Wednesday, January 6, 2016

[AMSTERDAM] A Chest Freezer of Cannabis Ice Cream, Please

If ever I die here in Amsterdam, it’ll be because I got fatally hit by a speeding bicycle. I just can’t help but invade the bike lanes, like, “Oh really, this is your lane? I thought this was a catwalk made especially for me so I can model my OOTD. What ‘ya gonna do about it?” And then the bikers will gang up on me and I’ll end up as nasty roadkill. But the Dutch are a cool bunch, and the language sounds like English if you close your eyes and listen but don’t pay attention.

Getting out of Schiphol can be a challenge if you don’t speak the language, but the Dutch are among the more fluent English speakers in the world, so worrying about this is moot. The big yellow train ticket dispensing machines can be intimidating at first but really easy to use once you find the “English” button. The main provider of public transport services is a company called GVB, while most trains are under NS. Do pay attention to the ticketing system, though.

In most western European cities you'll have to pay for one-way tickets. Here, the ones you buy are valid depending on the number of hours you buy it for. The cheapest costs EUR 2.90, for instance, and you can use it on all the GVB trams and metro as long as the hour since you first used it has not elapsed yet. Compare this, for example, to the Berlin metro where your one-way ticket theoretically expires after you reach the end of that direction of your trip, not that they check it a lot anyway.

Arriving in the evening, I still had to find my Airbnb accommodation at Amstel. The agenda for Amsterdam is to sleep and review for my coming exam, which sounds really exciting. I told myself that I will just find some random canal and pose for a selfie in front of it just to say that I’ve been here. Juggling work, studies, and sightseeing could be exhausting, you know. And so I called it a day, and woke up the next morning with the aim of multitasking, except that the weather was not really cooperating.

Once you get off at Amsterdam Centraal, you only have to walk how many hundreds of meters in whatever direction you choose and you are bound to stumble upon some gorgeous canal or a nice building waiting to be captured on film. Well, this holds true for the entire city, I think. Every damn bridge you cross will give you two amazing canal views that you just have to take a picture of. You’ll reach a point where you’d just give up and jump into one of those canals. Too much beauty!!! Ahhhhhh!!! Jump.

I think Amsterdam is only one of several places on Earth where you can tell your friends that you fell into a canal and they’d be, like, “Aww, that must have been awesome.” I mean, you simply don’t evoke the same kind of favorable response if you fall into one of Manila’s many savage canals. But in Amsterdam, it must be kind of romantic. Either way, don’t do it in the winter! And so, back on topic, where did I end up on my first day?

I started the day really late, like, 6 PM-ish kind of late. I borrowed an umbrella and avoided being wet and chilled. I went back to Amsterdam Centraal and took photos of the station itself. You then have two or three canals to choose from within a 200-meter range. Again, be mindful of your environment. There are trams, buses, bicycles, and pickpockets all over the place, except that I have not met a single thief at all, perhaps because I already look like one.

Walking along the Damrak and its side streets at night is cool, even more so during the holidays. Some of the buildings are brightly lit and they also have giant Christmas trees which happen to be real. In short, the Christmas spirit is still very much alive! I think the most amazing building I saw there was the cathedral at the middle of the square which turned out to be one of the royal palaces when I checked it out on the map later on. What? There were bells ringing when I was there! I thought it was a church or something.

There are also many souvenir shops along Damrak, together with restaurants which could be tourist traps for all I know. I haven’t eaten anything and I woke up at 5 PM. Do you really think I would give a flying fuck if it was a tourist trap or not? And so I devoured my steak before venturing out to the mysterious side streets full of wonders. Errr, let’s drop it. They sell cannabis ice cream. I mean, seriously. I wasn’t able to take a photo because I feared for my life, but yes, they sell cannabis ice cream. LOL?

I’m not joking about the cannabis ice cream. There was a chest freezer full of it at one of the stores I passed by. They also sell cannabis seeds and other stuff that are illegal in most countries. Sex toys are also everywhere in that alley, and they don’t even make an effort to hide it at all, which is, like, in your face kind of marketing. Oh you want some of these? Come and get it. I’ve heard that the red light district is just as unpretentious, but I had to cut my trip short because of obligations. I also have to adult, you see.

[AMSTERDAM] A Chest Freezer of Cannabis Ice Cream, Please

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