Yoknapatawpha Crossing

Globetrotter Grady in Amsterdam

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Continuing in the travel journal mindset, let’s talk a bit about Amsterdam, where I went along with a bunch of other people on the Münster program this past weekend. And what a weekend it was.

First off, we left the Münster Hauptbahnhof on Friday, and made it as far as Bad Bentheim on the German border before we found out that the railroad employees in the Netherlands were on strike. So we piled off the train the train and onto buses, for which we paid 35€. The theory was that we would be reimbursed, but it looks as though Deutsche Bahn might have other ideas. Anyhow.

We got to Amsterdam without a definite place to stay, which is not the best idea in the world, but luckily there were enough spots left at a place called Hans Brinker. Not quite expensive enough to be a hotel, not quite sketchy enough to be a hostel, it occupies a delightfully ambiguous middle ground. It had hostel style rooms, so you probably get to stay with a bunch of people you don’t know, but it was cheap, not horribly dirty, and it had a bar/resturant/common room type of thing on the first floor. Quality place.

The most important thing to know about Amsterdam is this: when you’re walking around the city, there will be signposts at many corners with writing on them. Those are not the names of streets. The names of steets are on placards attached to the sides of buildings on the corner. Very important.

So over the course of the next two days, I got to see the Van Gogh Musuem, the Rijcks Museum, the Heineken Experience (actually really cool), walk through De Wallen (without making a stop anywhere, sadly), and visit a coffee shop to sample their selection of pot brownies, pot bonbons, pot muffins, pot milkshakes, and pot. So all in all, it was a really awesome trip. Two and a half days, though, is time to do no more than scratch the surface; the city is amazing and huge, and there were about twenty other things I would have liked to have done. Another time.

Amsterdam is not nearly as seedy as everyone makes it out to be, particularly the red light district. Yes, true, there are real, live prostitutes lining the streets, but there are also real, live tourists filling every nook and cranny as well. There are flashy lights and loud music and people absolutely everywhere. The first couple of times I felt someone’s hand in my pocket I got pretty excited, but the thrird time it happened I realized it was merely one of Amsterdam’s famous pickpockets plying his noble trade. Thank god I had nothing worth stealing. Though most people will tell you to worry about muggers and whatnot, the street cleaners in Amsterdam are definitely the scariest thing about the city. I saw them eat at least three people.

In the end, it was a great time. The museums were cheap and incredible.
The pot also was not to be sneezed at. I had a joint and a brownie, and finally got good and properly stoned for the first, and probably last, time in my life. I think there are pictures of it somewhere; I definitely remember bright flashes of light. The best part was that the pre-rolled joints come in little factory sealed packages. Factory sealed pot. Beautiful.

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Written by Daniel Grady

June 20, 2005 at 11:10

Posted in Travel

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