Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Amsterdam IV: YMCA at -20 degrees.

We had walked thirty seconds from the hotel when we stumbled upon the first rainbow flag, a second followed and then a third. "We're home!" Lee said joyously pointing out the flags. We started to notice them on coffee shop doors, hairdresser windows and of course flying high above bars, clubs and sex shops. "Are we in the gay district?" I asked Lee puzzled to the sheer amount of high flying pride flags.
"Maybe. I don't know." We ventured out a little and stumbled upon a flower market and a Christmas shop. "I guess there's something for everyone here." We wandered the streets and it wasn't long till we found another pocket of rainbow flags. Gay bar, gay bar, gay club, sex shop, gay bar, gay book shop. "Gay book shop!?" I said happily pausing outside it. "I thought they only existed in the films! Let's go in."
I dragged Lee inside and we began browsing. We passed the magazine rack as we went in, "Oh look Cal, there's the magazine you work for full time." I didn't correct him, the store owner looked impressed. I chose a book, bought it, and left.

We wandered for a little longer and ended up on a long winding street littered with coffee shops bars and clubs. Rainbow flags flying every which way you looked. I could hear Raining Men playing somewhere near by - (Weather Girls, not Halliwell)
It was at this point we realised that Amsterdam is possibly the best place we have ever visited. We entered one of the bars at random; we picked up the cocktail menu and browsed the large variety of drinks. I forget what we had now, but it was red, one of the nicest things that has ever passed my lips and cost 9 Euros each.

"We'll just have one, it's very expensive here". 10 minutes later we were ordering a second. Pornstar Martini. 10 Euros. The bar lady brought it over to our table, a glass of fruit licheur, a shot glass of prosecco and a slice of passion fruit in another shot glass. "What the hell do we do?"
"I have no idea..."
"Drink them separately?"
"I don't know!"

In the end we mixed them all together, and it was delicious. "Laziness! That's what it is, she couldn't be bothered to put it together herself!" The British pessimism began to take over. Nearly 40 Euros we managed to spend within the space of 15 minutes. "Shall we order thirds?" It was tempting, but we managed to leave with our pockets not entirely empty. The problem is, when I have a wad of Euros in my pocket, I forget that it is real money, it looks like monopoly money and I just can't take it seriously. If Britain ever decides to drop sterling and pick up the euro I think I will be a very, very poor man.

After our visit to the Amsterdam dungeon, and Madame Tussauds, (more on that later!) we were given a free ticket, with two drinks included, to the ice bar. It took some convincing, but Lee finally agreed we would go. We found a map and used a canal bike (that's a pedello to you and me) to travel. - Which by the way, I crashed three times and Lee manoeuvred suspiciously professionally. Even when we got stuck in the middle of a canal roundabout with a canal cruise boat heading towards us at top speed.

We eventually managed to reach the ice bar and a man explained that the next 'show' wasn't for another hour but we could sit at the normal bar till then. We did, and ordered yet another 10euro cocktail each. We watched the woman making them, and a camera man began to film her. She handed us our drinks to which we began arguing over who ordered what.

"No, you ordered the melon daiquiri, you said, shall i have a daiquiri and I said yes!"
"Noo. You ordered that. I wanted the strawberry mojito, you wanted the daiquiri!"
"No! That's not true! We can share them both if you like, but i did order the mojito."
"You didn't! The lady said what flavour and you said melon."
"Yes because you were sat looking blankly at her."

It was only at this point we noticed the camera man had turned his camera to us and had been filming our entire argument. I tried to wave him away but he only came closer to us. "What's this for?" I asked him, beginning to drink from the melon daiquiri (which I did not order). He pointed at the screens all around the bar. If you happen to be in the Amsterdam area, pop into the ice bar where you will see me and Lee arguing about cocktails on 18 plasma screens.

We sat in the bar sipping our unbelievably delicious cocktails until the relaxed chilled music cut off and was replaced by the exorcist theme tune, really, really loudly. "What's happening?" It was terrifying; they really could not have chosen a worse thing to play. Everybody was suddenly struck by panic; it's a song that strikes fear into everybody's heart. Why oh why did they chose the exorcist theme tune of all things. "It's time for us to go in!" Everybody started running about. It was surreal. I downed the remnants of my cocktail and rushed over to the ice bar entrance, Lee following at my heels. We were given enormous puffer coats, (I don't know what they're really called but I’m sure you know what i mean) and gloves. We were then ushered down a corridor and into what looked like a freezer. Inside everything was made of ice and it was bloody well cold. The bar was made of ice, the stools were made of ice, the walls were made of ice, and funnily enough the ice sculptures were made of ice. We were temporarily Eskimos.

I went to the bar to claim our free drinks, the lady pointed at several dozen already made up cocktails in glasses of ice. I picked one up in my gloved hand for Lee and then went to pick up one for myself. Instead of picking it up I managed to knock it, as well as twelve other glasses, over. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pick up a glass made of ice in padded gloves? The lady didn't look angry, she laughed at me and shook her head. She made me another drink and placed it in my hand. "Got it?" she said still laughing. I nodded and went to find Lee shivering in the corner. The music shortly followed. First, Cold As Ice, then Ice Ice Baby, then Frozen, I was wondering if they could manage to keep up the ice related songs for the whole thirty minutes. They couldn't. They played Ice Ice Baby a second time, then put on the YMCA. Trying to hold on to our ice glasses Lee and I attempted to do the YMCA. It's incredibly difficult at -20 degrees. To which a camera man appeared and took a photo of us.

(it cost me 11 euros for this photo and it came out all blurry. Daylight robbery is what that is)


  1. Wow this sounds like a very fun (if expensive) time! I know what you mean about euros... I seem to end up spending hundreds of the little buggers when I go away, only to be massively stung when I realise how shitty the exchange rate is!

  2. Yeah it's so easily done! I gave myself a budget of euros because I knew I would do exactly that. I feel like I spent nothing, it doesn't feel like real money - monopoly money as i said :o X

  3. Just tell yourself you're on holiday so it doesn't count (in the same way that calories don't count!). You've made me want to go to Amsterdam now, lol

  4. I have the good fortune of having the inability to put on weight, I never count calories. Bring on the cake! Unfortunately though because of all the free time I have not worrying about calories I spend this time worrying about money. x