to find a cramped wood and brass alcove. I couldn’t help but notice that if one sat on the toilet, the sink basin was right there. Perfect for those times when you’ve got it coming out both ends.



...Boner...

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Postby oracle » Thu Oct 06, 2:58 pm

What a wicked read! And well written to boot. But what a 'bummer' being delayed on the way to the Dam. .Peace.

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Postby Santoka » Sat Oct 08, 2:46 am

Banks wrote:We seem to have frequented a couple of places in common, the Tibetan restaurant, and Oude Holland... I


Do you know if there's a website for that Dutch restaurant? I couldn't find anything on it anywhere & was suspecting that I either got the name wrong or hallucinated the whole thing. What street is it on?

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Tibetan

Postby El Tesoro » Sat Oct 08, 2:14 pm

I remember passing by a Tibetan restaurant several times during my trip, but haven't a clue where it was. Actually the clue might be that I passed it several times. Maybe along Utrechtsestraat? In de Pijp? Near or in the RLD? All places I walked through many times.

Hang on, was it Sherpa, on Korte Leidsedwarsstraat?

Or perhaps Tashi Deleg at Utrechtsestraat 65? This is the one we strolled past many times, always meaning to check out, but timing is such a delicate creature.

ET

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Postby Santoka » Thu Oct 13, 7:03 pm

I know where the Nepali restaurant was. I couldn't find anything about the Dutch one.

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Postby Santoka » Fri Nov 18, 11:42 pm

I guess I'm guilty of not really finishing the trip report, though not much happened after the boat ride. We did go to Albert Heijn and buy lots of chocolates as presents for those back home. One package I insisted on buying because I thought it would make a perfect gift. It's not every day you see Mini Dickmann's chocolates in the states, let me tell you...

So, not much else to tell -

I took some last, late-night pictures out my window at the Brouwer.

The next morning I had to confront the bags of weed & hash that remained. I had been smoking out of a small stone pipe for most of the trip. That, and all the bongs, and vapo bags meant that I didn't have any rolling papers to make one of those monster joints. Yes, I am lazy. So, I smoked as much as I could, and after several pipefuls decided to give in to the urge & fling the remains out the window. What little was left blew down into the street where the morning commuters were pedaling by on their bicycles. Some landed right below the window.

Finally we left the Brouwer, shuffled into Centraal Station & a short train ride later were in Schiphol, where we spent the last of our Euros on something or other. Cheese, I think. I was tranfixed by the life-sized cow statue next to the cheese booth. There was a pink, glowing christmas tree floating above it as well. Airports have their surreal moments. I felt I had to take a picture of this ad, for obvious reasons.

So that was it. A long flight back to the Philadelphia airport, where I saw a child throw up into a garbage can as we were waiting to pass through security. There was a drug sniffing beagle there, and his nose must not have detected the reek of skunkiness that had invaded every article of clothing I had been wearing on the day we hung out in 't Ballonetje. Or maybe he was a tulip bulb-sniffing dog only.

After that, we caught a flight to National Airport & headed the rest of the way home by car. The end.

Now that that's over I have to write up my visit to the Nolympics & elsewhere in the Netherlands a few weeks ago. I was fortunate enough to meet Milehigh, Blackout, Liteyoup, Bigbird, luapnor, deliriumt, Nol & others I've now forgotten - great to have seen you all in Oct/Nov. Hopefully my trip report will be done before the Nolympics of 2006!

Until next time~

Santoka

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Postby Chooby » Sat Nov 19, 2:31 am

Cough cough cough.

Pictures and menu at the bottom.

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Re: Day 2 – Saturday 11 December 2004

Postby sidhe333 » Sat Nov 19, 9:07 am

Santoka wrote:“See! You put the hash in here, then you smoke through here. Then you get hiiiiigh.” I bought it. Must’ve been the sales pitch.


hahahahahahaha!
a fabulous read from beginning to end! kudos S! for a few minutes i was back wandering the canals m'self.... i'm amazed at your powers of recollection--especially while hallucinating! a homeric effort! thanx for an enjoyable tale!
look forward to your account of the Nolympics!

s:.

p.s. in future, never, i repeat, never fly from, connect at, or have anything to do with airline travel & Philadelphia! they don't mix for some reason...

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Postby Santoka » Sat Nov 19, 8:09 pm

Chooby wrote:Cough cough cough.

Pictures and menu at the bottom.


Thanks Chooby! I probably never would have found that. I always seem to misspell Dutch words. And mispronounce them.


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