Jan 27 2012

Amsterdam (& Haarlem) – 8th January

Category: Amsterdam,Friends,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 6:12 pm

Two days left in the Amsterdam 2012 photo series. Having missed out on getting over to Haarlem yesterday, ChrisB and I decided to commit to getting there come what may on Sunday. I sent a message to Cisco & gapie from the forum that the Haarlem trip was happening today, but by the time they’d picked up the messages it was too late. I think we got to Centraal station eventually around 4pm, and after a short train ride, found ourselves drifting towards a Burger King to fill up before our tour.
Using the GPS files built up in the last five years, we had already planned our route on the train, so headed off to Birdy. Having missed one required turn, we eventually just walked an inwards spiral until we found the right street. The premises didn’t seem to have any sort of sign on the front, so we popped in and checked it was the right coffeeshop. For people just buying some tobacco, one end of the bar is easily accessible. To sit down in the bar (no alcohol) you have to be buzzed through. I’m not sure if it was required, but flashed my UK driving license as ID and we went in. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the place, I suppose the real estate prices are a bit lower than Central Amsterdam. I had already decided which strains I wanted to sample, so grabbed some Amnesia and Jelly hash. The hash became difficult to store properly if it was anything slightly over room temperature, to the point that I lost about 5-10% in the end. Probably could have recovered it using a freezer, but didn’t bother. Nice smooth smoke. I grabbed a picture of the menu, after I’d chatted with the budtender(ess? ? is for the existence of such a term, not the applicability 🙂 ) and the owner a little. I explained what the Amsterdam Coffeeshop Directory and FbN’s fine services were. They were happy for the shots to be taken, some interior shots are missing as there were too many people around to get all angles covered and avoid snapping random strangers. The first couple of smokes hit hard, and after a few minutes of reaffirming the presence and operability of all limbs, I ventured up the tight(ish) spiral staircase to find the Gents. Upon arrival, I did take around 30 seconds to convince myself that I was heading to the right door – check out the photos below to see why. A little later, the lovely lady came over to our table and presented us with a couple of grinders as freebies. Call it welcoming a new customer/hoping for a positive review/karma/bribery, but the decor, vibes & products had won us over already 🙂
Despite Birdy having a very welcoming & chilled atmosphere, ChrisB and I were on a mission to cover at least a couple of coffeeshops, so we forced ourselves outside and wandered (with my Touch Pro2 reading out directions to my headphones via TomTom & the custom GPS set I took this year. Need to upload the updated versions to the Amsterdam page here) across a little stroll to find Theehuis. Quite different from Birdy in a few ways… a) There was a lovely clear sign that even bleary eyed, floating along travellers can see from a distance b) It was a lot smaller (not a complaint, room enough for a good 10-20 people to sit/stand and chat/smoke, just an observation) c) Birdy felt more like a dry bar with smoking, Theehuis was much more of a straight CS feel to it. We stayed for a while, again explaining who we were, where we hailed from, why we ended up there (at the time of visiting, most definitely a local hangout feel to it, but not elite/exclusive. Act like a tw*t and I can see them acting differently, but we only experienced curiosity, rather than the jaded frustration with high volumes of international visitors you sometimes feel in the more touristy CS in Amsterdam. Judging from the photos, I apparently bought some bubble here, unfortunately I have no idea what it was like. Hazy memory.
From here we decided to catch a train back to Amsterdam, as we had to pack our bags, tidy up the houseboat and checkout the next day. On the way we saw Willie Wortel’s Sativa CS, so I took a shot, but I was looking forward to a night of good tunes, great company with my mate, a few movies and starting to finish off the various products I had harvested over the previous few days. The journey back to KNSM island was uneventful, so I’ll finish this post now…

Birdy Grinder Gift

Birdy Grinder Gift

Bulldog PreRoll Case

Bulldog PreRoll Case

Bulldog PreRoll Case Again

Bulldog PreRoll Case Again

Haarlem's Burger King Refreshments

Haarlem's Burger King Refreshments

Birdy, Haarlem

Birdy, Haarlem

Birdy Internal Shot

Birdy Internal Shot

No Women Toilet, Birdy Coffeeshop, Haarlem

No Women Toilet, Birdy Coffeeshop, Haarlem

Birdy Internal Shot With ChrisB

Birdy Internal Shot With ChrisB

No Men Toilet, Birdy

No Men Toilet, Birdy

Theehuis External Shot

Theehuis External Shot

Theehuis Fake Crate Wooden Floor

Theehuis Fake Crate Wooden Floor

Theehuis External Shot

Theehuis External Shot

Theehuis Internal Shot

Theehuis Internal Shot

Theehuis Entrance

Theehuis Entrance

Theehuis Internal Shot

Theehuis Internal Shot

Willie Wortel's Sativa, Haarlem

Willie Wortel's Sativa, Haarlem

Haarlem's Main Train Station

Haarlem's Main Train Station

Click below to see more pictures…
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Dec 30 2007

Couldn’t Stay Away

Category: KazakhstanChrisM @ 2:11 pm

Whilst fiddling with back room stuff for this site, wanted to try a few things out, so here is the next section on Kazakhstan.

If someone thinks you look a little different to the accepted norm for a Russian or Kazakh person, they will simply stare at you. This shouldn’t be taken as an insult (or an invitation to get to know one another ;>). It is just if they want to cop a look, they won’t be subtle.
People have different coping mechanisms for this behavioural trait. Some avert their eyes, others pretend not to notice. Still others will decide to turn it into a juvenile game. Whoever breaks the stare first loses, and you can keep a tally through the whole day you are out. Once you are up at the end of a day (18-3 for example), you can assume you’re no longer feeling like such a wimpy foreigner. Ummm, or so my friends tell me ;>

Whilst we may all joke about English manners and overly polite social standards, standing in line for something over here is an experience you’re not likely to forget very quickly.
You’ll also be likely to quickly re-appraise your understanding of the term line or queue. People will have no shame, nor should you, about pushing their way to the front of what could have been a perfectly civil and organized wait for the bus/ticket desk/shop assistant/train/you get the idea.
I still draw the line at elderly/young people, other than that, its every queue jumper for themselves, ultimately. (This does tend to mean most elderly/young people get served/on the bus before me, but I have this thing against trampling over brittle bones/people smaller than me.)

Upon arrival/exiting the country, be it 8.30pm, 3.45am or 3pm, you’ll likely find yourselves being greeted with a small (OK, more likely a table laden with more stuff than you’d normally see for a ‘light’ meal) snack and some drinks, to celebrate your arrival/time in the country.
You might not feel exactly like wolfing the lot down, but if you take your time, with the food and the drink, you should do fine. DON’T feel obliged to down shots of Cognac/Vodka each toast. Unless that’s your adjusting mechanism to the flights & time difference ;>

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