As I sat on the airplane after departing Amsterdam-Schipol airport heading back to Vancouver, I reflected on my three-week European getaway.
My girlfriend and I started our adventure in Amsterdam. I always get a feeling of peace when I'm in there. There is such a strange feeling about a place where I do not have to worry about opening my purse and having a big bag of Tangerine Dream fall out onto the floor.
Holland is very forward-thinking. I've talked to many Europeans along my journey and they all have the same thing to say. Holland's way of thinking is much safer then its European Union counterparts. Crime is down, money is being made for the Netherlands, which in the end is being used to bail out the countries that are bitching the most. At the same time, the dinosaurs of drug war are breathing down Holland's neck about making borders unsafe and being the gateway to the EU's drug problem. But no border in the EU has customs, so stuff would get through either way. Prohibition would only make things worse inside and outside of The Netherlands.
While the Netherlands was once a toking traveller's paradise, its conservative government has slowly back-peddled from the progressive times of yesterday. The Dutch are receiving such pressure from neighbouring countries that they have started to enforce a law that bans tourists from purchasing pot from coffee shops. To buy some buds, you must be a citizen with a "Weedpass". Some areas of the Netherlands have started to strictly enforce these laws and others places have been somewhat hesitant. Amsterdam is still the bustling city of red lights and marijuana for now, but if the government gets its way, it will no longer be the smoky destination we know today. It is sad. Taking the weed out of Amsterdam is like taking the Pyramids out of Egypt!
So after an eight-and-a-half-hour flight, I landed in Amsterdam. The only thing on my mind was going to the first coffee shop I could find, buying a bag of delicious herb, and sitting there smoking it to my head. There's no better feeling then getting a cappuccino and a fresh bag, sitting in the coffee shop, basking in ganja glory.
My girl and I took the train into town, and the first place we saw was Greenhouse Coffee Shop. My experience there inspired me to do a Secret Shopper blog on every pot coffee house I can (stay tuned for that). Unfortunately, this was the only coffee shop we stopped by, as we were only in Amsterdam for one day. Thank you Greenhouse Seeds for being the inspiration to my undercover coffee shop blog; it is much appreciated.
After satisfying the hungry green monster inside of me, I went to bed and woke up to fly to Athens, Greece, then Naxos Island. Knowing I would not have access to Mary Jane until we settled into Naxos, we spent the next couple days in Airports drinking Heineken during our many layovers. Once we arrived in Naxos we decided to rent a Jeep from a place right beside our hotel. After getting everything together with the rental guy, I had come to the conclusion that he probably knew where I could find some green. He was Albanian and spoke ok English, and even better Italian. After spending some time in Italy this past November, I learned the word "araba" means marijuana. So I pulled him and his cousins aside and asked them where to find it.
I've always been able to read people by their facial expressions. It doesn't matter where someone is from or what language they speak: body language speaks much louder than words. The rental guy smiled, and then said no. I knew right away I'd picked the right person to ask. I simply explained that I could tell by his face that I knew he did, in fact know where to find araba, while laughing at his attempted denial. He smiled again, then told me he would see what he could do. By the next night we were emptying a cigarette and stuffing our newly-purchased weed inside the empty smoke because we didn't have any papers. I paid 10 Euro for about half a gram, and half of that was sticks and stems. Either way, I was one happy girl! After five days on the beach it was time to go to Italy.
After another day of airports, a missed flight, and many Heinekens, we landed in Venice. Venice holds a very special place in my heart. No cars, only boats, and a lot of people walking. I'd previously found weed last time I was in Venice, but I was too caught up in all the Murano glass, and Venetian masks to find anything this time. Three days later we were are on a train to Cinque Terre, a group of five small villages on the North-Eastern coast of Italy. I'd not been to Riomaggiore before, and I really knew nothing about the place. Flying on a train through the mountains in a dark underground tunnel, we suddenly burst into sunlight and saw the beautiful Italian coast, with tall rocks and waves crashing along the shore. I had a feeling this was going to be the best part of the trip yet. As always, Italy did not disappoint.
We decided that we had three missions for the day: cliff jumping, wine and weed. We ventured out to ask the locals to direct us to the best place to jump in, and they specified the place. We picked up wine from the local market and ventured over to the cliffs for some fun. It was such a rush to jump off the edge of the coast into the salty blue-green water. I think the wine helped with my nerves a bit on those big cliffs! A few hours later we showered and got ready for the Italian football game that was on. The night brought us to a local bar and we sat and drank more Heinekens, and then all of a sudden the smell of the plant I love so much wafted past my nostrils as some Italian boys walked past. I got up, walked over and said the word "araba" and again, a smile told me the truth.
The marijuana was much better in Italy than in Greece. These five little villages pack a serious punch when it comes to hash. It was everywhere. Europeans mix tobacco with there joints, which I found a bit difficult to get past, but these boys were nothing but hospitable to us. We them two nights in a row, and smoked until we couldn't smoke anymore. I'm so thankful to be able to meet amazing people while travelling who share the love of marijuana with me! After a couple amazing days, It was time to leave Riomaggiore and head back to Amsterdam.
After a quick flight from Italy I was back in Amsterdam with the smell of marijuana and cheese. It's a comforting smell that makes Amsterdam feel like a second home. I love that city, and the Dutch people. Amsterdam is everything I would love to see in Canada. A bustling marijuana mega-machine with every type of store and business imaginable.
My next blog focuses on the coffee shops I went to in Amsterdam, and the regressive laws coming into effect in The Netherlands. Stay tuned!