Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Autumn 2000
Coffeeshop De Kroon|
One afternoon I visited Amsterdam's Coffeeshop De Kroon. I would have no idea how to find it again, but by the same way I found it the only time I was there; just by walking around. I would recommend that, in fact. Amsterdam is a city of singular beauty.
Out on the street, the weather had begun to turn rainy, and I didn't have an umbrella. I was half-looking for a place when I passed De Kroon, and it seemed inviting enough. I stepped in.
The unique feature of De Kroon is that it has a very small balcony room up a short, narrow, steep stairway in back of the shop. In this room is one table that would seat four people. Across from the end of this table is a counter that runs along the short wall at the back of the shop. On the right side of this counter is was a coin-operated internet-connected computer.
The room was vacant. I made my place at the table with a cup of tea, a newspaper and my notepad. It was pretty cozy.
I settled in, and rolled a number. I was smoking pinners at that timethin all-marijuana joints.*
I smoked a bit, and enjoyed the little scene. There's a somewhat small opening overlooking the bar area downstairs, enough to allow a view of the place, and to allow the house's music to come in. Out the front window I could see the rain still falling.
I heard a couple of guys discovering the balcony. They'd obviously been smoking elsewhere, and were having a laugh about their own efforts to negotiate the small stairway, cups of tea in hand. (The traditional Dutch stairway is incredibly steep, and with just enough of each step to fit ¾ of your foot.) They greeted me, and settled in at the internet terminal across the narrow way.
One was portly and casually-but-well-dressed. The other was angular, bearded, and just plain casually-dressed.
American. En route to Saudi Arabia. They worked for a company that sold printing presses. They were technicians, following the shipment to install a press onsite and get it operational.
They were going to a country where they would do hard time if caught indulging in the pleasure of a smoke of cannabis. One of them told of a public square in Saudi Arabia that has bloodstains on the stone, bloodstains that got there from public executions. Not that they'd get their heads lopped off for smoking a joint but it wouldn't be smart to try. They were having a fine old time in Amsterdam, not having to worry about it.
* Europeans always smoke joints rolled with tobacco. They wouldn't know what to do without tobacco in the joint. A German guy I met smoked bong-hits with tobacco, even though he did not smoke cigarettes.
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