Travel – Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a rich cultural history. Most of which I walked by in a state of either: 1) Coming down from being high. 2) Highness. 3) Anticipation about impending highness. Sure, I didn’t actually go to the Van Gogh or Rembrandt museums but I did buy a novelty mug with a severed ear on it from a gift shop (I would’ve bought a T-shirt as well, just to show my sophistication, but there was a lesbian sex figurine that I just couldn’t say no to and I could only afford one or the other). Now that you’ve lost any shred of respect you may have had for me, let’s begin the story, which, funnily enough, isn’t all that informative.

My cousin and I are staying at The Convent Hotel. The notion of Amsterdam I have in my mind leads me to conclude that, upon entering our room, we will be greeted by two busty women in spandex nun outfits who will hand us paddles and implore us to punish them for their sins. Or something. That’s not the reality – in fact, it’s a very pleasant hotel with an old world bar and a little card in the room that asks you to refrain from smoking pot inside the building.
I get a decent sense of the place on the walk to The Convent. Gorgeous, classy women on bicycles, more canals and stone bridges than you can poke a hefty, €3 joint at, people in coats and scarves slamming hot chips and mayo in the dank weather, and the undeniable stench of marijuana, which causes me to pull an, “Um, isn’t that illegal?” expression before realising I’m not in Australia anymore.
After a few drinks at the bar downstairs, it’s time to send our perverted curiosity packing. The Red Light District is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. It’s… not actually that bad. I mean, compared to Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, which just sounds nasty, it’s pretty mild. That strip just oozes sleaze. Like, by the time you walk by all the old men hissing at you to check out girls finger blasting each other, it feels like there’s a coating of sleaze on your skin. And the Reeperbahn has a motherf—kin’ gun shop on the street. Imagine the main party spot in your city, where people go to get wild, and there’s a shop that sells firearms in the middle of it! We also saw a hooker proposition a guy in KFC (suffice to say, the charms of Hamburg are many).
Anyway, back to Amsterdam. While the Red Light District is undeniably massive and smut-centric, it’s more a novelty than a cesspit. As we approach the District, it’s hard not to notice the large ‘Jesus Loves You’ sign (because sometimes you do need a reminder). Something you pick up quickly is the difference between a café and a coffee shop: cafés serve coffee and coffee shops serve weed.
The Women in the Windows beckon for you to come hither and experience the greatest/dirtiest/most lamentable 15 minutes of your life by tapping on the glass or coiling their fingers. All due respect, it’s like a sex zoo where you can play with the animals. The women rent out rooms for the night and, for €50, you can climb into the enclosure with them. That fee is non-negotiable, and these ladies will bite the hand that feeds them if it attempts a drunken diss or tries to undercut the going rate.
Cuz and I have no idea what to do on a rainy weeknight (crazy as it sounds, we want to do more than just sit in a room smoking blunts), so we join one of those pub crawls that targets hapless young tourists who can’t be f—ked orienting themselves but can most certainly be f—ked drinking until they vomit on their own pants.
Our attention soon turns to the illicit. Sorry, did you think I meant sex? Nah, I totally meant drugs. Standing on the street in a bad part of town is always a great way to let dealers know you’re a potential client. A guy who looks more like someone’s grandpa on an evening stroll than a dealer approaches. My cousin buys a joint and is also handed two bonus packets of mushrooms (that would be 15g in total). When a dealer gives you bonus drugs, this is usually cause for concern. Not so much when you’re already a dozen drinks and a couple strong joints down.

For the full feature and images grab the May issue of MAXIM, in stores April 18 – May 16, 2012.

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Leven Rambin

Jana Peterson