Monday, October 10, 2005

"We're Off To Nether-Netherlands!"

So me and Scott had this holiday to Amsterdam booked for like about a month. Since then we'd moved into our new flat so after all the stress of moving home this holiday was like a Godsend. We moved into the flat on Friday 23rd September - and Amsterdam was from Sunday 2nd October to Tuesday 4th October, just over a week later. We couldn't have planned the timing better!! The flight was at 8am from Bournemouth International Airport. We actually got up at 5am after little sleep and got to the airport at about 6:30am. We wanted to make sure we didn't miss our flight, unlike the time we went to London and missed the Megabus by about 30 seconds and had to pay for a coach to get there!

Checking in was pretty quick - but when I went through the metal detector both me AND Scott sent the machine off and had to get searched! I reckon the metal detector is a scam. I reckon the person sitting at the X-ray machine is watching all the people go through and presses a foot-switch whenever he sees someone dodgy! But I mean, come on!! Like we're actually trying to smuggle something INTO Amsterdam!!

Another thing that pissed me off is in the canteen. We went there to grab a morning coffee and watch the sun come up over the runway and just chill out before being thrown into the sky in a massive metal tin. I went to grab the drinks and behind the bit where you pay there was this massive wooden sign with 10 of Murphy's Laws on it. Now some of them were quite witty but most of them you really don't want to see when you're about to go on a plane. Y'know, the one's like "If everything is going smoothly, you've overlooked something" and "If something is likely to go wrond it will". I wasn't nervous until I saw this!! Bastards!!

Anyway, the flight was cool... weird but cool. It's strange when you get all dizzy cos of the change in air pressure. I can see why some people puke on flights. I was both nervous and exhilerated on the flight. It was a pretty short flight - about 55 minutes, just enough time for a JD & Coke.

We get off the plane and took an age trying to find our way out but we eventually found a door leaving arrivals and going out into the main airport. From here we boarded the train to Amsterdam Centraal station. We left the station and walked across the first bridge where we were approached by somebody trying to sell me something! A sign of things to come me thinks!! Our first mission was to check in at the Hostel but thanks to some shoddy map-reading on my part we got lost. We eventually found the place after about an hour of walking around and checked in, had a look around the dorm room (shit hole!) dropped our bags off in the locker and set off for a trek around the 'Dam.

One of the first things we noticed was the amount of people on bikes!! There's fuckin' loads of them! And they were all on these cool retro 50's looking bikes - hardly anyone on mountain bikes and I didn't even see one bmx the whole time! You literally couldn't go 3 seconds without seeing someone on a bike. Another surprise was the shopping - we thought the clothes shops in Amsterdam would be shite cos on TV Europeans wear really shockingly bad 80's clothes. It's not true, the Dutch have amazing clothes shops and everyone looks cool. You heard it here first folks. Time for a couple of pics from sight-seeing, complete with obligatory canal shots!...

As it was starting to get dark we went to look for a coffee shop. We were walking arounf the Red Light District for hours and couldn't find a single one!! We were like "What??" so we went into a little corner pub for a drink of JD & Coke to work out what we're gonna do. We sat down with our drinks and after about 10 minutes we felt a bit uncomfortable. It felt like we were being watched all the time. We worked out that the pub was actually a gay pub!! We shoulda guessed. The clues were all there. Stocky bold dutch men with handlebar mostaches wearing leather waistcoats and lumberjack shirts listening to The Eagles on the jukebox!! Don't know why we didn't spot it when we came in! So we finished our drinks and left.

We walked about 4 shops down and saw a coffee shop called Route 66. We were like "How do we know it's a hash cafe??" We stood there looking in for a bit, sniffing for any clues and then we spotted a sign in the window saying "No Alcohol Sold Here". It HAD to be a hash cafe. So in we went to grab a cup of tea and a slice of space cake! It was really cool. The people seemed really chilled out and the staff were really kind and smiley. I think they could sense it was our first time to a hash cafe but that's ok. They had a pool table and juke box, a bank of PC's near the entrance so you can surf the web, they sold memento merchandice such as T-shirts, watches and badges to remind you of your visit... yeah, it was really cool.

So we ate our space cake and drank our tea and starting feeling a little woosy after about 15 minutes. I noticed myself getting really talkative and gabbering like a loon! After a while we thought we'd go for a walk. We walked to Amsterdam Square where we tried to take a sneaky photo of the bloke sat on the bench next to us but I think he clocked us.... and then I felt like he was watching us so we went for another walk. We found another area of public seating about 5 mins later so we sat there for a bit cos we were really starting to feel very odd! After about 20 seconds a homeless guy was talking to us in broken English and was trying to get us to give him money - not what you need when you're starting to lose the plot and be all giggle and paranoid at the same time so we walked off somewhere else (haven't got a clue where) Around about now everything I said was starting to do Scott's head in cos everything I was saying was making him crack up laughing!! "I think the best thing we should do right now is to not talk for a while!" said Scott. ... but not talking was starting to do MY head in so I had to say something!! And basically it went downhill from there. Most of it has been erased from my memory. There was a bit where we had to get some water off our tits - that was difficult, cos everything's in half Dutch, half English and the picture on the bottle was reminded me of The Scream which wasn't making me feel any better! .... I've even gone through trouble of making a little animation of what I was halucinating, I got the picture of the water bottle from the Dutch mineral water company's website.

