There’s only two reasons you’re an Australian and going to Amsterdam.
A) You’ve been offered a job.
B) You want to party and you’re curious.
Lorna and I were not offered a job.
Lorna had been before but didn’t want to tell me too much about it. I’d heard all the rumours about there being this famous red-light district and pubs on every corner, but had never seen any photos. I’d heard it was a pretty no-holds-barred city where sex and raunchiness were part of everyday life.
I had no idea.
After spending six weeks in the middle-east and wanting to end up spending christmas in Betley, a small village in England half-an-hour out of Manchester, we decided to make our way there through Amsterdam, Bruges and Paris. Not a shabby way to spend a December.
Coming from the dry, warm winter of Amman, Jordan, we landed at Amsterdam airport and stepped outside into snow! As you can imagine it was quite a contrast. We caught the train from the airport to the city station, which was fairly easy, and made our way to the red-light district.
It took about twenty-minutes to get our bearings and find out hotel, walking through the snow without any decent cold-weather gear, so we were stoked when we finally foundthe St Chistopher’s Inn.
We’d stayed at a St Christopher’s Inn before in Athens, and it was cheap, but pretty-average. This one however was very modern, clean, had an awesome bar downstairs called Belushi’s that made amazing hamburgers. And… we were dying for a decent hamburger after not being able to find any in the middle-east. Plus, it was reasonably priced.
As I stated earlier, we’ve all heard how different and open-minded Amsterdam is so we thought, why not stay in the red-light district and see it for ourselves?
And just by merely peering out of our small room’s window, we started to get an inkling of what we were about to witness over the next three days. There was a lane-way with windows, red-lights glowing around the top and sides, and young bikini-clad girls standing on the other side.
That night we ate hamburgers and drank pints at the awesome downstairs bar. We checked on how our working girls were doing every so often out the window. We watched a movie. Then went to bed to try to even-out the jet-lag.
The next day we were feeling refreshed and wanted to explore. We went shopping, found a gym (a Fitness-First), bought decent gloves and scarves and took some scenic photos. Other than the red-light district, Amsterdam is an extremely beautiful city.
It was Friday night and we wanted to party Amsterdam-style. We started back at our bar, which had awesome 2 for 1 deals going and 25% off meals at around 4 p.m. Then we partied at various bars, the one and only strip club and took a leisurely-stroll through the seedy red-light district.
In Amsterdam, marijuana can be legally bought and sold in coffee stores. However, wherever they sell it, they are not allowed to sell alcohol. It’s kind of weird, but apparently that’s what the local council enforces to try to show they have some sort of power over consumption of a plant that naturally grows in the ground.
I’m not really pro-marijuana, I just think people should be given the choice to do what they want to do. As for myself, I have never been able to smoke large amounts of it without nearly fainting. We’re all made up of different amounts of chemicals and different drugs and alcohol affect us all in different ways. I leaned this by doing extensive research on the subject by touring around America in a major-label rock band. Anyway, I won’t go into any of that here because it’s all in the Robkaay Journals.
We walked around the red-light district and took everything in.
The next day was spent mostly recovering, but in the afternoon I was using the hair-of-the-dog method to help bring me back to cope-level. In the downstairs bar, I met two cool cats called Andrew and Jess. Andrew was from Queensland and Jess was from Amman and they invited me to go out with them on a famous Amsterdam pub-crawl.
I told Lorna about our plans but she decided she wasn’t up for it because we went so hard the night before. So, I summoned the power of my old-party-rocker days and went out with Andrew and Jess to do it all over again.
For $20 AU, we were taken around to six different pubs and given free vodka shots at every pub. I remember getting to the second pub around 8:30 p.m.
Next thing I know, it’s 10 a.m. and Lorna is shaking me in bed saying, I’m sure you had a great night last night, but we’ve got a train to catch to Bruges!
Rob Kaay is an Australian author and musician.
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157625748953777″]