Friday: after an excrutiatingly slow working day (PC's crashing, mailserver crashing), a co-worker dropped me off somewhere in Amsterdam. 30 minutes in a stuffed tram later, I was in the old city center. Think canals, old houses, LOTS of shopping streets, mime-players, occasional beggar. And an awful lot of tourists, hehehe.
Anyway, I got to the meetingpoint, which happened to be one of the oldest cafes in Amsterdam. With nothing but locals inside. I have a southern drawl (yes, even in a small country as the Netherlands we have accents. Heck, one of our provinces even has its own official language! Fryslân Boppe! ;) and you can imagine I got a few stares as I ordered my beer. Luckily for me, my friends arrived a few minutes later, and one of them is a regular in the cafe. From that moment on we were accepted. Creepy nontheless.
After getting (re)acquinted with the others, the four of us started our night-on-the-town. Next stop: O'Reilly's Irish Pub. I blinked a few times as we passed a Scientology Church office on the way (Creepy, part deux), but that was quickly forgotten as we took a sip from our well-deserved Snakebites.
A snakebite is a traditional english/irish cocktail, though be it not as lethal as an Irish Carbomb (Take a pintglass, fill it halfway with Guiness, then drop a shotglass filled with 50% Jameson 50% Baileys into the Guiness, drink immediately). A snakebite is nothing more (or less ;) than half a pint of lager (Carling, Grolsch, Heineken, you name it), half a pint of cider (i.e. Strongbow) and a dash of blackcurrent cordial. The result? A fresh and sweet drink, going down very easily. The aftershock comes an hour later. As with a real snakebite, the poison needs some time to reach your vital organs. So, basically, you keep on drinking until you get this feeling that something isn't right. Enter: the man with the hammer. Boom.
A few snakebits later, we moved on to the next stop on our pubcrawl: poolcafe Balls. What's in a name ;) Unfortunately, all the pooltables were occupied, so we left pretty quickly. We left Amsterdam, since we slept at our friend's place in Zaandam and continued our night at the main square in Zaandam. Bit quieter, but certainly not duller than Amsterdam. Around 2.30 am we stumbled out of the last cafe and walked home.
Saturday: Mental memo to me: next time you're sleeping over, bring a sleepingbag. Sleeping under a sheet on a waferthin isolation foam bed isn't that warm and comfortable. Got up, shower, breakfast, back to Amsterdam. By phone we managed to book tickets for The Matrix Reloaded at Tuschinski's.
To make things even better, we managed to book them in the legendary Tuschinski cinema. I hadn't been there before: almost a century old, and for decades the place where movies have had their dutch premiere night. Even though the screen wasn't too big, it was the total atmosphere, the art-deco interior and the thought of all those celebrities that were there before that made you feel all warm on the inside. Needless to say the Matrix Reloaded kicked ass. Maybe not as groundbreaking as part 1, but nevertheless a very enjoyable flick.
***END INTERLUDE 2***
After the movie (in which I savagely devoured a defenseless bucket of popcorn), some more shopping. It's funny really. You grow up in Eindhoven, move to Maastricht, always thinking that Amsterdam is too far away for just an afternoon shopping. Then you move to Katwijk and fail to realize that Amsterdam is suddenly 'just around the corner'. To make up for all those months of not going to Amsterdam, I got myself a discount card for the American Book Center and the three Artemis Fowl books. Look up that name in case you don't know it. Think Harry Potter's evil twin brother. Think Die Hard with fairies. Already finished book one. A VERY good laugh! Makes me wonder if I'll ever stop reading children's books. Probably not.
After the shopping spree we went back to O'Reilly's for food and snakebites. I got to sample the unique taste of Chicken Tikka Masala prepared with beef. The kitchen staff managed to confuse their Tikka Masala with their Irish Stew. One complaint later and all our drinks were wiped off the bill. Wahey!
Back to Zaandam, time to catch an hour of 'Z'. In my case, it was time to treat my wounds. I was so smart to take fashionable shoes with me to Amsterdam. Good part: they look good on me. Bad part: they're not made for long walks. Result: two huge and enormously annoying blisters just below my toes. One on either foot. Treated them as well as I could, and pumped myself up for the night. Returned in Amsterdam around 11pm and went back to.... O'Reilly's. Probably my new favorite hangout. Cute Irish redhead waitress too. Too bad about that ring around her finger.
Oops, slipping away there....
Well, that was the general trend that night. Everyone slipping away slowly. We couldn't muster the energy to go on to famous places like Rembrandsquare, Paradiso, iT, etc. So we sticked to O'Reillys, the redhead and the snakebites until we dragged ourselves into a taxi back home. We are wimps. No stamina. Either that or we're getting old. Eek!
Sunday: More of the same. More shopping, more pointing at silly mime-players (Gladiator, the Mask, Death, Rembrandt, robot, slick man in suit with starched tie, clown) two more snakebites and then it was time to clean up our act and go home. Apart from the Artemis Fowl books (don't forget to look 'em up ;) I also got my hands on two 'How to draw cartoons' books, even though I still have an entire course lying at home. I want to be artistic! Another mental memo: stop whining and pick up that pencil, you sissy!
Right, so, after surviving Amsterdam (with the blisters to prove it) I treated my little brother (actually, little isn't quite the the right word. Younger brother. Yeah, younger. There's nothing little about him, mwahaha.) to a classy 3 course dinner at the casual restaurant in Huis ter Duin (my hotel and employer). We had a genuinely good time! Haven't had a good talk like that in ages. I was afraid that we'd grown apart these past few years, and I'll admit we're still not the closest of friends, but at least we're talking again. If I'd invited him for dinner two years ago, he'd have laughed and turned around. Family, can't live with em, can't live without them, I guess........