Chapter 43: Amsterdam with Friends!
Good times in a groovy town.
Hello from Amsterdam, and welcome to Backpackin'! If you want to follow this weird trip around the world, add your email below:
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Publishing this before I fly back to the States tomorrow, much-needed detox inbound. Ridiculous week in Amsterdam and very happy to be sleeping in my bed again tomorrow. Codone is on my flight, Jackson is en route to Austin, Devin is going fishing in Slovenia or something, and Sachin has kept the gravy train rolling for a few more days in Germany.
Wednesday, June 29th
I woke up at 7:00 to catch my 11 AM flight from Porto to Amsterdam. Jackson landed in Amsterdam at like 6:45 AM after zero (0) hours of sleep on the flight, but I wouldn't make it to town until 4:00 thanks to a flight delay + time change. He found a storage locker where he could drop his bags, and he set off exploring the city.
I later found out that Jackson had brought a camera taken from his dad's storage unit, a camera that we called the "dad cam" for the rest of the trip. The camera roll is a goldmine starting from when he landed. Many pictures in this edition will be from the dad cam.
Jackson met a guy who just might be the most interesting man in the world, Rudi Kuhn, at some coffee shop (not your average coffee shop) in Amsterdam.
Some quick info about Rudi: Born in Suriname and immigrating to the Netherlands when he was 11, Rudi played "Rudy" in the Dutch production of Sesame Street in the 80s. Rudi was also a chemical engineer who studied plastics and paints. Kuhn also served as a medic in the Dutch Navy, and he studied the basic medical sciences of anatomy, physiology and pathology, orthomolecular therapy, HLB and LBA (blood analyses), phytotherapy, kinesiology, and Bio-energetic functional diagnostics.
Now? Rudi chills. Here's a picture of Rudi and Jackson.
Jackson walked like 10 miles around the city before checking in our Airbnb at 3:45. I landed at 3:30, caught a 4:15 train to the city, and made it to the Airbnb at 5. I walked in and jumped on his bed, and he freaked out for a good 15 seconds before falling back asleep. He walked out in the living room like 30 minutes later and realized that it wasn't a weird dream, and I was actually here.
While Jackson was passed out, I checked out our crib. The place was awesome. 2 stories, two big bathrooms, 2.5 bathrooms (one tub had a jacuzzi), washer and dryer, and two terraces. 10/10 spot.
I worked on some stuff for an ~hour while he showered and got ready, then we walked around town for a while. We hit the town square and a few other touristy spots before running by an apple pie place, Cafe Winkel 43, that had been highly recommended.
Holy cow did that place slap. Best pie in the world. I might actually name my first-born child Winkel 43. It was literally that good.
We continued walking around town until the sun set at 10 PM-ish, then headed to one of the more touristy corridors. We found an Irish Pub, Dan Murphy's (every time we went there afterward, we would say, "Let's go visit our friend Dan Murphy"), and saddled up for a couple of brews.
A middle-aged American dude named Bill stopped a pickpocket from robbing some 20-year-old girls (shout out to Bill for being a hero), and he gave us a bar recommendation for later that night.
Bill's recommendation sucked. It was college night at some Amsterdam dive bar called Coco's Outback, and we hated it. We bounced around town for a bit and called it a night around 1 AM.
Thursday, June 30th
I woke up at 10:30 and went for a run. Jackson woke up around lunch, half-recovered from jet lag, and we went to a vintage clothing store, Zipper. I snagged a 1995 Braves World Series shirt, which I've worn for like three days.
Jackson bought a whole wardrobe over a four day period.
Next we went to a toasted sandwich place called "Toastable" for lunch. There, we ate some toasted sandwiches called "toastables."
The restaurant was full, so we ate outside on the stoop next door.
We also began using "stoop" as a verb after this. People should stoop more. It's the top of the "chill" pyramid. Power to the stoopers.
We booked tickets to the Rembrandt museum, and it was awesome. The museum was actually the artist's former house, so we saw exactly how his life and work were organized. Dude was a legend.
We then toured the Royal Palace. (Again, if you visit multiple cities in Europe you will tour multiple government buildings, churches, and castles. Sorry, I don't make the rules.)
My British friend Charlie told me that he had a South African buddy from business school, Daniel, in Amsterdam for a couple of weeks. We met them for dinner and drinks that night. Super cool dudes: 4 South African Jewish guys living in/around Amsterdam. Niche demographic, for sure.
We hit a speakeasy where Daniel and I debated whether or not crypto is a ponzi (it is), before hitting a club down the road for the night. This club, "SupperClub", was attached to a trendy bar called the flying Dutchman.
Line to the club was long.
Line to the bar was nonexistent.
We went in the bar, then after a drink, sweet-talked the girl working the door of the club to let us jump straight in front of the line.
