Saturday, June 19, 2004

Me Likey Amsterdam

I had a great time in Amsterdam. I did an experimental "solo travel" for that leg of my journey and it worked out great. Just me and my, ahem, backpack,(read "largish bag that has straps on the back posing as a backpack but it also has wheels") checking out the scenery and meeting the locals.

I stayed there from the 5th of June thru the morning of the 9th. I had a great time on all my recent travels (including Frankfurt, Prague, London, Northern Germany, Copenhagen, and places in those vicinities) but Amsterdam was the most fun for me. I guess because I did not know what to expect, and the atmosphere there is just so down to earth and "whatever happens, happens". And somehow safe at the same time. Anything can and will happen there, and everyone just shrugs and says "ok, whatever".

Nekkid man biking down the road?
60 year old guy in a thong and ONLY a thong doing an aerial trapeze act above the cafes in the square?
Brazilian wedding party (150 people) marching to a drum beat down the Herrengracht, dancing women in feather bikinis leading the way?
Yeah, sure, only an average day.
People wearing bright orange jumpsuits, their faces painted orange and feathers in their hair, singing and drinking on every street corner, and dancing with whoever walks by?
Ah, it's a football game tonight!

The Dutch people are a hoot, to a man. Really earthy and funny and surprisingly friendly, though their language does sound like hawking loogies. The street my hotel was on, Prinsengracht, is pronounced Prinsen(hawk) ra (hawk) t. Like if for the "gracht" part you hawked out the "gr" and the "cht". I'll try to say it for you some time. Something about the pronounciation changes the timber of the voice, and everyone has a deeper and somehow more sensible sound to them.

I really liked Amsterdam not for the coffeehouses and the "party atmosphere" but for the sheer beauty of the place and the way history is in every doorstep and around every corner. A perfect 17th century town, it's just so pleasant for walking and there is so much to do on every block. I walked MILES. It was also rather thrillng for me as I had studied Dutch art of the Golden Age in college (with a very sexy blonde female professor who wore very tight pencil skirts and all the guys just LOVED her. I thought, well hell, if Dutch women are this cool, then I wanna be Dutch too!). I was dying to see the Rijksmuseum and where Rembrandt worked. The Rijksmuseum, as it turned out, was under renovation and so had a sort of "Greatest Hits" of Dutch art exhibit going on, but it was still cool. I was just hungry enough that I knew I might not be able to spend hours there, so the short version ended up being perfect, and the design of the exhibit itself did my little decorative painter/stenciler heart proud. It was GORGEOUSLY done.

I also got to see the latest Harry Potter movie in the most GORGEOUS cinema I have ever been in. It's called the Tuschinski. It was excruciatingly beautiful, I almost missed parts of the movie looking at this theatre. But I did really like the movie alot, too. Seen it twice now. If I were 14 I would have a MASSIVE crush on Daniel Radcliffe.

My last night in Amsterdam I decided to go on an escorted walking tour of the Red Light district, thinking that might be safer than going alone. I called and reserved a spot on the walk, and when I showed up it was just me and the tour guide. Her name is Kimberly, an American who has lived there for 18 years and has an apartment in the Red light District. The tour, it turned out, included a beer. So she showed me around, gave me fun facts (Tarrantino wrote "Pulp Fiction" here! Chet Baker died here!") and then we stopped for beer.
A few more facts and another beer (impromptu this time).
Then a couple more buildings, then MORE beer. Hey, bars are part of the tour, aren't they? Gotta get the flavor of the Red Light District, right?
Before I knew it, her gorgeous Dutch friend Derek called her, she told him to join us, and we ended up drinking ALOT more, finally ending at a gay bar in the Red Light District and hanging with the homies. One of whom looked EXACTLY like Stephen Moser (Stephen, did you know you have a Dutch Doppelganger?).
There was a drag show in the bar across the road from where we sat, and the drag-ees came out into the street in their full regalia...mincing about in 18th century garb, like Madonna video wanna be's. They flirted with all the rough looking biker dudes outside that bar, (GOD did I take pictures, which I will post next week). One came over to our side of the road and talked with a friend, who apparently asked him what he wore under his skirt. So he hoiked up his skirt to reveal...tighty whitey Calvin Klein boxer briefs. I was shocked, I thought it would be better than that, something frilly or bloomer-ish, or a sequinned thong. You know, something FABULOUS? In my disappointment and surprise I hollered (unthinkingly) "Oh! That's SO not fabulous!". Everyone in the road heard me and busted out laughing, I was really embarrassed. But the guy good-naturedly came over and flirted with me and flapped his fan at me. Even let me take a Big Head picture. I told him he simply MUST wear unders to match his overs, so next time he promised he will wear black ones or red ones to match his dress. (I am ever the Fashion Co-ordinator. It matters not what your style is, I will help you coordinate yourself, whether you want it or not!) I finally managed to waddle home drunkenly at around midnight. Having missed dinner in all the hilarity, I got some fries ("vlaamse frites aka the National Dutch Drunk Food")on the way home. They are served with mayonnaise. You can get ketchup if you ask, though of course that is SO American. So I did the Dutch thing and ate the mayo-doused fries out of the paper cone (using the tiny little fork provided) while staggering to the tram stop. Apparently I am an honorary Dutch Gay Man now. Good thing I like boys.

Yes I was hungover on the train the next day. But that seemed to be my modus operandi....go out the night before I had to be on the train and get wasted, then hurt on the train. And hurt I did. Ow.

1 comment:

  1. The beer made me hungover. The mayo made me barf.


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