Ravings From The Bog

Drugs, Hallucinations, Amsterdam & Middle-Age Stupor!
August 15, 2008, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Foreign Travel, Life, Memories, Weird & Wonderful | Tags: , , , ,

In June 2005, my wife and I visited Amsterdam for the first time.

Most people will know that Amsterdam is well known to tourists for two main reasons. Firstly, the somewhat seedy Red Light District and secondly, the proliferation of “Coffee Houses” in which it

 is legal to buy and smoke marijuana.

My wife, Geraldine, gave up smoking about twelve years ago and I have never smoked, so neither of us were up for smoking anything, but we thought it would be fun to try some of the “space-cake”, which are small sponge cakes laced with small amounts of marijuana.

Having taken some advice from an Amsterdam veteran, before we left home, as to how much we would need to eat to experience a high, we set off from our hotel on the first night there. The recommendation was as Marijuana virgins that one small cake between us would more than suffice.

We nervously entered the coffee house and selected seats near the door. I went to the bar and order two coffees and one space-cake. This was no bigger than a Satsuma or Mandarin orange. Arriving back at the table, I tried to divide the cake in two; not easy without a knife but I think I got it fairly even between us.

We were easily ten years older than the next oldest people in the coffee house and felt very self-conscious about even being there. As you can imagine, the cake was gone in one bite and the revolting coffee washed it down. After about twenty minutes of people-watching, I asked Gerry if the cake having any effect. Nothing! We decided to have another one – perhaps, we told ourselves, that this was a fairly tame variety. Again, twenty minutes later, nothing.

We gave up and started to wander the canal banks, staring, as tourists do, at the scantily clad women in the doorways, and the mainly male clientele hanging around. From there, we made our way to Dam Square and sat outside a bar and ordered a beer each.

Looking across Dam Square on this busy Friday evening, there were hundreds of people, including stag and hen parties, as it started to get dark. One particular gentleman caught my eye. He was in the middle distance, about one hundred yards away. He wore a trench coat and carried a brief case. At one point, he stopped walking and placed the briefcase on the ground. He then started to change into a scuba outfit, and he changed back and forth as I watched him about six times before I realised what was going on. As this started to dawn on me, I looked around at Gerry. She was smiling gormlessly at me and I started to smile back. We simultaneously burst into laughter. I grabbed my camera and took a picture of her (above) and she tried to take a picture of me and got my stomach (long ago deleted!) instead!

A minute later, we both felt something was horribly wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I knew I wanted to get back to the hotel as soon as I could.

We paid our bill and stood up. I’m normally very good with directions and I had a rough idea, having studied the map before leaving home, as to where we were and what direction we needed to go in. However, every 30 to 45 seconds, I felt myself switching in and out of lucidity. I took out the small tourist map I had in my pocket and started to try to align the Dam Square monument up with the church building in the corner of the square and then turn the map in the correct orientation, but every time I did this, I would lose concentration and would need to start over and over again. This happened over and over again.

At one stage, a taxi dropped off some revellers and I literally pushed Gerry into the back seat and asked the driver to bring us to our hotel. Thankfully, I could remember the name of the street at that point.

Once in the hotel room, Gerry burst into tears and pushed a chair under the door handle to better secure the room. It was about 2100hrs and we both got into bed and hoped the paranoia would go away. It didn’t for five or six hours! Ten minutes after getting into bed, our thirteen year old daughter text me to see how we were getting on.

We “discussed” whether we should answer the text, given the state we were in. Eventually, bleary-eyed, I tried with great difficulty to text coherently. Gerry was saying tearily, “Watch what you’re texting!” but eventually it was all safely sent.

The next morning was an experience not easily forgotten. The main sensation was one of feeling like my legs were made of sponge. Walking like an alien while trying to remain calm and display a façade of normality to people in the street was surreal. It was around 1500hrs before everything returned to normal.

I’ve tried various activities and experiences over the years, and this was one I would never repeat. I wouldn’t want to put anyone off though – everything in moderation!


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