My shiny little online spot to help y'all keep track of me while I galavant around London.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Amsterdam with Tony and friends

Right. So I’m hella behind on my blogging. I owe posts (yes, I feel like I owe you, I care about my readers, all six of you) on the rest of Orkney, Amsterdam, Malta and whatever else I have sitting on my camera/in my brain. So here’s what I remember about Amsterdam, in just over a thousand words…

After staying up all night drinking shit vodka (it shouldn’t freeze!) with Kris, and on just two hours of sleep, I hopped an EasyJet to Amsterdam-Schipol to meet up with Tony, Meru and Kristian (who I’d travelled to Ireland with two years ago). It’s a good thing it’s a nice airport, as I ended up there for a while. My flight was late taking off, so I texted Kristian to say I might be a bit late, but would call as soon as I landed, so they’d know when to come meet me.

Ha. That worked. I waited at an airport bar, drinking Heineken, randomly receiving calls from Kristian that they were late or had missed the bus (with Tony yelling in the background to let him speak.) But you know what? I wasn’t bothered. It was the first time I felt really relaxed in a while. I had no where to go and nothing to do until they showed up, an occurrence which was out of my hands. So I sat, people watching and reading, sipping my pint, feeling pretty good despite my general exhaustion.

Tony finally showed up, and I’m always happy to see him, so that just added to the general feeling of GTs – and we weren’t even in Amsterdam yet.

Once we tracked down Meru (wandering in departures, inexplicably) and called Kristian (jogging around the airport, inexplicably), we caught the train into town, had some shitty KFC before finding some shitty tourist bar out of the rain where we had an overpriced shitty drink. It was awesome.

We wandered about through town, trying to find a coffee shop or pub that was still open. At some point, one of us asked a guy standing in the street for directions. Bart, as he turned out to be called, turned out to be a homeless guy, who gives tours of the red light district for hostel cash. He found our coffeeshop (it was closed), gave us directions to a beer pub (closed, but we returned later), and eventually found an open place – but not before taking us on a tour of the red light district. He took us down one hidden alley, just a few feet wide, with red lights and windows lining the sides. While women catcalled from open doors, British men (overwhelmingly) leered and cut deals, their sweaty skin and bald heads shining red in the light. Exiting that alley, we turned along an old church down a less busy strip, where Bart and I had this exchange:

Bart: The women on this street cost less.
Me: How come?
Bart: Because they’re fat. Do you want to see where the transvestites are?
Me: No… I think I’ll pass.

After running the gauntlet of prostitutes, Bart took us to a pub. After giving him all our change and a couple of five euro notes, he joined us for a pint (offering to buy his own, now he had enough cash, which I thought was rather sweet.) Anyway, if you ever go to Amsterdam, go to the zoo, as it came highly recommended by Bart.

The next day, after moving our gear from tents to a cabin, I rented a wobbly one-speed bike and we all rode into town for pancakes. They do weird things to pancakes in Amsterdam. Mine involved apples and bacon, and damn was it good. Afterwards, we did some beer shopping and aimless cycling – they have proper cycle lanes in this city, and I love it. There’re bikes everywhere. If I were mayor of London, my goal would be to make it like this. Forget cars. Forget trams. Get everyone on bikes.

I don’t really remember what else we did, but it probably involved drinking beer and cycling home and getting lost and possibly hot-boxing the cabin, but probably not.

On the last day, leaving Kristian behind in the cabin (possibly to hot-box it, possibly not), we took the bus and the metro into Amsterdam, stopping to sort out some travel-related stuff for the guys, before heading to the museum district, where we toured the Van Gogh museum. Pretty cool stuff, and I fell madly in love with one painting (as I tend to do). Tony ditched (as he tends to do in museums and Guiness tours) and we all arranged to meet up at the pub later that night. I finished with the museum, did a little shopping and headed to the flower market, which was pretty boring. It used to be a row of barges hawking flowers and bulbs, now it’s just some floating tat shops. From there, I walked back into the centre, shopping and photo-ing sex shops along the way, getting to the pub much too early. Which was fine by me, I gotta say.

So this pub. Tony noticed it the first day, the Old Nickel, because it had a sign up outside advertising 60 (or so) different beer. These are the things that catch Tony’s eye. The first night, it was closed – or so we thought. If you know the right people and what to say, it stays open past 4am… And now we know. The next day, we used it as a meeting place, and had a few pints from their rather impressive selection before moving on.
The last night, however, we parked ourselves at the bar, and Tony and the Bartender became best-friends-forever. Sensing a kindred spirit (maybe), the bartender started pulling out bottles of specialty beers, handing us books about the subject and showing us where it was made on maps. This man knows his stuff. After going thru a few bottles of beer – including a Laphroigh-like smokey beer – we cracked open a big bottle of Chimay, which tastes differently depending on the size of the bottle. The 20 euro one is pretty awesome, let me tell you.

We had dinner there, and Tony and I maybe or maybe not went to a sex show, which maybe or maybe not was hilarious and maybe or maybe not involved bananas. Maybe. Maybe not. Mmmm… potassium.

As I had a flight the next morning, Meru and I hopped a bus (sadly, not the right one) and trekked back – me, incredibly grumpy and tired – to the cabin, somewhat expecting Kristian on his bike to beat us there. Yeah, he didn’t. But he did have the key. I didn’t get much sleep, but enough to hop a flight back to London-Luton… and straight to work. Yeah, I was productive that day…
For a trillion more photos, go here.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home