By Art Vandelay
My favorite word in Dutch is Schiphol, Amsterdam’s international airport.
Schiphol is my hub, and I like to have my flight connections there. Usually when I have to have a connecting flight, I get upset, but Amsterdam is different. I love my connections there, and I always make sure that I have at least eight hours so I can enjoy the sights (museums, the Amstel brewery and all Amsterdam has to offer). The problem is that I never see the sights.
As soon as I land in Schiphol, I run to buy tickets to the train, and half an hour later I’m in the center of town. Forty-five minutes later, I’m in a coffee shop, smoking. I always tell myself that it will be different. That I will smoke a little and go sightseeing, but it never works. I start to smoke, and then I just move to the next coffee shop and smoke some more.
Amsterdam is a place where fantasies are fulfilled. Everyone who smokes weed knows the feeling of looking for pot. You call a friend, looking for directions, you make a phone call, and at the end you find yourself in the middle of the night meeting creepy people. In Amsterdam, absolutely nothing is creepy about buying.
The best way for smokers to see Amsterdam is on a boat that goes on a tour through the canals. The problem is that you might fall asleep during the trip. I did. Twice.
To be honest, every time I get to Amsterdam I feel that the city isn’t real; I feel that Amsterdam is a chapter from Alice in Wonderland.
Amsterdam is special. Everything is different, since it sits on the Amstel River. In order to save space, Amsterdam has unique architecture, the roads are narrow, and so are the buildings. I remember the first time I checked into a hotel, I wasn’t sure if the corridor was really narrow or if the walls were closing on me because of what I smoked. The cars are small, so it’s possible for them to cross the narrow streets in the center of the city.
Heading there is a well-known right of passage for recent high school and college graduates, stopping through on tours of Europe, and weed smoking is a big part of tourism in Amsterdam. You go into a coffee shop, and just pick your weed from a menu. Yes, a weed menu. (See video above) They have every type you can think of, and it’s legal. Every coffee shop has a scale so you can buy and take your purchases with you. The stores next to the coffee shops are very inviting as well. They have amazing displays of colorful munchies, from donuts to pies with shiny fruit, and a smoker that respects himself won’t miss the shops.
I love sitting in a coffee shop that has big windows that face the river, the feeling of sitting with a joint in one hand and a cappuccino in the other while watching people sit on their boat houses always gives me the feeling that I’m part of a fantasy movie.
Amsterdam is one of most relaxing places to be. If you’re just changing flights, though, I strongly recommend buying a round-trip ticket back to the airport, because I wouldn’t rely on memory after a few hours in Amsterdam.
Photo by jocelyn.aubert