Amsterdamn Trip Report Part II

I spent only four days in Amsterdam, my first time there.
Not an expert, but will try to answer all your questions  -
except the one about soccer - you were kidding, right?

Yes, of course.

If I moved to Amsterdam, how much Chinaco could I get thru customs?


I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you can get as much Chinaco as you
want in Amsterdam.  After all, you can buy Cuban rum and cigars there.
It's part of the FREE WORLD - not like the police state we live in!

What airline did you take?
How are the airports in Europe and what cities did you fly thru?

We flew Continental Airlines from Midwest city - Newark - Amsterdam.
The flight from NY was about 7 hours - in coach.  Lucky me, I was travelling
with some doctors and they had written each other some nifty prescriptions to
help us through the trip. ( I now know what they mean by "professional courtesy"!)

So we had one pill to take the pain away and one pill to put us to sleep.
The plan was to sleep through the whole flight, but after we took the
*no pain* pill we felt so good that we decided to stay awake. Played
a zillion games of Hangman on the video screen that was mounted
on the seat in front of us. Could have watched movies, but the movie
offerings really sucked.  Anyway, that pill put us right into stupid mode -
perfect for a stupid game.

I had an army brat friend in college who lived in Germany for a while.
They'd go on long-ass rides for a skiing weekend and eat a gram of hash
to help them sleep until they got to the mountains.

My first inkling that I was in a free country came when we got off the plane
in Amsterdam.  Even though I chewed nicotine gum to get me through the
11 hours of *no smoking*  airports and flights, I was dying for a cigarrette.
Low and behold, there was a nice spot as you entered the terminal where
you could stop and smoke, have a drink, relax.  Yeah, I was home.

How's security at the airports?

No problems with security either way.  Just the usual.
Take off earrings, bracelet, shoes. Go right through.
Just make sure you clean out your pockets for the trip home.  No sniffing
dogs or body cavity searches for us, but you never know.

So, we took a train from the airport to the central station, and from there a
cab to our hotel. We were pretty tired, not having slept.  As we arrived it
was drizzling a bit, which worried me. I had been watching the weather
forecasts for Amsterdam before we left and it was all rain, rain, rain, rain.

I stopped right there and had a little talk with the city.
I said,  Hey Amsterdam, I already like you. But, if you want me to LOVE
you, you've got to give me some sun.  Probably just a coincidence - the
sun came out within an hour and it was sunny every day we were there.
So I fell in love.

Dropped our bags at Hotel Ambassade - too early to check in - and
headed straight for what became our daily breakfast bar on a nice
cobblestone square a few blocks away.

Breakfast for me is coffee and cigarettes.  This place was great, old
like everthing in the central part of the city. It's one big historic district.
Summer, so the whole front of the place is open to the square, you
can sit in or out.  Our favorite table was inside, but right on the edge of
outside.  No smoking/non-smoking BS there. In every bar and restaurant
you can smoke.  Not like the U.S. where we smokers are criminals!

The bartender brings great coffee, a little shotglass of cold water, and
on each saucer there's a little cookie. My kind of breakfast.
So we'd just sit and watch the people go by, drink a few cups. If you
want something to eat, they have grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

Then we'd stop in at the neighborhood Coffee Shop.

Where did you eat?
What did you eat?

Let's see...... we ate mostly at night - dinner.
The first night we ate at a Spanish tapas restaurant. mmmm gazpacho.

Second night, we went to an Indian restaurant the hotel recommended.
Really great food. So good, we returned the next night.  Mistake.

Well, that was after we got the hash/pot joint that was supposed to be
the strongest one. "White Witch" or something - they all have names.

ha ha

The owner/waiter sat us at the same table we had the night before.
We all ordered different things than we'd had, but he somehow got
it in his anal-cumpulsive head that we had to have an EXACT repeat
of the previous dinner.  So he brought us exactly what we had eaten the
night before even though we ordered totally different things.  Very freaky.

Even freakier was when I looked across the table at my brother and
he was WHITE, no color in his face at all. Even his lips were WHITE and
he was dripping sweat. His eyes were kinda rolling up inside his head.
Bad,  real bad.  Guess he shouldn't have ducked into that alley to take a
couple extra tokes before dinner.  I thought he was gonna hit the floor.
But Doctor Steve said no, it was just (medical term I can't remember).

We tried to act like everything was normal, ate the exact same stuff we ate
before and prayed that he would recover. He did, after about fifteen minutes.

Two morals to this story:
One: Don't eat at the same place two nights in a row.
Two: When you're wrecked out of your mind, let it settle before you do more!

The last night we ate at an Italian restaurant that was very good,  popular.
We always drank wine with dinner. The boys drank beer all day too.
And they make great vodka gimlets - only they call it vodka with lime.
Don't ask for gin.  "We don't drink gin here,"  the bartenders said.
We never asked for Chinaco.

