Houses in a Row, Amsterdam

As I told you in a previous post, my purpose in going to Amsterdam was hash and hookers to meet up with my friend Annie. Doing so was severely delayed by Spanish air traffic controllers striking (on her end) and shite weather (on my end). Fun! We were supposed to be reunited Saturday afternoon, but didn’t see each other until a full day later. Barf.

Amsterdam is apparently a busy place on the weekends, and more so on this weekend, because it was St. Nick’s Day (sort of like Christmas, but bigger in the Netherlands). Incidentally, we couldn’t find a couch to surf and stayed in a hostel (last picture above). Those aren’t our bottles, fyi. It wasn’t the end of the world, but…it could have been better.

While waiting for Annie in the train station I was passed by two girls in blackface dressed as jesters. WTF?! was my initial reaction. No one else seemed to take note of their outfits/racist-ass-ness. They passed a black man and giggled (at him). What? What was this? I thought the Netherlands were progressive, not retrogressive x10,000. Turns out, as we were told by a movie theatre manager later that night, St. Nick, according to folklore, has twelve black “slaves” (no uncertain term, that). So people like to dress up as them to celebrate (you can find the history of the holiday here, with a decided lack of slave-mentioning). Another girl we asked later told us that the slaves aren’t black because of their ethnicity, rather it is soot from the fireplaces they go down that gives them their color. Huh. Either way, the second group of people I saw dressed up as jesters had painted themselves green – maybe there is such a thing as “PC” in the Netherlands, after all.

Below you’ll find pictures from my first trip to Amsterdam – taken ten years ago with my dad! It was surreal to pass by our hotel as I was going into the train station and realize I’d stayed there ten years before. And the last picture – that’s me with the Dalai Lama in Madame Tussaud’s. Oh, the joys of being thirteen…

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