Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Amsterdam, part deux

Day 24, Hello again Amsterdam
by Shana

We left the farm at around 9am after saying our goodbyes. We were sad to leave our new friends but happy to avoid harvesting beets. After a bus ride, train ride, trolly ride and temper tantrum from yours truly, we were in Amsterdam. Ok, it wasn't a temper tantrum. But let's just say traveling days make me a little nervous because we don't exactly where we're going. And I had coffee. Poor Jerrad.
We got off the trolly in Amsterdam and walked a short way to our Airbnb "hotel". This was our first Airbnb experience so we weren't sure what to expect. According to the Airbnb we booked, I'll tell you what you can expect. Your first Airbnb "hotel" will be extremely messy. The living room couch will have trash, cat hair, more trash and stuff all over it. Your room will not be ready until a few hours after you arrive. Your room will be clean though. And the kitchen is usable. So there's that. At night, when you go to sleep on your nice queen size bed, the bed frame will break causing you to roll over to one side of the bed, essentially making it as useful as a twin mattress on the floor of a barn. And the smell. The smell of the Airbnb will be "herby", to say the least. There will be jars full of "herbs", a giant "herb" plant on the back patio and "herb" crumbs all over the house. Your Airbnb host will tell you his "herbs" are cheaper than what you can buy in Amsterdam and will try to sell you some. You will tell yourself it actually isn't too bad, that your previous residence (a farmhouse) wasn't as nice but then you will remind yourself that you paid money for this. And you will get a little sad.
Again, I like to bring up some positives after ranting for a bit. And there were definitely positives to our Airbnb. It was cheaper than a lot of places. The location was fantastic. We could walk anywhere. Vondelpark, grocery stores, the city center, etc. And the most positive part of it all was that we got to meet our very first Dutch douche bag. A Dutch-Bag, if you will. Our Airbnb host came home and brought a friend with him. This was no ordinary friend. This was a fantastic judgmental, drug (we're still not sure which drugs) pushing, arrogant friend. After he called us hippies and asked if we were ready to try some drugs we decided to say goodnight to him.
Overall, it was a good day. We were barely at the Airbnb because we were wandering around Amsterdam so much. We checked out Vondelpark again for people watching and walked around in the rain. We even began to recognize the area and could slightly navigate ourselves around without a map. That's right, we're basically Amsterdam tour guides now. If you have any questions about where to go, ask us. Just make sure they are questions regarding where to go for snacks, sneakers and yarn. We have a combined knowledge of about 7 days in Amsterdam.

Day 25, Carbohydramsterdam
by Shana

We started our day the healthy way; with sugar. We had one thing on our to-do list that day, and that glorious thing was the almighty STROOPWAFFLE. And it was conquered. The internet helped us locate the "best stroopwaffle" in town so we headed there in the morning, first thing. Let me tell ya' somethin'... that was most certainly not the best goddamn stroopwaffle. Lies, all lies. Good thing Jerrad and I are licensed Amsterdam Snack Experts TM by now, so we knew where to head next; the place where we first met a stroopwaffle. By the Van Gogh museum.  But first we wanted to take advantage of how far we had walked and explore a new part of the city. I think it was Centrum... It was my favorite area of Amsterdam so far. There were a lot cute handmade, artsy shops. I visited a yarn store of course, and I found a craft store as well. I picked up some embroidery thread to make friendship bracelets. I'll be making some for those back home, but I can't name names. Your names rhyme with shmierra, shmom, shristin, shmannon, shmaitlin, shmelsey, etc... But only if you comment on this post, otherwise I know you're not reading my dumb blog. I'll also be making some for my future international bffs.
Next we had to make a quick stop and get an overpriced dutch pancake with cheese. Which took 1.5 hours. Impeccable service. After something savory we were ready to resume our "best stroopwaffle" hunt. I don't know why I thought there would be a better stroopwaffle out there. I'm sorry, Van Gogh stroopwaffle. Shame on us. After we devoured a beautifully crafted, fresh stroopwaffle we were exhausted. In other news, all of my clothes seem to be shrinking. After the stroopwaffles we sat and watched a group of breakdancing street performers. That was neat.
Then went back to the Herb Garden to rest for 20 minutes. We had made plans to meet up with a friend of a friend. My friend Davey told me that when we were in Amsterdam we had to meet up with his wonderful friend, Kimon. We were excited to semi-know someone in the city, so we jumped on the offer. Even before meeting Kimon, he was very helpful with helping find things in Amsterdam via email. We met up for a beer, ended up chatting for hours and eventually parted ways, after making plans to meet up the next day.
We headed back to Herbs R Us to do some laundry and actually rest. There was a TV there, so we got our reality TV fuel. After resting up, we decided we would venture to the Red Lights district. Kimon said we should at least see it once in our lives. We figured we had nothing else to do.
Once we rested a little more we headed out. We got to a street with a tiny cylinder with red lights sticking out of the ground (pictured below, somewhere). I guess that means you're in the Red Light District. We walked for a bit and I kept looking around to find something out of the ordinary. After a little more walking and I looked to my OH MY GOD HOLY CRAP THERE ARE WHORES EVERYWHERE. IN WINDOWS. LIKE CANDY IN A VENDING MACHINE. But this candy is awkwardly gyrating its hips like it's a broken robot who can only do one motion over and over. And this candy's eyes are as dead as a shark's. Lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. I kept having to to repeat to myself "not judging. not judging." Feminist power, or something like that. But I couldn't comprehend what was happening. Who would've thought that there was such a thing as pretty prostitutes. Am I right or am I right? Guys?
After getting a round of of whores I was exhausted*. We headed back to the Herb Inn for one last night on the twin bed. We crossed our fingers that our next place would be a bit nicer.

