On Europespedition I: Neds wiv de leds (II)

  • This report is a part of the following series: Europespedition I: Neds wiv de Leds.
  • This piece was written over a year ago. It may no longer accurately reflect my views now, or may be factually outdated.
  • This piece was originally written for my old site, Oh What? Oh Jeez! As such, it may not have transferred over properly and some images and links might be broken (and, to a lesser extent, my writing from years ago is about 80% run-on sentences).

What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? -it’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

Sal Paradise, On the Road

Part One

Day 4

We got a nine thirty shuttle and felt like arse to the point where when we checked in at the Flying Pig Downtown again we couldn’t bring ourselves to tell the receptionist we’d been before and quietly listened to the whole induction talk again. It was bags in the lockers and back outside to the Dam Square where we met Huss’ sister and her two friends, the three having booked a trip to Amsterdam coincidentally for the same time as we were there. Huss was stunned when his sister asked if he’d been into the Amsterdam herb and that she would be tomorrow and before long they went off on their merry way whilst we went to 420 Cafe, where we had been told by Australian Dan we could get space cakes; Scrot wanted to try some weed but wasn’t a fan of smoking so this seemed like a good compromise. We took them to a big outdoors café and had them with bitterballen (about the only Dutch food we could pronounce). Scrot heeded not my warnings and ate the whole thing at once whilst I had half and we decided we should probably get back to the hostel sharpish, just to be safe. After about an hour they kicked in and Scrot was on his arse in bed staring up at the ceiling. We left him and played pool for a bit whilst I finished mine and so coasted on the longer but more manageable high. When we went back upstairs, Scrot was a goner. Wheenie and Huss went to get KFC but I was too comfortable and Scrot was practically unconscious so we stayed back.

The evening came and we decide to go out, leaving Scrot to his dreams. We meet back up with Huss’ sister and her friends and go on a pub crawl; the first place is just off the Dam Square and when they say pints were €8, the ripple of disbelief as the news travelled down our group sums up how different Amsterdam’s deal was to Noordwijk’s, where hostel pints at happy hour (9-11pm) are €2.30. We eventually find a string of places with €5 pints which is about as good as we were going to get. The best is Ziggy’s Bar off Oudekerksplein, a small pub with an upstairs pool area above a basement room at the back. One of Huss’ sister’s friends has her first shot come straight back up and the other is named Giselle, but had been nicknamed Jizz by her friends until they reached the age where they realised Giselle wasn’t a name you could shorten in polite company. We also find a place that gives girls free shots with every pint bought, which we very much take advantage of. Huss’ sister decides to buy me a pint or two and even chips in for some of my McDonald’s at the end of the night when I run out of money; we’ve been making jokes about picking up Huss’ sister for about a month now and she goes and ends up paying for my drinks and treating me like the girl. No complaining here though; someone Dutchier than a Dutch will always welcome free things. We eventually part ways and walk back to the hostel where Scrot is still sleeping. The night is obscenely hot and the wankers in the next room had nicked our fan so everyone has a rough night.

Day 5

Around the half-point of the trip was the only day on which we didn’t drink. We kicked it off by trekking to the EYE Film Institute Netherlands which was doing a month-long David Cronenberg exhibit and end up watching Videodrome. No-one is quite sure what to make of it once it’s done but we all think we probably enjoyed it. Wheenie and Huss had been convinced to give brownies a go so we went back to 420 Cafe. Neither had any experience with weed so they got one to share between them. Back in the hostel they crack in. It’s too hot to do anything outside so Scrot and I are fine to stay with them. Wheenie’s kicked in whilst we were walking back to the hostel so by the time we’re there he’s already a write-off. Huss’ kicks in shortly after and they sit together on the bed with Scrot whilst I lounge on the other. Wheenie lucks out with a giggly high and routinely laughs silently for minutes until he’s fallen to one side. Huss freaks out a bit and comments that every time [he] moves his head, it’s like someone squeezing his eyes like a sandwich [sic]. He thinks he’s dying and we help and reassure him by taking the piss and quoting The Inbetweeners. On the subject of The Inbetweeners, one downside we discovered of being a group of four eighteen-year-old English boys is that every last person we met from the Anglosphere immediately called us it. I suppose it could have been worse; when we inevitably asked which ones we all were, Wheenie and I got a healthy mix of Simon, Will and Neil (the Neil shoutout having been accompanied with a spirited defence of how he was the best of the group and had the most game), Huss was deemed too mysterious to even guess at and, best of all, Scrot was unanimously Jayed by the about sixteen Anglos we met.

