Saturday 4.15pm and my friend Cyril and I meet up with our bikes at the nearest to our houses tram stop to head towards The Hague Central Station. Where to? Amsterdam! After a good 15 minute cycling to the station it appears that we had just missed the previous train and the next one was scheduled to depart in circa half an hour. It was at that point when I realised I had yet to have breakfast/lunch for the day. Having slept in the early morning hours I had woken up barely in time for a quick shower and a cup of tea before I had to leave my place already. We decided to hit Burger King for some junk food in the spirit of the day, as the rest of the evening seemed to be promising a lot of junk to follow, literally and metaphorically. After our quick stop at the king of burgers, we caught the next train and started getting mentally ready for a long day/night out in the capital.
As we were approaching Amsterdam Central station I noticed through the windows of our coach that it had started to snow. “What happened to the sun we started off with in The Hague and the sun that was promised in the weather report I had carefully checked the previous day?” We figured it would be a slight weather anomaly, which was bound to seize when we’d step foot on the ‘Dam. Well…..think again! Arriving at Amsterdam Centraal, a surprise snow storm seemed to be welcoming us and our bikes to the city. With snow as heavy and as dense that substantially deteriorated both your vision and your walking without sliding ability we decided to make a first stop at McDonald’s as Cyril needed another four burgers to keep him going, blame it on the weather!
After the snow storm started to cool down a bit – or so we thought – we departed towards our first official destination, “Bar De Still.” Now for those of you who might reasonably not know this place, Bar De Still is a bar on Spuistraat known for its extensive variety of Malt Whiskey and one of the top 20 whiskey bars in the world. Now for those of you who know me, there is nothing else that needs to be said here given my audacious love for the given spirit. After some aimless wondering around the city on our bikes and as the snow storm started to get ahead of us we finally made it to Bar de Still. Granted I have lots of space but I am sure you have little patience to be bothered with all the details and logistics, I have decided to give you the highlights of each place we visited. On this note, Bar de Still seemed to have a rather Dutch looking young female bartender, studying anthropology at the Free University of Amsterdam (as Cyril very indiscreetly decided to ask) who, as was obvious to both Cyril and myself, had attained some inclining interest towards this writer, to put it simply, she kept obviously flirting with me. Despite this random fact, the bar held excellent whiskey, played excellent music – I cannot stress this enough – and the conversations initiated with the staff ranging from whiskey to music and from science to Dutch-ness were highly entertaining.
When I decided that we should kick off to our next destination the snow storm had temporarily stopped and after shoving our bikes off the snow we were again ready to go. Off to where? Down Vijzelstraat to a bar with initially amazing reviews, a bar we like to refer to from now on as “Le Bar du Village.” I think my mind has blocked out the name of this place as the moment we walked in all eyes concentrated on us examining our every inch. “Why is everyone looking at us?” I loudly turned to Cyril in a curious voice. “This looks like a family run place where everyone knows everyone and we are the foreigners, l’etrangers! This is like a bar du village!” he replied. As you can assume we did not stay in there much longer. We sat quickly on a table till we warmed up and decided on our next destination and we were now ready and more willing than ever to leave this place and hit the road. Next stop?
Amstelstraat 7! Now don’t ask me what this bar was called, the only thing I know is that it should be officially renamed into Amstelstraat 7! After spending more than half an hour under a hailing sky around Rembrandtplein and Amstelstraat we finally managed to find where the odd numbers of the street were located (no, it was not as easy as you might think, and no we were not drunk!) and get ourselves indoors again. I ordered my regular Chivas, Cyril bumped into a lesbian friend of his best friend, and a skanky old woman trying to make out with another Asian old woman and two gay boys kissing in the corner later, we decided to yet again hit another bar. As we were stepping outside of Amstelstraat 7 Bar and as I was saying something to Cyril in English this middle aged Dutch lady grabs my arm and asks me “are you from Colorado?” Intentionally avoiding the obvious question “which part of my accent exactly says Colorado?!” I decided to be a good kid and nicely reply to her in the negative. Enthusiastic by our international heritage the middle aged lady and her equally old female companion seemed to have decided to practice their English in our expense and therefore started trying to make a conversation about the most random of things until again I took the initiative for our departure.
This time, to Bar Hot Point. Walking in, this bar was packed mainly with middle aged gay men. We decided to stay for a drink as the DJ was playing on the decks and showing on the flat screen TV’s Eurovision songs. Seriously, could this place get any gay-er? Until I turn towards the TV and I see Sakis’ song, “This is our Night” playing! I am sorry that most of my non-Greek readers will plausibly be unable to grasp the magnitude of the above statement but as I was singing to the lyrics of the song along with three suited up, middle aged, Dutch gay men, I have to admit I momentarily had a thrush of ethnic pride…not! On our way out, a tall Asian bouncer helped me put my jacket on whom I decided to befriend for some valuable nightlife tips. He indicated back towards Rembrandtplein and off we were to our next mission.
