What is a Smart Shop? I Was Way Off!

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Photo: psicotropia.wordpress.com                                    Photo: campusblog.nl

When I first moved to Amsterdam and saw these “Smart Shops”, I honestly thought they were some sort of small electronics stores selling little gizmos and gadgets. I mean, it is a “Smart Shop” after all.

However, it is the complete opposite as it’s a shop that sells organic, legalized drugs from your magic mushrooms, to your cannabis seeds in which you can grow your own marijuana and of course, endless paraphernalia. You can see where one could get confused considering when anyone consumes these types of drugs… Well, the side effects don’t exactly scream “smart”.

Let’s just say it was a little awkward when I walked in, took a confused look around and asked, “Do you sell 16GB Flash drives?”

Ummm, NO!

I guess it’s safe to say that if you consume too much of what they offer and malfunction, there won’t be a “Geek Squad” a la Best Buy (an American electronics store) to come to your rescue.

The name could be a little more straightforward such as, Get High Here ← or more cleverly, The Little Shop of Horrors/Dreams, depending on one’s experience.

If your curious, go in, act accordingly and take a look around. But remember that flash drives, scientific calculators or anything of that nature is not available.

Bieber Keeps on Truckin’ (AmsterGRAM)

I’m aware that Justin Bieber has been making waves in the media, and not for good reasons. He’s been upsetting a lot of other celebrities with his asinine actions and I’m sure after while, people will have had enough of him.

However, with these trucking school ads I found in a cafe bathroom, he must be planning for the inevitable collapse of his career. (What’s odd is I’ve been coming across a lot of fun things in bathrooms lately. The place to be, I guess!)

“Hit the Road”, Bieber, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more…. Has it really come to this point already?

He is even wearing the cliche “Trucker Hat”. Go Biebs!

Note: For you crazy “Beliebers”…. Before you get all fanatical, crazed and start revolting, know that this may not even be him. It just looks eerily like him and without fingerprints or dental records to prove otherwise… Well, then it’s him!

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Photo Source: Michael Skomsky/myrandomamsterdam

Shark Week!! (Or Lack Thereof)

shark 5 Photo Source: velociriot.org

As an expat, one thing I miss about living in the states compared to living in Amsterdam, aside from Wawa, Trader Joe’s and automatic transmissions, was the hype that surrounded the approach and start of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

Sure, I see the occasional commercial, but that’s only if you have the premium cable package that includes particular channels such as the Discovery Channel. If not, then you wouldn’t even know it existed here.

In the states I could go to a gas station to fill up my car and the pump attendant would ask, “You getting excited, dude?” About what? “SHARK WEEK MAN!!!”

I’m guilty too, as I would put a huge dorsal fin on the roof of my car and pump the theme to Jaws. No shame in my game! I even rolled the windows down! (Were gonna need a bigger car) 😉

See what I mean?

Even my mom called me the other day on my birthday. Was it to wish me a Happy Birthday? Nope! It was just a friendly reminder that Shark Week was coming up. They take Shark Week pretty serious on that side of the pond.

It was like a holiday, a celebration, another reason to look forward to summer. Who doesn’t love sharks?

Well, Amsterdam, I guess we could celebrate Herring Week instead. We can all go apeshit and shove loads of pickled herring in our mouths while listening to some “House Music” 🙂 Sounds like a damn good plan!

shark4 Photo Source: discovery.com

 

A Little Fun in the Bathroom (AmsterGRAM)

Urinating made fun! (Sorry if that sounds gross).

Just a little something I came across while hitting the bathroom in Cafe “De Groene Vlinder” (The Green Butterfly) in De Pijp.

When finished, I simply ran up the stairs screaming “GOOOOAAAAALLLLL”!!! A few funny looks from other patrons and I was on my way. No big deal, just a typical night in Amsterdam 🙂

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Photo Source: Michael Skomsky/myrandomamsterdam

The Top 5 Common Sounds of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a busy, bustling city that is thriving at all times of the day and night. Living here, you tend to get used to the sounds of the city pretty quickly. In some cases, your brain trains itself to react to certain sounds in different ways without even looking around you. You almost become a sound ninja! Here are my top 5 common sounds of Amsterdam, in no particular order, which I personally relate to, but I’m sure it could differ from person to person.

1. Tram Bells – The bells that ring from the tram when it is close to you or about to flatten you, is a sound that embeds itself into your head very quickly. So much in fact, after while there is no need to even look over your shoulder to see which direction it’s coming from. It’s almost like a 6th sense. You hear it, you move out of the way, and everything continues smoothly.

