When In Amsterdam, Do As The Amsterdam…ian…er…ites… Do.

March 11, 2013

My Life In Stick Figure

Continuing from the first part of the story, getting to Amsterdam during my senior year of college… 

One of the things that came with being a “sampler’s pack” of backpackers was that we all had differing agendas.  We tried to overlap them, but this led to some, let’s say, conflicts of interest.


Southern Belle went on the offensive and planned her days on her own.  We agreed to give each other our itineraries so we could find each other, then went our separate ways.

I found the Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums, the Waterlooplein flea market and some great music all with ease, but definitely continued to be reliant on directions and help from strangers.  I’ve always thought it was obnoxious when Americans expect people to speak English, but it’s so pervasive in The Netherlands that it was genuinely shocking when someone didn’t speak it.


Met a group of Australians at the Heineken brewery tour.  Depending on your goals for the day?  Either adamantly avoid, or fervently cling to, Australians in a giant building full of beer.

*Author's note: there may or may not be an Australian game called "Squigeradoo."

*Author’s note: there may or may not actually be an Australian sport called “Squigeradoo.”

Between the long hair and my penchant for ratty sweaters, leather jackets and not shaving very often, I was approached by the drug dealers constantly. It was ironic, because my “Amsterdam = drugs” focused colleagues looked like they were, at any moment, about to tell you about the benefits of Amway.  They may be the only people in the history of Amsterdam to having trouble scoring pot.


I’d found us another hostel for the second and third night.  The beds had sheets.  It had showers.  After dinner and a shower so great I thought I’d cry, I decided to go for a walk on the second night.

One of my favorite things in new cities is to just walk around.  But I did a very dumb thing. I tried to use a physical landmark to remember where the hostel was. I told myself…


If you’ve never been there?  Yeah, it’s pretty much all canals.  It’s one of the things it’s known for.

I got very lost.  And it got very late.  I couldn’t even blame anyone this time.  Soon I was in an area that would be like the Red Light District of the Red Light District.  Where dominatrices go to really cut loose.  I found that the best way to get left alone is to look bored; another day at the grind.  So I looked bored.  Bored, bored, bored.  Ho hum.  It was, I think, one of my better acting performances.



When I finally found my way back – probably more because of covering every block of the city than because of getting re-oriented – I took another shower; this time in need of a more metaphoric cleansing.

The third and final night I stayed very focused on where we were in relation to the hostel.

The next morning we packed up to return to England.


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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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55 Comments on “When In Amsterdam, Do As The Amsterdam…ian…er…ites… Do.”

  1. 1pointperspective Says:

    I’ve always referred to people from Amsterdam as “Dutch”. It’s probably not politically correct, but I’m an American – no one is expecting PC behavior from me anyway.

    PS – Nice bowtie!


  2. ellynvv Says:

    Just to clear up the confusion- someone from Amsterdam is called an ‘Amsterdammer’ in Dutch. We always were a bit strange…
    Good post, especially liked the bit about your friends trying to score some weed hahaha, can’t believe anyone would that find that a difficult task (not that I’d know..)


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Well, the whole Netherlands/Dutch thing is clearly an attempt to throw everyone off, already, so it’s fitting that “resident of Amsterdam” would be a tricky one, too.

      Thanks for reading!


  3. Michelle at The Green Study Says:

    I spent most of my time in Amsterdam sick from food poisoning. Apparently, you shouldn’t eat raw meat sandwiches (what the hell were those?). The Red Light District grossed me out, but I’m a woman and was mostly sober. And I got lost and nearly killed by bicycles numerous times. Stupid American.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I once got pretty bad food poisoning in Wichita, Kansas. Apparently you also shouldn’t eat things with cow feces in them. Who knew?

      Between missing out on Wichita and missing out on Amsterdam, I think I got the better deal.


  4. Go Jules Go Says:

    I am so blinded by jealousy at your Heineken tour with Australians that I’m not sure I can comment on anything else.

    “The Red Light District of the Red Light District.” Ha! Loved that.

    Yayyyy stick figure stories! I suspect a good portion of them could be titled, “I made it out of this one alive? Huh.”


  5. mistyslaws Says:

    Sex in the street? Yawn.

    Every day, my friend. Every. Day.

    And maybe if you had been wearing the bowtie instead, you wouldn’t have been approached by so many dealers. Mr. Bowtie NEVER smokes pot!


  6. becomingcliche Says:

    I love the bow tie!


  7. spilledinkguy Says:

    Oh, good – I can be the first to mention windmills and tulips!
    Because I know you’re totally not expecting that.


  8. Pleun Says:

    I envy you for doing the Heineken brouwerij tour with Australians. That has got to be the way to go!


  9. Blogdramedy Says:

    The outside you wears ratty sweaters. The inside you wears a bow tie. Interesting.


  10. thesinglecell Says:

    OMG stick figures wearing glasses. I love it.


  11. Audrey Says:

    You phonetically wrote in Australian accents? That brings such joy to my morning, thank you a thousand times! The stick drawings are always great.
    And yes, how is it that those “landmarks” don’t really seem to work when you’re navigating parts of Europe? I did the same thing in Dusseldorf by using a statue of a man on horseback as my marker (there might well be millions of those statues in little squares around) and my only saving grace was finding someone else from my group.