As we were walking there I noticed on my left a packed Bar with rather posh Dutch people. A pleasant surprise to my eyes as Amsterdam tends to be filled up with filthy tourists or Dutch stoners I told Cyril that we should go in. “Can’t you see it is packed? We won’t fit in!” Before he managed to finish his phrase, a Dutch girl walking by planing on getting into the Bar loudly ordered us “ Why not??? This is the best place you can go, you should totally come in!” I needed no further encouragement in order to drag Cyril into what I later found out that was called “ Bar Monmartre.” Now, “Bar Monmartre” is followed by many interesting stories howevert you only get the privilege of reading on a few selected ones. A few minutes after we walked in and before I even had the time to look around Cyril grabs me and shouts to my ear: “Oh my God, this blonde lady (who later introduced herself to me and was apparently waitressing at the Bar) with the blonde gay guy next to her are talking about you and she is totally checking you out!” My immediate response was to turn around to see for myself what he was talking about. As I turned, I too caught both the individuals Cyril had mentioned to be outrageously checking me out and decided to scare them a bit by giving them one of my scary/creepy looks. It didn’t really work as the lady followed us to the next club being a creepo but I tried! The rest of the highlights of Bar Monmartre included an Egyptian straight guy trying to hit on what seemed to be both Cyril and myself, a 60 year old Dutch lesbian grabbing my arms and squeezing them while air-sending me kisses (no detail on this shall follow as my mind is still trying to block out the memory), the police coming in and dragging out a feisty Dutch man, and an over 2m tall blonde tranny in a turquoise shinny mini-dress. Oh, and of course the random, albeit cute, man who seeing me picking up my blackberry decided to ask me if I had a text. When I kindly replied to him that I was checking the train hours to The Hague he suggested: “Why don’t you get a room in a hotel with me here?”, “Tempting, but how about I don’t?”
At 4am and as Bar Monmartre was about to close, we decided to go with our newly attained friends (the original Dutch girl who provoked us into the Bar with her two boy friends) to Club Roque. Having to wait a few minutes behind the rope for all our friends to gather around, I again started befriending the bouncer given there was nothing better to do. As the queue started getting longer and longer by the time, we were finally all together again, and the bouncer indicated that Douglas and myself could go in while the rest would still have to wait as we seemed like “the only decent people” in the queue. Thank you bouncer! At club Roque Cyril again noticed this curly-haired girl trying to promiscuously dance with me. When I backed off as I had my friends around to entertain and could not bother with random people, the drama started. Not only did she give me an obvious frown and went and sat at the stall right against me giving me dramatic looks, she also tried to make a scene with this other girl to catch my attention, and what also seemed as a reach to provoke jealousy. Despite it not working, the drama continued for the rest of the night until she decided to finally leave the premises. All this, while a random short haired chick came over to Cyril and Douglas respectively weirdly dancing, a random gay boy coming to dance with me as according to his opinion I was the best dancer in there (oh yes, Cyril and I got plenty of compliments for our dancing skills that night, how cute…), and shortly after Douglas pulled his “Bad Romance” dance on the dance floor we decided to initiate the trip back to The Hague.
The time was 6am and sliding on the snow that had by now turned into ice almost falling on our asses a couple of times we proudly reached our parked bikes, which had surprisingly not been stolen! With aching legs and feet we cycled back to Amsterdam Centraal and noticed the next train was due to depart in half an hour. On the platform I heard Greek so I decided to chat up those Greek girls who were heading towards Schiphol to fly back to Athens. As they kept asking me random funny questions about the Netherlands and the Dutch, it was time for us to board. Trying to save ourselves time and effort, we had printed out our day-return tickets from The Hague and proceeded to show them to the old lady at the platform, who I swear to you obviously had not had sex in the past at least thirty years. She condescendingly ordered us that our tickets were no more valid as the day had gone by! Apparently, our initial thought that a day-ticket presupposes a ticket that lasts for 24h was too naive for the brilliant Dutchies. And apparently, regardless of when you printed the day-ticket, once midnight is past, you as another Cinderella get the hose. So we had to go downstairs again, print a new set of tickets, and wait at the platform for another half hour till the next train showed up.
Finally, on our half hour ride back to The Hague we started recollecting what had happened during the night. The density of the experience made it difficult to point out all the ridiculous little moments that had taken place. Before we knew it we arrived back to our city, and the worst part was still ahead of us: cycling back the 4km from the train station to our neighborhood. In a hollow city on a cold Sunday morning, our two physically exhausted but mentally exhilarated beings finally made it back home, alive! We did not freeze in the snow, we did not slide on the ice, we did not fall into any of the canals, and we did not get raped. Then it hit us! We had been on the road since 4pm and it was already almost 9am! We had been on the road for 17 straight hours, Amsterdam style! And these were some of our highlights as the rest of the memories rightfully remain in our minds, where they belong.
P.S.1. The song consists of the Soundtrack of the night as we listened to it in every single one of the places we went to.
P.S.2. I grant Cyril the right to correct me in the unlikely event that I reiterated any of the above events in an inconsistent with reality fashion.