*We sat around in a circle, talked about boys and braided each other's hair. I really missed my girlfriends back home.

Day 26, Drag Queen Olympics
by Shana

We started the day with packing up and moving Airbnbs. After a humid, backpack-heavy 20 minute walk we arrived at our new location. It took us a while to get the key to work (read: someone had to help us), but once we got up to the new place we were happy. Very clean, FULL WI-FI and a room with clean towels.
We knew we had a busy night ahead of us so we relaxed for a long time. We had some Yum Yum noodles, watched American sitcoms for a few hours and napped. We decided to head out early to explore the city a bit before the Olympics. And guess what happened? A butthole bee stung me. For no reason. I was walking and felt the sting out of nowhere. My arm hurt for hours. You, stupid bee. I used to like you guys. You're fuzzy and cute. But first you sting my dog and now you sting me? I no longer like them.
We window shopped for a bit and then started craving vegetables. Our bodies have been deprived of green food for a few days. We found the cheapest option (a pre-made salad from Albert Heijn, the Fry's of Holland) and it was delicious. I think I'll have another vegetable tomorrow.
We got to our destination early so we decided to grab a few seats. Slowly, the drag queens started spilling in. They were glorious. I think England was my favorite. But the bearded ones were amazing as well. The first competition was the 100 meter stiletto sprint. At one point, Isreal and Portugal were neck and neck, so that was exciting.
Kimon showed up for a bit with his friend and we all hung out to watch the Drag Queen Purse Toss event. After a while, Jerrad and I wandered off to do some window shopping and start walking towards home to our Airbnb. While the new Airbnb was clean and nice, it was the worst sleep I've ever had. Our room was hot, we could hear everything on the street outside and damn mosquitos got to us. It was very nice to sleep in a clean home, though.

Day 27, Space Cowboy in Amsterdam
-by Jerrad

The day started off like any other day. I woke up in Amsterdam with no job, no home, and a smile on my face. Shana woke up cranky. This cranky wake-up was caused by an e-mail response from our next helpx adventure hosts. Shana asked via e-mail how to get to the chateau from Brugge. They had yet to give us an address.The response e-mail read "We are no travel guide, but you should find a train to Lille then Amiens, try not to go to Paris." That was basically the whole e-mail. Thanks a lot buttholes. Not only did you give us crumby directions, but now I have to start the day with an upset wife and I didn't even do anything. After the whole debacle was smoothed over we put on our walking shoes and headed for NEMO science center.
   Shana wasn't too happy about the 3.5 kilometer walk we were about to embark on. I told her we could get some ice cream and chalk it up to "walking fuel". This plan worked so well we had to make another pit stop along the way because we didn't fuel up enough at the first "fuel station". After the grueling walk and two ice cream re-ups we arrived at our destination: NEMO. This place isn't for the faint of heart. If you like quiet places where you can't touch anything or you aren't greeted by giant scary half robot half evil quasi functional animatronic humanoid, then NEMO isn't the place for you. For us, the place was amazing. Shana and I were running around like little kids playing with all the new toys they had there. They even had a Teen Center where they talked about growing up and getting fuzz on your schwartz. They had it all. We ran the mug until they kicked us out. Not because we pushed that kid back into the ball pit for being a d-bag (he deserved it), but because they were closing for the day and needed everybody to clear out so they could wash the old crusty fun off the floors and walls so new fun could be splattered on the grounds the next day. We actually had one one our best views of Amsterdam from the top of NEMO. 
After NEMO we headed off to check out Patta; a sneaker store I was told I needed to see. Unfortunately Patta was kind of a bust. The store front was small and pretty plain. I thought maybe their customer service was top notch and that's why they're rumored to be one of the best... Nope. It took the two crack-shot employees working there about ten minutes to even acknowledge our existence and then press their noses back into their iphones. Oh well. After another small recharge we walked back to the canals to watch the Pride Canal Float Parade.
Imagine your senior year homecoming and all the time people put into those floats that were paraded around the town. All the time and effort that went into those floats. The construction paper, and tissue paper, the long nights planning, and the shop teacher yelling "You need more support at the base!". Well, those floats are crap compared to the ones on display at Pride. It was like a gay Thanksgiving day Macy's parade on water. It was amazing to see everyone that showed up to support Pride and the time and energy people put in for this event. We even saw a space cowboy using water-propelled feet rockets to give people high fives on the bridges (see exhibit A displayed below).  As we were crossing the street to get more fuel (in the form of beer this time and not ice cream) we accidentally ran into our new friend Kimon. 
We met a very nice couple, Evgenia  & Kostas (Kimon was showing around the city center) and joined them on their journey. After walking for a bit we ended up at a Pride party in the street. After a couple more parties and walking we decided to call it a day and parted ways with Kimon and our new friends. Another awesome day filled with (almost) indescribable things. 

