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Tulips,Clogs,Hookers, and Pot

Person: “Travel Blog, huh? So, where have you traveled?”

Me: “Here and there, mostly domestic, some of Europe, Mexico, Russia, but adding to the list slowly.”

People Person: “What’s your favorite city?”

Me: “So far…Amsterdam.”

“Uh-huh.” Person, sardonically.

I always get the look – never fails – eyebrow raised, judging eyes, a slight smirk to say: “Sure you love Amsterdam, Pervy McPotsmoker”.

Part of the assumptive generalization is true, as I humbly admit (in the most redactable way possible) to smoking pot in Amsterdam back in ’07, posting it on a blog in ‘12, and, by law (moral or judicial, still unclear on this) officially ending my 2016 presidential bid – terminating the slick campaign slogan ‘Aim Low, Expect Less’ under the platform of No Bullshit Independent Logician.

Marijuana is not technically legal in Amsterdam, but tolerated in modest doses for personal usage, and sold at the Coffeeshops where you can pick your brand from a menu, sit, have a ‘schmoke anda pankaake’. Under Dutch law, it would take an extraordinary event to get arrested or fined as coffeeshops are everywhere in city (Rotterdam as well), though officials are currently sealing off the ubiquity valve, and passing legislature to allow only Dutch citizens access to ‘soft drugs’ (counterproductive to the reasonings for “legalization”, in my opinion).

I don’t really have an epic glorifying pot story; just walked into a seedy (no pun), smoky subbasement  coffee shop on Marxinstraat, sheepishly selected a kind, paid ten euros, cradled the joint in my front jacket pocket like Sacajawea’s papoosed baby whilst crossing the street, closed the door to my hotel room, looked through the peephole for narcs, and relaxed..

And the baby shall be named Snoop Lion

Coughing fit – relaxed too much as the THC content in Dutch pot is quite potent – COMPLETELY blanked out for a couple of hours….

‘I’m sorry, Mike isn’t here right now, he’s traversing the space/time continuum of misfiring-synapses. Please leave a message, and a sugary snack at the beeeeeeeeeep.’

Later that night, gently floating back down from the stratosphere, I remember trying to cross the street like the videogame Frogger, avoiding bicycles, trams, cars, and people. My prize: a panenkoeken (crepe/pancake) covered in chocolate, bananas, sprinkled with bacon, and washed down with a crisp Heineken.

It really looked like this

This was the extent of my Amsterdam pot adventure. Goodbye political career; good riddance.

Charlotte the harlot plays trumpet for strumpets

The word ‘whore’ comes from the Old English ‘hore’ originally the Germanic ‘khoron’ or ‘one who desires’ see also ‘of the Kardashians’ SOURCE .  If you glean anything from today’s adventure, hopefully it’s the origin of a pejorative term for ‘prostitute’.  Tell your coworkers!

If you’ve never been to Amsterdam, you’ve at least heard of the Red Light District, or the grating song “Roxanne” by the Police, where a whining Sting wails about not ‘turning on the red light’ to a hooker over, and over, and over again.

But I digress, walking along a cobblestoned street one late afternoon in Amsterdam, I didn’t even realize I was in the Red Light District until I turned to see a scantily clad lady – who kind of looked like Jim Carey with braces – beckoning me from a dimly lit window.

Contrary to the sketchy imagery conjured by tales of lore, the Red Light district  is as safe as any part of Amsterdam, or any European city – long as you don’t take pictures of the girls (here’s a comprehensive website about Prostitution in the Red Light District I did happen to witness a brazen young Brit attempting a quick pic to the dismay of his friends. Said gentleman was violently warned by a large, shorn-headed henchman not to do so again.

Sorry to disappoint those expecting a sexy tale –  the Red Light or De Wallen, is not my scene- as the great standup Chris Rock once said in a totally different context but applies to everything in life – “…but I understand”.

The thinking behind legalizing prostitution is – and perhaps some of my Dutch readers can chime in – if it were illegal, it would cause more problems; disease, violence, and court tie-ups . Legal prostitution means control, responsibility, monitoring, safety  and protection.

Same goes for soft drugs – and whether this relationship works is the opinion of the working women selling the…product, the proprietors of the coffeeshops, and the Dutch government/people. Recent legislature bent on washing away the sex tourist industry, and the aforementioned ‘pot squelch’ is a new direction for Amsterdam. But is it for the better?

Hookers and pot on the table, been happening in Amsterdam for centuries – take it, smoke it, fuck it, leave it.

Oh How I Love Thee…

Truth is, I have an unexplainable heart/soul connection with Amsterdam. Whenever I’m strolling the city I get the feeling I died there in a past life, drown in a freak houseboat explosion, or something more romantic. Amsterdam is the Demi Moore to my Swayze, forever making sexy clay things together ala ‘Ghost’. Or maybe I’m Demi Moore…hmm.

We’re making a baby!

The people are liberal-minded, forward thinking, amazing and beautiful; they love good beer/food, and graciously ride bikes for the rest of the gas-guzzling Earthlings. Even in chilly Autumnal weather, everyone rides a bike – three-piece suits/dresses and all, probably to exercise off all the pancakes and Amstel.

