Back to work after a weekend in the ‘Dam1! The Roquefort Files and flatmates took a sly day off2 on Friday and jumped on a sleazyJet flight to Schipol at lunchtime, after a preparatory traditional fry-up.

We met up with Cristina, an Italian friend of ours, after we finally found the hostel. An inability to navigate was a recurring theme over the weekend – Josh’s GPS, not only earning him a telling off from a steward on the flight over, then failed to be of much use whatsoever in finding the hostel. Typical Conversation #1, repeated ad nausem:

“So where is it?”

&ltJosh waves GPS receiver around a bit&gt

“We should be there. It’s only ten or twenty metres away.”

“Which direction?”

“This way.”

&ltcue walking in a random direction for a minute or two&gt

“We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Remind me again why we didn’t bring a map?”

And then he left it turned on all day, so that the batteries ran out.

Anyway, Cristina had been boozing and smoking since she had arrived at lunchtime, so we left her sleeping it off and headed out to get some food before the evening’s entertainments. We managed to acquire an American bloke called Adam – the only person, apart from Andre Agassi, to actually come from Las Vegas – while discussing where to eat in the bar. Adam was pretty far gone. Typical Conversation #2:

“So where do you come from, Adam?”

&lt30 second pause&gt

“Uh. Like, uh. What?”

“Where do you come from?”

&lt30 second pause&gt

“Uh, like, dude! Las Vegas, man.”

Honestly, I shit ye not. We were talking to the canonical stoner. Still, he was a nice chap, so we forgave him his mushroom- and weed-addled state. After we had some dinner, our Dutch acquaintances started to arrive at the hostel and we headed out en masse.

We started out at a nice little pub/caf&eacute type place in a square not far from the hostel. I really liked Amsterdam pubs in general; the nicest were slightly worn around the edges but had a well lived-in feel to them that too many identikit style bars lack across here. Also, the buildings tended to be fairly original inside, as opposed to the Edinburgh tendency to refit a nice old building with a new interior but leave the listed exterior as is. We moved on to another (staffed by a karaoke nazi barman that sang the whole time we were there. Jasna tried to talk him into letting other people sing but he was obviously enjoying the attention/power rather too much) and then a club called Caf&eacute Meander. There was a fantastic band3 playing, and even the dire hard house that came on after they had finished failed to dampen my near 100%-proof enthusiasm.

The next morning (actually, afternoon), everyone was a little more subdued/ill. The air conditioning in our room had been set to something like 26&deg the night before (quite possibly as a result of some drunken messing around with the controls) and I was practically stuck to my sleeping bag, which proved to be a little too warm for an Amsterdam winter. Once we’d all dragged ourselves out of bed and finished sobering/throwing up, we decided to try some touristy stuff. Some random observations from our afternoon’s “sightseeing”:

  • One novelty bong/condom/knife shop is enough.

  • We went on a tour of the canals, with a multilingual commentary played over the boat’s PA. Once we were out into the main waterway, it felt almost like being on the Volga in communist Russia in the 1960s; a grey sky, a hydrofoil skimming past and cubic, industrial-looking buildings. It was great!

  • Ensconced in a caf&eacute after our tour, we were sitting in front of some ex-pat American residents and their visiting friends. The conversation was absolutely hilarious.

    “I’m like serious, dude.”

    “No way.”

    “Yeah, like totally.”

    “No. WAY.”

    “Way.”

    “Seriously?”

    “Yeah, dude.”

    &ltpause&gt

    “Woah.”

Later that day, we were sitting in the hostel bar. A guy wearing a t-shirt with the legend “1977” on the back was playing table football. I was instantly reminded of this.

On Saturday evening we managed to cajole Jasna and Elke to come out again (impressive work by them; they travelled from Leiden both nights to come out with us). They suggested that we head to the Melkweg (Milky Way), a sort of multidisciplinary club/venue/cultural centre on a square somewhere to the south of the hostel.

Cue an hour of Typical Conversation #1, interspersed with visits to increasingly odd pubs.

We got there in the end, only to find that it was another ‘hard’ music club night on, and the troops were looking a little the worse for wear. We settled on a little rock pub round the corner, and carried on with the epic beermat flipping contest that had raged like the Hundred Years War since lunchtime that day. Jeff and Cristina crumbled about 3 am and headed back to the hostel (frankly, a wise decision – this had been another fairly full-on Night O’ Booze) while the rest of us soldiered on to 31 beermats (left-handed, eyes closed for Josh. Impressive) and a drunken visit to Burger King before giving in at about 5.

Check out was at 11 am. Not fun.

We met up with Margo again on Sunday and had planned a leisurely wander around to see some of the city from a Dutch perspective, but the weather wasn’t cooperating, so we had a couple of tostis (toasties! What a great language) delivered at a staggeringly leisurely pace in yet another theatre/caf&eacute multipurpose thingy and worked our way back to the train station via – for a change – some pubs.

All in all, a great weekend and since it’s 6.40 pm and I want to go home, that’s it from me.

Update: Josh has put up some photos of the trip.

  1. I’m allowed to use this cheesy contraction ‘cos I’ve been there, you see.

  2. ‘Sly’ because I don’t have enough days holiday left to cover the Christmas break, let alone arbitrary continental booze cruises.

  3. Admittedly we’d been drinking (and smoking a bit) for about ten hours by this point so ‘fantastic’ may well be a reflection of my state of mind as opposed to how good the band were!