After a while of lazing in the room, Scrot said he was too ill to do anything and went to bed (he was dealing with some sort of cold he’d picked up the night before and went on to infect the entire group and probably more than that with his weely bad sniffles, as we christened the condition to take the Michael) and the other two were either already asleep or just in a world of their own so I made my way back to the venerable smoking room. There was a girl from Virginia on her own so we ended up spending a few hours talking and smoking. When she left I finally asked her her name which turned out to be Laura Lee; about as stereotypically Virginian as I think a person could get. Images of dungarees and a wheat stalk lolling out of her mouth popped into my head but she had been lovely so I giggled internally as we said goodnight and she went up to bed. I eventually got up and joined a group of people on the cushion mound: an Australian, who was a bit too out of it to say an awful lot; an Asian guy from somewhere, possibly also Australia, who was similarly gone; and an Argentinian girl from Buenos Aires who strongly resembled Katheryn Winnick’s Lagertha from Vikings, which was certainly nice. We talked for a while about how beautiful Patagonia is and what life in Buenos Aires was like, and just as with the Brazilians never had any trouble understanding each other, even with her limited grasp on English. I think some things are universal enough that you can get someone’s gist just by the way they say something, regardless of the language they say it in. Things like a hearty swear after a stubbed toe, or how cool 260,000m2 semiarid scrub plateaus are. I was starting to feel the call of the bed so said goodnight and made my way back up to our furnace of a room.

Day 6

We woke and got on the midday shuttle back to the beach hostel, on which we met Aussie Jon (or Jaussie as Huss coined but I never really warmed to it), a perpetually high man who communicated almost entirely in giggles. By the end of the 45min trip, we’d all become fast friends and I ended up spotting him some of my own stash because he’d forgotten to stock up in Amsterdam before going to the hostel, the nearest coffeeshop to which was a 20min bus ride away. When we arrived and checked in we went down to our room and saw the Australian woman again. Oh, you’re back, she said with all the enthusiasm of the prison bitch as Brick and T-Bone come back to the cell with a shifty look. I promised to be less irritating to her this time around and she seemed to trust me and replied with a laugh and it’s okay. Upstairs we met Swedish Chris again, along with an Aussie girl and her Kiwi friend who were christened Hot Australian Girl and Friendzone, respectively. Later that night, and further cementing the beach hostel as the greatest place in the world, the bar was turned into a cinema and everybody watched The Room. As a testament to the universality and simple magic of the film, a quartet of Danes arrived midway through and immediately shouted out ooh, za Rüm! A middle-aged couple also arrived and the woman commented that she didn’t get why people watch the film. By the end of it, she was joining in the jokes from the back of the bar.