Things started getting very VERY scary after this. Both me and Scott thought we were either going to pass out or going to die! I couldn't work out if it was cold or not but I knew I was shivering, whether it was from 'the fear' or if it's from the temperature I'll never know! We were walking around in a paranoid daze for what seemed like hours. Going over little tiny bridges with a car coming towards you right near the water when there's a low barrier whilst off your face is NO FUN! Eventually we had to stop! We were getting further and further away from the hostel and we had no idea where we were, every corner we turned was only because it seemed less hectic down there than what it did on the road we were on. We stopped to sit on some steps like this... try and calm down. We were exhausted from our accelerated pace of walking. But I couldn't sit down, it felt really uncomfortable... like I was gonna be sick or shit myself or something. After, about 30 seconds, Scott was saying things like "This is it Steve. I think this is where I'm going to die. A million miles from home, lost... and I didn't even get to say goodbye to anyone."
"No, ya not, mate. We're just tripping out. You'll be fine" I said, trying to convince myself at the same time that what I was saying was right.
"No, this is too much, Steve. I think we've been spiked!" said Scott.
"It does feel fucked up, mate, but I'm sure It's not... I HOPE it's not. I know that some skunk can have similar effects to LSD but ...."
"I think I'm dying, Steve."
"No you're not, mate. Just chill..."
Scott starts sliding down the steps and puts his head on the top step and closes his eyes. "No, mate. I've got to do this.... I've .... *mumble*" and is still! I started shaking him, thinking he's just mucking about (Scott's a bit of a joker, y'see) but he's not moving. While I'm doing this a couple who are walking past stop and ask "'ere, mate. Is your friend ok?"
"I dunno. He says he feels like he's dying. I know he's not but I can't get him to wake up" Then they start talking to him - he wakes up.

We get them to stay for a while, whilst we try and clear our heads. Scott asks them to please stay with us and talk to us. After a while we try to head back to the hostel, but we have no idea where we are. I say to Scott "We just need to find our way back to Madame Tussauds [in Amsterdam Square] and I can find our way back from there." but we had no hope of even knowing where we are.

Eventually, and don't ask me how, we stumble upon Amsterdam Square. I take over from here cos Scott's now got short-term memory worse than a goldfish. I keep having to convince him that we're walking in the right direction cos he kept turning down corners. We got back to the hostel and climbed all 3 flights of steep stairs and flump on our bunk beds and try to sleep. But the paranioa was still strong. Although we didn't know that we were thinking the same things at the time, we were both convinced that other people in the dorm were talking about us. We also though that people were braking into our lockers and knicking our stuff. We also though we heard people setting fire to people, rats scurrying around....
I ended up staying awake quite late in this silly sense of fear. And then, at some stahe in the night, I heard some singing outside the window. Me bed was next to the window so I craned my neck to have a peek outside. It was a bunch of 5 English girls staggering drunkedly back to their dorm singing songs from large stage productions in perfect harmony. I guess that they were from some sorta art college. I didn't recognise the song they were singing when they first faded into my conciousness but they stopped that and then started singing another song. I didn't regnise this at first but it seemed really cool. Then it got to the chorus. It was John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads". It was truly beautiful and was sung in perfect harmony. It was these girls that managed to sort my head out and go to sleep.

Day 2: We woke up at about 10am ish and went downstairs for some breakfast.... we were still a bit spaced out so after finishing breakky and tea we went back to our bunks for an hour or so. I couldn't really go back to sleep so I read a book and watched all the addicts, dealers, pimps and and hoes outside the window.

Then went for a little trek around The 'Dam...

We decided not to get stoned tonight so we found this nice bar by the riverside and had a couple of beers and watched people go by. After about 4 or 5 drinks we went to have a look around the Red Light District to see what all the smut is about. The place is mental! We thought the prozzies in the windows would be absolute howlers but most of them are like FHM models!! And they all give you full-on eye contact and open they're legs at you!! You really don't know where to look!!! No seriously, you don't!!!!! Obviously I couldn't take any pictures of this cos I don't think they'd take to kindly to me taking pictures of them. So here's a lovely picture of the canals at night...

......... Oh alright. Here's the pics you REALLY wanted to see...

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