“I’m not sure how anyone gets anything done around here!” I exclaimed to Kendra, my traveling companion, while lounging at one of Amsterdam’s infamous “Coffee Shops.” A hot chocolate on the table, a joint in one hand and a chocolate edible in the other. It was our fifth day hanging out in the Dutch capital, and by that point we had gotten lost in time and space and everything in between.
It had been very important to me that I see the Anne Frank House with a clear head, which I had done on the first day we showed up in Amsterdam. I followed that up with a Sandeman’s Walking tour, and knocked out practically all of the important and informational stuff in one afternoon. The first day we spent walking around the city, we got ourselves learnt, ya might say.
But by the evening of Day 1, it was game on! I probably don’t need to tell you that Amsterdam is known for being a stoner magnet, and this backpacker had every intention of spending the rest of the time there half baked.
I may have gotten more than I bargained for.
We stayed at a hostel called, “The Flying Pig” and spent every morning reclining in their Smoke-Out Lounge with other travelers on a rainbow of overstuffed cushions. We hit up a number of coffee shops, smoked a variety of flavored pre-rolled joints, bought several dime bags of strains I’d never heard of, ordered off of “Weed Menues” and had plenty of “Happy foods,” including some fantastic weed brownies. Then I had my first Space Cake.
Let me stop here for those of you who may not be familiar with what a Space Cake is and how to go about eating them, as I wish someone would have done for me.
A “Space Cake” can be any kind of cake, any flavor, shape, or size, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how it’s made. Generally the baker will boil weed or hash in butter and water for a long period of time, then chill the “butter” until it’s hardened. This butter is then used in an assortment of baked goods. The catch is the ratio of cannabis to butter. Some space cakes are a single serving, others are meant to be shared with two or four people. The “high” can take about 45 minutes to really hit you, peaks at about 2.5 hours, and lasts for about five.
I didn’t know any of these sweet little facts until well after I had my own encounters with the notorious Space Cake. So if you take anything away from my experience, let it be this: Maybe don’t eat that second cake ten minutes after you’ve eaten your first. You’re no cannabis superhero just because you aren’t, “Feeling it.” Your body isn’t suddenly naturally immune. And as much as you think you are, you aren’t a BAMF with a shockingly impressive high tolerance that seemingly came out of no where. Despite what you think, let me take the liberty to tell you what you are. You are just about 30 minutes short of a swift kick in the pants! So take off that red cape you’re prematurely tying around your neck, sit your ass down and enjoy the ride. Because at this point, there’s no getting off.
We spent a few hours lost in the three story Van Gogh Museum. To clarify, I mean both physically and figuratively lost. Afterwards I made it a point to indulge in the Dutch Patat I had heard so much about, which are thick fries served in a paper cone (much like the way you get candied almonds from the mall), with a variety of dipping sauces to choose from.
Since it was late in the year, Christmas Markets were in full swing. We frequented several of the chocolate-covered-fruit-on-a-stick stands enough times that, I’m almost embarrassed to say, a few of the vendors knew us by name.
We met a plethora of backpackers from every way of life and chatted for hours over food and drinks until the joints were down to gray ash and the pink and orange of the setting sun reflected low on the waters of the canals. The Christmas lights strung up over the town squares began to turn on. They, too, reflected off of the canal waters and seemed to float high and bright against the night sky. We strolled through the Red Light District as the women in the windows sat on stools and texted on their phones. Bicycles weaved around us and little bells went “ding, ding” as they passed. Mounds of leaves were piled up near street curbs and ducks lay nestled and sleeping on patches of grass between bicycle racks. It was a colorful and bustling haze of smells and sounds and the lively atmosphere lifted my spirits.
We moseyed into the numerous local shops, looking at, or through, or past, all of the knick knacks and collectibles we had no interest in buying. I spent a solid five minutes standing in front of a hoody that hung on the wall. It was navy blue and was sporting a neon green bicycle. It may have said, “Amsterdam” above the bike, or below, or not at all.
Kendra finally directed me out of the shop, “Geez, what’s the rush?” I asked, only half caring. To which she responded, “Rush? You’ve been standing in front of that damn hoody for nearly twenty minutes!”
Whether it was my concept of time that was off, or hers, it’s hard to say. But I do wish I would have bought that hoody. Instead I bought a chameleon piece from the next store over, and a magnetic grinder that read “Amsterdam” with green bold print above a marijuana leaf.
If I was awake, I was high. And if I was high, I was eating. So it was back to the chocolate covered fruit kabob stands for us!
The night rolled on. The cobblestone streets felt cozy and my body was warm beneath my jacket. All was well in my world.
As the days went by, we settled into our own little routine. Wake’n’Bake in the hostel lounge, then hit up a few coffee shops and eat. We’d admire all things beautiful, walk around tourist shops for much longer than your average customer and end up not buying anything at all. Then we’d eat. We’d find our way over canal bridges and through narrow cobblestone streets back to our hostel, and stop on the way, and eat. Then we’d fall asleep at night and wake’n’bake all over again the next morning. And eat, of course.
For five days we were creatures of habit. We were either spending time in the sunshine and the fall air, or reclining amidst a smokey cloud of fog in one coffee shop or another.
It was time.
We both knew it.
We needed to get out of Amsterdam. Little did I know what a nightmare that would be.
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