Haarlem, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo...

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Haarlem, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo...

Postby Couch » Mon Apr 21, 4:15 am

Here it goes...I may not have a way with the prose like some folks on here, but I've gotten so much great info and fond memories from folks on here, that I almost feel obliged to report my findings whenever I get a chance to visit my favorite place on earth.

I left at 3:30pm central time, and touched down at Schiphol at about 6:30am Mokum time. Ugh, that flight over is always such a killer. So damn excited, there's just no chance of sleep no matter how much I try. I took a couple Benadryls after dinner on the plane, but it had zero effect. Soon I would hear the melodic "mind your step" as I floated down the moving walkways of Schiphol.

I was going to stay at the Sativa in Haarlem...can't beat that price, despite the fact that I knew the coffeeshop had been recently shutdown. Anyway, I knew I couldn't check in until after 9, so I bought a pack of smokes, and sat outside just watching the world wake up in my favorite city. I finally decided it was time to get going, so I bought my strippenkart and boarded the #300 bus to Haarlem. I had planned on taking the train, but was told the bus was easier. Definitely the way to go! The bus comes about every 10 minutes, and drops you off right in front of the train station in Haarlem. Best of all it only costs half a strippenkart (about E3.50).

Took me a while to find a pay phone to call my contact to get the keys to my room. He sounded a bit surprised that I was there already when I called him around 9am. Meet him at Indica in about an hour. I had hoped for a little quicker meeting, but whatever, I was here and that was all that mattered. I wandered towards Indica, but got a little off-course in the process, and wound up south of it and back-tracked until I saw the windmill. I knew I was close then...sure enough, there it was!

I stumbled in and plopped my bags down with a heavy sigh. Just me and the early morning crew. I ordered a coffee, and went over to the weed counter. Small selection, about 5 weed choices if I remember correctly. I asked for something not quite so strong since I really only smoke when I go to Amsterdam nowadays (college and the years after were a whole other story...) and I had been up for almost 24 hours. I got a gram of the "Juicy Power" for E8.50, and sat down on a train seat. I drank my coffee, and played with the weed, in no hurry, just people watching. There was the old man who coughed like he would die at any minute, and a couple guys chatting with the woman behind the bar. It was just so great to hear people speaking Dutch again, despite the fact that I couldn't understand a word of it. It's not exactly one of the world's great romance languages, but it's like mom singing a lullabye to me! While I broke up some weed, and started slowly rolling my 1st J, I watched a few folks come and go, and another younger guy come in. The new guy got a pool game going with the 1st 2 guys who had been there the whole time. Then the new guys goes out and brings in his 2 puppies! AWWW! Sooo cute! Rocco and Lady I believe they were named. I heard him call them "American Bulldogs". Damn cute, and friendly. I got to pet them and got a few dog kisses too. After watching the dogs and finishing rolling, I see a police woman come in. Knowing what happened to Sativa recently, I was a bit apprehensive, but she came in like she was any regular citizen. Ordered a cup of tea and played with the dogs, and sat down at the bar for a chat. Damn I love this place! Only in Netherlands will you see a cop sit down and have a nice friendly chat with the stoners who are lighting up all around her.

The meeting time had come and gone but my contact still hadn't shown. I was not wanting to smoke much until my accomodations were settled just in case there were problems. When my contact was nearly 2 hours late and I was thinking I would have to call him again, one of the guys chatting with the cop came over and introduced himself as my contact and said he had needed to chat with the police for a while before he could help me. Well, I was sitting in a coffeeshop, so I certainly wasn't going to get upset about the delay, and, as a nice bonus, he did drive me (and my luggage) right away over to Sativa, and set me up in room D on the 3rd floor. I paid him for my stay, and he said just leave the keys in the room when I wanted to check out! Very smooth!

Hooray! I finally burned that first spliff and got high as all heck. I opened the window and looked out over my little slice of the Haarlem skyline. I breathed in the european air deeply, and all was right with the world!

