What’s abundantly available to anybody here in Amsterdam that you can’t get in the United States? Cabs. Open taxis as far as the eyes can see, begging for customers like those annoying kiosk salespeople at the mall.
I got to Amsterdam late this evening, and since my body clock is horrendously confused I decided to step out of the hotel around midnight and check out the sights (wow, after writing that I realize how much that sounds like the beginning of a standard Pacman Jones alibi). Amsterdam’s a crazy mix: way more coffee shops than I remember from the last time I visited the Dam 11 years ago, strip clubs/sex shops (including one named the C#$*ring … didn’t check that one out), shop windows displaying potential, um, girlfriends, “pizzerias” selling the worst looking old/cold pizza in the world, and huge swans and egrets all over the place just hanging in the streets and/or the water.
There are also a ton of community bikes around here, which might account for the cabs. After leaving the hotel I walked around for a bit just to get my bearings and see how the town’s changed since I was here at age 19 with my buddies Carp and Sean. All I wanted was one beer and some food before calling it an evening, since I knew after leaving Carp’s wedding (shout-out!) reception to embark on 15 hours of flying across the Atlantic, one beer would probably have the same effect as half a bottle of Nyquil.
After buying some frites (from a guy who must have known I was American since he gave me mayonnaise and ketchup), I walked about half a block before I was drawn like a moth to a flame to something flickering in the window on the corner — the Clippers playing the Mavericks on SkySports!
Yep, I’m a dork. I’m in Amsterdam, and the place I choose to buy an Amstel Bock is a tiny sports bar with a 15/1 guy/girl ratio, just because it has an NBA game, any NBA game on. I would have been livid if the game involved either the Lakers or Warriors however, because the bartenders turned off the televisions midway through my beer due to some weird thing that in the Netherlands they have named “last call.” At 1 am.
Oh well, that’s probably a good thing since I’m so braindead I can only imagine how unfocused this post is going to seem to people who read it tomorrow. But really, last call at 1 am … in Amster-frickin-dam? So I left the bar on my way back to the hotel, completely lost since my sightseeing tour took me through about eight Heineken sign-covered alleys, and in the alley outside the bar there were twelve cabs waiting for fares. Please forgive me. I live in San Francisco, where if you call a taxi company for a ride to the airport or the BART station it’s a 50/50 shot they even show up, and hailing a cab after last call is right up there with capturing Bigfoot on film. A fat hooker wearing ill-fitting lingerie soliciting everyone walking by through a red-lit window? No surprise. But having (no kidding) seven cabs pull up to me as I was walking the five blocks back to my hotel, competing for my services? From where I come from, that’s true debauchery.
A couple final notes: I cannot believe how much they talk about Obama around here. Half of the channels in my hotel room were talking about Obama at the same time, how he and his wife met with George and Laura Bush. On the way here I every German-language newspaper people were reading had Obama pics on every page, including a drawing of Obama with one of those Russian furry hats.
The final note, right now I’m watching BBC News, and they just showed Mike Ditka interviewing Mike Singletary, followed by an amazing Cards/Niners breakdown by a British guy and some unknown (at least to me) American, who just suggested that Patrick Willis might be the best player in the NFL right now. The British guy said, “Bold statement. He’s a defensive end, and was Rookie of the Year last year, how is he holding to form?”
Uh oh, I think they might play the Niners/Cardinals game live on BBC, but it’s 2 am right now and I have to work tomorrow. If they show this game I might have to drink Red Bull for the first time in quite a while.
What, Allen Rossum takes back the opening kickoff 104 yards? I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow…