After three spectacular days in Paris, it was time to catch a three hour train ride to Amsterdam, where I was meeting up with one of my co-workers from Wyoming. Her name is Julia, a.k.a. JuuPac, and she is a badass. Julia was traveling with a couple of her friends all over Europe, and I amended my travel plans in order to see her.
I boarded a train for the first time in my life, and made my way to the business class section. There a I met a couple from the U.S., who work on costumes for Broadway plays and musicals. As a fan of everything Broadway, I was fascinated with their profession and asked them all sorts of questions. We quickly hit it off, and they bought me three rounds of beer, but never let me buy them a round. Before our time together came to an end, they gave me a bunch of places in Europe that I needed to see, which I didn't.
Upon arriving, I walked out of the train station and just looked around taking everything in. There was a certain buzz in the air that I have not felt since the last time I was in Las Vegas. Everywhere I looked, people were just smiling and laughing. It was almost like spring break Amsterdam style. While walking around I came to the conclusion that I needed three things: a beer, wi-fi, and a hotel room. I quickly found all of those things, left my fifty pound back pack at the hotel, grabbed my camera, and ventured out into the city.
I tried contacting JuuPac, but to no avail. That pretty much meant that I was on my own for the night. So I went to a nice looking steak house, where I had an overpriced steak that I could have made on my George Foreman Grill in my trailer in Wyoming. On my way out the waiter gave me advice on places to go. I didn't go to any of those places.
I wandered around aimlessly looking for interesting places and bars. Two blocks down the street, I heard all kinds of hooting and hollering. People were laughing and celebrating with each other. I turned the corner, only to realize that I was in the world famous Red Light District. I wandered down the streets, canals, and alley ways taking everything in. It seemed as if every other building had two levels with four girls on each floor just staring you in the eye and motioning for you to come to their doorl. Even the alley ways were bathed in Red Lights, with both men and women walking up and down, looking at each girl as if they were in a museum looking at art. I thought to myself that if Hollywood ever did a modern update to Homer's "Odyssey", they could use these girls as the Sirens. I say this because I saw men just standing there in front of the women, with only a door and euros separating them; staring longingly like a vampire waiting to be invited in. One guy had a group of friends standing behind him encouraging him to go in and he just stood there petrified as one of the prostitutes just smiled at him. He finally worked up the courage, culminating in his friends howling and congratulating him. At one point I tried to pull out my camera to capture a moment between a guy and one of these sirens, but a local quickly told me that the girls would run out and take my camera, throwing it in the canal if they saw me taking pictures. Apparently it happens more often than you would think.
I walked to the next building where there was Heavy Metal bar upstairs and a "Coffee House" house downstairs. Coffee Houses, for those that don't know, are where you buy legal marijuana, and smoke it right then and there. Colorado has nothing on these shops. As soon as you walk in, you hit a cloud of marijuana. I imagined it's what being backstage at a Snoop Dogg show would be like. I went and had a look around, but quickly went upstairs to the metal bar once I realized that the coffee shops did not serve booze. The metal bar was loud and had lots of Jagermeister paraphernalia strewn about. I knew I was in my element and proceeded to strike up conversations with everyone around me. The bartender then gave me a short history lesson on the Red Light district. As a thank you, I bought him a shot and then headed on my way to see other parts of Amsterdam before heading back to my hotel.
The next morning I messaged JuuPac to find out where her hostel was located, checked out of my hotel, and then took a taxi to meet up with her. Unfortunately for me, my taxi got stuck behind a garbage truck that was stopping every twenty feet in a one lane road. After paying an the cab driver a good chunk of change, I finally arrived at the hostel, which was the nicest one that I've seen the entire trip. But you had to have a card key to get in everywhere, and I didn't have any way of getting in touch with JuuPac to let her know I was there. So I did my best Metal Gear Solid impersonation, and snuck in behind people using their card keys. When I knocked on their door, I heard one of the guys in the room ask "Who the fuck is that!?"
It was awesome to see familiar faces in a foreign place. Julia's friends Allen and Josh, have come to the bar that I work at frequently, so I was already familiar with them. But they had another friend with them named Kevin, also from the United States, who they had met a few days previously and had now become a part of the group.
I decided that I was just going to pull an all nighter and not get a bed at the hostel since my flight to Italy left at 8 A.M. the next morning. So I left my back pack in a locker in Julia's room, and we left for the Rijksmuseum. As we walked, I couldn't help but notice the sheer amount of bicycles on the road. When I mentioned it, Julia said that a tour guide had told them that at least 10,000 bikes were fished out of the canals every year. I then wondered how many cameras they fished out as well due to the Sirens.
We arrived at the Rijksmuseum, which was phenomenal. I have been to a lot of museums in my life, but this one was easily in my top 5. The only disappointing part was that they had signs that pointed to Van Gogh everywhere, but there was only two or three of his works. We spent the better part of the afternoon at the museum before deciding that we needed food.
After the museum, we headed to a market near the hostel, pulling our money together and each spending around three euros to have a picnic in the park. Oddly enough, it might have been one of my most satisfying meals of the entire trip. Even food in a super market in Europe tastes ten times better than that in the U.S. Hell, even their five euro wine tastes better than our fifty dollar wine. When we got back to the hostel, we woke up two new girls in the room. They were on summer break from Florida State University. As soon as I cracked a Jamis Winston joke, the girls got extremely defensive and argued that he's a good guy and was just misunderstood.
The hostel had a bar in it, so we all decided to go downstairs and have some drinks before going out. While there JuuPac and I decided to FaceTime one of our favorite people from work, then I had to FaceTime my mother to check in. Yes, I checked in with my mother. Even as an adult I am still required to check in with my parents when I am on trips, due to the fact that they still worry about my decision making skills. After the bar we decided to venture back out and told the FSU girls to join us once they were out of bed.
While out partying, I needed some good ol' American fast food and went to Burger King. While eating the food I thought to myself "How in the hell do you fuck up Burger King?' But the Dutch managed to do just that. We eventually ended up meeting up with the FSU girls at a bar, where they expressed that they wanted to see...The Red Light District. I honestly wanted to see other parts of the city, but the girls really needed to see the joys of legalized prostitution and marijuana.
On our way out, we saw a guy doing all kinds of tricks with a futbol. He was kicking it to audience members and making them participate. At one point he started to bounce the ball on his head and climb up a light post at the same time, while a crowd gathered around and cheered him on. Once the novelty wore off, we took the girls to see the Red Light District. The best part was hearing their commentary and talking about how hot a lot of the girls were.
As the night came to a close, we ended up going to a noodle shop where we met some locals that worked at a bar. These guys were piss drunk and hilarious. It turns out that they are brothers and love Americans because we tip 20% even though tipping is not required in Europe. These guys were so damn entertaining that I had to Snapchat the hell out of them for everyone in the U.S. to see.
I went back to the hostel at three in the morning to gather my things, said my goodbyes and then headed out to the bus station. On the way out, I asked the person at the front desk about taxis and bus stops, and was informed that a bus was coming soon. Turns out that person gave me the wrong information about the bus. I only realized this when a couple from Germany, who was waiting for the same bus were looking just as confused as I was. We then realized that their front desk person also gave them the wrong info as well. So we decided to walk all the way to the train station together, as our very own "Fellowship of the Ring". After two miles of walking I finally reached my train station and headed off to the airport ready to shoot a wedding.
Off to Italy.