However, jetlag was finally hitting me hard, so it was time for a nap. I slept a bit longer than I had planned, but when I woke up around 5 or 6 I showered and went for a walk to try to find WW Sensimillia. It was a fairly long walk, but I stopped at an italian place and had a salami pizza on the way. Salami pizza and showarma are the 2 things I just have to eat on every trip. So good, and something that just doesn't exist back home. Anyway, finally made it to Sensimillia after walking past it a block or so (it's right above a computer store, but all the signs are on the 2nd floor). ID checker at the door so be prepared for that when you come! The place was hoppin! I think just about every table was full, so I got a coffee, and sat at the internet terminals to spin up another J and send a quick email to let folks at home know I had arrived safely. I saw the Pirates of the Carribean pinball machine (I had spent many hours with a similar machine in other coffeeshops on my last trip, so it made me feel all warm and fuzzy), but a girl seemed to be having some kind of arguement with her boyfriend nearby, so I decided to steer clear and just smoke my J at the internet terminal, and watch the show. Something about him getting into a fight with someone else and now she was scared of him, etc. It was mildly amusing to someone like me who has been married for over 10 years and can't even remember what it was like to get into such squabbles back in my dating days.

Well, the Juicy Power was hitting me pretty hard, and the place was a little too busy for my taste, so I decided to head back. The walk back was not nearly as long as the walk down there (probably the J had something to do with that?). I crawled up the narrow little stairs of death to my room. I fired up the laptop and what was left of the J to play a little stoned computer games, and then turn in.

Ahhhh! This truly is the life!

(more on my subsequent days and destinations later...)

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Postby mobiljenny » Mon Apr 21, 7:23 am

Sweet. Thanks.

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Postby Couch » Mon Apr 21, 11:18 pm

Day 2: Wife arrives today

I sleep late, and don't get up until after 9. That is a huge luxury when you're used to getting up at 5am for work everyday. I have a little more Juicy Power for my wake 'n bake. It's just what I asked for...not too powerful, but a nice green yummy taste. The first buzz of the day usually hits me hard, so I'm glad this stuff doesn't put me out of the solar system, just at a nice orbit. I shower and the have a cig or two (another luxury I only enjoy on vacation in Europe) and head back to Schiphol. The #300 bus is already waiting for me at the train station, and in a few minutes I am back at the airport. I'm a bit early so I sit at a cafe and have the smallest $4 cup of coffee. The exchange rate is lousy, but it only gets worse at my other destinations later this week. More on that later. I take a little survey from an attractive woman about the cafe where I'm sitting. All good marks except for value :-)

Wife arrives a short time later. When I see the size of her luggage, I'm glad I came a day early. I wouldn't have been pleased to lug that thing all the way down and around to indica. I had 8 days worth of stuff all in one carry-on plus a backpack with my computer. She's got one less day, but almost twice as much stuff! I grab another strippenkart and back to Haarlem we go.

I lug all her stuff up the twisty, narrow stairs of death (I'm convinced I will fall and break my neck at some point during this trip). We're both hungry, but she's rather tired, so we make a quick run to Burger King at the train station which it right across the street. Not very exciting, but it satisfies the hunger and we can get on with the day. I figured she'd want a nap, but she says she'd be done for the day if she did that, so we smoke up a little and head out to Sensimillia to email people at home that traveller #2 has arrived safely. We do some shopping on the main drag on the way down there. We pick up some "homemade" soap from the Lush Cosmetics store. That place always smells so good, and the soap is really good too. We get a sample of "solid shampoo" with our purchase. That should be interesting. We browse a few more shops, but nothing really catches our eye.

Sensimillia is nearly empty when we arrive. We have coffee and a nice fresh spliff (still working on that Juicy Power from yesterday...I know, I'm a light weight). Wife has a Fanta which is her favorite drink while on this side of the big pond. We chill and nod in agreement with the "probably the biggest coffeeshop in the world" sign that is hanging prominently. Now it's time for pinball!!! On my last trip we were very successful, often scoring enough for a free game now and then, and even leaving one shop with credits on the machine because we got bored of playing. This machine would not be so forgiving. After more than 10 euros the best we could muster was a single "match" free game. We gave up and hit the internet terminals to let folks at home know all was well, then we went out walking again.

It was evening now. We stopped somewhere to eat, but I can't remember where or what (great reporting, right?), and then headed back to the room. When we arrived, the TV wasn't receiving any stations, and the wireless internet I had used the day before wasn't working either. This is the 2nd trip in a row where we had no TV reception and no internet. Not a deal breaker, but a bummer. I enjoy getting baked and watching TV in another language. It's fun to try to figure out what's going on, and to sometimes catch some nudity on regular broadcast TV which is something I definitely don't get at home. We have a nightcap J, and hit the sack early. Little did we know that tomorrow would be my "best vacation day ever"...

to be continued...

