Thursday, June 6, 2013

Travel Series Amsterdam: The Good, The Bad, and The Porn

Today is the first installment of a new travel series here at PCPPP. In this series we will pick a travel destination for destinying to and discuss. Today we’ll be talking about the European city of Amsterdam. Pat and I traveled Europe together along with another friend while we were in college and Amsterdam was one of the first cities we visited. So without anymore hesitation let’s begin!

Christian: When you think of Anne Frank and her triumphant yet tragic story of courage under duress in the most dire of times, you probably don’t think of hardcore porn. I do!  

Because there is a lot of it all over Amsterdam. Especially if your accommodations happen to be located in the center of the Red Light district. For those that are unfamiliar with what a Red Light district is, imagine it just like Dr. Seuss’s Whoville but replace all the Whos with whores.

That’s a lot of whores.

And of course Anne Frank’s story happens to also take place in this famed city, although well before all the porn and whores showed up in such great abundance. I’m assuming.

I’m sure there is more to this city than pornography but man was there a lot of it there. What are you thoughts Pat?

Pat:  Embarrassment and shame.

Christian: Go on.

Pat:  Here are my memories, in perhaps chronological order:

-Heineken
-Fried dough pastries
-Red lights and hookers (very polite, I might add)
-“Coffeeshops”
-The smell of urine
-Police and pot smokers (very polite, I might add)
-A museum (Van Gogh?  Rembrandt?  Art?  Sex?)
-Many more pastries at later and later hours of the day
-Maybe some tulips and clogs and windmills

I think I’ve learned that, as a country and a city, Holland and Amsterdam, respectively, have a lot more to offer the interested tourist that my dumb-ass noticed when I was 21. Wanna’ go again and seek redemption?

Christian: Well I don’t know if you are aware of/remember this or not but I did go again. And I must say, the second trip where you weren’t there was a lot better!

It turns out there’s a lot more to Amsterdam than just drugs, pornogrpahy, and whores. There are museums, restaurants, pornography, and beautiful parks! It was like I was visiting a completely different city.

Let me give you a side by side example.

First morning - 2nd trip to Amsterdam (without Pat):
My cousin and I had taken an overnight train from Paris so we actually woke up on the train at the train station. We walked to a nice little cafe and had a pleasant breakfast outside in the gorgeous weather overlooking a beautiful park.

First morning - 1st time to Amsterdam (with Pat):
Woke up on a gray well-stained mattress that was laying on the linoleum floor of a run down medium sized room, outlined with bunk beds against every wall. The only other person in the room was a scraggly looking dude who was sitting on another well-stained mattress a few feet from me. As I sat up he immediately asked me if I had a spoon he could borrow. “Sorry, I don’t”, I answered, feeling a bit guilty that I wasn’t able to help a fellow traveler eat his nice morning snack of... yogurt maybe? Mmmm! Or possibly a hearty bowl of scrumptious soup? Yum! Or perhaps some heroin he proceeded to melt over a portable bunsen burner and then shoot it into his arm with a hypodermic needle? Deelishh-wait, what??!?!  Since I didn’t have a spoon for him he melted the heroin in a gum wrapper. It also rained that day.

Now I’m not saying that the second trip was better because you weren’t there Pat, but I’m also not saying it wasn’t not worse because you weren’t there (<- Maybe insulting, maybe not).

Pat:  Hey. It was NOT my idea to stay at Bob’s Youth Hostel. If ever the name of the place should hint at it’s reputation, this was the time. And we were the cheap-ass na├»ve Americans. And that shithole was SCARY!

I forgot about the heroin thing. I think psychology classes everywhere might have a great example of repression right there.

Before we proceed...remember that our trip back then was a long one, the result of lots of planning and youthful anticipation and friendship. And it was great...in ways. But it was also the trip where, on the plane ride over, our friend told me that whatever we did during the seven weeks, she just didn’t want to visit any museums or do any sightseeing.  

Oh. Okay.

So...yeah. We didn’t treat you to a very good first night/morning in Amsterdam. And I don’t think the second night was much better. But I bet you’re going to tell me about it yourself soon, yeah?

