BACK STAGE AT PEPPERMINT IGUANA HQ: Gigs, Festivals, Parties, CDs, Books, Protests, travels, photography and Cardiff City FC

Thursday, April 06, 2006

COFFE SHOPS, PHOTOGRAPHS AND WANDERING: looking for something in Amsterdam, but forgetting what!

For our first full day in the ‘Dam we had a bit of a mission, to find tickets for Therapy? in the Paradiso Club. First stop was Boudisque records, just around the corner from the hotel. No tickets there, but I did come away with the new Killing Joke album and a copy of The Slackers: An Afternoon In Dub. Then to gather our thoughts and work out where to go next in our search for tickets we popped into our first coffee shop of the day.

If I remember rightly, that first coffee shop was called Free Adam, a reggae style place in the Red Light District (don’t expect me to be able to remember all the coffee shops we visited). For those of you that do not know, coffee shops in Holland are a bit different to those in the rest of the world. They all sell coffee, and many sell beer as well, but what makes them special is that they also licences to sell cannabis. It is all very civilised, next to the coffee counter/bar you will find another area where you can check out a wide range of different types of ganja sold quite openly. Very often you will be presented with a menu listing everything available, usually split into Hash and Weed sections, if the menu does not describe what the difference between the items on the menu the ‘waiter’ will be happy to advise. Because of the legal status of the shops the quality of the ganja is high and you aint likely to get ripped off for a lump of car tyre. There are often bongs and/or vaporisers available for those that prefer not to smoke and skins are often free.

You don’t HAVE to smoke in a coffee shop and you will often find people hanging out there simply because the atmosphere is so laid back and chilled, people are nice to each other, friendly and I have never seen any agro in a coffee shop. They usually have decent music playing, which can vary from chilled out jazz or reggae, through to heavy rock and techno. There are big coffee shops aimed at the tourists, which are still more relaxed than a UK pub but tend to be less friendly than the small intimate shops. In total there are over 200 coffee shops in the Dam so it will take more than a few days to visit them all. But be warned, coffee shop have a different legal status to the rest of the city, so do not expect to be able to walk down the road toking or to sit in an ordinary café/bar with a spliff. Prospective visitors may want to check out The Smokers guide to Amsterdam.

Anyway, after an hour sat in Free Adam we continued our search for Therapy? tickets. Our plan involved wandering around the city looking for record shops, taking photographs of canals and occasionally stopping off for a coffee. Having missed breakfast (who wants to get up early for a ‘continental’ breakfast?) the munchies eventually led us to a nice little Italian restaurant, then a few more coffee shops.

I am not sure if we forgot we were looking for Therapy? tickets, or if we just stopped caring, but we never found any and we did not make it to the gig, but it did not seem to matter, we enjoyed ourselves anyway.

Inside 'The Doors'

I can’t remember all the places we visited during the day, but I do remember that we finished off in a coffee shop called ‘The Doors’ which was covered in pictures of Jim Morrison and played a nice mix of Pink Floyd, Free, Santana type stuff before getting chucked out at stop tap in the early hours of the morning.


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