Daniel dipped an hour later, and Jackson and I did the same shortly after.
Friday, July 1st
Devin and Codone were arriving later this afternoon. They had linked up in Barcelona, crashed at Mike's place for a couple of nights, went to Paris to be unimpressed by the Mona Lisa (seriously, that painting sucks), then caught a bus to Amsterdam today because the trains were sold out. Because the French were on strike again, probably. Happens a lot over there.
ANWAYS Devin and Codone were going to arrive later this afternoon.
I woke up and went for a run again, except I got dumped on by a flash-storm a mile from home. I popped in some cafe and just ate breakfast there until the storm blew over.
Jackson and I got tickets to a modern art museum, and we checked it out that afternoon. There was a ton of Banksy street art, which was super cool. I also had a Zoom call with our Litquidity interns while I was at the museum. Couple of hardworking lads.
Jackson and I hit a local cafe for like an hour, and we met Devin and Codone back at the crib shortly afterwards.
Daniel had invited us to a party across town, but we didn't want to head that far. The four of us went to another bar pretty close to where Daniel met Jackson and me the previous night, and we stayed there for a couple of hours before hitting some country place called Bourbon Street.
I swear you could have dropped this bar in Macon, GA and it would print money. Everything about it screamed BRING THAT DRUNK REDNECK ENERGY.
After spending Friday and Saturday there, I can confidently say that black Dutch dudes are upper echelon country/rock singers.
We vibed (or did we chill?) here for a couple of hours, before Codone and I set off around town. We explored the red light district, and I have to say whatever I expected, this wasn't really it. It felt cheap and tourist trappy, kinda like the scantily-clad girls and club promoters roaming the sidewalks of Vegas. Just a bunch of almost-naked chicks in red-lit windows around the canals.
For those curious, no one in the crew made any purchases in the district, except the 3/10 ham and cheese sandwiches Codone and I got that night.
Idk, I didn't think it would be like "WOW THIS IS CRAZY," but the red light district kinda sucked. Still, I guess it's cool to say I went? But if I was doing it again I'd probably just stick to dive bars with black Dutch dudes singing Chili Peppers cover songs.
We got back at 3:30, and unfortunately I was now sharing a bed with Devin. Super romantic bed though, lace curtain around it and stuff.
I hated it.
Saturday, July 2nd
We rented bikes for 48 hours, in hindsight we should have done this on day one. Bikes dominate this city. Either get a bike or GTFO.
We biked around town, grabbed some toastable sandwiches once again, and Jackson and I headed to the Ajax soccer (football) stadium. It was a good 30 minute bike ride from town, so we got our cardio.
On the way, we passed a protest for something? that consisted of 1000 middle-aged and old Dutch dudes riding naked across the city. I discovered, thanks to this protest, that Dutch guys don't get circumcised. I hadn't seen this many naked dudes since I stopped playing college football.
Also, it's always the out-of-shape middle-aged folks that participate in nude protests. Why?
As you can expect, Jackson, myself, and dozens of other random spectators stopped to watch this mass of uncovered meat bike through town. One of the old dudes tripped and fell groin-first into an innocent lady watching the procession.
She rightfully freaked out.
After the naked mile procession passed, we continued to the stadium. Devin and Codone met us out there, and we biked around the city for a couple of more hours.
Our other friend Sachin arrived that night, but he was staying one town over in the Hague (TOO GOOD TO STAY WITH US, HUH SACH?)
He went to some festival that night, in Ajax Stadium actually, that looked kinda like a cult meeting. I'm sure there was lots of head-bopping to electronic beats for like 7 hours.
We came back to town and hit the local TK Maxx (cousin of TJ). We parked our bikes at a bike parking deck, which is something that I'd never seen before.
Jackson and I grabbed some croquettes (so good) from a local cafe, and a massive Dutch military vet named Chris posted up next to us and started telling some wild stories. He was in town on a bachelor party, and he told us all about his run ins with pirates in Somalia. He also said a bunch of other stuff that I didn't really understand because he was drunk.
We met back up with Codone and Devin and headed to the Dutchman for a bit. Codone and I went in the club part for a sec, but it sucked, so we met up with Devin and Jackson at Bourbon again afterwards.
The four of us went back to Bourbon Street that night. Jackson went ballistic on the dance floor for back-to-back nights, Codone made a new friend (girl), I asked a guy which of two girls with him was his girlfriend, to which they replied "both of us," (super cool), and Devin also went half-ballistic on the dance floor while being super tall.
We hung out outside with the band when they took a smoking break in the street, and these guys were dope AF. Killer performance.
I then checked out a piano bar across the street and it was a vibe. Piano bars typically are. I drug Devin and Jackson back over there with me, paid $0.50 to use the bar bathroom (because apparently that's a thing in Europe everywhere), and we listened to the pianist kill some Billy Joel.