Christian:  My recollection is that some random saleswoman at a shoe store at the mall was the one that recommended Bob’s Youth Hostel to us. I also remember her not saying anything about the whores.

And no I won’t go into the drastic differences between my two trips on the second night. Because I’m not done comparing the first day!

First afternoon - 2nd trip to Amsterdam (without Pat):
We were tired from taking the overnight train and decided a nap would really hit the spot. So we moseyed over to the beautiful Vondelpark. It was gorgeous. Trees, sculptures, mini-lakes, and plenty of soft grass just begging you to lie down in it. It was a paradise. I found myself a shady patch of grass underneath a welcoming chestnut, and laid my drowsy head down. I fell asleep watching a couple of swans frolic in the sun bathed water.

Vondelpark is Vonderous!

First afternoon - 1st trip to Amsterdam (with Pat):
We couldn’t check into the room at Bob’s Youth Hostel until 12:00 that night for some ridiculous reason so we had to meander around the city as I battled sleep, having been awake for more than 30 hours at this point. We went into what appeared to be a alcohol serving establishment called the Hard Rock Cafe (<- familiar). Once we were inside we noticed that not only were we the only patrons in this tiny establishment but instead of rock n’ roll memorabilia covering the walls they were covered with menus for many varieties of marijuana (the Maui Wowie for you more scientific types). We sat down anyways and ordered some beers. As sleep was getting the best of me I put my head down on my arms that were resting on the table. Seconds later the bartender, who had gone to the backroom and was now heading back to the bar, slapped me on the back of the head, rather violently I might add and then wagged his finger at me. Also rather violently. I’m assuming he mistook me for a drug addict instead of a sleep deprived tourist and the last thing he wanted in his “pot bar” was drug addicts.

So again Pat, totally not your fault, but still, was it your fault? We’ll probably never know the true answer. However when I was there the first time with you we did go on the Heineken brewery tour which ended with all you can drink beer and all you can eat colored cheetos. That was definitely a highlight.

Pat:  Whew! I’m glad you’re able to see the upside of what was a wonderful--in very particular and hard to explain ways--adventure into adulthood and worldly travels.

Just be thankful you didn’t come along with me on my trip to Romania about 5 years after that Amsterdam experience. I had an old Roma (“Gypsy” for you less culturally sensitive folks) woman study my palm and read my coffee grounds only to smile, wink, and tell me that I would not live to see 60. Can’t imagine what would have happened to YOU on that trip!

38 comments:

  1. Anne Frank's house...well, attic, was in the middle of whoreville!?! This was fun and informative. Also, why didn't you have a spoon for the guy? You don't have a spoon on you at all times, or is it that you just didn't trust this guy with your daily spoon?

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    1. I actually had a couple of spoons on me but neither one was a heroin spoon.

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  2. Any good man worth his salt carries a spoon at all times. I assume it's for all of that salt.

    Also, I once had an old gypsy tell me I was going to become incredibly wealthy. We still like to laugh over that one.

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    1. Put them behind those windows and pretend it's legal theft.

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  3. I guess the morale of the story is to travel without Pat? Wait-- I guess I meant "moral" and not "morale." Wait-- maybe I *did* mean "morale." So morale is improved when Pat is not on the vacation. Does this mean he just gets the far inferior "stay-cation"? And anyone who says the staycation rocks is lying and quite jealous of those flying first class to Hawaii instead of going to a local museum. I know. I am sick of local museums.

    Great post, as always.

    xxo
    MOV

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    1. I think the moral is if you're going to Amsterdam make sure you get plenty of sleep beforhand.

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  4. I really didn't get that lying on the soft grass, watching the beautiful swans in the sunlight - sounded a little sappy to me and boring after about 5 mins. but...but...but - I bet you were high so pretty fucking awesome.

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    1. Sorry for double post. Forgot to add:

      The whores of WhoVille - hilarious!

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    2. Thanks. I hardly got any sleep on the overnight train we took to get there so I was actually high on sleep deprivation.

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  5. Awesome post. I'm now very wary of any person who carries a spoon around. Amsterdam does sound like a lovely city, if seen through the bloodshot, crusted eyes of a horny stoner.

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    1. It's a tricky city to enjoy. But sometimes challenges can be fun right?

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  6. I was actually a bit disappointed that they've cut down on the number of whores on display. Apparently the mayor's wife took offense when one of those ladies of pleasure reminded her of her sister. Well, that's the story. I don't have any 'hard' facts, as they say in Amsterdam. ;)

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    1. Interesting. I wonder why the mayor's wife doing walking around the red light district looking at ladies of pleasure.

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    2. Checking out the competition. Duh. It's Amsterdam.... hello! ;)

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  7. Oh my god I am so in on the next trip...

    Pearl

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    1. Totally! I also forgot to mention that we had a McBeer at a McDonalds while there. So prepare yourself for that too.

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  8. I thought Europe was all cultured and and full of churches and museums and beautiful statues and fountains! Maybe the occasional maloderous native or strange victuals... but this? I am SHOCKED, I tell you! SHOCKED!! A nurse friend went to Amsterdam and came back with a tattoo...now I wonder what else she got there!! Was she window shopping? Comparing the relative virtues of the hash? My word, the horror.
    I'm pretty sure it was Pat. I mean without him it was lovely, right? And why didn't Pat have a spoon?

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    1. At the time of the spoon incident Pat wasn't in the room. He was probably getting food or spoon shopping or something. It was just me and the heroin addict in the room that morning.

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  9. Here's what I want to know...do they have male whores, as well as female whores? I wouldn't mind browsing around for a studly manwhore in a shop window. Unless they have old ones like those twins that just retired...that would not be fun whatsoever. I bet if Pat were with me, that's all I would be able to find, huh?

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    1. I do recall seeing some really old ladies in some of those windows and now I'm going to stop thinking about it and go to my happy place.

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    2. Kianwi! I did not just read you'd go browsing around for a manwhore, did I? First my garden, then your confession and now this? ;)

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  10. I've always wanted to visit Amsterdam, mainly because I've heard it's a a cesspool of depravity. I think I'd probably fit in there pretty well.

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    1. It can be a fun city. Although I guess it depends on your definition of fun.

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  11. Try to keep things in perspective. For example, I hear the whores often give you chocolate! Also, that's not the worst thing he could've done with that spoon.

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    1. Chocolate? Really? Amsterdam whores must be the nicest whores around.

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  12. I had the best Whopper™ of my LIFE in Amsterdam after a visit to a coffee shop.

    All the Whos are Whores is going to be the name of my new band.

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    1. Not sure whether "best Whopper of my life" is an endorsement or not. I guess it depends on what you mean by "coffee shop".

      All the Whos are Whores would be an awesome band name.

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  13. I love that you two are still friends after a 7-week trip to hell (or heaven - depending on your whore/heroin/well-stained mattress preference). I guess you haven't heard the term "What happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam" or you wouldn't have written a blog about it.

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    1. This trip was back in the early 90's but I do remember telling Pat that whatever he does don't post anything about it on Facebook.

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  14. So if you don't have a spoon, a gum wrapper will work for your heroin but you're still out of luck for yogurt. Interesting fact.

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    1. Yes, I think there was an episode of Sesame Street that taught me that too.

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  15. Eewwwww.. Nothing worse than a stained mattress and a gum wrapper full of heroin. Remind me to hit up you two the next time I want to go to the Red Light district. LOL

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    1. Yeah didn't Folgers do a "Nothing worse than waking up to a stained mattress and a gum wrapper full of heroin" ad campaign?

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  16. sounds delightful, never ever visit Hamburg so, they also got a nice little Red Light district. There should be less marijuana around, now that only people with member cards are allowed to shmoke tha weed...yesh

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    1. Now that medicinal marijuana is so widely used I bet Amsterdam is one of healthiest cities in the world.

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  17. How fun would it be to travel with you two?? You had me laughing out loud about Whoreville, I mean, Whoville.

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