Amsterdam Stories and Tips

My Coffee Shop Experience

After the Coffee Shop Photo, Amsterdam, Netherlands

First off, let me say that I was a bit conflicted about whether to try the weed Amsterdam is famous for. I've smoked pot only a handful of times in my life, and nowadays, I'm against smoking anything in general on the grounds that it's unhealthy to inhale stuff into your lungs. Bearing that in mind, I thought I might go for one of the cakes I'd heard so much about. Ian's German friend warned me that I wouldn't be able to handle it and that I should only have a little. I read up on the dos and don’ts in my trusty "Let's Go" guide, and after our tour through the sex museums of Amsterdam, decided to have a go.

The nearest coffee shop in sight when I finally made my decision was the Grasshopper. It is a pretty touristy joint near Centraal Station. Walking in and down the steps, there was a guy in a booth who looked like he was selling tickets to something. The “menu” on the wall was only visible when you pushed a big red button to light it up; I'm assuming it was like that so as not to be visible from the doorway? No idea really. I had no idea what I wanted other than cakes of some sort, so I asked the guy if they sold them. Nope, he said. Hmmm... okay... “So what do you recommend?” The guy showed me a bag of five pre-rolled joints. “Do they have tobacco in them?” They did, in fact, and I really didn't want those. He suggested I could buy something and roll it myself (never mind that I've never rolled a joint in my life), so I said that sounded okay. “Strong or mild?” he asked. I looked at Ian, who immediately said, “Mild!” Mild it was then. “The minimum is 15€ worth,” the guy said. Ian swore a bit and handed over the last 15€ in his wallet. The guy weighed it out in a plastic box on top of a scale, put it in a little plastic baggie, and pushed it through the slot at the bottom of his window. He told me there were rolling papers on the bar, and I wandered off, wondering what the hell I was doing.

Noting the sign on the bar saying consumption was mandatory, I stopped to order an orange juice and a water, picking up rolling papers that were just sitting out next to the cash register. Ian ordered a Red Bull, and then we realised we had no more cash and would have to use a card. They wouldn't do less than 20€, but the girl said she'd put it through for 20€ and give us the change. Armed with my pot and drinks, I found a table for two just by a large screen showing a friendly football game between the USA and England, which pleased Ian.

As soon as I tried rolling a joint, I realised I was rubbish at it. I didn't even know where to start! After fumbling around for a few minutes, I leaned over to the two young-looking boys at the next table and confessed that I had no clue what I was doing. They were fellow Americans who admitted they had only learned to roll joints a few minutes ago from the Germans at the next table. Still, one of them had a go at doing mine, and though it didn't come out great, I was grateful for the help. Lighters with the Grasshopper logo on them were on every table, so I grabbed one and lit up. A coughing fit promptly ensued, reminding me why I never smoke anything. For the next half-hour, I tried unsuccessfully to smoke the joint, alternating between inhaling too much and inhaling so little the thing would go out. I was clearly crap at this. Ian, annoyed with my coughing and spluttering orange juice everywhere, went and got me a Mars bar and proceeded to pull it open and stuff it with pot. I gave my half-smoked joint to my new friends and chowed down the Mars bar to their delight ("We thought WE were badasses!").

Despite my valiant attempts, I didn't think I was really stoned or anything. I felt fairly relaxed and observed that I “couldn't really get angry about anything right now,” but that was pretty much the extent of it. On the bus back to the hotel, I had a bit of a giggling fit about something innocuous Ian said, but I do that normally. I do understand the munchies phenomenon now, as I went into the hotel restaurant and ordered fries, onion rings, chocolate, crackers, and a bottle of wine, then proceeded to share almost none of it with Ian. All and all, it was an amusing experience, but not something I need to repeat. I'm a Wisconsin girl, so I'm much better at getting drunk!

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