DAY 2: First Day in Amsterdam
Stocked up on groceries. I’m only spending about 7 Euros per day for food, which is incredible. I plan to dine at a few restaurants obviously but only a few. Otherwise, there’s a grocery store that’s a mere 10-minute walk and I have dishes, microwave, etc. Didn’t sleep much the night before. Too overwhelmed. The excitement is still dying down. I find myself sleeping for 3-hour stretches before I’m awake again and stoked to be here. I ventured into Amsterdam city center for the first time today and It will probably be one of many, many visits throughout the week.
Amsterdam is an overwhelming city. Reminds me of a much more polite, reserved and historically rich version of Las Vegas. No one hassles you. Or harasses you. In Vegas, you walk along the strip and you’re constantly barraged by stacks of cards consisting of prostitutes with their rate and phone number. The more I’m giving it thought, the only real connection between Vegas and Amsterdam is it’s legal prostitution. It’s like New York and Vegas had a love-child but Amsterdam hated his parents so he took what he liked about each of them and did his own thing.
I haven’t ventured through Amsterdam at night yet, mind you, so I haven’t obviously experienced what the pace is like then but today was... a lot. Firstly, my debit card wasn’t accepted as payment at the train ticket dispenser so that presented some issues until I grew a pair and hopped on without a ticket. I sorted it all out and bought a 2-day pass at Centraal Station in Euros, which was a mission unto itself. I don’t know if all the trains are like this in Europe but I had no clue you had to press a button to activate the doors to allow you on board.
I tried to jump onto the 51 connection toward Centraal and when the train pulled up, I approached the closed doors and proceeded to stand about 3-inches away from the doors without opening them. The people inside were understandably baffled. I stood there and then the train left. I tried to play it off to the remaining people at the stop that I had meant to do what I did but it wound up making me look creepy AND idiotic. So, remember to press the button to open the doors…
As a result of not boarding the train as early as I had intended, I didn’t get as much done as I wanted. There’s still much to do in Amsterdam and I've barely scratched the surface. I really just wandered aimlessly. It was amazing to feel so lost in a new city; To throw yourself right into it and not care where you were or how late it was getting or anything, really.
The coffee shops all sell legal cannabis, which is wonderfully potent. Passed through the red-light district. Live porno shows. Banana shows. Generally, whatever sex act two human beings (or three) could perform, it was available to the public for viewing at around 20 to 25 Euros on-average. It sneaks up on you too, the Red-Light district. I didn’t notice the transition into the red-light district until I started spotting flags with “XXX” written on them or small portions of the sidewalk with “XXX” etched into them. I’m curious how this city will feel at night but, thus far, it’s a fascinating place to get lost in.
There’s a level of tension I’m accustomed to in America that simply isn’t present here. It’s hard to pin down. I’m on-guard and alert almost any time I leave my apartment back home, and certainly when I’m visiting my family in Miami but that tension just isn't here. South Florida feels like it’s drenched in the tension I speak of comparatively. I don’t know how else to describe it other than that. Tomorrow, the only thing I potentially have planned is a screening of an Israeli documentary downtown. My wonderful host is giving a lecture on the film afterward and invited me to attend so I may just do that... and then get lost in the city again.