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Postby Boner » Tue Apr 22, 12:37 am

Couch wrote:Little did we know that tomorrow would be my "best vacation day ever"...

to be continued...


ooh cliffhanger!!

Nice report so far thanks.

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Postby Weldon » Tue Apr 22, 5:54 am

So far so good. Can't wait to hear what happens next. Did you go to the Theehuis?

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Postby Dave J » Tue Apr 22, 9:56 am

Decent report so far!.

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Postby Couch » Wed Apr 23, 4:24 am

Ok, gotta try to wrap this up. I thought I would write this report in one shot, but now I'm on my 3rd installment!

Re: Theehuis. We did walk past it, but it is one of the smallest shops I've seen and the tables were mostly in use. I didn't need any weed at that time, so we peeked in the windows, but just kept walking.

Day 3: Again, we sleep late. Don't wake up until after 10. I seriously can't remember the last time we both slept that late. We have a little one at home, and she's always up by 8, so 10:00 is like ultimate luxury! The sun is shining...for the 3rd day in a row! 3 days in Amsterdam (or more accurately Haarlem) with no rain?!?!? It's crazy good luck. I open the window and take a deep breath of morning Haarlem air. AHhhhhhh! I flop back into bed, and we start the day in the very best way with some fun between the sheets. Oh yeah, this is gonna be a good day! Immediately follow that with the first spliff of the day. Mmmm good, but I'm down to the last of it. I'll have to pick up something new to try today - yay! After getting showered, we are off to the train station, we're heading into Amsterdam proper today. Haarlem is great, and I'll probably stay there again, but nothing beats that wonderful tingly sense of joy that you get when you step out the front door of Centraal Station in Amsterdam. The smell of the air, the sounds of the trains and trams, and the masses of people - it is truly an experience I always cherish.

After we exit the station and get our bearings, we head off to take care of business. We head over to the NEMO children's/science museum (that big green wedge shaped building east of CS). Wife works at a children's museum, so she has a business interest, and I have a thing for pirates, so I really want to check out the Eastindiaman Amsterdam ship that is anchored outside while the Scheepvaart museum undergoes renovation. We really had a blast at that museum. It is primarily for kids, but we both had a fun time checking out all the science stuff. There's a big teen exhibit too. The funniest part of that is the giant french kissing display with 2 big tongues when one person can get on either side of the display and stick their arm in to operate the big tongues and mush them together!!! There's also a display of wooden dolls demonstrating various sex positions. Ha ha! That would never fly back home...the prudes would be all up in arms! After 2 hours there, we go outside to check out the ship. I know it's not exciting for everyone, but I found it very interesting. The galley is the size of my bedroom closet, yet it cooked meals for over 300 men every day. There is a giant pulley/winch in the center of the ship that probably took 2-4 people to turn that raises and lowers the anchors and sails. I can't imagine what a difficult life that must have been, and it's incredible to me what people were able to accomplish back then especially without the help of anything resembling "modern" equipment.

Anyway, by now it's mid afternoon and we're hungry, and I need to get some more bud! We walk down to Visser Plein, and then up past bluebird & reefer. Both shops are jam packed, so we decide to keep going and see if we can find some food. We head up to Nieuw Markt, but there is very little there, and the only food on sale is a fish/herring stand - no thanks! We grab a bottle of water and sit for a few minutes and watch the world go by on a sunny Amsterdam afternoon. We're so close that we simply must walk the red light district. It's mid afternoon which isn't ideal for checking out the ladies, but there are usually less pushers, and drunks, and I generally feel safer there during daylight hours. Wife could probably do without the RLD, but it's just not right if I don't at least make a sweep through! Not many ladies are out, but there are a few hotties on display. I can only wonder what might have happened if I had discovered Amsterdam and the RLD before I got married. As it is, I have only ever just window shopped, but never made a purchase. No matter...it's just fueling my imagination for later!

