24 hours in Amsterdam (and only one funny story, that I remember)

My train from Brussels to Amsterdam arrived 90 minutes late, thanks to baby amounts of snow. Russians can keep their trains running for days and days, on schedule to the minute, in the dead of winter in Siberia; but, it snows half an inch in Paris and everyone freaks the fuck out. Having booked an earlier flight back to America, I had less than 24 hours in Amsterdam, so after my late arrival I wasted no time visiting Amsterdam's most popular places, like, the Anne Frank House.

Just kidding. Nobody goes to Amsterdam for only one day and visits the Anne Frank House. It's probably not OK to make jokes about Anne Frank, huh? I visited the Anne Frank House a couple of years ago. I felt cheated. Her diary on display? It was a replica. That's code for fake!

My first stop was Grey Area, a coffeeshop famous for being run by [gasp!] Americans, and for offering the highest-quality marijuana in all of Smoke City. That's according to the Internet; but, of course, the Internet never lies, and, once again, the Internet did not disappoint. Grey Area's owner recommended Grey Haze, an experimental sativa strain of his own creation.

Fast-forward: I'm wandering the streets of Amsterdam, thinking how badly I want to eat a kebab, or croquets, or stroopwafel. I'm conspicuously holding money in my hand, anxious to hand it over to anyone with food. It was mid-afternoon, but I hadn't eaten anything substantial since the day before in Brussels, about 24 hours earlier. I was a bit hungover, and painfully hungry.

Without realizing it, I'd wandered east, toward the red-light district. It's easy to get lost in Amsterdam. None of the streets are straight. None of your thinking is straight. Everything loops around in circles and curves, and there are so many bridges and canals that individually they become worthless as navigational landmarks. But, lost or not, if you visit Amsterdam, I recommend you stroll through the red-light district: crazy, creepy, commercial, sexy, depressing, real, unreal, surreal; you could describe it a hundred different ways and never be wrong.

So, I've reached the outskirts of the red-light district. Without being conscious of it, I'm still brandishing my food money like it's a goddamned weapon. Before I had even noticed the mostly naked girls in the windows, they're tapping on the glass, calling me over. At first I was startled, then confused, and then I was embarrassed because I realized that I was waving money around like I'm a paycheck, like I was desperate for sex. To be fair, I was desperate, desperate for a kebab, which I never did get. But a few minutes later I found a cornerstore with a vending machine full of croquets and other hot goodies. Sorry, ladies. You looked good or whatever, but Dutch croquets'll get my cash. It's the law of Grey Haze. Now, where is my stroopwafel?

From inside Grey Area coffeeshop, looking out.

Snow in Amsterdam, awesome except for the fact that what is probably the flattest country in the world also has a capital city with the most jacked-up sidewalks you could imagine. An icy Amsterdam is dangerous, but fun. Be careful, kids.

Maybe I'm missing something, but this looks kinda fucked up. The red-light district in Amsterdam doesn't really have conspicuous borders. You can be wandering down a major canal, and after a string of bars and restaurants and coffeeshops or whatever, all of a sudden there'll be a few windows with red lights and working girls. If you're curious, and everyone is, you can venture down the smaller alleys, where they don't waste time with bars and restaurants. It's just girls and johns and curious onlookers: men and women. This is the entrance to one of those alleys. What I don't understand is the sign above the entrance. Is that a father and son? Children allowed, but hold their hand? Seriously, what in the actual fuck.