9 days in Amsterdam. Amazing place! The most inspiring for me so far in Europe,
and my new absolute favorite city next to the Bay Area (which has more colorful people, more sun & beaches). For the record...my favorite cities in the world are:
1) San Francisco & whole Bay Area
4) Vancouver, BC
...but from what people are telling me, Barcelona will soon take #1!
Amsterdam-it! Another love/hate thing.
I fell in love first with the canals & houseboats here in Amsterdam. My friend Ben,
who is a documentary filmmaker (www.lunartproductions.com) invited me to stay
on his houseboat for my 9 days there. thank you Ben! I met Ben when he filmed our Iboga Therapy House center in Vancouver for his "Ibogaine" movie. I now have a new dream...(those who know me, know i have many dreams...but...maybe just maybe this one will come true?)...to live on a big houseboat for some period of my life. His boat as you can see in the picture is huge! 25meters. spacious inside with hardwood, nice furniture, 2 bedrooms, huge living room, nice kitchen, & all the post-modern necessities such as internet, tv, etc..and...your on the water! how cool!
Although this boat is not moveable at the moment (not even for the canals here),
some of the boats do have sails for the oceangoing trips. Imagine, living here,
then deciding to move to Barcelona & dock there, then ? ahh but...i get seasick!
well...not if it's stationary!
On day 7 in Amsterdam Summer & I were invited by Ralph of www.couchsurfing.com to cruise around the canals in his old little fishing boat with 3 others. We brought instruments as he requested & had lunch, drinks, treats & a music jam while cruising around. He told us alot of history & took us on a 2.5 hour tour around...for free!
Thank you Ralph! Dank yu well! (spelling wrong i'm sure)
I next fell in love with the architecture. the slanted buildings that Amsterdam is famous for. The huge Old World buildings everywhere. AMS (Amsterdam) did not get bombed in WWII, unlike Rotterdam which was heavily devastated!
I was just in awe of all these old cool buildings...full of character! In contrast to Berlin, where i was previous to Amst., which was totally anihilated at the end of WWII and now does not have these character buildings of the early renaissance days.
I loved that sooooo many people ride bicycles here! A true bike culture, where
bikes rule the street. You really have to watch out when walking, a cyclone of
bicyclists will zoom by right in front of you. You get the hang of it after a few days.
Our last 2 days there we rented a bike ($13 a day) & went for long bike rides
to the big parks & sometimes just weaving back & forth checking out the beautiful
streets & getting lost on purpose! Picnic in the big Vondelpark was nice with benches & big pond full of ducks!
I loved the music scene & creative energy in Amsterdam. I hear that many artist squats have been here throughout the years. Squats being buildings not being used that people take over & turn into a community or living space. Some have become established venues nowadays. SUch as the legendary Melkweg that we spent Friday night at, dancing our bums off to a night of Balkan Beatz! 2 absolutely incredible high energy Romanian live bands played that had lots of horns & amazing music that you just had to dance to!
After that...I didn't think anybody could follow those acts, but dj Shantel (the man responsible for popularizing the balkan beats styles of modern balkan fusion) got up & dj'd a set of mostly his own Bucovina Club music! woo hoo!
See video I uploaded to MySpace.com/Blackhurst
my goodness this man knows how to have fun on stage! He invited 4 ladies
up onto the very table he was djing on. Then.....lo & behold....he goes up on the table in the middle of his songs & dances with them. He kept repeating...."Ohhhh
Amsterdam. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Amsterdam." with a funny grin & eastern european
charm. The ladies kept dancing for the whole hour or so & finally security came up to tell them to get down. SHantel would have nothing of that & waved the security away. For the grand finale this showman brought out a full bottle of Shmirnoff
vodka & gave all the people near stage shots, afterwards they lifted him up to
crowdsurf! INCREDIBLE night of Balkan Beats funky music!
The following night I dj'd at Nomads arabic restaurant, see www.Myspace.com/Blackhurst for videos as well. A very mellow dinner & talking crowd, & not the
dancing type of gig. Nice place with lots of interesting people, a massage therapist
women going around tables, people smoking hookah pipes (see pic of me & summer), and really good expensive food. I got paid about 100euros so i was happy. And...Jimmy Jazz who booked me invited me back anytime i'm in town!
You have to love how this city ended the drug war years ago. Instead of putting countless millions of good people in jail for very minor 'soft drug' charges like possession of marijuana (which as you all know
puts millions in jail in the US for an herb that is less toxic than tobacco & alcohol, and has been used responsibly for recreation & medicine in many countries for many many centures until the US made it illegal during prohibition years).
Although not legal, it is tolerated & accepted by the government of Netherlands
that marijuana, magic mushrooms, peyote, & dozens of other plant drugs can
be bought at little stores called "smart stores" or "coffee-shops" (where you can
actually sit & smoke after buying). Although I'm not much of a marijuana smoker,
I found Amsterdam absolutely fascinating in my uhh...cultural studies! What an experiment this place is!
Amsterdam-it! AmsterDAM! The hate side of this coin for me was the Red Light Districit. I hated seeing all the women in windows selling themselves. Although
it's safer this way, it was still shocking to see. Very sleazy. I hated hearing that many innocent travelers got their purses & bags stolen while looking away from their dinner tables or walking down a dark alley. This happens alot here! Professional pickpocketers, although i'd vouch that India has more, & better...and also Barcelona from what I hear. Always, always watch your stuff like a hawk in these places.
Summer's friend Ashley got her big bag stolen! Luckily it was returned with most of the stuff still in it! I hated how this place has got soooo touristy that it's all a gimmick. Sex, drugs, & no rock n' roll. prostitition & hard drugs. That's the dark side of Amsterdam & it's very very in your face when your walking around those dark narrow streets with sketchy characters staring you down. Apparently the whole central area of Amsterdam is under video surveillance now, after many many problems...Big Brother is now watching...and probably for the better in this case!
Overall...I loved Amsterdam more than I disliked a few seedy blocks! Very inspired
to have spent the time there & looking forward to going back again for a few
days on the Outrageous Bus tour (www.outrageousTours.com)!
oh and....as far as global climate change, i hope all of you have seen Inconvenient
Truth or educated yourself to that same level...we can no longer deny that the
oceans are rising faster than previously imagined by far and will be 10-20 feet
higher in the next few decades or less (due to both poles melting ice very rapidly).