We continue westward heading towards DeKuil. No food has caught my eye yet, but my stomach is aching and I know the bakery across from DeKuil has the cheese & onion breads that I loved so much last time, plus lots of other sweet treats. When we make it there, I order a cheese bread for me and a chocolate covered waffle for her. I peek in the big front window of DeKuil. This was our favorite spot last trip. It was the nicest place where you could get beer and buds under one roof. The beer is gone now, but the place is still packed. I'm not sure why, but we keep walking. I'm really wanting a bannana milkshake from Amnesia, and I prefer the weed menu there too, so we're off.

Amnesia is busy but there are a few free tables, so we head in. This is still my all-time favorite shop. I order up the milkshakes, and have a look at the menu. I tell the budtender how much I loved the HoneyB last time, and he recommends the Amnesia Haze, and opens up the little tupperware tub for me to smell. I'm convinced. Very fluffy buds covered in crystals, and very green smelling. I pick up a gram, but it looks like more because it's so fluffy. I sit down, and the wife has spotted a girl having a whitey. I think she & her friends are spanish. They get her to drink some sugar water, but she lies back on the cushiony couch and she's OUT! I work on rolling my J while we watch them try to get her to drink some Fanta or more sugar water. She's not getting sick, just looking "comfortably numb". Time to smoke up our spliff. I like the Amnesia Haze. It's definitely more powerful than the Juicy Power we had been smoking. A nice heavy hazey high. I still think I prefer the HoneyB, but I'm not disappointed with what I got. After our spliff and milkshakes (mmmm, so good!) the whitey girl has come back down to earth. She is sitting up and talking now, so the sugar water must have done the trick. We head out to Pink Floyd/Dampkring to use their internet.

Sadly the shop is under heavy renovation when we arrive with no internet terminals, so we head back towards CS, but we're not ready to leave just yet, so we turn south, and eventually find our way all the way down to the flower market. It's getting ready to close for the day, but we get there before it's all gone. We don't actually buy anything, but have a nice time just strolling and looking at the wares. At the end of the market we turn back toward the train station, but something weird is going on...

We pass what looks like a police station with at least a dozen cops on horses lined up out front. They don't seem to be doing anything in particular...almost looks like they are just there for a photo-op. I oblige by snapping a picture, and then we continue on. At the end of the block we hear it coming down the street. Loud music, shouting, ah, this is what the police are out for...a protest is coming! This is the second time I've been caught up in a protest in Amsterdam. Last time it was a peace protest, but this one...not so much. A truck drives past blaring loud rock music to lead the way, the marchers wear lots of black, black leather jackets, black pants, the hair tends to be bright blue or pink, and there seem to be quite a few piercings in the mix. The protesters are shouting "Fuck the police", and "No more police control", followed by another truck blasting music and more similarly attired marchers. Although, they're not really marching. Many have a beer or a cigarette in hand and just seem to be strolling along. One steps out of line to spray paint a stencil on the nearby trash can. But the shouting continues on down the street, and the line of protesters eventually passes without further incident. That's Amsterdam for you, always full of surprises!

We continue heading north for a 2nd pass through the RLD, and finally back to the train station.

We arrive back in Haarlem, and head up to our room. The RLD and the Amnesia Haze has got me fired up so we jump in the sack for a bit. After a while we decide we had better check our email since our attempt at Pink Floyd failed. We walk all the way down to Sensimillia again for another spliff. Again, the pinball machine is calling me, so we blow another 10E and still not one free game. Oh well, we check email at the internet terminals, and make the trek back. We're getting hungry!

About a block from our room we pop in to a showarma place. Yum!!! This is a must-have for me on every trip, and this place is good. We share a big plate of showarma, mixing in the salsa-like sauce. Good food, and one of the best value meals all trip. We head back to our room for a nightcap J. We are exhausted from all the walking, but not enough to keep from having another romp (woo hoo!) before sleeping.

We turn out the light, but just after midnight, I'm awake and getting a 2nd wind. She is up too. What do you want to do she asks. I think for a bit. Despite the fact that I've already turned in for the night, I sheepishly suggest getting up to roll just one more joint. She sheepishly agrees! (Woo hoo!) We toke up some more Amnesia Haze, and then lay back down. Oh what the heck, are you up for a little more fooling around dear? Yes she is! (WOO HOO!)