We also met some other Americanos on a Europe trip, and they made an appearance on the dad cam.
We scooted back to the cribbo at 3? 4? honestly who knows and who cares.
Sunday, July 3rd
Toaster was at our apartment! Toaster (real name Justin, but he is referred to as Toaster) had taken a train (bus?) to Amsterdam from Strasbourg, France overnight, and he was hanging with us for the day. We got him a bike, grabbed brunch, then cruised around town for a while.
Toaster, Devin, and I met up with one of Devin's friend's moms who was in town for a day (she's a flight attendant for Delta). We met her at some fancy whiskey tasting bar, where we tasted some fancy whiskey that was way higher quality than whatever we had been putting in our bodies over the last few days. We told the bartender that we were doing the Heineken experience later (it's a Dutch beer), and he told us that it was a stupid tourist trap and we should hit local breweries.
He was right, but we went anyway.
The squad linked up at the Heineken factory for the tour, and we engaged in the most tourist trap thing that I've ever been a part of. The facility was the original Heineken factory, though now it was just used for tours. They had a ton of unnecessary stuff in the tour, but we got some free brews at the end so that was chill.
After the tour, we headed home to hang. I met up with Sachin and his friend Susanne. They met a few years ago at some study abroad type of thing at Oxford (both smart kiddos), and stayed in touch, and she had also attended the concert the night before.
Susanne was cool and also had no filter, which was part of the reason that she was cool. She bounced after dinner, and Sachin and I swung by the house to say what's up to the rest of the crew.
Afterwards, Sachin and I biked to one of the main squares while the rest of the group chilled (or did the vibe?)
We had tried to convince Toaster to spend the night in Amsterdam, but he said he would have gotten in trouble with his study abroad program if he missed class in the AM (probably, but also it wouldn't have mattered).
Sachin and I hit the piano bar and saw some folks that I saw the night before in Bourbon, plus we saw some Welsh dudes on a stag party.
Stag parties are like bachelor parties, except the groom dresses like a chick.
He biked to the train station at 1:30, and I headed home. Devin had fallen asleep watching War of the Worlds on the couch, so I had the bed to myself for a bit.
Monday, July 4th
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO THOSE WHO CELEBRATE
We woke up, shot a ton of fireworks out the window, hung an American flag banner from our balcony, dumped a bunch of gallons of British tea in the canals, and told every person within earshot that history began in 1776, and everything before that was a mistake.
Not actually, but that would have been sick.
We woke up, grabbed some food, then headed to the park to hang out for a while. Sachin, Susanne, and her boyfriend Falk (though the pronunciation sounds more like a certain colorful English word) met us there. Falk was a cool dude. His name was also a cool dude's name.
We also made a British guy take this photo, which is cool, because it's the 4th of July.
We crushed some glizzies, cold bois, chocolate bars, and chips in the park, which is about as American as you can get on July 4th in Amsterdam. Later that afternoon, we visited a rooftop bar at A'dam Tower across the main canal.
The views were immaculate.
The drinks were overpriced.
The vibes were chill.
Honestly a great way to cap off the fourth of July.
Susanne and Falk bounced shortly after, and the rest of us headed back to the apartment. Sachin really wanted gelato, and Jackson and I joined him on a race against time to find some.
The place closed early, so we got McDonald's ice cream instead. Still decent.
The three of us went straight to the Dutchman after, because as Sachin said, "It's our last night in Europe together, we have to go out!" This excuse can be used to do anything with anyone at any point if you simply change the subject and object.
Sachin bounced at 1:40, Jackson and I hung out with two girls who apparently went to high school with Chet Hanks. They walked over because they overheard us talking about Chet Hanks. For those unfamiliar, he is the son of actor Tom Hanks. He is also one of the more interesting social media personalities.
Tuesday, July 5th
Last day in the 'Dam. We turned in our bikes around lunchtime, and Jackson and I grabbed some brunch near the bike spot. I went to Starbucks to work for a while, before I had to go home because 1) Starbucks had no bathroom and 2) the McDonald's next door was charging $0.50 cash to use the bathroom, and I had no cash.
How stupid is that? Even if I was a paying customer, I would have to pay to use the bathroom? Whatever.
We went back to the apple pie place for one last sensational piece of pie, then came back to the apartment to pack and check in to our flights.
8 AM flight tomorrow and the airport is apparently a zoo. Hopefully we make it. If we do, this is the last post from me for a while. I'm moving to New York in a month to start business school, so the travel will be cut back a bit going forward.
I might let Devin take over the blog for a couple of weeks. He's about to go fishing, see some castles, drive around Europe, and reignite a flame in Budapest, among other things. It'll be nice to be a reader instead of a writer.
Catch you guys back in the States.
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