  12. Barbara Backer-Gray Says:

    Yeah, in Holland, teens who smoke pot have a certain style of dress. In the seventies it was a raggedy hippie slash Vietnam war army surplus clothing. I wore that stuff but I didn’t smoke pot. That was possible. But generally no the other way around. When an American exchange student–dressed so dorky-prissily it was funny–told me she smoked pot, I almost fell off my chair in surprise.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      In some ways it’s the one’s who’ve repressed their wild side you have to watch out for. They get in to an environment where they give themselves permission to cut loose and suddenly it’s all venereal diseases and tattoos.


  13. Lorna's Voice Says:

    Now I understand why they are called “hostels.” Thanks for clearing that up.


  14. Daile Says:

    As an Australian I can confirm there is in fact a sport called Squigeradoo. It involves marsupials and Super Soakers….


  15. Elyse Says:

    Hey, I wonder if you were in the Red Light District the same day we wandered in with our 8 year old son! We were looking at the New Kirk which is on the right side of the road and the storefront with gyrating women was on the left. Somehow, the building’s architecture didn’t keep Jacob’s interest. (Or my husband John’s, either.)

    Amsterdamians. I relate. I’m from Connecticut and unless you just call me a Yankee, I cringe at the choices of Connecticutian, Connecticuter …. ite .. Oy.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      The bulk of the northeast seems to have that issue. Delawariers? Massachussettites? To me, Connecticut is simply “The place with the Mark Twain house, and where David Letterman gets all those speeding tickets.”


  16. UndercoverL Says:

    Your bow tie was the very best!


  17. Misirlou Says:

    Residents of Amsterdam are called “Amsterdammers”.

    Oh yes, I too have been lost in that fair city and wound up in the same place.Safest spot in town, really–the famous police HQ used to be on the Warmoesstraat, right there in the heart of the Red Light district.

    You’re right about the canals, but where we both went wrong is this: A’dam is built in concentric circles. You apply the American grid system to this paradigm, you get lost.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Hm, that’s interesting about the circular structure. And I remember seeing policeman and wondering if that’s kind of a disappointing job there. “Hey! Stop that!” “Why? Is it against the law?” “Uh… probably not…”


  18. Michael Says:

    I wonder: does the Red Light District of the Red Light District have a Red Light District? Is this like the Inception of Red Light Districts? Whoa.


  19. Michelle Gillies Says:

    Oh, you would be so much fun to travel with. Getting lost is the best way to get to know a place. I’m glad you were able to keep your “outside” kool and not come away with to many scarred for life memories.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Paris: great city to wander in. Not only is there going to be amazing, beautiful things everywhere, but if you get tired you know there’s going to be somewhere with fantastic food to sit and people-watch.


  20. Sandy Sue Says:

    You’ve got Bored Stick Figure down perfectly. Such subtlety! Such nuance! I think it’s time for you to do a Stick Figure Actors’ Studio. With Dutch sub-titles, of course.


  21. She's a Maineiac Says:

    God, to be young again! And wander around looking for canals and pot! I love the line, “We want to smoke the pot!” Good thing you didn’t actually end up going to Evergreen. I do believe they sold pot at little kiosks on campus, right in between the prayer beads and Starbucks lattes.


  22. pegoleg Says:

    Hahahahaha! Your stick figure drawings are genius. Pure genius. I’m laughing too hard to come up with a clever comment – I’ll get you double next time.


  23. susielindau Says:

    This is funny B-man. I especially loved the Australians. There have been times when arriving at a hotel that they were leaving, introduced themselves and gave us a card in case we ever need a place to stay. Friendliest people next to Wisconsinians, Wisconsinites? (I know it’s Madisonians) Cheeseheads!


  24. Valentine Logar Says:

    Brilliant, stick figures to tell the story. I can’t say anything I would reveal to much about my frequent trips to my favorite city and the deal I made with my bosses at the time about no random drug testing after my return from said city for 6 months. Since I visited frequently for work, well I went for nearly 7 years with not a single drug test.


  25. rachelocal Says:

    Catching up on my blog reading tonight. Sorry I’m late to THIS party. Is there any weed left? I would like to smoke the pot.

    I bet you and I would have been mistaken for the same person in our college years. I too preferred ratty sweaters and leather jackets. And if your stick figure drawing is any indication of hair length, we were twins.


  26. List of X Says:

    I was in Amsterdam once on a stopover between flights. That was a forced march through the city just to capture as much as possible in a few hours I had until my next flight. And my march passed the Red Light district sometime around 7 am, when it was, shall we say, rather work appropriate. The only red lights at that district were my eyes after the red eye flight that took me to Amsterdam.


  27. travellingmo Says:

    Oh Amsterdam! It really is impossible not to get lost there.


  28. popdialectic Says:

    Tough naming people for their city sometimes. I vote we affect English accents and call them ‘Amsters.



  1. Getting To Amsterdam On $20, Strangers For Companions, And No Idea Where You’re Going | The Byronic Man - May 19, 2020

    […] Continued in Part 2: When In Amsterdam, Do As The Amsterdam…ian…er…ites Do. […]

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