Europe Farwell Tour Day 4: In which I ingest a questionable substance in Amsterdam

Yes, the rumours about Amsterdam are true.  The “coffeeshops” dotted on every corner heave with partakers from morning to late.  Pot smoke doesn’t just waft, it penetrates everything – by dinnertime, you are breathing about 40% air and 60% second hand pot smoke.  And the infamous Red Light District?  As it sounds – a square of several blocks teaming with sex shops, coffeeshops, and yes, ladies beckoning from red backlit windows.

It strikes me that I am the wrong demographic for Amsterdam.  I don’t care, I love it.  Wander along the canals, shimmering with golden lamplight, and try not to fall in love with this city.  No house or building is alike, and they lean whimsically – as if the city arched its spine and the buildings shifted to and fro like disjointed vertebrae.  It’s something to do with the foundations, having first been built of wood, then re-poured with cement.

Amsterdam has about 1,000 bikes per capita. *Photo courtesy of Sal.

Amsterdam has about 1,000 bikes per capita. *Photo courtesy of Sal.

We stop for tea in the courtyard of Hofje Wijs – a charming café on Zeedijk with a respectable selection of teas and coffees.


Of course, the menu’s in Dutch but sprinkled with English.  White…red…green…even ‘blue tea’!  Never heard of that, let’s give it a whirl…I order something called “Opium Hill”.  Sal raises an eyebrow.

“You want to ask what’s in it?” he mummers.

“No, I’m just going to try it.”

The tea comes out in a lovely metal pot, decorated in leaves that look like…marijuana.

“Um…”  Sal nudges me, “you sure you don’t want to ask?”

I pour a bit into the teacup.  It has a golden colour – not blue at all.  I take a cautious sniff.  It smells like tea.

“I’m sure it’s fine,” I say with confidence I no longer feel.  “Besides, I don’t think you drink weed.”

Sal disagrees and we debate this quietly.  “They put it in brownies.  You eat brownies,” he argues.

I raise the lid of the pot.  “It looks like tea.”

He laughs, “It’s leaves!  What else is it going to look like?”

“Maybe there’s weed in your beer,” I jeer.  He’s drinking a very benign-looking beer, golden with a silky foam on the top.

I take a tiny sip – it has a light, buttery taste.  “It tastes like tea.”

Well, the only thing to do now…is wait.

Look closely at the teapot...

Look closely at the teapot…


2 responses to “Europe Farwell Tour Day 4: In which I ingest a questionable substance in Amsterdam

  1. Gillee…my friend…you TOTALLY need to publish this stuff. You craft word pictures which take the reader to where you are. Tinged with enough humor and humanity, I thoroughly enjoy reading your journal.

    BTW: I too have been to Amsterdam…I too didn’t fit the demographic (middle aged American protestant minister)…but I too LOVE that city!

    Peace, grace and blessing to you and Sal.
    David Walton

    • David!!! it is so awesome to hear from you! when did you go to Amsterdam? how are you? we sure miss you all.
      thank you for saying so, i am very flattered 🙂 i have been using this blog as practice for writing, so who knows? i am glad it has been well received.
      give our love to everyone!!

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