In 2010, I was in Amsterdam during World-Cup. Netherlands was doing really well in the tournament, and the place was alive in celebratory orange vibrancy.

(photo by Marti Babcock)

Amstel and soccerballs

To accommodate all the World Cup revelers, this ingenious idea was implemented: outdoor pissers. Weird!

I can see your doodle!

Amsterdam is one of the most aesthetically pleasing places I’ve been. This may sound weird, but I am a huge fan of symmetry in architecture/design, yet, the converse asymmetry of the buildings in/around Amsterdam adds an odd imperfective charm.

Fun fact: when Amsterdam was in it’s growing stages, people were taxed by the width of their townhouse, hence the skinny, tall apartments/houses. Take that, Tax Man! Now help me catapult this sofa to the second floor.

And the canals…oh the canals.

I’m not much of a biker, preferring the joys of aimless bipedal wandering. Whether it’s perusing the beautiful floating Blomeonmarkt, getting lost in the residential Jordaan, shoe shopping, visiting the many options in Museumplein, exploring Vondelpark or visiting a church (Kerk) while bell tolls echo endlessly on the hour, there’s always a sensory stimulation to soak up in Amsterdam.

The original Amsterdam post blathered on for hours in ode fashion blah blah blah.

I do have a crush on Amsterdam;  its inviting environment conducive for ‘get lost’ exploration’; its one of the few cities I have a difficult time leaving.  – Mike


Favorite restaurant in Amsterdam: The Pantry  Try the Hutspot – it’ll blow your mind.

Favorite Beer: The vending machines with Heineken inside. Seriously, the Heineken is freaking delicious – doesn’t have that skunky taste from traveling overseas.

Favorite Food: Street Frites with spicy Mayo. Now, if someone would invent a crepe with frites and spicy mayo on it….

Favorite Museum: Van Gogh

Fun Facts:

1a. The Dutch are the tallest people on average in the world

1b. They are also the world’s greatest exporter of beers. Coincidence? Nope. Beer = height.

48 Comments Post a comment
  1. when are you taking your amazing girlfriend back to amsterdam? also, that demi moore picture is ridiculous!

    August 21, 2012
    • Not sure. Maybe on the way to Iceland…? Hmmm?
      Demi Moore looks great with a beard.

      August 21, 2012
  2. Good gawd, you’re hilarious. I can totally see you (from your persona here on your blog) in Amsterdam — I bet you lived there in a past life or something, that’ why you feel so at home (and for other reason you’ve stated above). I’ve heard the same from many who’ve been there – how great, free and beautiful it is. The pics are stunning, Mike. You are so seriously entertaining.

    Where’s my swag, dude?

    August 21, 2012
    • Thank you, ma’am, for all your wonderful comments.

      I met with Mister Barnes on Sunday, got some goodies for you and then some. Just have to pack it up, and send it! Exciting!

      August 21, 2012
      • Oooh, goodie, goodie. I’m all a twitter.

        August 21, 2012
  3. You had me at ‘clogs’…

    August 21, 2012
    • Haha! Thanks, Shawnie. Funny word, clogs.

      August 21, 2012
  4. I read the title and for some strange reason heard Julie Andrews in my head singing, “these are a few of my favorite things”. Hahahaha! This post was amazing, yet again.

    August 21, 2012
    • Yesssss! Exactly!
      Thank you thank you.

      August 21, 2012
  5. I so enjoy your little forays into the Other, Mike — other places, times, people, experiences. Favorite line this post: I’m sorry, Mike isn’t here right now, he’s traversing the space/time continuum of misfiring-synapses. Please leave a message, and a sugary snack at the beeeeeeeeeep

    I was in Amsterdam once, only for a single day but I loved it. This makes me want to go back and take in a little more, so to speak. 🙂

    August 21, 2012
    • That’s very nice of you, Laura. Glad you like the insanity.
      You must go back…must.

      August 21, 2012
  6. My ex was in Amsterdam a year ago and LOVED it. He also had the Amsterdam pot black out. He said the people are delightful, the food was outrageously good or maybe he was just high. His pictures were gorgeous. I’ve always been scared to go b/c I will take some pot and wind up knocking on one of those windows from the inside.

    August 21, 2012
    • Food is fantastic either way.
      “One toke over the line, sweet Maggie. One toke over the line.”

      August 21, 2012
  7. Change My Body...Change My Life #

    You made me giggle uncontrollably. And now I MUST go to Amsterdam.

    August 21, 2012
    • :). I would go tomorrow if I could.

      August 21, 2012
  8. Rob G #

    Pervy McPotsmoker…killed me! I think Jamie and I are going in October. I’ve never spent any time there so I am pretty stoked.

    August 21, 2012
    • October is the best time to go. If you don’t mind the weather being a bit dreary, the reward is less people/less frat boys, and tranquility.

