21.03.2012 - 24.03.2012
So we woke up having just discovered we now had an extra day in The Netherlands. Our next stop was Cologne in Germany, and I thought we had arranged to stay the Saturday night there with a host, but when we check we found it was actually the Sunday. So we were happy we got an extra day in a town we loved, but were a little anxious about the nights accom.
What we decided to do was put up a few last minute pleas for help of the CouchSurfing website and then head into Haarlem, which is a small town just 15 minutes out of Amsterdam. If we hadnt heard anything from CS, then we thought it shouldnt be hard to book a hotel. Well we were wrong.
We caught a train to Haarlem. It was a cool little town, almost like a mini Amsterdam, except less people, of generally an older age group, and way less touristy. We cruised around a bit, found some markets, Mel added two more handbags to our increasing carry load. When we could we checked the internet and got some help from the tourist info place, but turned out every hotel and hostel was either booked or was a squillion dollars. The info guy blamed it on the gorgeous weather.
Heres where it got a bit complicated. On CouchSurfing, apart from the direct couch swap function, weekly events are also held for locals and travellers to meet and have a drink, and sometimes offer accommodation to people last minute. Well, there was one on that night in Amsterdam. So we travelled back there from Haarlem, dumped our big bags in lockers at the station, and thought we'd try our luck at this meeting, after dinner. And if nothing presented itself, we had resigned ourselves to sleeping in a park.
Well, during some drinks, a nice young girl from Haarlem replied to our online plea for help, and said we could come over when she finished work and stay the night, which was at about 12:30am.
Still and Amsterdam and with some time to kill, we decided to go visit a “CoffeeShop”, one on the fine establishments around in which you could purchase a joint, sit on a lounge and chill out for a bit. Now, let me add here that Mel and I dont smoke pot. Like any teenager I did on occasion, but mainly just cause all my friends were doing it, and I liked hanging out with them. It had probably been 8 or 9 years since either of us touched it, and not due to some moral infliction, just cause it didn’t really interest us.
But,we were in Amsterdam. So we found a spot, and ordered some tea and a fat “Skunk” joint. It was purely novelty, sitting with the other eclectic mix of customers. We both had a couple of drags and Mel stopped. With the novelty wearing and the effects not really hitting me, I thought I'd just burn through it quick and go get some munchies. Now, it could have been the fact that the only thing I'd eaten all day was a croissant at about 9am, or that the combined strength of the weed and my own intolerance to it, but out of nowhere, I blacked out.
One minute I was tapping away to the music, feeling somewhat nostalgic, then next I felt a wave of vibration pass through my head and my eyes closed. Mel was shouting at me to stand up and yelling something to another girl. Within the space of a frenzied 15 seconds, I had started convulsing, shaking, went limp, regained myself and completely snapped out of it. 15 seconds. And I was fine. No effect whatsoever. One staff member got me an energy drink to recover and I was feeling normal. Mel on the other hand thought I was dying, so she was understandably shaken up, but reassurance of my health calmed her down, but it freaked her out a bit. So that was all a bit weird, but an experience nonetheless.
To calm us both down, we went for a stroll down the lit up canals, and we may have gone to KFC.
Well, having seen the effects of short term drug use, we were about to witness the effects of the long term variety. We met our saviour host back in Haarlem after she herself had finished work in a Coffeeshop of her own. An extremely friendly young girl she had opened her home up for us at the last minute and saved us from being raped in a park somewhere. She also brought along two bikes for us to ride back with, which was fun. Back at her place we stayed up talking and chatting and laughing, sharing stories of travel. She lazily burned through two fatties during the time and shared with us her theories of life, love and loss. And its a real shame that drugs really do open your mind to different ways of thinking and can lead to self enlightenment and out of world experiences, but at the same time permanently impair your ability to express them in an intelligent way. Like all this wisdom isnt meant to be shared. But she was absolutely lovely and was a massive help for us, and yet again we met someone along the way with a big heart who was willing to help a stranger.
The next day we picked up our bags from Amsterdam station, and made tracks for Germany.