Notes from a Short Weird Stop in Amsterdam

The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

image from fespa digital

Guest post by Frederic Link

I had already landed in Amsterdam and I had a few hours to kill until my next flight left, so I searched tips for Amsterdam and headed into the city.  Of course one of the first things I saw was a tourist bus are unloading teenagers hungry for weed. God bless those weird bastards. Last times I visited this city of sin I ended up really stoned eating random deep fried stuff in the rain. This time when I got off of the train, I was approached by a guy who offered me rent me a bike for 10 euros. I said “hell yes,” then put on my sunglasses and took off.

Pedaling softly, I cruised the old canals one after the other. Then while passing all the cannabis seeds banks and coffee shops, my nose got touched by some fruity smoke. Slowed down and of course stopped to do a little shopping shopping (who wouldn’t), then I biked  north towards to Cafe Noorderlicht. My plan was simple: enjoy a few nice rounds of the city but not just get wasted like most of tourist do. So I sat and  enjoyed my vapor in the sun, while drinking cheap coffee, and I left all my troubles behind. Afterwards I got back on my bike and headed to Waterlooplein flea market.  You never know what kind of fun weird old VHS tapes you might find.

Man Amsterdam has changed, I thought to myself while cruising around. I mean it still has some of that old shine, but all the people who made it interesting have moved. First to the suburbs, then even further. They just couldn’t afford the rent. These days the streets are packed with tourists and big multinational companies have bought up everything in the center of town. Plus, the social/political shift to conservatism the last decade has had a major impact on Amsterdam. The notion of the Netherlands being this wide open country is just a joke left over from the last century.

Riding through the Red Lights district l make another stop on a small, cute bridge so I can hang out and watch the people who are watching the girls. Some of them behave like they’re in a museum. Needless to say that while sitting there, I was solicited cocaine and pills more than ten times from the guys who just hang on the corner selling stuff. I decided to split and get a bite to eat.

After a nice early-diner and a couple of beers I got to thinking about how, for many, Amsterdam is a symbol of freedom. I mean long before other countries went legalizing cannabis, euthanasia, gay marriage, legal prostitution, Amsterdam was already practicing all of them. Even now, after a lot of moral bullshit and political correctness, the standards are still high, and Amsterdam is a city of freedom (at least compared to other European cities).

The ride continued and I eventually parked my bike outside The Tropenmuseum, a very cool ethnographic museum. I decided to make it even more interesting by eating a little bit of mushrooms before going in. I’m pretty sure they didn’t effect me. There’s a ton to see in The Tropenmuseum but  what I liked the most was an exhibition named “The Sixties”. I was couldn’t stop thinking about the importance of cultural exchange.

As I left the museum I saw a modest old couple sitting on a bench enjoying a spliff. Goddman they were some cool looking people. I realized I was running out of time and as it was starting to get dark, I decided to give the bike to the old couple. For some reason they weren’t surprised at all (fucking Amsterdam man!) and I jumped on the canal boat heading towards the Central Station. I realized I was actually kinda high; the mushroom truffles started kicking a little.

And then…time stretched…and all I gotta say is that you HAVE to take that canal tour…

Somehow I made it back to the airport on time and as the plane took off, I looked out the window and saw all of beautiful Amsterdam undulating below me.

And so I started writing this.

Like this article? Make sure to sign up for our mailing list so you never miss a goddamn thing!
Previous post

Come Protest Mayor Ed Lee's Inauguration on Friday!

Next post

So-Cal Street Food Restaurant Opens in Former Emmy's Spaghetti Shack Space

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.