Monday, May 17, 2010

August 4, 2008

Amsterdam is about a 2.5 hour ride from Düsseldorf via ICE train. We awoke, readied ourselves, grabbed some pastries from a cart in the train station, and hopped the train to Amsterdam without incident. The ride was very picturesque and uneventful, like every train ride that we took during our trip.

Once we had arrived, we immediately checked in at a hotel. High Times had rated it very well, and we had selected it as our first choice based upon that. We lacked reservations, but didn’t suspect that we’d need them on a Monday. We were correct in that assumption. The place was called The Greenhouse Effect. It was on a small street in the red light district. There were actually three separate places that all comprised The Greenhouse Effect. They had a bar, a hotel, and a coffee shop where they sold weed and hash. The various rooms of the hotel all had unique names. I forget what ours was called. If the stairs leading up to it had been any steeper, they would have been a ladder. Fear seized upon me as I thought about what it would be like negotiating those stairs later, when I wouldn’t be nearly so sharp. The walls in our room were blue and orange and had those strange Dutch wooden shoes nailed to them. Conveniently, the coffee shop portion of the hotel offered a discount on weed and hash (I forget the percentage) if you showed your room key.

The first thing we did was go to the coffee shop, split a pot brownie, and buy a gram of weed to carry us pleasantly through the afternoon. It was cheap and fresh, and the quality was very good. Another wonderful convenience was the menu. All of the various strains of weed and hash were broken down by type, and explanatory text outlining the different properties of the various strains was provided. This was especially useful given the fact that back home, this degree of specificity is entirely unavailable unless you’re growing your own. Back home you’re lucky if you can find any at all of decent quality. Regardless, we made our selection. They had free rolling papers just lying around. So we made our purchase and were on our way very quickly.

Amsterdam is tacky, and makes no illusions otherwise. It’s relatively small and quaint, but almost entirely neon-lit and overflowing with souvenir shops. Everybody speaks English here, because there’s such a large volume of American and English tourists. After a quick look around, we stopped into an Argentine beef restaurant for lunch.

After lunch was finished, we went straight back into the red light district to see a sex show. We decided that we had to do this with the full knowledge that it would be an overpriced let down. My wife and I have had our share of group sex, so we’re quite familiar with the site of two people fucking in front of us. However, we had never seen paid professionals do it. The prospect of seeing something unusual or learning something new was sufficient to snare us. Moreover, seeing it done on a stage would likely be kind of surreal. In the broad afternoon daylight, we canvassed every street in the red light district. Most of the prostitutes weren’t out yet. There were just a few in the windows who looked like they were getting started early. The sex shows all looked the same from the street. They each had a carny of sorts in front of the entrance trying to gather people and free them of their money.

I believe that we paid 30 euros for the show that we saw. It was comprised of three parts. First there was a stripper. She wasn’t what I’d call “fat,” but she was above my weight limit. I wasn’t really turned on at all, but being a connoisseur of strippers, I was curious to see what she was going to do to distinguish this from any other strip routine that you’d find anywhere else in the world. It was generally uninspiring until she went down into the audience and grabbed a young man who appeared to be about 20 years old. He was with friend, wearing sweatpants, and obviously not aroused. Sweatpants betray that sort of thing very completely. She walked him up to the stage, and made him put on a strap-on dildo over his pants. Then she ordered him to lay on his back. He did all of this without objection. Then she squatted above him leaving her gaping vagina vulnerable about six inches above the tip. She instructed him to thrust up into her. He did this. The dildo must have been nearly as big around as a pop can, and it went in without any visible resistance. After the head and about half of the shaft was inside her, she stood up a little, and he courteously descended back down to a resting position. She raised herself about another six inches and requested that he penetrate her again. He did this, albeit with a little more effort, given her increased height. At the same depth of penetration she raised herself another six inches, and again he descended. This repeated a couple times until she was standing at her full height and he could not reach any longer by simply arching his back.

The second stripper was in much better shape. Her routine was much the same as the first, except at the end of it. As her routine was ending, she sat on the edge of the stage with her legs spread wide, and began pulling out the string of beads that had been up inside her the whole time, one bead at a time.

The couple came out right after the second stripper finished. The female half of the couple was the first stripper. The male was an older guy. Surprisingly, their routine started out with a slightly theatrical bent. They were standing at the center of the stage. He was dressed like a monk of some sort, and she was dressed as a nun. Almost immediately, she got down and began idly sucking his dick. Eventually all clothes were shed. They didn’t go through many positions, and the show ended with him laying on his back with his feet towards the audience, with her sitting on top of him, riding him. At no point was any of it sexy.

