SIS, do not share this one with our mother, please.
My first room-mate in college had just spent the summer in Europe and he told me stories about Amsterdam that have made me want to visit there for, well, a long time. The idea of being able to partake of the sacred herb without fear of ridiculous laws landing me in trouble has always kept my wanderlust compass pointed towards the Netherlands. I was in Holland for a travel bloggers convention anyway, and no way was I going to miss Amsterdam.
When I started making my plans, I looked at hotels I could afford. I wanted one close to the coffee shops. Now, a coffee shop in Amsterdam is not what one is in Peoria. Coffee shops in Adam sell pot. You sit around with a bunch of other like-minded people and smoke different strains of specially grown marijuana. So, in my search for hotels, I found one called the Hemp Hotel. I looked no further.
The Hemp Bar is not a licensed coffee shop. They do not sell pot. But everyone who comes in brings their own. I had not been to a purveyor yet, so I ordered a beer.
Now I was ready to find a coffee shop, I mean it was almost noon. I asked the bartender where one was. I got my first Adam style directions. “Take a right at the first corner and a place called Styx will be on your right before you get to the third canal”. I must have heard that a half-dozen times, “two canals that way” “walk along the canal”. Amsterdam is a city of canals and bicycles.
OK, so I found Styx. Standing behind the “bar’ was a 20 something hippie who apparently got high on his own supply. I had done just enough research into the pot culture in Adam to be a rookie. I knew about the strains. They are cross breed species of marijuana. Growers compete each year, at the Cannabis World Cup in Amsterdam, to see who grew the most azzkicken strain of the year. I asked what strains he had. He pointed to an IPAD type device on the wall and told me to push the button. The choices appeared, separated into three types. Hashish, which I was not interested in, Sativas and Indicas. (If you do not know the difference between a Sativa and an Indica, well, in my opinion you have been living in a cave since 1968). Normally I like the gentle high of a Sativa, but I was in the mood for the stoning one gets from an Indica. I knew that in the last cup, a strain called AK47 had ranked very high or won, so I bought a gram. A gram cost 15 euros. The bartender pulled a beautiful bud out of an airtight box and weighed it in front of me. I weighed a bit more than a gram, so I paid a bit more, that is they way it works.
I sat down at a table across from a guy about 20 and I started to roll a joint. He started a conversation that went like this.
“Are you going to mix that with tobacco?”
“No way” I said “why would I do that?
“You are American, aren’t you”
“You will not be able to smoke that straight”
“Ahh bullshit. I have smoked more pot than Bob Marley. I started smoking before your parents were born.”
“Look buddy, I see Americans in here every day who try to smoke it straight and most of them cannot crawl out the door after a few hits. ”
I finished rolling and started smoking. He kept talking. After about three hits I was watching Daffy Duck quacking about Dutch pot and how strong it was. I was actually hallucinating.
Do not try this without the supervision of a 20-year-old Dutch Kid
The old exclamation of “great shit” did not begin to do it justice. I left him the second half of the joint and he laughed at me while I navigated to the door like a ship without a rudder. Luckily I was able to find my way back to the Hemp Hotel.
Back at the Hemp, A local Joint. (get it?)
At the Hemp Hotel locals started drifting in, each bringing a different strain. The owner’s mother was there. She was one of the first ten hippies to settle in GOA. She hitchhiked across Europe to get there.
A group of kids in ties came in. They had just graduated from some high-end high school. (Drinking age in Holland is 16, smoking 18) They were all pretty smart. None of them however had ever heard of my music. I asked them if they knew any Eric Clapton. Just shrugs. I got up and went to the house music system and played Layla. They had never heard it before. I was starting to wonder if I was still on planet earth. The Amnesia Haze someone had rolled made me wonder if I had forgotten a ride on a silver disc or something.
As more people came in, and more joints were rolled (all big joints at least half tobacco) . Everyone used little grinders to make the buds easier to roll.
The conversation sort of centered on travel, as I was the new guy and a travel writer. These people were better traveled than the travel bloggers I had just left in Rotterdam.
The similarities to Cheers was amazing. There was a corp group of locals that quipped about the neighborhood. There was even one old Brit expat who had the corner stool. It was HIS stool. Locals who knew that would get up when he came in. Others got a stare from him until they moved. Of course I nicknamed him Norm.
Everyone got their regular drink, and everyone rolled one up. Soon I was passing in both directions before I could exhale.
Of course I wanted to see more of Amsterdam than a bunch of stoners in a cool bar. So I looked at my options. One was the Anne Frank Museum.
Of course going either direction, you run into more coffee shops. I bought a few grams of my favorites the locals had been smoking. My favorite of all? I’m glad you asked. A wonderful enlightening Sativa called Smiling Buddha.
Well, now you know what I did in Amsterdam. I could live there if the sun ever came out.
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