Day 28,  Friends. How many of us have them? 
-by Jerrad

We had run into a dilemma. There was a window in our room that we left open. That window provided us with cold air so we didn't incinerate in our slumber. The downside was that it also let in the night creatures so they could feast upon our flesh. After counting (aka scratching) our new war wounds we showered and got ready to meet our friend Manuel from the farm. 
We meet Manuel by his friend's tattoo shop called "La Familia" right by the district that shall not be named. We then grabbed some beers (aka pulled beers out of my backpack) and sat by the canal and caught up. We learned that the person who replaced us on the farm was a female from Spain. We asked how she was and Manuel said, "She eats all the chocolate." We asked "More than we did?" and he said, "Impossible". After catching up with our friend for awhile we said our goodbyes and hoped to see him in Madrid. We then headed off to the Anne Frank House.
Before we reached the museum we had to go to the bathroom. If you're ever in Amsterdam carry change with you. You'll need it almost everywhere to use the bathroom. Shana and I didn't want to find a place to break our large bills into smaller bills and then smaller bills into coins, so we looked for a free bathroom. That's when my million dollar idea hit me. I'm going to write a book called "Where to Poop in Amsterdam for Free." It's available for pre-order on Amazon. After finding free bathroom number two (a Chinese food place three stories high) we continued on our way to the Anne Frank House about four to six courics lighter.
The Anne Frank House was powerful. It's crazy to think so many people lived in such tight quarters and in near silence for two years. They even had the original diary and Anne Frank's other books she wrote in.
After the Anne Frank House we needed some walking fuel. Some malted liquid walking fuel. Our friend Kimon suggested we check out Cafe Belgique. The place was small, but had a lot of character. I got a Kwak (a Belgium beer) that came in a Bill Nye/Mad Scientist beaker glass and its own wooden stand. Shana got something that sounds like "coussle", I think? We walked out of the bar and Shana literally bumped into our other friends from the farm, Steve and Rosie. If we had come out 5 seconds earlier or later we would have missed them. What are the odds? We all walked together and grabbed a seat by the canal for some drinks and some catching up.
Rosie and Steve called it an early night and we wished Rosie a happy early birthday. After they left we grabbed some dinner and headed back home for another game of "Burn or Bug Bites". Will we choose to sweat the night away or battle the unholy hoards of street vermin? Tune in next time to "BURN or BUG BITES!" 