After the film, we speak to the Danes for a bit and I repeatedly call them Swedish, which I now wonder if counts as racism. Drinks are had and the others go to bed so it’s time for the by now well-rehearsed shuffle to the smoking room to mingle with the night birds. For some reason, the smoking rooms always seemed populated a few hours later into the night than the bars at the hostels. Unsurprisingly, Aussie John is there having a giggle and I spend the time with him and a bunch of the staff, including Jacob the ponytailed New Zealander from before and Craig, the Scousiest Scouse I’ve ever met who may or may not work at the hostel but who is never seen without his vape in one hand and a pint in the other. There I carve out my spot in the hostel lore when I ask if the Red Light District has a happy hour, a question that sounds far more reasonable in my head than out loud and which brings forth a torrent of laughter and a promise from Craig to bring that up to every guest the hostel ever has. The night ends on an entertaining note when Hot Australian Girl wanders in plastered, speaks to me just long enough for me to get her name and passes out on the smoking couch. When you are such a state that the phrase it’s okay, she’s got a pulse has to be shouted and you don’t react in any way to having a bucket of ice thrown on you, you perhaps need to re-evaluate the way your life is going. Jacob is getting increasingly concerned as some of the people in the smoking room grow a bit leery towards her and so takes her up to bed. I follow suit.

Day 7

In the morning, Summer (the real and easier-to-type-repeatedly name of Hot Australian Girl), Scrot and I lounged on the sofas and I had the pleasure of recounting how much of a tit Summer made of herself the night before, which was as much news to her as it was to Scrot. Summer looked about ready to curl up and die from embarrassment and we got to know her as the rest of the group woke up and joined us. As well as giving us a handy scale for quantifying how off their face someone is (with 1 Summer of smashedness being equivalent to her the night before), she also gave us excellent piss-taking material when she popped into a conversation about the various countries’ Mountain Dews tasting different by asking if it was because they were from different mountains. During the day spent entirely at the sofa area I discovered new and wonderful ways to sprawl over wherever I’m sat, which ended up with me on a throne-like chair with a high back and an arm down the back, leg over the armrest. A comment on the kingliness of the repose led to me having to elaborate on my fantasy of lounging around whilst being fed peeled grapes, fanned softly and having a dwarf dressed like a cherub prancing around playing a tiny harp. I have perhaps watched too much Rome.

Before long we’re joined by three San Diegans (Trejo, a half-Mexican natural storyteller and seemingly the Jeremy Clarkson of their group; Burger, the slightly quieter but no less entertaining Richard Hammond of it; and Erica, the even quieter mum of the group, as she later said she hates being identified as, and therefore taking the James May position) and an Austrian (I forgot his name, but kept calling him German which brought me to the same maybe-racist place I was in with the Danes the day before), travelling together. They introduce us to the magical world of 24-bottle crates of beer for €12 from the nearby supermarket, as well as the drinking game Buffalo. We end up buying three of the former which combines with the latter to contribute to hours of drunken stories and banter, the most recurring of which revolves around Summer becoming a hooker and Trejo her pimp. Despite the bizarre roads it travels down, including just how concise a proposition would be successful (considering she was known as Hot Australian Girl the night before, we eventually whittle it down to Sex?) and god knows where else, she stuck around the whole day, which either says something about her personality or about the availability of other company. Whilst at the shop to pick up a third crate, the San Diegans and Austrian miss their shuttle. When we get back, Erica is understandably somewhat ticked off but soon gets over it; I imagine that sort of thing happens often enough. Scrot has suffered from Buffalo more than anyone else whereas I break the game by keeping two bottlecaps in my right hand to keep it off-limits.

At some point, Erica and I go off to the smoking room whilst back at Fort Sofa the drinking continues. We sit on the cushion area (or rather she does; I sprawl as is my custom) and she smokes a brown plant, I green. Here is where I learn that weed is only a good social drug when everyone’s on it as I end up constantly forgetting who I’m with and where I am and instead staring at a really nice grain in the wood or whatever else. Every time I do, I come back and feel like I’ve been silent for ages and worry how awkward it must be for her, but she reassures me that it’s fine and seems to be laughing enough that I’m willing to believe her. She gives me her travel diary to read, which we had all signed earlier with things varying from an elaborate drawing of a friend ship from Huss and Wheenie to an elongated “cuuuuuuuunt” from me in lieu of having any better ideas. It’s strange to have someone I met an hour or so ago share all those intimate stories with me; she writes candidly about her hopes and fears, her personal thoughts and her adventures. Maybe it’s a travelling thing to trust that those you meet will be sympathetic to you out of a sense of reciprocity; a sort of traveller’s karma. Or maybe she’s just an open person, who knows.

