Amsterdam, Netherlands

Posted on October 28, 2010


Last time I visited the Netherlands was for seventeen days and dented the wallet significantly, I’ve learnt somewhat from that and encouraged myself to make the most of cheaper entertainment for the most part; buying one pre-rolled joint at a time (around €3-4 each of either hash or skunk), taking advantange of beer pitcher offers and four nights for the price of three at the trusty Flying Pig Downtown Hostel.  Navigating around the city is easy if you have a half-decent sense of direction, most of the streets converge and as long as you can remember the way to Dam Square (at the centre of the city) then you can find where you’re staying, the train station and library (for the best views over Amsterdam and phenomenal pizza made with ingredients you pick out from baskets), the general directions of the main museums and the not-so-ethereal Red Light District.

My night at the Radio Inn Hostel was okay, aside from getting back past midnight after me, Mike and Jimmy sampled Amsterdam’s marijuana and beers until we found ourselves just around the corner from the hostel at the last open bar – the proprietor being one of the more jolly you’ll find, a man of around sixty or so who certainly has penchant for turning the music up with some of his favourite rock classics leading a sing-song across the room.

Getting back to the hostel, the three floors of narrow and winding stairs were a little difficult to navigate post-drink, and confusion crept up as I got into the room and found someone in the bed that I thought was mine.  It was, in fact, mine indeed, but I found a large space to rest on and wrap myself up with and drifted off with ease.

A swift morning goodbye and the familiar Flying Pig Hostel was my next port of call.  Nothing much has changed since I last visited, although the smoking area which was at the front of the hostel is now an glassed air-conditioned room at the rear of the hostel with more than enough people smoking that if you were patient enough, you wouldn’t have to buy your own stash because of the marijuana mentality of passing the joints around.  The rooms are exactly as they were before, there’s a fixed box underneath each bunkbed with clasp to attach your padlock to for valuables to be stored in and sheets are provided this time at no extra cost.  Breakfast has taken a tumble though, in the one day I was awake early enough to make use of it – gone are the croissants, in is the plain white bread, faux-Nutella and cornflakes.

The next few days I tried to avoid being a retrace of my last visit, so I met up with four Russian girls from Moscow who sent me a message via CouchSurfing about partying in a few hours time.  We headed to Studio 80 on Rembrandtplein with a ten hour electronica DJ set to keep us dancing the night away.

Walking around Amsterdam with Cammy, through Vondelpark for a couple of hours and happening upon gig venue Melkweg again, I saw that the superb Manc-rockers Oceansize were playing that night – once again, happenstance turns out in my favour.  Previously, I saw Jimmy Eat World and Stars at Paradiso and Melkweg respectively, both were great, Oceansize I’ve not managed to see in years though – for the uninitiated, here’s a Spotify link for those in the know, if not, go to Spotify and sign up to listen to whatever music you like, I recommend Oceansize’s Music For Nurses EP.  Two shots from that night, one of Cammy and the Russians, the other of Oceansize (Melkweg, 11/10/2010).
The next day before my flight to Bilbao, was taken up with a day of coffee shops, walking and eating with Cammy and her friend Nagiib, and also checking out Nine Streets, a cross section of stores and canals, lots of boutiques and stores you won’t find elsewhere.  Attempted some dusk and night shots with moderate success with a couple of them below and a pick of the rest of my time in Amsterdam.Click the images to enlarge.  Top to bottom: Dam Square entertainers in the day with curious kids; me and Cammy at a restaurant next to the library, Calzone being our pizza of choice; Cammy and Nagiib at the top of the library; view from the top of the library over dusk-fallen Amsterdam; view over the water outside Centraal Station.

Finished reading Glory Glory! by Andy Mitten, superb book based on the nineties revolution of Manchester United as told by previous players and a chairman from interviews by Mitten.  As a fan, it’s a must-buy, had me laughing a lot and provided insight you only get from players that have left the club and now aren’t afraid to talk about how it was.  Also read Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk; despite feeling bored by the first book I read of his – Choke – I wanted to give him another go, but was again disappointed.  Little of merit here other than some dialogue of wit, £2 and time not well spent.  Now I’m on The Granta Book Of India, a collection of articles featured in the magazine compiled as one for different perspectives on the clashes, separations and inner-workings of India and what came because of its division.

Posted in: Netherlands