The sex show had been a let down. We had known it would be, so it wasn’t a shock. It was, however, disappointing. The whole thing must have been about half an hour long. So far our arrival in Amsterdam had entailed a pot brownie and some weed, a few beers, a tour of all the prostitutes, a sex show, and a few of the goofy novelty shops. We decided to go back to the hotel room and do a bit of screwing of our own to work off the energy. We did this, though I’m not sure that it did anything to release tension. To the contrary, I think it amplified it.

When we emerged, we went down into the hotel coffee shop and ate another pot brownie each. Immediately afterwards we went into one of the head shops and bought some packets of herbal ecstasy. Real ecstasy is illegal in Amsterdam, along with other hard drugs like heroin and cocaine. The herbal formulas that roughly approximate it are legal, however. They were actually easily available in the US until some point in the mid-1990s. I’m not 100% certain whether or not it’s currently legal in the US, but it’s impossible to find back home. It’s relatively safe, unless you’re allergic to any of the ingredients. Basically it provides a mild euphoria and energy rush. So we gobbled it all up and went on our way, looking for dinner. The weed high from the brownies and the early effects of the herbal ecstasy were gently creeping up. Though we were still fully functional, we weren’t exactly thinking clearly. All of the food options in Amsterdam seemed unacceptable, and it came into our heads that we needed to find an Irish pub. We scoured Amsterdam for one for a good hour, walking briskly. Eventually we got lost and gave up. A decent-looking pizza place presented itself, so we went in and ate.

A good smoking session was in order immediately following dinner. We did that, and decided to just spend the rest of the evening strolling the red light district, looking in the windows at the prostitutes. They were out in much larger numbers than they had been earlier that afternoon. With daylight gone, all of their windows were lit up red. Given the physical characteristics of the performers in the sex show we had seen earlier that day, I had assumed that the vast majority of the prostitutes in the windows at night would not be all that appealing. I was wrong. Just about all of them were gorgeous. They came in all varieties of race, age, shape, and size. We were both kind of shocked. We had seen a few out in the afternoon, and they generally looked good. These ones were actually somewhat amazing. Also surprising was the sort of vaudeville performance quality of the experience. There were legions of tourists and a whole lot of prostitutes in bright red windows. The windows were actually doors and generally very standardized. They were all lit red, of course, and led into a room that appeared to be about ten feet deep and maybe eight feet wide. It was like a winding parade or a giant coiling snake of tourists strolling casually around, admiring the women. None were nude. They almost all wore extremely skimpy bikinis, but they were all covered. I never saw so much as an errant nipple. They would occasionally open their windows and step out onto the street to shout things into the crowd. One shouted to us, “I do couples!” with a big grin. As we walked away she shouted, “Where are you going?” and laughed. There was a lot of this sort of thing going on. Sometimes they would pretend to bicker back and forth with each other. Many of the male tourists got out cameras and tried to photograph them. This was not allowed, and the prostitutes each had their own ways of dealing with it. First they would try waving a finger in disapproval. Then if the guy persisted in setting up his shot, they would simply pull their curtains shut or duck back behind the wall in their window space. On only one occasion did I actually see a girl come out of her window and start yelling at the guy in the street. We didn’t see many men actually approach the girls. When this happened, the guy would walk up to the window. The girl would open it, and they would presumably discuss business. Surprisingly, it seemed like the whole transaction and sex act took place in the window. Each window had a padded table in it, and a curtain that could be pulled shut. My wife really wanted me to fuck one. She kept pointing out ones that she knew I would like. My palate is pretty broad, and I can appreciate most persuasions of women. My wife is very in tune with the subtle things that I especially like, however. She was completely willing to spend the money on it. She just really felt like watching me fuck one. It was a tempting proposition. The prospect of fucking an attractive stranger behind a curtain in a street-level window, and then leaving without strings, was an appealing prospect. I don’t really get hung up about money, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea. Diseases are one of my phobias. I expressed this to my wife and she conceded, though she persisted that perhaps I should “just buy a blow job?” She tried to assure me, “Certainly that must be safer?” She was pretty high, and she can be remarkably persistent when she’s in that state and aroused. The final surprise point pertaining to the neon and red light parade of red windows, girls, sex shows, porn stores, and coffee shops was all of the drug dealers in the streets. Shady guys would dart out between buildings and approach random tourists muttering, “You need something?” Many were so forward as to just name the drugs they were selling: “E? Coke?” Despite Amsterdam’s general tolerance of most mild, naturally occurring drugs such as weed, hash, mushrooms and such things, hard drugs are still not legal there. So they can’t sell them openly in the stores or coffee shops. I don’t know just how illegal those things are, but I wasn’t about to find out. I really didn’t need to get arrested on drug charges while on vacation on the other side of the Atlantic. Beyond that, I have no experience with such substances and wasn’t in the mood to engage in any dangerous experimentation. We managed to find our way back to our hotel room without me fucking a prostitute or buying any hard drugs. I don’t recall what time it was. We fucked furiously on the bed and passed out.

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