We talk for a few hours about travelling and the diary stories, relationships, music, uni (she’s off to do a course in Engineering; between that and Swedish Chris’ Computer Science, there’s some really nice representation of the STEM subjects this trip to counteract all the liberal arts students and the idea that we can’t be cool too) and she ends up with a recommendation from me to listen to Pat the Bunny after she says she’s into folk and I see a chance to know at least one person who may someday listen to him, as well as a reinforcement of someone else’s recommendation to read On the Road, the fifth part of which is one of the most stirring things I have ever read and makes me long cripplingly for a trip to 50s-era Mexico. Aussie Jon also comes in and becomes a fan almost immediately when she says she enjoys rolling and offers to do it for him. I take advantage of the service too but the next shuttle is due soon so we go out and rejoin the others.

As soon as we’re back in the bar, I’m assaulted by noise and Summer who appears out of nowhere and shouts in my face asking where I’ve been. Following the noise to the pool table, it turns out that in the time we were gone an entire beer pong tournament was held and we arrived just in time for the final. It’s England vs. America and Erica gets press-ganged into service for her country. For some reason Summer ends up having to lay beneath the pool table for a bit after either succeeding or failing to do something and I realise I don’t know the rules to beer pong at all. Somebody wins, and I think it may have been England, but it’s hard to tell. The San Diegans and Austrian say their goodbyes and go to their shuttle. Just before they go, Scrot gets a picture of me, him and Erica in what is one of about five photos of me taken on the trip and the only photographic record that I smiled at any point, or whatever you’d call this:

The night is yet young and we all end up splitting up again. The others go to the beach with some randies whilst I join Aussie John in the smoking room, along with: an Argentinian guy named Francisco who is so perpetually smiley that his eyes end up looking like Brock from Pokémon‘s; two Canadian girls, Stefanie and Angela; two Asians from America, one a New Yorker and the other from a state with an ‘o’ in the name; Penthouse Kris, a Norwegian who is staying in the fifth floor single room which was about as close as the Flying Pig got to a penthouse; and Maxine, a New Yorker on shrooms who spends the entire night staring blankly at the wall opposite. The New Yorker Asian spends the night freaking her out by staring at her and looking away whilst Aussie Jon and the Canadian girls figure I’m drunk enough to mess around with; Aussie John tells me the Canadians’ names the opposite way around and I’m baffled as to why the wrong one keeps turning around when I call them, whilst one of the Canadians offers me a mint and says it’s ecstasy. I’m digging either, so nab it straight away and get a lecture about not taking random pills from strangers that perhaps has a very good point. Penthouse Kris and Francisco end up losing it when I have to explain what the term gash means; Penthouse Kris more so as he decides I sound exactly like James May and that that is the funniest notion he’s ever encountered. Eventually the gang returns and Scrot tells me of their adventures on the beach; there have been hilarious lip-locked pairing of boys and girls and the culprits are sure to be suitably piss-took in the morning for their parts in the debacle.

The night looks to be ending on a similarly high note when Summer has a bit too much again and has to be piloted to safety by Friendzone, but not before vomming down the stairs (much to the chagrin of the Parisian girl working on cleanup duty who comes in to loudly exclaim that it smells of death in her thick French accent and then furiously hoovers afterwards) but ends either on a low note or an even higher one, depending on your perspective, when we end up faffing around on the hostel computer with a staff member from London who we introduce to eFukt (careful with that link) and who shows us Brazilian fart porn before we go off to bed. An ignominious way to end a night perhaps, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve read Bashō’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and I feel this day was just as deserving of a haiku as any sight he saw:

Meeting great people,
The reason for travelling—
Brazilian fart porn.

Part Three

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