      August 21, 2012
  9. free penny press #

    I got a visual of you getting that first toke and simply saying “wow, dude” for the behind the scenes look and I think it takes balls to confess you are a clog wearing man 🙂

    August 22, 2012
    • Haha! Yeah, I won’t be writing for VICE magazine anytime soon. Thanks, there was a serious mental debate on how to approach the subject. Honesty always wins out. And I’m not bleeding readers yet, so, I got that going for me. 🙂

      August 22, 2012
  10. mom #

    That was one scarey Demi you portrayed in that article. She actually had a cute profile tho haha Funny as always. Makes me need to watch the video again

    August 22, 2012
    • Yeah, bearded Demi is frightening…Thanks, mom!

      August 22, 2012
  11. Damn, son. This is how it’s done! Your writing, that is. And, as far as the traveling? That’s good livin’ right there! Totally jelly. Keep up the good work.

    August 24, 2012
    • Thank you, friend. Welcome to the insanity

      August 24, 2012
  12. Never been much of a Euro fan, was in Holland as a very young person but the necessity of having parental units in tow precluded having any fun. But. Your funny little posting almost makes me want to go… oh hell I’ll put it on the bucket list, just cause you recommend it.

    August 28, 2012
    • Yes! Glad my ramblings swayed your decision. What else is on your bucket list?

      August 29, 2012
      • Sorry got dis *SQUIRREL* tracted.
        I’m off to Thailand in Jan. so that will take care of that. I’ve been feeling an interesting tug towards Italy and Spain, which is odd for me.

        September 10, 2012
        • I do the same thing with shiny things *oooo penny!*

          Amazing. Always wanted to hit up Thailand. Spain sounds splendid as well. Look forward to reading about your adventures.

          September 11, 2012
  13. When I read a travel post and I immediately want to move there, that’s a good post. Thanks!

    August 29, 2012
    • Awesome! Thanks! That’s one of the highest compliments a travel writer can receive.

      August 30, 2012
  14. this is such a good post. we got to a lot of places in europe, but not amsterdam and it bums me out! i have a good friend who is dutch and the biking alone brings a smile to my face. then add in everything else you’ve mentioned and i’m sold. and you mentioned frogger. lawd, how i loved frogger. frogger and centipede. truly. about to go to the old age home now… sigh. much love, sm

    August 30, 2012
    • Thanks, Moms! I’ve done quite a bit of europe, but there’s something about Amsterdam that pulls me in – you and wifesy have to go.

      Copy the above. Waste hours of precious writing time.

      August 30, 2012
  15. How very interesting! I look forward to getting a chance to explore your blog more.

    September 16, 2012
  16. Just discovered your blog man. It’s awesome! You’ve hit up a lot of places I want to check out especially Amsterdam, thanks for your take on it.

    October 3, 2012
    • Awesome – Definitely check out Amsterdam if you get a chance – thanks for reading, Mindsole!

      October 3, 2012
  17. i freakin’ love amsterdam! glad to know others appreciate it as much as i do. and the cheese…

    October 5, 2012
    • mmm cheese….and frites….cheesy frites.

      October 5, 2012
  18. I love to read how the tourists see Amsterdam. Even though I don’t live there myself, I love the city and everything about it. One day I will move there!

    November 1, 2012
    • Wow, I have no idea how I missed this. My apologies Kyley, and thanks for writing!

      January 3, 2013
  19. ok, this is not about amsterdam, altho i loved this post. have u seen this mike: – that’s ur current town, right? xo, sm

    January 3, 2013
    • Yep!
      1. I was just talking to Marti about this last night, how any/all of our friends would have done the same thing to the asshole in line.
      2. Mikey’s is comparable to NYC pizza, I know exactly where this happened, and am damn trucking proud they refused to serve this person.

      ps – i need to email you about LA

      January 3, 2013
  20. E. #

    I studied abroad in the Netherlands during college and absolutely loved it. Like you said, incredibly friendly people, delicious food, and amazing beer. Amsterdam alone is worth several visits, but you should also check out Maastricht (tiny town in the south that is biking distance from both Germany and Belgium – makes for an awesome biking beer tour) and Bruges (like Amsterdam, it’s also a canal-based city with stunning scenery).

    February 22, 2013
    • Oh man, that’s awesome, E (studying abroad).

      Never heard of Maastricht, will have to check it out. Funny you mention Belgium, might be in the plans for 2014 for me (along with Bruges).
      Sounds like you’re quite the traveler, Ma’am (sorry E).

      February 22, 2013
      • E. #

        Quite the traveler, Lady. 🙂

        But yes, I was lucky enough to have parents who indulged me and my two study abroad sessions during college (semester in Florence, summer in Maastricht), and am now lucky enough to have a fiance who indulges me as well (we just got back from a trip to Italy). I live a pretty frugal life in America, so that I can visit Europe more often (the exchange rate is killer, though).

        February 22, 2013
      • Well I’m blushing. Sorry about that – I changed the above comment just for you!
        I promise to check out your website, and not just your profile card.

        Amazing. I thought you lived in Italy for some reason. I applaud your and your fiancés lifestyle. Good stuff.

        February 22, 2013
  21. Amsterdam is one of the most unique cities anyone will ever visit! If anyone doubts you, you should simply tell them, “ONLY if YOU go, you’ll know what I mean!”. It’s best, too, NOT to tell them anything about it. Let it SHOCK them!

    July 22, 2013

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