Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I am really behind on my blog. I swear I will post soon. The task of blogging about 3 weeks in one post is rather daunting and I don't really want to leave too much out.
Posting coming soon I promise.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Land of Canals, Bikes, and Devious Behavior

I went to Amsterdam last weekend.

Amsterdam is awesome.

I arrived late in the evening on Queen’s night (evening before Queen’s Day) and had to drag my suitcase through a large crowd of raucous revelers. I found my friend Doug and he led me through the crowd to his apartment that he shares along with my friend, Bharat. They are currently at the Greenhouse program in Amsterdam through Miami Ad School.

They were having a bit of a party in their house and I was glad to join in, meet new people, and get settled in. Later in the evening, we went out to join the revelry and we went by a club that actually had some commercials the students had done, showing on their large screen TVs for some drink that supposedly has pheromones in it. My fellow students simply called it a “sex drink”.

The evening blended into the next day as people continued to party into the early morning and on into the afternoon. There was techno blaring from every store and bar, out in the street. Who knows what kind of mischief was happening in the streets and homes of Amsterdam that day. One could have drowned in orange. Orange is the queen’s color and since it was Queen’s Day, well, you get the idea.

Orange confetti trapped in one of the many tram rails of Amsterdam

I was actually mostly a good girl and had an early evening (for Queen’s Day) and was able to wake and head out to the Van Gogh Museum in the morning. I loved this museum. There was a special exhibit on Van Gogh’s twilight and evening inspired paintings. He was obsessed with capturing light in the dark, the color that exists in the night, the stars. He didn’t start painting until he was 27 and then painted over 800 paintings in only 10 years until he shot himself at the age of 37. It was really great to see a whole museum dedicated to one person’s work because you could really get a sense of their process, how they saw the world, what they struggled with and how they overcame (or never overcame) their obstacles. For an artsy person like me, I couldn’t ask for more from an art museum. I also loved seeing all the people entranced by Starry Night. Most would just wander about giving each painting less than 5 seconds, but people would actually sit and stare at this one. Starry Night really is a treasure.

Starry Night and its audience

After the Van Gogh Museum, I took a short walk to the Vondelpark; a large park that has a lot of promise, but at that time was in a bit of disarray. (I made a point to take pictures that were deceiving.) I guess this last winter took a toll on the park and there were more patches of brown than green, also they seemed to be in the midst of construction and there were big piles of dirt, machinery, and building materials strewn about. Queen’s Day had just occurred the previous day and thus left orange bits and plastic bottles about. The park is rather enormous though, so there were enough pretty parts to enjoy the walk from the Southwest point to the Northeast point of the park. And there was no bit of disarray that was going to deter the people of Amsterdam from going to the park to hang out on a Friday afternoon, quite the popular place.


I then walked and walked and walked. I went by the Bureau Pindakaas Advertising Agency where Bharat and Doug were being kept at the time. It’s a nice place, in a great big old building with many rooms and floors. I searched for food and then ended up having a snack at the pub next door to the apartment.

When Bharat and Doug were finally done “doing time” for the day, we met some of their friends and went out to Chinese food, then a bar, then a coffee shop… but they didn’t have any coffee.

The next day, the boys were free from their labors, so we could do a little sight-seeing together. We got some Heineken and took a canal boat tour. The weather was gorgeous and the boat comfy, couldn’t have been better.

On a boat!

When the tour was done, Bharat and I had run out of Heineken, so we went to the “Heineken Experience”. The “Heineken Experience” is a big silly throw up of advertising and brainwashing rolled into an historic brewery. They felt they needed a live speaker, and interactive program, signs, pictures, demonstrations, art work, movies, and even a “ride” (the ride attempted to give you the experience of being a Heineken beer, sigh) to show you how Heineken beer is made. After the “ride”, there were little recliner pods with TV screens running some Heineken commercials from 1955 to 2003 (this made me assume that they haven’t updated the feed for 6 years), right above your head. So you looked like you were in a little alien brainwashing pod. When you had had your fill of the pod, you could move on to a section that showed you all of the Heineken promos in sports and for sporting teams. Then the ultimate advertising barf: a big room with 360 degree big screens and comfy couches and dance club lighting, so you could watch a larger than life montage of Heineken action montage. I don’t know how a beer could necessarily have an action montage, but that’s the best way I can describe it.

Finally, they let us drink beer. The last room, a bar, with nothing but Heineken, which at that point was absolutely amazing because I now no longer have any desire to drink any beer other than Heineken ever again… just kidding.

Bharat and I met Doug for dinner and then others for more beer. We went to a pub called Gollem, that specializes in, you guessed it, beer. Gollem mostly carries Belgian beers and I had La Chuffe, La Cuvee De Trolls, and one other, (insert French word here) Blonde.

Me enjoying my French Blonde

There was something missing from this trip… No, not that. On the way home, we walked through the red light district.

Elinore Eaton’s description of the red light district:

Like an historical museum with all the dead animals enclosed in glass cases posed to imitate life.


Like a pet store.

On my last day, I ate a pancake. It was delicious.