Saturday, July 25, 2009

Europe 2009: Amsterdam (Friday, July 24)

Customs in Amsterdam was surprising.  Surprising in that it was almost non-existent.  Seriously: I stood in line behind one person, showed my passport to get into the baggage claim (and was asked no questions about my stay), got my bag, walked through the “Nothing To Declare” door, and that was it.  I was done.  I get hassled more than this driving into Canada!

I rode the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station.  This would have gone smoothly, but I misread the schedule and thought I was on a train that didn’t stop at the two stations in between.  So I got off at the first stop, got out of the station, checked my iPhone map, and said “Where the hell am I?”  (I couldn’t see signage telling me which stop I was at.  Or maybe I just couldn’t read it.)  I had to get back on and ride two more stops.  I chatted for a couple minutes with a nice Dutch girl for a few minutes before the first stop, where she exited.

Lugging my bags to the hotel wasn’t easy, between the bump-bump-bump of the brick streets and the rain.  Good solid rainstorm.  Thank you, leather jacket and leather cowboy hat.  Felt like home (but like spring, not high summer).

I’m staying at the Hotel Anco.  Several years ago, one of the Seattle Men in Leather members (Leo) wrote an article for our newsletter about leather travel in the Netherlands and Belgium, and he recommended the Anco.  For €65 per night, I’ve got a room with a double bed and a sink (shared toilet and shower, one floor up), plus free WiFi and breakfast every morning, and I’m a block from Warmeosstraat.  (I think it was supposed to be a single bed when I made the reservation, but shhh, I’m not telling!)  The classic leather stay in Amsterdam is the Black Tulip (but I haven’t chanced on it yet, not sure just where it is; ah, a web search shows it is closer to Centraal Station than the Anco is), but it was another €20 or more a night.

My room wouldn’t be ready for a couple hours (since it was still morning, about 9:00 am), so I had some breakfast and then wandered around Warmoestraat, where RoB and Mr. B and several of the leather bars are.  Nothing was open at 10:00 am on Friday morning, though.  I wandered over to another neighborhood where a couple more leather bars and gay shops are (also not open yet), and then back to RoB (now open) where I bought a new pair of leather braces (suspenders), for the Mr. Leather OutGames contest.

We’re used to streets in the States which are wide — two lanes plus two lanes of parking — and paved with asphalt.  Here in the Amsterdam Centrum, most of the streets are closer to what we would call alleys, but paved with bricks.  They are often as small as one narrow lane and about 3 feet on each side for walking, and some are narrower than that.  Some of it reminds me of Greenwich Village (maybe no surprise, since New York was originally New Amsterdam), and of Philadelphia.  Of course, the canals cross-cutting everything remind me of last spring’s trip to Dublin, where the river bisects the city, with Temple Bar on one side, kind of like Warmoesstraat and the Red Light District are here.

The Red Light district is between the Anco and Warmoesstraat, or at least a portion of it is, centered around Ould Kerk, the oldest church in Amsterdam.  It is rather bizarre, having full glass doors with whores behind them, gyrating and winking at possible customers in the direct view of the church.  The last time I was in Amsterdam (other than at the airport last year), I was 13 and on a tour.  I think we went through some chunk of the Red Light district on that trip — I saw some tour groups in the area this time, even just after dark — but I don’t really remember anything about that piece of the trip, nearly 30 years later.

Back at the hotel, I got my room and a couple hours nap, then went wandering again.  Found that the Web was open, but the Warmoesstraat bars don’t open until 2200 or 2300 (10 or 11 pm)!  They stay open unto 4 or 5 am, but that late of an opening seems very strange.

Somewhere tonight, I lost my nose ring.  (Probably in the dark room at the Eagle.) Beautiful little crescent (no balls) from Palm Springs Piercing.  It’s held in by two rubber rings, but I only had one on (“Danger, Will Robinson!”), because I only have three and the others were on my other, larger crescent ring.  Which I had forgotten I was wearing on Monday when I got to work, so I took it out and put it in my shorts pocket, then put them through the wash, and… guess what didn’t come back out on Tuesday.  Fuck, that leaves me with just the nose staple and the spike for the rest of the trip.

Updated on February 4, 2010

Updated on May 3, 2010:
Moved part of this post to the Sounds Kinky-er blog:

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