Amsterdam, Not Just For Perverts Looking To Get High

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories, Uncategorized

Amy had a conference in Amsterdam this week, so Malcolm and I joined her for the weekend. Our weekend was really fun, including experiences that were high-brow, low-brow and every brow in between. Here are the random highlights:

I wanna rub my face on that seat!

I wanna rub my face on that seat!

We took the high speed rail to get there and back. Impressively, the trains go 200 miles per hour. Even better, the seats are wide and made of red velvet. The train ride felt like three hours of lying around in a comfy smoking jacket. Malcolm read and played Top Chef on the computer. I fondled the seats.

We stayed with Amy at her conference hotel the first night and woke up to a breakfast buffet that catered to the international crowd. Our breakfast consisted of ramen noodles and broth, pain au chocolate, crusty bread with smoked beef and gouda, pineapple, eggs, bacon, sausage and beans. The businessmen at the table next to us were disgusted. I was too!

Hotels rarely have this right outside their door.

Hotels rarely have this right outside their door.

Most people in Amsterdam stagger around with visions of zebras and giraffes because they spend too much time in the coffee shops. We did so because we rented a houseboat on a canal across from the zoo! The houseboat was pretty cool inside and located in an up and coming area of  restored old brick buildings. This place was really one of the highlights of the weekend. Never stay in a hotel in Amsterdam!

Malcolm and I went to the NEMO children’s museum on the waterfront. It was the greatest single argument in favor of birth control I have ever experienced. Even the Chinese kids there thought it was crowded.

I want to rub my face on that croquette!

Food is always better when you’re not sure what’s inside.

I ate a croquette for lunch one day. If you’ve never had them, they are deep fried log rolls with a strange gooey substance inside. Mine had chunks of ham thrown in every so awesome. Later, I saw them in vending machines and totally wished I had ordered mine from a vending machine. It’s not all that often where you can get fried food from a machine. Next time!

We spent Friday night at the Van Gogh museum. They turned the lobby into a club, complete with cool lighting and a dj. They even served drinks! They gave Malkie a scavenger hunt to do, requiring him to find certain paintings, identify whether the painting mad him feel happy or sad and even taught him/us about brush strokes and art history. Our night at the museum was really the coolest thing we did during the weekend, mostly because we stayed out past 10 pm.

That food was just for us. I'd say we were gluttonous, except that would require too much work

All that food was just for us. Gluttony, it’s what’s for dinner.

For dinner one night, we had an Indonesian rice table (“Rijsttafel.”) Imagine going to a southeast asian restaurant, opening the menu, and saying, “OK, I’ll take it.” They brought us 21 dishes! You get just a few bites of each, but it is a great way to taste your way through southeast Asia, even when you are in Northern Europe. (Indonesia used to be a colony of the Netherlands when it was called the Dutch East Indies.) But you are not thinking of colonization when you are eating. You’re thinking, “Damn, this is some good lamb satay.”

We took Malcolm to the Anne Frank house, waiting for nearly an hour in line. I guess I should say that it was only an hour. When we saw the line later in the day, it had almost doubled! We had prepped Malcolm about Nazi and the treatment of the Jews by having him read Number the Stars He seemed to understand what happened to the family but the most pressing issue he had was to figure out where in our Paris apartment we could stay if the Nazis ever came for us. Be prepared!

We had Dutch pancakes for lunch one day and thought there were awesome. Amy had camembert, ham and leeks, Malkie had chocolate and I had bacon, banana and chili pepper. They were awesome, although eating too large of a chunk of chili almost cost me my taste buds. The pancakes were somewhere between a crepe and a frittata. The place we went to, aptly named Pancakes!, was totally charming.



By the time we made it to a canal boat tour, we were pretty worn out. Malcolm fell asleep and I almost did too. I would say 80% of the boat dozed off at one point or another.

We walked around the Jordaan, taking in the tiny cobblestone streets and canals. It was cool, except if you are seven years old. Then, it totally sucks, unless you can find a cheese shop that has pesto gouda. Then it is awesome.

I want to rub my face in those frites!

I want to rub my face in those frites!

For an after-cheese snack, we had war fries (oorlog frites.) At Vleminckx, they make one thing, fries and have done so since 1887. There’s probably a guy on the streets of NY that has been selling the same batch of hot dogs since the 1940’s, but to make one thing, and one thing only for that long a period of time? That’s bonkers. The fries are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and slathered with mayonnaise, peanut satay, and onions. I can’t explain why they taste good. Just trust me.

After some searching around, we found a sports bar that showed the Barcelona-Real Madrid game. We drank beer and ate cheeseburgers and watched the game. The guys next to us started smoking weed, and I can’t imagine how Malcolm didn’t get a contact high. He said he wanted to get home via giraffe and thought my name was Tinderbox.  It didn’t help that there many weirdly costumed people at the bar, including one man dressed in a giant inflatable penis. I sincerely hope none of it makes its way into his weekly journal he keeps at school. I think we are too new at the school to have that much explaining to do.

After dinner our last night, we got chocolate covered waffles and ate them on the steps of a church. Chocolate covered waffles are to dessert what crack is to cocaine. There are light like a donut, except crispier on the outside and slightly chewier. They are also sweet. Really sweet. Sweeter than hugging your favorite aunt at Christmastime. Eating a dessert waffle makes you want to dance with everyone you meet, even if they are dressed as a giant inflatable penis.

The one I kissed was much cuter. (And bloodier.)

The one I kissed was much cuter. (And bloodier.)

We took the tram home and during the trip the tram ran smack dab into a Halloween parade, forcing us to wait 30 minutes as the parade went by. As we sat there, hundreds of zombies came by and spread blood on the tram window and tried to scare us. Malcolm was terrified. I danced with some witches and kissed a zombie through the glass. It was hilarious, and in no part made more enjoyable by the waffles, Belgian beer and second hand smoke.

We managed to pack quite a bit into our little weekend, some good, some gooder and some just plain old Amsterdam weirdness. Coming home was totally surreal, though. Our home was in Paris. In case you aren’t sure, that’s in France, and it’s where we live. Nuts, all.

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