Day 29, Last full day in Amsterdam (Lactic Acid Face Burn)
-by Jerrad

For those of you just tuning in; the correct answer was burn. We decided to sleep on the surface of the sun instead of waking up with malaria and missing chunks of human meat. We had an interesting task ahead of us. We changed our minds and wanted to go to Bruges instead of Brussels. We heard the waffles and beer were better in Bruges so there wasn't really a competition. We had found a cheap bus that went straight to Bruges. The only problem was you had to buy your ticket at one place not near any buses and catch the bus at another place that's by the bus station, but isn't really part of the bus station even though they have buses... First stop, bus tickets.
We caught a trolly to a part of the city we actually recognized. It was strange to feel like a tourist, but know exactly where to go just based on landmarks. After venturing across town to buy our bus tickets and getting precise (and by precise I mean wrong and much longer) directions on how to get to the bus station next to the other bus station, we headed off to Vondel Park to people watch. 
Our good friend Kimon came to meet us. He had shaved most of his beard earlier in the day in hopes of getting a job (see exhibit B displayed below). It was a shame and a travesty. A shrav-isty or a trame. He had the best non-american beard I've seen in person to date. Plus, everybody knows you always go more beard, not less. We all sat in a new part (to us) of Vondel Park and just hung out. After a bit we said our heart felt goodbyes and thanked Kimon for everything he had done for us. For our last night we decided to walk the canals and take in everything before we had to depart. 
Our last hours in Amsterdam were spent walking the canals. After our (Shana's) feet got tired we headed off towards home. We came to a bench, the same bench we sat at every night before going back to our room. This night was even better though. The bench came with a free show. There was thunder and lightning, lighting up the sky. It was a real cool send off. As the rain came in we hurried back to the apartment.
The apartment was built in 32 B.C. out of thin paper and extra rickety wood. It felt like the whole world could hear you enter. The door creak was amplified by the small room. The floor boards screamed with each step, no matter how lightly you treaded. You could hear the other apartment dwellers cough in their sleep and it felt like they were so close you should tell them to cover their damn mouth. As we began to pack we started trying to make each other laugh. This was a game I assume we all have played in some form or another. You play it in school when the teacher is teaching and your face goes Kool-aid-man-red from holding in laughter. You feel like your lungs are going to explode and your face is searing with built up lactic acid from sporting that ear to ear smile. Your eyes spill tears from the sides. Your next breath rushes in just in time to  save you from the grave. This only to give you a fresh supply of oxygen to keep the process going. It hurts so good.  
After the silent laugh-a-thon of packing (this went on for at least an hour) we got ready for bed and to continue our quest. Our new quest is the holy grail and we're off to Camelot in search of thee.

Amsterdam Epilogue

Amsterdam was an amazing place. Whats not to like? Museums? Good. Wooden shoes and windmills? Good. Stroopwaffle? GOOOOOD! There was a weird phenomenon about Amsterdam. There were so many really good looking people. Ridiculously good looking people everywhere you looked. I felt like a background prop in a Abercrombie and Fitch photo shoot. It made me want to do standing crunches whenever we walked around. Here's a tip. Have cash with you everywhere you go. I know we talked about this earlier in a post, but the credit cards/debit cards we use in the US didn't work in about 99% of the establishments in Amsterdam. They have a card with a microchip in it. Back to the epilogue; There's a labyrinth of cool stuff mashed into every nook and cranny of Amsterdam. I throughly enjoyed the trip and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to go on an adventure.

I'm moving to Amsterdam. I'm probably going to say that about every place I visit in the next few months, but I really liked Amsterdam. It was laid back, without being too slow. Even though there were spots that were packed like Times Square, it was easy to take a side street and feel like you were in a small town. There were plenty of hidden gems (the rose garden in Vondelpark, Cafe Belgique and some cute handmade/artsy stores.) I also really enjoyed everyone we met along the way. I already miss being there, but I know we'll be back in the next few years.

exhibit A

exhibit B

red light district robot

tiny chair

Amsterdam Pride Photos (lots of em)

Jennifer Hopelez

Miss Israel

Miss Mexico

Miss England

rare photo of Jerrad and I together

Starting ceremonies


So amazing. I loved Jennifer Hopelez.

Kimon's famous beard, before trimming.

long haired Yoshi (or a brussels griffin)

Kimon's friend

ice-cream 4eva

virtual boy on display at NEMO

a computer thingy at NEMO made you look older. SO WEIRD. 

This is me in a few years (hi, mom)


creepy giant robot lady



playing a game (Shana won)

the roof

view from the top (with some of the Pride parade boats coming out of the canals)

finding NEMO, har har har

random cute restaurant kitty

proof we ran into these two


  1. Oh Shana and Jerrad...I needed that. Great writing as usual you two. And fab photos. What an adventure to remember for a lifetime. Have fun in Belgium. Stuff your face with chocolate for me, yes?

  2. We just booked a trip to Amsterdam for next Spring and I can't wait, this post just made me even more excited!
    Theatres In Amsterdam

  3. There is so many interesting things in Amsterdam! It's really looks like unique city. I will visit it in May and it should be wonderful vacation. What hotel of middle class could you recommend me ? And should i worry about taxi from the airport and book it in advance on the http://kiwitaxi.com/Netherlands/Amsterdam+Airport+Schiphol?