Did you eat anything funny?

You mean besides Magic Mushrooms? well....

The boys were determined to find some herring to eat - guess that's a Dutch
thing.  We found a stall by the Flower Market that specialized in herring and
they got some to eat on the street. It was totally GROSS. I took one look and
one sniff at that stall and no fucking way was I gonna touch the stuff.
Little raw fish marinated in something. Kinda bloody inside. Ewwww!
Truth is, the boys were grossed out too, but had to be macho and eat it.
Later, one of them was complaining about being a bit nausiated.  Well, DUH!

Bart, when you go to Amsterdam -  just say no to the herring.

Did you see a McDonalds and a Burger King?

I did see one McDonald's, but in a more touristy neighborhood.
It was near the Rijks Museum, where the great Dutch masters are.
My favorite picture was "De zielenvisserij "  painted in 1614 by
Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne.

In English the title means "Fishing for Souls".

It's an allegory about the early days of Holland and the efforts of the
Protestants and Catholics to get converts.  While the creepy church
people "fish",  the leaders of the political factions they shill for hold
court on the river banks.  The sick relationship between religion and
politics has always been the same.

If this painter was here in 2004, he'd be a BartCopper for sure!

Check it out:
(gotta scroll around to see the whole picture)

That's a helluva picture - must've taken all day to paint that.

Did you see any Amsterdam TV?

I tried to catch the news when I was in my hotel room.
Cable had a couple of French channels, a couple in German and
Spanish, a few in Dutch, and BBC and CNN Asia in English.

Wow - real news -  for people with brains who want the truth.
They even report on the genocidal bloodbath happening in Iraq!

(Have you noticed  - now that there's a really ugly, deadly war
going on in Iraq our so-called news has no reportage, no faux-
patriotic graphics,  no militaristic band music, no shock-and-awe?)

Those bastards!
FOX News and Clear Channel and the rest of them were so pro-war!
They lulled America into loving war - something this 50-year old had never seen.
Anyone who wasn't pro-war was un American - like turning the clock back 140 years.

Also, there were some sex ads in Dutch - but I couldn't tell what
exactly they were selling - hookers?

Did you see any Americans with t-shirts that said, "Sorry our dictator invaded Iraq?"

Didn't see any Americans period - except on the Gay Pride float (my fave) called
"Lovers Without Borders" there was a guy wrapped in an American flag, so maybe
he was a refugee from our *homophobic homeland*.

Sadly, the Netherlands is part of the "coalition of the killing".  They have
1,200 troops in Iraq and the 2nd one got killed this past weekend.

And today I read that one of those web-savvy "Islamist Militant Groups"
was threatening the Netherlands if they don't withdraw their troops.

Was it clean?

Yes,  Amsterdam is very clean!  I walked around all day and night in open shoes.
If I did that in Chicago or New York, my feet would be filthy by the time I got home.
Not in Amsterdam. Clean feet. They had street cleaners out every day - although
the Parade aftermath seemed to stress the system a bit.

I didn't see a rat. And I wish to hell I knew where people put their trash!
In a very densely populated city I saw no trash cans, no trashy alleys, no stink.
It's a mystery.....

Damn, I'll bet New York would enjoy hearing how they do that.

They say Paris has sewage in the streets and the women don't shave - yuck!.

Bart, the Amsterdamers are very attractive, healthy looking people.
Walking, riding bikes, and universal health care may have something
to do with it. Breathing the air of freedom can't hurt either.

My male companions were literally drooling over the tall, slim, blond girls.
In one Coffee Shop, when their oggling and sexist/predatory comments reached
a fever pitch beyond my tolerance, I said in voice a louder than necessary,
"Keep your fucking erections to yourselves!"

ha ha

The women at the table next to us almost died laughing.
Whole place cracked up, the boys were embarrassed, and
they toned down the rhetoric after that.

Do you spend good old American dollars?
Or did you exchange currency and if so - for what - Euros?

I changed some dollars for euros at the airport. As you can see, the
*Mighty Dollar* isn't doing too well. (see dollar-euro.jpg attached)

If I had any cash in the bank, I would invest in euros immediately!

Well that cash didn't go too far, but you can get euros from any ATM on
the street with your U.S. card.  (Dutch ATM.jpg attached)

Most important - did you place any bartcop stickers?

Oh no, I didn't!
Didn't take any pictures either. I like to see new places w/out the
distance from my surroundings that a camera makes me feel.

But now I have an excuse to go back soon.
Thanks, Bart!

PS: I'm attaching scans of a couple cool postcards I bought at the Resistance Museum.

Unlike America, they have a resistance on The Netherlands?.
I wish our country had the courage to say "No!" to Bush-style fascism.

Thanks for your trip report.

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