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Photo Source: Michael Skomsky/myrandomamsterdam

2. Bike Bells – This is an absolute “Sound of Amsterdam”. Bike bells play a huge role in our auditory intake. They can, however, be a little tricky. Of course, when riding along in the bike lane, other riders will ring their bell to warn you of their passing on the left. Others will ring it when coming down the street and a crowd of people are standing there like they’ve never heard of a sidewalk. Now the tricky part: unlike the tram, there are a million more bikes to look out for. So whether you are on foot and crossing the street or riding in a bike lane, there are so many bells going at once from all directions. It can be a little chaotic at times to say the least. But take a deep breath and instead of freaking out, just start ringing your bell even if for no reason at all. Pretend it’s a celebration! I’d rather blend in than get run over and stand out.

bikes Photo Source: bicycledutch.com

3. House Music – Ahh, yes, the ever so in your face all the time, house music. The Dutch are big fans of house music, as well as most of the young European population. I on the other hand, am not. Sorry people! That doesn’t mean I won’t go out and tear up the dance floor with friends that do enjoy it. Been there, done that! However, when the local cheese shop is pumpin’ some DJ (insert name here) while I’m trying to get my fill of free samples for lunch, it’s kind of a free sample mood killer. Also, I was confused for the longest time as to why it’s called house music. I thought, “Why the hell would anyone want to play this in their house?” House music? Like dinner music? “Hey sweetie, can you pass the potatoes?” PUMP, PUMP, PUMP, PUMP, PUMP! I can just imagine people gliding around their kitchens doing fist pumps while lathering up some nice soiled dishes after a fine meal with some even finer “house music”. But hey, whatever floats your boat, I guess.

DJ Photo Source: clashmusic.com

4. People Singing Aloud (Wilhelmus) – When I say “people singing aloud”, I don’t just mean people singing their favorite songs or the most popular, just reached #1 on the charts type of songs. I’m talking about the groups of Dutchies, usually on boats cruising down the canals, that will belt out the Dutch National Anthem known as Wilhelmus van Nassouwe or just the Wilhelmus. I’ve witnessed this on numerous occasions walking along the canals, or past cafes/bars. Of course there is usually beer involved, and lots of it, as if the consumption of beer automatically constitutes the public recital of the Wilhelmus. And don’t get me started on the melodic aftermath of a soccer (voetbal) game. I guess I should actually learn the lyrics (in Dutch of course) and chime in sometime!

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Photo Source: Michael Skomsky/myrandomamsterdam

5. “Volgende Stoppen” – Back to the tram! When riding the tram the automated voice will announce the stops along the route, whichever it may be. “Volgende Stoppen”, meaning “Next Stop”, will burrow itself into your brain like meerkats. So much that even when I’m not on the tram and just riding my bike, I find myself reciting “Volgende Stoppen” at stop lights, crosswalks, etc. It’s like a sickness. Ugh, I just did it again!

tram Photo Source: nl.wikipedia.org

Honorable Mention:

– Scooters – Scooters are a more common sound than the Wilhelmus, and just as common as the others I’ve listed, however, after while you really just don’t hear them anymore. As you get thoroughly used to it (you will very quickly), it kind of just sounds like a faint pack of flies buzzing around at all times. It’s one of those constant sounds, like the humming of a ceiling fan, or the running of a broken toilet, that you learn to ignore, which ultimately spares your auditory senses from the annoyance that it is. However, the same can not be said for house music. You WILL hear that!

scooter Photo Source: iamsterdam.com

When and if you ever visit or live in Amsterdam you will see exactly what I am talking about. Just stay alert so you don’t get plowed over by a bike, scooter, tram, or maybe even a boat full of singing Dutchies (I would stay on dry land in that case). However, have fun!!

Back in the A’Dam (Pride Weekend)

Hey all you My Random Amsterdam lovers, or at least I hope you all are 😉 I am back from my short hiatus after an awesome little trip to Varenna/Bellagio, Lago di Como, Italy (stay tuned for more).

While I was away from this gem of a city we all know as Amsterdam, Pride Weekend raged on as it will wait for no one. Boat parades throughout the canals, open air concerts, flags hung from anything and everything, such as the Westerkerk, and people hovering over the Amstel doing flips and whatnot with water jet packs. Gotta love some good, old fashioned fun!

Nothing but Love, Equality and Freedom my friends… Spread it, live it, learn it, love it!

photo Photo Source: Michael Skomsky/myrandomamsterdam