Kristin and I are back from our little vakantie in Amsterdam
-- and we had a wonderful visit! Since Russell
joined Andy for the first 2 weeks of his month long trip, and
we showed up on day 11 - we had several days of overlap to hang
out with Russell as well as Andy. Although they managed for the
most part to just be on vacation, Russell and Kristin have decided
there is no better place to hold sales and Rabbit
planning meetings than in the coffee shops of Amsterdam. (Thanks
again Russell for all your help in the planning/organizing of
this fabulous vacation!)
It was a great trip. The first thing that struck me was simply
how different the city looks from any in the United States. In
the older central areas, where we were most of the time, almost
all of the streets are very narrow, and paved with brick of various
sorts and patterns. All of the houses are very narrow (at one
time they were taxed based on their streetfront width). Also,
I never really realized this before I went, but of course, the
whole city is laced with canals. Maybe not so many as Venice,
but it's still a major factor in the design and character of
Another thing we noticed was an incredible attention to beauty
and detail. Space was at a premium. No one had front yards --
at the most, maybe a foot or two of sidewalk that felt like it
belonged to the house rather than the street. Most of the time,
not even that. But everywhere, there were little clusters of
planters with beautiful blooming plants in them.
other things were beautified too. A piece of carving in the architecture,
painted tiles, mosaics, or other artwork randomly embedded in
a wall, or even the sidewalk. Stained glass transoms over regular
windows, etched pictures or patterns in glass doors, or just
interesting things set up as a display. Not all period stuff,
either, plenty of modern art, tucked away.
you looked, there was some cool little thing that you hadn't
noticed before. It reminded me of our house, but spread over
a whole city. I said to Andy at one point that "each little
space has been made precious" and he liked the expression
so much that it became a sort of catchphrase for us. That may
make it sound cutesy, but that's not what the overall effect
was. Well, maybe it was cutesy, if you ignored the graffiti and
the sex shops. Actually some of the graffiti was quite nice,
and the red-light district was a surreal experience in and of
Amsterdam is a very flat city, with a lot of narrow streets
and limited space for parking, so it's no surprise that bicycles
are the preferred mode of transport. It's also good for just
walking, which is what we did, although they also have really
cute electric trams (tall and skinny, like the houses) which
run on rails, and get power from overhead wires. On the weekend,
when the weather got nice, we saw lots of people cruising the
canals in a wide variety of boats. This seemed to be more for
pleasure than transportation, however.
Most of our time was spent sampling the ambiance, beverages,
and other offerings of the many coffeeshops. Now, as you may
know, these are not places whose sole purpose is the sale of
coffee, of course. Coffeeshop is their term for an establishment
which is allowed to sell, among other things, small amounts of
marijuana, which patrons may legally partake of on the premises
(or in private, but not in other public places).
coffeeshops serve beverages, and expect you to buy something
if you're going to hang out there, so Kristin, Andy, Russell,
and I ended up drinking a lot of fancy fruit nectar, hot chocolate,
hot tea, and seltzer water respectively. Many also serve alcohol
and snacks, and a few even offer a full menu of food options.
We managed to hit one museum, Amsterdams Historisch Museum,
which was very interesting. We also took a special trip down
to De Hortus Botanicus, a 300+ year old botanical garden, as
plants are one of my main interests. The garden sections included
most of the usual suspects, very well done: an herb garden with
medicinal/culinary/dye plants, a water garden, a taxonomically
arranged garden, and many others. It also included some nice
greenhouses: a palm house, three different climate houses (temperate,
rainforest, and desert) with cool walkways up above some of them.
Last but not least, we visited their small butterfly house, which
was very cool.
last day or so, we took Stoner
Fluxx around to some of the head shops and coffeeshops to
pitch it to them. We got some great leads when we met a Fluxx
fan at the Cannabis College, a little museum/info center, with
a lovely grow space on display in the basement. We probably could
have worked harder at promoting Stoner Fluxx, and our games in
general, but hey, we were on vacation, and it was nice to take
a break for a little while.
Anyway, we had a great time, and now we're home, but Andy's
still over there. He won't be back until the first of June...
just in time to help us finish getting ready for Origins!