Just to get it out of the way: I’ve never tried pot. And the reason I’ve never even thought of smoking marijuana has more to do with the fact that the smell of it makes me feel like I’m riding an angry bull, which is jumping on a trampoline, on a capsizing ship sailing through the middle of a hurricane, than the fact that it’s totally illegal here in the US (sorry Colorado, California, but you can’t just magic away federal law. Nice idea, but no.) …and realistically, it’s not like I need to spend money on an addictive consumer good. I have coffee for that.
Honestly, I spent most of the day looking at graffiti:
…which in Amsterdam is generally very artistic
…not trashy at all. I bring all of this up only because, apparently, for certain people in my age group this is the only attraction that Amsterdam had to offer. They completely ignored the cute Dutch guys and the wind turbines. I mean come on, wind turbines!
It’s not like I’m one of those people who gets off on old, moldy buildings either. For a city to have a history is nice; but it’s like a sexy woman with a degree. Pretty cool, and maybe more important, but honestly, no one cares. I go into all this excruciating detail of course because I get off the ship (yeah, it was a cruise ship, tres bourgeoisie, get over it) and my dad asks someone at some generic help desk where the Nieuwe Kerk — literally, the New Church — is.
The guy blinks, very slowly. He blinks again. He looks at my dad like he’s a little bit special* and says “There is nothing new in Amsterdam.” Which sounds like Euro-historic snobbery, but it’s also basically true. I mean really, there’s the old kerk built in 1305, and the “new” Kerk. Which was only re-built in 1645. After it burned down, which, you know, tended to happen to decrepit old buildings a lot in the days before flame-retardant materials and things like plumbing.
So that was the first five minutes in Amsterdam. We walked along the harbor. Got lost. Found the canals (not that hard, there’s practically nothing else in the old section of Amsterdam). We missed most of the flashy stuff like the flower market, and the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, the annual cheese-bowling fest and, much to certain people’s chagrin, the sex museum. We also elected to skip getting the cannabis T-shirts. So we saw another church, and a (oh my god) pissoir, which was like a little scratch and sniff of the middle ages.
Then we met this drunk English guy who used a lot of old Dutch words to explain how much he didn’t like the Dutch. No one at the time thought to ask him why he was in Amsterdam. Saw some of the shops.Popped in and out of several more churches and then we went back to the ship for lunch. I told you it was all very bourgeoisie.
So yeah, I spent a total of maybe six hours in Amsterdam. Walking very, very slowly.
It’s actually been several years since I was there. But I still had the pictures and I wanted to post this in honor of Still Omgang on the 15th (I think it falls on the 15th anyway). It’s a protestant procession which commemorates a miracle which involved a miracle where a guy at death’s door received the final sacraments and vomited the host up. And the miracle here is not that the guy lived or anything silly like that, but that the host was thrown into the fire (because seriously it freaks people out if something gross happens to the host, if you drop it or crumble it or say a bad word in front of it you have start the whole church service over and all that) and it came out unburned and as body-of-christy as the day it was first baked.
*Which he most definitely is. My father is very special. But there’s also definitely a Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam: