I first visited Amsterdam wayyyy back in 1999. Back then, I was only passing through on my way to New York.

I was in Russia then; I recall that the summer of 1999 was exceptionally hot. No idea why I decided to hop on a plane to the States, but I did. Flying KLM meant a stop-over in Amsterdam. I decided to hang around there for a day or two. So, I told the ticket agent on the phone — (back then, we still needed to call ticket agents;  unlike today, when everything is done on the almighty world-wide-web (lol)) — that I would like a 2-day layover, instead of the original 2 hours. Not only would I get to see Amsterdam, but the cost of the ticket itself dropped rather nicely.

Back then, I remember feeling thrilled once I stepped outside Schipol Airport. This feeling intensified when I found myself in the old city — the canals, the bars and clubs. It seemed magical. I liked it right away. I still remember how everyone seemed to be smiling;  really, it was weird (Moscow was the exact opposite : people hardly ever had a reason to smile).

When I got back on the plane 2 days later, bound for New York, I remember promising myself that I’d definitely return.

April 2013

It took me 14 years to fulfill that promise (haha). Not that something kept me from visiting Amsterdam again; no, it’s just that………….well, it never came up :))))))   Between 1999 and 2013, I traveled quite a bit, but it simply never crossed my mind to return to Amsterdam.

In April 2013, I found myself sitting in my office at work, and wondering what I was going to do with the 2 weeks of vacation I had left-over from the previous year.  I’d just returned from Australia in January, so I was not looking to sit on a plane for another 20 hours (haha). I decided to combine two, maybe three, cities in one visit.

Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna…………….Amsterdam!!  Yep, Amsterdam it was  (haha).

And, so I booked my ticket (one-way, of course), and flew to Amsterdam.

Not quite the same?

Well, nobody expects a city to look the same after 14 years.  But, still, I was not prepared for how much it had changed. At first, I couldn’t even put my finger on it;  something was different;  something was “missing”. Amsterdam simply wasn’t the same. The “magic”, as I chose to call it, was gone.

Didn’t stop me from having FUN, though. Ohhhh, nothing wild (I was never the wild type, anyway). But, I certainly wanted to try out the famous brownies — known as “Space Cakes” to the locals — and I did. But…….it was a bit of a disappointment. I mean, I’d heard stories about first-timers — people who tasted those brownies for the first time. Some of them got so intoxicated that they barely remembered what happened while they were “out of it” :=)))  It’s recommended that, if you’re a first-timer, you should start with only half a brownie, as they tend to be very intoxicating indeed. However, I threw caution to the wind and bought a whole brownie outright.

Nothing! No effect, no intoxication, no feeling of “flying-high……….sailing through the clouds” !!  I felt absolutely nothing.

At first, I thought I’d been given a “faulty” cake, so I ordered another one……..a different variety. With the same result :((

So much for having fun. What a waste (hahaha)

Ok, so the cakes weren’t doing it for me; I decided to step up my game, and try the weed :=))  Amsterdam’s most famous past-time; the majority of tourists come there to smoke the grass, and let go of all the plagues of their daily lives back home. Well………I couldn’t really relate, seeing as I didn’t have any plagues back home (unless you count the fact that I was living in one of the most boring places on Earth (lol).  Weed is sold in literally every bar or cafe in the city (sometimes, it’s even offered as a “side-dish” when you order coffee or a drink (haha)).  So, anyway, there I was, buying my………..er………..first ever taste of the forbidden grass (hmm………….YES, YES, that was my first time ever smoking weed. At the age of 38!  Go on, laugh it up  )

(Since you can’t seem to stop giggling, I guess now might not be the best time to tell you that, not only was this my first taste of weed, but it was also my very first taste of a smoke of ANY kind…………)

Anyway, it was another failure. No effect.  By now, I’d passed the “laughing-out-loud” stage, and progressed to the “what-the-heck-am-I-doing-in-this-city-if-I-can’t-even-get-high” stage  :=)))))

What to do?  Nothing. I smoked a few more, ate a few more cakes, drank a couple of beers, a gin-and-tonic…………..and went back to my apartment to watch re-runs of “Walker, Texas Ranger” on Cable TV.

And THAT, ladies and gents, was my “adventure” in Amsterdam. I’m too ashamed to even consider telling this story to my grand-kids some day.