What are the first three things that come to mind when you think of Amsterdam? Was your answer tulips, canals and bicycles, or were you more attuned to sex, drugs and alcohol? Both exist in this old world city, which makes for a beautiful melody unheard of, in any other place I’ve ever been to.
Having been up for over 21 hours, I finally arrived at Amsterdam Centraal, tired and worn. Once I got outside the station, it took me a few minutes to orient myself. I was quickly able to adjust and it felt like only yesterday, that I found myself wandering around, in this salacious city again. Backpack in tow, I trudged about an hour total through various neighborhoods and the urban park of Vondelpark, till I finally reached my destination, the Hotel Aadam Wilhelmina Amsterdam. I could’ve taken the local tram that stopped a block away from my lodging, but what fun would that have been. Up three very steep narrow stair cases, I entered my room and immediately crashed.
After a quick nap, I headed out into the city, grabbed a quick bite to eat and immediately reverted back to being a 22-year-old single male. What can I say, I’m only human.
I had toured much of the city the previous year, but didn’t delve into much of the history. The next day, I decided to head out and search for some. My only historical stop would land me at the Hollandsche Schouwburg, (Hollandic Theatre.) Built as a theater in 1892, it turned into a deportation center for individuals of Jewish heritage from Amsterdam and the surrounding districts. From July 1942 through November of 1943, over 46,000 people who left this building, were to be killed. It was a very somber experience standing alone in the old theater, where the original bricks are still visible.
I headed back over to the Red Light district to say hello to an acquaintance who tattooed me last winter, with some free hand art. I didn’t want to be the creepy guy tapping on the window while she worked, so I took a stroll along the canal.
suspended between two worlds the outer no longer feeding life to the inner a heart gripped in a vice a soul emerging from the dark was it a dream or was it reality ~r~
As I walked along the waterfront, I decided to pop into an art studio to take a look around. Within minutes, I came across this sketch of a wolf and attempted to purchase it. The artist didn’t have enough change on him, so I had to go look for a place to break down my cash. This would in turn lead me to a bar, where I would meet a lovely bartender from Romania. She and I would converse for a while about life and traveling. What can I say, I’m a sucker for bartenders.
Back to the picture. After our chat, I returned to the store and completed the transaction. It signified a lot of what I had been going through the past year. Finding myself, along with my voice. Little did I know at the time, how much more this picture would mean to me when I returned home.
Morning and night, I’d trek to and from my hotel into the city center, 45 minutes to be exact. I actually didn’t mind the walk, as I hadn’t planned on keeping up with my running routine while I was away, so it was much welcomed exercise. Plus being away from the raucousness of the, city was a nice reprieve.
My extracurricular activities would continue on a nightly basis. I ate “New York” style pizza, indulged in late night falafels, and drank delicious Heineken beers. Did I mention the prostitute I met, who said how much more handsome I’d look and the ladies I’d attract, if I ditched the beard? I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.
The final morning saw a wake up call of 6:30 am. I had a 0900 train to catch to my next destination, which included a short 2 hour layover in Paris. With the sun still set, I made the one hour walk back to the train station, as a light rain fell. It was dark, it was cold, it was wet, but I wanted to feel it all. In fact I felt so much, I could still taste the falafel from the night before resonating from deep within.
It wouldn’t be till I arrived at my next destination, did I realize, I left my heart and soul in Amsterdam.
Prochain arrêt, gare de Caen …