Day Forty-One

Well, it’s been a while since I left home, a while since I posted, and is only a short while before I’m home again.

Day forty-one. Whoozah.

Picking up from where we left off on the previous post, I left Dublin for Amsterdam on the 19th of June. Tash, the mutual friend putting me up, directed me with the help of Google maps to her location once I landed at Amsterdam airport (my third time there this trip) and I was welcomed with open arms.

It almost felt like home. I had my own room, the girls were lovely, and totally didn’t judge me about my lack of need to do anything (well, not when I was around anyway). I quieted my self-made feelings of guilt by telling myself I’ve been non-stop exploring the world for 5 weeks prior, sick days not included, and deserved a little R&R before flying home to dive straight back into being a functioning member of society.

On my first day, I got a shopping itch. It was my last stop, aside from a short trip south to Rotterdam, so I knew how much money was left now more than ever, and my stacks were looking pretty bland: two postcards sent home, 5 posters sent home, a Jameson’s scarf, and some magnets were all I had to my name.

I went out in search of The 9 Streets, which is apparently a good shopping destination comprised of shops and eateries spread out across, coincidentally, 9 streets. When I was supposedly there, I was underwhelmed. Given a revisit with company it may have been a decent excursion, but alone I felt like I was getting continually lost, there was a lot of construction going on, and most of the shops were something I could find in New Zealand.

No matter, I decided to walk home through the Museumplein and check out the Van Gogh Museum and then anything else around it. I meander my way there, hiking over canals and nearly dying at the hand of insane cyclists all the while.

I stumbled across a “Torture Museum” whose poster had a large wooden chair embedded with spikes for sitting criminals onto. It looked interesting, some more medieval stuff, and reminded me of the “Inventions of the Middle Ages” documentaries I used to watch in the weekends. It was awful. There was some rough artwork depicting a lot of torture devices, but none with explanations on how they were actually implemented. The info cards around the place named a device and what someone might have done to earn that punishment, but didn’t point to which device matched the name. There were a few relics, physical pieces in the museum, but again I say few.

I carried on to the Museumplein to discover all tickets to Van Gogh were sold out for the day. I walked around the park a little, having no-one with me to take a photo in from of the I Amsterdam sign, I took a photo of all the other crazy tourists.

I made my way home, and Tash asked if I wanted to go to the ballet. Yes, of course. We bought tickets for the next night.

When I say “we” bought tickets, I mean I gave my card to Tash telling her it was my shout, and she booked the tickets. While we were walking to the event that evening, she was trying to liase with some friends from work and flatmate-Georgia about where to meet. Georgia was telling us to go to a completely different venue than what was printed on our tickets. We research, and Tash has bought us tickets to a contemporary, interpretive dance number entitled Nicht Schlafen or similar. We trudge along to it.

A nightmare. Which maybe is what it was supposed to be, a waking nightmare in which no-one gets any sleep as the title may suggest? I’ve never thought I would be interested in this type of dance, admittedly having never seen any to base this on but kinda really feeling like it’s not my “thing”. Turns out I can trust myself and my gut feelings. I wanted to leave, but we were at the end of a row in which it would be blaringly obvious. We tried to just drink a lot of wine, but you weren’t allowed to take anything into the theatrr. More entertaining than the show was the audience. The venue was actually rather large, and surprisingly full.

I refuse to believe people knew what they were signing up for, but the lady next to me cried during one part as if she had obtained total comprehension and it was a moving piece of beauty, where I had no idea what was going on. I’m obviously just uncultured. The first 30 minutes were 9 people on stage running into each other at high velocity, screaming and ripping each others clothes off. The rest of the show kind of felt like that still. The only thing I know for sure is that at one point, a pair were representing a horse and trainer, and the horse subsequently died after being stabbed (?) to death.

The next day, I went to the Heineken experience first thing to avoid crowds. I had prepaid my ticket, which was an excellent choice, and trudged through the opening history.

The commemerative trowel used to lay the first block that built the brewery.

We walked through an introduction on how beer is made, which I skipped thanks to some lessons at the Jameson’s factory where they indicated at which point in the brewing line refinery is stopped to make beer rather than moving on to create whiskey. 

The vats were pretty cool, though.

In towards the interactive part, there was a station where you can personalise the label on your own beer, ride a small 4D ride “where you are the beer” as you follow the brewing process through a factory from the inside. As well as many walls and ceilings made of bottles, with lights glowing out from behind.

They taught you how to drink beer with a small half pour, including how to maximise the life of your foam head to stop your beer from oxygenating.

There was also a number of photo stations and interactive zones like a huge podium that acted like a keyboard set to percussion mode when you hit different parts of it, and a beer pouring station.

Good to know after some 5 years since being behind a bar, I can still pour the perfect beer.

There was a room where they honoured the sports they are supporters of, in which the Haka was playing on a loop in the background.

Finally, you could take a punt at kicking a (digital) conversion for yourself, and then the bar. Your wristband gets you two free drinks, as well as the half pour that taught you how to drink earlier in the experience. Beer for breakfast, mother would be proud.

From there, I do finally go to the Van Gogh Museum, picking up this fine photo before seeing the no photo signs.

The store was a wonderful place for gifts, where I got some things for mum, dad, and myself.

I spent some more time with the streets, marvelling at how everything was so same-same-but-different, and then turned my attention to repacking my bag and weighing it with Tash’s handy luggage scale.

Some redistributing of items between the two bags brought me under the 7kg weight limit for carry on, and I still had a couple of items I could leave behind like my ratty one-use umbrella bought in Rome, the last of my travel shampoos, and the ability to wear two shirts on the airplane.

After many UberEats deliveries, it was time for Blink 182 in Rotterdam.

So, last night, I trained to Rotterdam from Amsterdam, checked into my hotel that photos promised to be awesome, lovely, and kitsch, which the lobby was, but turned out my room was just old. Oh well, only one night and a safe place to stay for the concert. I head off in an Uber, find my seat (cause screw general admission when you have no-one looking out for you) and make friends with the guys next to me.

The location of the seats was awesome, the night was great, the music epic.

In the end, I had to wait 30 minutes for an Uber back to my hotel due to high demand, and I was freezing. Compared to how hot most of my days had been, my fingers felt like they were going to fall off. It was 15°C, Pete messaged me from home letting me know it was 5° there. Joy.

Today, I trained back to Amsterdam, having bought some Blink182 merch and having another fight with my backpack, and checked in to my hotel airport.

In 15h and 35m I’m boarding my plane to start my journey home. The new release movies have been updated on the in flight entertainment (thank the lord for being away over a month) and I have about 9 hours of screen entertainment by way of movies. Accompanied with food, music, and reading my kindle, the journey shouldn’t be too bad.

Seeya soon, home. Miss you terribly.

Regards,

Alex

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