Destination: Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Part 2)

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In front of the Rijksmuseum (April 2016).

Once my first day of Amsterdam was over, I woke up early the next morning for the hostel’s complimentary breakfast before heading over to the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands which houses both Dutch and international artists’ works (including that of the country’s own Rembrandt van Rijn).

Admission fee wasn’t cheap (17 euros), but all the same I spent about two hours wandering all over the enormous museum, taking in all sorts of art works. Went from the Dutch Middle Ages to those of Vermeer and Rembrandt (including the latter’s The Night Watch, grand and overwhelming) before finishing up the visit and heading out to enjoy the surprisingly warm, sunny weather. Overall, I found Rijksmuseum to be rich with art from all over, but at the same time it was definitely pricey.

Afterwards, I decided to head towards the de Grooyer windmill, which is one of the very few windmills in the city center (for more of the iconic ones, it’s necessary to take a day trip to Zaanse Schans, about 20 to 30 minutes away from Amsterdam). Considering that I wouldn’t have the time (or the money) to pay for a windmill tour, I could at least see one in the city proper. It was about 30 minutes on foot from the Rijksmuseum (essentially going from the south to the north of the city), so with that, I headed over.

Another thing you might know about Amsterdam is that it’s distinctive for its progressive culture, with its liberal stance on sex and drugs, the latter particularly concentrated on marijuana. Interestingly, weed is legal in Amsterdam, but not in the rest of the Netherlands, but all the same, it’s no wonder that the Dutch capital is a popular tourist destination for all of that! Hence, when you go into a “coffeeshop,” you aren’t getting coffee, but rather, erm, the more intense stuff.

Now, I don’t smoke (let alone smoke weed), but I was interested in trying edibles to see what it would be like. I’d read up on articles of people who’d traveled to Amsterdam and tried things like “space cakes” and weed cookies, and I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see what would happen if I took it. Call me super naive (possibly even stupid), but my thought was that when in Amsterdam, why not? Sorry, mom and dad!

That said, I popped into one of the coffeeshops along the way to the de Grooyer windmill, purchasing a 6,50-euro space cake and taking it to-go. Mind you, the coffeeshop I went into was dim and shady-looking, but all the same, I’m sure it was acceptable, as I keep telling myself…

I didn’t eat the space cake right away, instead choosing to save it for later. Eventually, I made it to the de Grooyer windmill, taking a couple of photos of it and returning to the city center. Aside from looking quaint and charming, one couldn’t visit the inside of the windmill (to my knowledge, that is). Now, I can say that I’ve seen a Dutch windmill!

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de Grooyer windmill.

I returned to my hostel where I decided to sit outside on the bench and try the space cake. Now, I knew that it wouldn’t be wise to eat the entire thing (and it was small to begin with), since I really didn’t know how I would react to it- even the package advised me to consume no more than half of it in one sitting, before waiting 45 to 90 minutes to see if anything happened before eating the rest.

Upon opening the package, I caught a huge whiff of weed (how pleasant). Feeling brave, I dove right in. The cake itself didn’t actually have any weed taste to it, instead just tasting like any normal chocolate cake. Not as sweet or as decadent as I would’ve like it to be, but all the same, I had about a third of it (approximately five bites) before I stopped and saved the rest for later.

Considering that edibles take a longer time than smoking to get absorbed into the bloodstream, I thought that I would pass the time by getting a late lunch (it was already 14h00) near the Dam square; I was interested in trying Dutch pancakes, so I popped into a small cafe that served them. Ordered the apple-and-bacon pancake, which was piping hot and pretty good, with the sweet and savory blended together. Texture-wise, I’m not a huge fan of Dutch pancakes (find them too bland and rubbery), but again, I can say that I’ve had it in the Netherlands.

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Apple-and-bacon pancake.

After I finished my meal and paid, that was when the effects from the space cake kicked out. Exactly 45 minutes after eating the edible, it was as if something in my brain had switched on like a light bulb and it was BUZZING. I also started seeing static waves emitting from the inside-out, and I knew right away that I had to get out of that restaurant and back to my hostel to ride out the effects- you can tell that I instantly regretted eating the space cake.

The walk back my hostel normally takes about 15 minutes from the Dam square, but it felt like the longest walk under the influence of the cake. The effects got worse and worse as I did my best to rush back to the hostel, before I made a fool of myself in public. I’ll spare you the details of what I was experiencing (perhaps for another “crazy travel post”), but essentially I was not having a good psychedelic trip- then again, I wasn’t expecting myself to hallucinate, but rather just to get high and experience what it felt like!

Tangent aside, I somehow made it back to my hostel in one piece, went up to my room, and collapsed on my bunk to ride out the trip. It was one of the longest, most difficult things I’ve ever experienced in my life: my senses were on 1000% overload and my perception of time was severely warped. I’m not exaggerating when I write that I seriously thought that I was going to die, right there alone in the hostel.

Eventually, at some point, I woke up. The trip was still there, but less strongly so. I was shaken, but feeling better. The sun was just starting to set (17h00), and I got up to use the restroom. Again, I kept hearing that intense, static noise in my head, so I gave myself another two hours of rest before feeling fine enough to head out at 19h30 to the Red Light District to visit the Prostitution Museum, which had been on my list of things to do in Amsterdam. The admission fee was 8 euros, and really, I don’t remember much about it except the numerous phallic toys and objects used throughout history. I was still feeling groggy and disoriented, so the visit turned out to be underwhelming.

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Amsterdam in the evening.

Afterwards, I got Dutch fries for dinner again, and what was interesting was that I was still feeling the space cake’s effects, this time physically rather than mentally. My stomach and mouth were essentially numbed, as I didn’t feel the sensation of eating the piping-hot fries or feel it go down to my stomach: it was such a strange feeling and I ended up burning my mouth, because of it!

I returned to my hostel, showering and turning in for the rest of the night. So much had happened that day, but at the same time not really due to the space cake. My afternoon was pretty much sucked dry from the psychedelic trip, and after that one time, I knew that I would never try drugs again. As for the two-thirds of the cake that I hadn’t eaten, I basically left it alone for the rest of my time in Amsterdam. Never again…

More to come soon. Next up: Keukenhof Gardens, the Netherlands!

 

— Rebecca

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