Amsterdam was the last stop on my backpacking adventure, and being well aware of what the city had to offer, I made sure to allocate myself a full five days here. This was during my relatively brief pothead phase, which basically lasted from the age of 20 until I stopped dating my jerk boyfriend, since his brother grew it and could always be counted upon to ensure I had a steady supply (said brother has since done time in prison for vehicular manslaughter whilst high on cocaine, but I wouldn’t use this as an argument that weed is a gateway drug, since his brother never actually smoked it himself, he just sold it). But I digress, let’s get back to the more cheerful subject of Amsterdam. Just a heads up that there is a LOT of soft drug use throughout this post – I’m not advocating it, just being honest about what happened at the time.
I was due to meet Dan and Ed, the World/Inferno roadies, the day after I arrived in town, so I decided to wait to begin the weed-smoking until I had some company, and instead rented a bicycle and attempted to navigate my way around town. I had never done city cycling before, and the idyll didn’t last very long, because within a matter of hours: I managed to get spectacularly lost and then got screamed at by some woman when I stopped to consult a map, as I apparently wasn’t far enough off the bike path when I stopped; got yelled at by several more people for not going fast enough (because I didn’t want to get lost again); and almost died when I got the front wheel of my bike lodged in a tram track with a tram fast approaching (I managed to get it free in time (obviously), but making tram tracks the exact thickness of a bike tyre in a city like Amsterdam seems like a recipe for disaster). After that, I rapidly decided a bike was not the form of transport for me, but as I had rented the bike for four days, I was for some reason too embarrassed to return it so soon (why did I care what the bike rental place thought of me?), so I just chained it up securely to a railing, and basically abandoned it until I had to return it.
Because I had originally planned on cycling everywhere, I had booked a hostel quite far out of town, but after I put the kibosh on the whole bike idea, I decided to move somewhere a bit closer after the first night, and found a place that was still outside the centre (because the places in the middle of Amsterdam were expensive!) but was a reasonable walking distance away from all the action, and then headed out to meet up with Dan and Ed. It was a very cold and rainy day, and I soon found myself smoking weed with them in a dirty wet alley (don’t ask me why we didn’t just smoke it in one of the many, many cafes dedicated to that purpose). As our two previous meetings had been relatively short, I got a chance to know them better (doing Class B drugs together will facilitate that) and quickly discovered I preferred Dan, who was shorter and quieter, to Ed, who was sort of gawky and geeky, and was frankly a bit of an embarrassment once he was high (despite my extremely low alcohol tolerance, I had a strangely high weed tolerance, and definitely thought that I wasn’t being annoying, though I’m sure I was). Nonetheless, they came as a pair, so I went with them to eat noodle bowls, and then to a cafe where we smoked some more and I ate a space muffin. At some point, we decided to wander through the red light district (depressing), and ended up in the Erotic Museum, where I took the only pictures in my entire stay in Amsterdam, other than the one from the boat tour you can see at the start of the post, but because the photo involved me hugging a giant penis, you will not be seeing it (not so much on account of the penis, but because I look awful).
The next day, I started smoking early, before I had even met up with Dan and Ed, and after we met, I drank a strawberry space shake and smoked some hash, so I was pretty far gone and just wanted to sit down somewhere, which led to us taking a boat tour of the canals. Unfortunately, there was a German guy on the tour who was even higher than I was, and he spent the whole time screaming things in German in an annoying falsetto voice and then laughing hysterically, so I couldn’t wait to get off. I tried to take an upper to counteract all the marijuana in my system, but eventually decided it was a losing battle, and retired to my hostel room with a load of snacks procured from a nearby health food store (including really delicious seitan broodjes), with plans to meet up with Dan and Ed again that evening. But when I went back into town to our arranged meeting place, feeling much better after a nap, they never turned up (and in the age of no mobiles and no internet unless you had access to a computer, the only thing I could do was go to their hostel and leave a message at the front desk telling them I’d be at the same meeting place the next morning, if they fancied meeting then), so I thought, “screw it, I’ll just do some ‘shrooms instead,” and bought myself a big old box.
Despite my proficiency with weed, I had never done ‘shrooms before, and didn’t really know what to expect. In a total rookie move, I ate half the box, didn’t feel anything, so I ate the rest of the box and ended up the highest I’d ever been as a result. I couldn’t sleep at all that night because I was busy exploring the inner dimensions of my mind, and what the inner dimensions of my mind mainly contained was Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, after spending the past five weeks reading the books nonstop, so I found myself wandering through Discworld. God knows what the other people in my room thought of me, but I was having a great time, at least until I went to the bathroom and looked in a mirror and my face freaked me out so much I had to just hold in my pee for the rest of the night, rather than risk seeing myself again (as a side note, throughout the entire trip I had worn flipflops every single time I used a hostel toilet, including in the shower, because I lived in fear of getting a wart from someone else’s dirty feet. This night was the one time I went without flipflops, because I was too high to consider them, and I ended up developing a big painful plantar wart on the bottom of my foot shortly after returning home. Took me months to get rid of it – I tried everything, and the only thing that worked was sticking a piece of duct tape to the bottom of my foot for a couple of months until the whole wart, including the surprisingly deep core, just peeled off with the tape. So satisfying! As a bonus, my stinky foot marinating away in the duct tape produced one of the most disgusting smells I’ve ever smelled, and I used to chase my brother around the house with the used pieces of tape, because I am a jerk).
After a completely sleepless night, it was time to meet up with the guys, per the message I had left at their hostel the night before, so I dragged myself out of bed in case they turned up this time. They were there, and it turns out the reason they hadn’t appeared the night before was because they had also decided to do ‘shrooms, and were too high to leave their room. So we were all in a bad state, and tried to compensate by taking more uppers and some “herbal XTC” they had acquired, which basically just upset my stomach and made me really emotional, which was unfortunate as we were headed for the Van Gogh Museum, and Van Gogh makes me sad at the best of times. I basically spent most of the time crying at how much beauty Van Gogh saw in the world, despite his difficult life. I felt pretty ill by that point, so went back to my hostel to have a nap and a shower (and let’s be honest, to have access to a toilet for my diarrhea, because those pills destroyed my stomach and I didn’t want a repeat of Paris), and came back out that evening to go get a pizza with Dan (Ed kept insisting he didn’t want to eat in a restaurant, and I was equally adamant that the pizza from street food vendors in Amsterdam tasted like potatoes, and I wanted a proper Italian pizza, so just Dan and I went) and then met back up with Ed to say goodbye to both of them, as they were headed to London the next day to rejoin World/Inferno. We promised to stay in touch, but I never saw or heard from them again.
On my last full day in Amsterdam, I was really upset about my trip ending, and was ready for a physical transformation so everyone could see how I felt I had changed inside as a result of the trip, so I headed to a hair stylist I had encountered on the street soliciting business a few days before, which would typically not be a good sign, but this guy was crazy in the best possible way and gave me exactly what I wanted at the time – short and spiky black and purple hair. After buying some last minute souvenirs, I got another space shake and smoked two bowls of weed, and then ate way too many candy bars and gave myself a stomachache again. I also had to retrieve my bike from where I had left it so I could return it and get my deposit back, and miraculously, it was still there! (It was very obviously a rental bike, with the logo of the rental company welded to the frame, so I don’t think anyone wanted it, frankly.) And then it was time to spend my last night in a hostel before heading back home.
Because this post is already ridiculously long, and I feel like I can’t just end the journey here (and most museums aren’t going to be opening any time soon, so I have plenty of time to keep waffling), I’ll explain what happened after I got home and how I ultimately ended up moving to London in next week’s post.