When we're done, I lay back and ponder. How many times did we do that today I ask? The answer doesn't really matter. The fact that I don't know merely serves to cement the idea that had been forming all day long...that this was the best day of vacation I've ever had.

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Postby Couch » Thu Apr 24, 4:03 am

Epilogue:

How could I follow-up yesterday? A day where we hit nearly all of my favorite Amsterdam highlights...Centraal Station, museums, RLD, food, Amnesia, killer bud, a street market, a protest, more RLD, more bud and more sex than I can count?

Well, it just doesn't get any better than that, so it seems sadly appropriate that day 4 is time to go.

It's not all bad news though, as we are boarding a cruise ship for 4 days to ease down from that vacation highpoint. We sleep late and stop at a nearby Haarlem cafe for some coffee and a slice of warm apple cake. Then we take the train to Amsterdam again. We walk over to the ship which is very nearby. I stash my stash outside the passenger terminal and head inside to endure the boarding procedure. Luckily, we are early, so it goes fairly quickly. Quickly enough for us to get off again and head back into town for a bit. My stash is right where I stashed it before we got on! Sweet.

We head back to Nieuw Markt. Again we sit for a bit on the steps of the church to take in the last few precious minutes. We then pop in to the Albert Heijn to pick up some stroopwaffels, and chocolate to take home.

Not much time left so we enter the 1st coffeeshop we see. Coffeeshop Rock It right on the square. I haven't heard much about this shop, so I'm not expecting much, but I'm pleasantly surprised. It actually has several booths inside, and there is no objection from the proprietor when I just order drinks and not smoke. He's even nice enough to switch on the soccer/football game for an english bloke who comes in and claims not to smoke any weed (but does order a drink). I roll up a final spliff of the Amnesia Haze. It is as tasty as ever. Sigh the bittersweet final spliff of the trip. On our way out the door, I give the rest of the stash to the people at the table nearest the door, and wish them a pleasant stay in Amsterdam. We head out and back towards the ship. Now it is raining.

Ahhhh well, that's about it. The only other note I would add is that if you are getting on a cruise ship, you will not have any problem bringing your stash with you. They x-ray your bags and you have to pass through a metal detector, but I could have had a kilo shoved down my pants and nobody would have known. I was kicking myself for the next 4 days for not bringing something on board, but it just seemed risky at the time because I didn't know what to expect. Hindsight is 20/20.

The cruise went to Copenhagen. Nice place, but super-expensive, and just didn't quite have the charm of Amsterdam. We did visit Christiania. It was a strange little squatter area in an otherwise clean urban area. There were people whispering "hash, hash" along the road, and you could smell it in the air, but for whatever reason, I didn't partake. Again, I have been kicking myself ever since, but my little inner paranoia got the best of me. Oh well, it's a reason to go back I guess. The ship finished up in Oslo, but we only stayed long enough to take the train to the airport and head back home. The only thing I can say about Oslo is that it was even more expensive than Copenhagen, and that's saying something. Chicken sandwich at Burger King was $12. Wow!

Anyway, thanks for reading! I'm already plotting my next trip back! Hopefully you are too!

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Postby Adoran » Thu Apr 24, 10:08 am

Oslo is expensive but I found it to be a great city. I lived there for a few months in the 90s, so I guess it may have changed since then - but from the sounds of things the prices are still crazy.

When I was there your tram/subway card worked for the ferries to the islands in Oslo bay. You could jump on a boat and head out for to an island for a barbeque, or a nice walk, or a beer with an amazing view. It was the hottest summer for years when I was there, and I had brought all these warm clothes just in case :o) Typical. The fjords are amazing, I stayed at a cabin for a few days and the views were unbelievable. Apparently they helicopter in the cabins whole, or the materials for building so they can get the best views/spots on the cliffs/mountainsides..

There is a nice bar in Oslo called the Patagonia, across from the "Scream house" (if that is still there) - the scream house was a huge squatted house with a gigantic mural of the famous painting on the side.

There was a lake near where I was staying that was just beautiful. Huge dragonflies, crystal clear water. I can still remember the smells and sounds of the place.

Some day when we win the lottery and are on our 5 star tour of the world we'll get back to Oslo. Some day :o)

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Postby wEEDmAN » Thu Apr 24, 12:21 pm

Great trip report, man. Thanks for posting!


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