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Cannibis, culture and constipation.

NETHERLANDS | Tuesday, 24 February 2015 | Views [1059]

Delft's lovely old city gates.

Delft's lovely old city gates.

Amsterdam is a Utopian wonderland for your average teenage stoner. Drugs are either legal or tolerated. Bikes are the main form of transportation so it's easy to go get munchies without being busted DWI. Dutch potato chips enjoy world renown. Prostitution is practised from so many roadside displays that give a whole new meaning to window shopping. Coupled with the fact that Dutch women are so attractive as to be genetically superior beings, it quickly turns to window cleaning; with drool.

Unfortunately, this liberal approach to licentious pursuits, and the sort of tourists it attracts, leads to the centre of the town feeling more like a theme park. One with no puppy pooper scoopers and the occasional pile of vomit. The few Dutch were actually easy to pick out of the crowds because they were the ones not smoking, or making an idiot of themselves.

Forunately I had a Dutch tour guide to help me avoid making most of the more common tourist mistakes. Getting stoned was not one of them, as the first thing Ainslie did was take me to a weed cafe. Coming from a conservative country, I was used to a more lounge room or street corner orientated transaction for the purchase of such an item. My slack-jaw had dropped open upon smelling the aroma wafting from the first group of people we passed on the street. It reached 'snake consuming a kangaroo' level when the store clerk thrust a list at me detailing all the different potency, methods, flavours, and sizes of getting off your face.

Trying and failing to contain my excitment.
 That was possibly the most Australian analogy ever written, but it was apt because I was behaving like nearly all my peers would and tried to buy one of everything. Even though Ainslie turned out to be quite the enabler, she had nothing to do with my original plan of buying a joint turning into a little baggy. I partially regretted it straight away, as I was more interested in enjoying the country, and Ainslies company, than getting stonkered and eating Amsterdam out of potato chips.

Outside tables were set up like a real cafe even though the only thing eatable being sold was space cake. Ainslie rolled a number that would have satisfied a small army battalion and given that it had been awhile since I had indulged, I was too ripped to even finish the thing. As soon as I giggled with utter delight at a passing beagle puppy, I knew that the afternoon was going to be more 'dazed and confused' than touristy and cultural.

Just casually rolling fatties on the street.

As Ainslies charming and slightly crazy brother pointed out later, there is a lot more to the city than getting high and considering paying for something that is usually free because IT IS RIGHT THERE IN THE WINDOW! Unfortuantely I was baked so my first night was not going to be anything more than an old Australian stoner wandering around giggling at the sites and smells of the Amsterdam 'zoo'.

Laid out in co-centric u-shaped canals, the inner city is easy to navigate.... if you're either not stoned and a newbie, or a woman with absolutely zero sense of direction. Together, Ainslie and I had that covered and it was a good thing our wanderings had no particular destination because we would've have found exhaustion before our goal.

Bikes getting pulled out of the canal 

We did find an erotic art musuem, or what I think was one of many of them, and decided to see how artistically people could portray dicks. Being an unparalled master in the art of drawing dicks on things, I would usually be fascinated by what was on show. There was the most bizarre sex cartoon with strange dubbed over voices (Probably because all English speaking countries would be too conservative to concoct smut of this magnitude) that held our attention for longer than any other cartoon could hold an adults attention, take note disney!

My best friend Trev showing of his birthday masterpiece.

Aside from being stoned and prefering to stare at the real boobs on nearly every street corner, I was actually feeling like shit. Or more to the point, I wasn't feeling like a shit. The three days in Paris had made me a plaster cast of my colon and it was not in any rush to be moved from it's place of creation. I know this is an unpleasant thing to write about, and I could be a lot more graphic like I usually am, but this was really strarting to affect my experience.

I was over-joyed to be seeing Ainslie again as it had been nearly five years since we had met in Broome. We hadn't hung out much then, but have become very close penpals in the years since. That was rather lucky because had it been anyone else, I would have felt guilty with at least half of my conversation being about my ass and its absence of productivity. She was very understanding, and was as bewildered as me that I was impervious to the usual effects that weed, coffee and exercise have.

Needless to say, I didn't eat much in Amsterdam. I didn't do anywhere near as much as what I would have 10,20 years ago. Every time a red lit lady returned my gaze, Ainslie would shove me in her direction, probably hoping the interaction would give her at least five minutes without me talking about the toilet. That was definitely an expense I could do without, and I still wasn't feeling any real inclination to do anything but look, and hope that it one day converts into viable libido currency.

 I'm strangely attracted to pink neon.

The next day we wandered further afield, taking in the Rijks museum that showed the amazing talent of Dutch artists. There was some absolutely incredibly artworks, possibly most famous and one of the largest pieces I have been awed by in Rembrandts Nightwatch. Jan Willem Pieneman's 'Battle of Waterloo' is the largest painting I have ever seen and Vermeers 'The Milkmaid' one of the most impressive.

 Rembrandts masterpiece, 'The Nightwatch'

Had I felt any better, and not been to the Louvre two days prior, I would have been blown away by the museum. Given my dismay at the apparent lack of real Dutch life I had thus experienced in Amsterdam, and my state of health, it is no criticism of the museum that I am not far more glowing in my praise of a place that is undoubtedly a rich treasure trove of culturally important artworks.

Moving to Ainslies home town of Delft for the other three nights certainly gave me the slice of Dutch life that I craved. Where Istanbul had been a mystical blend of Asian and European flavours without being defined by either, and Paris was the quintessential European city with grand structures and broad avenues that had some degree of town planning, the Netherlands was rather quaint but delightfully beautiful.

Being 4 metres below sea level, the whole country was covered in canals and dykes and even though there was plenty of places where water wasn't present, it was those little river side homes that were the most striking. There were some taller structures, including the Nieuwe Krek, or New Church, which afforded amazing 360 views of the town from the top of its belfry. The tighest winding stair case granted access and had a bowl full of prunes not finally fixed my condition, I would have struggled to carry the extra weight up so high.

 Finally find the panoramic setting on my phone

The Oude Krek, or Old Church, was my favourite as its leaning belfry was so striking that in a continent covered in such buildings, this one must be unique. But not by design. During construction, the building started to sink and developed a serious lean. Possibly taking advantage of certain Dutch drug liberties, the stoned builders just shrugged their shoulders and kept on building, I like to imagine anyway. They had actually checked the structural integrity and further building incorporated optical illusions in attempt to offset it's obvious slant. I let you decide from the photo below just how successful they were.

 Someone was definitely stoned.

Being such a flat country, bikes are far more common than cars. At least it would appear that way if you were to judge it by the parking bays at the train station. I originally planned to do a ride around the country but gave up on that when I found out that winter would make it a more harrowing experience than using a bike trailer with the hand-brake permanently engaged. We did ride to a restaurant one night but my over indulgence in strong Dutch beers saw me fall over the bike before even getting on it, breaking the rear fender and permanently dislodging the chain. I managed to get it home via the Flinstones method of propulsion but unsurprisingly, Ainslies boyfriend Casper was not willing to let me near any other modes of transportation.

Fortunately the weather had been a 50/50 mix of bright, clear sunny days and overcast, drizzly days. The country, and particularly Delft, had struck me as incredibly enchanting and once my health returned, so did my appreciation of the wonderful places I was seeing. It was heart-breaking to say goodbye to such a dear friend in Ainslie but as the saying goes, “It's not goodbye, it's see you later”. I'm sure the saying I'm after is articulated better than that, but the sentiment is true and the Netherlands is high on the list of countries that I must return to sooner rather than later.

Tags: amsterdam, churches, health, netherlands, weed

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