Get High In Amsterdam (Bucket List #92)

Amsterdam, Netherlands • July 2015 • Length of Read: 8 Minutes

“You know that old cliché about falling in love with a stripper?” mumbled Jake as we awoke, sweating in the bunks of our houseboat cabin.

“Yes,” I replied ominously.

“Well, it’s not like that, but I think Nikki genuinely liked me.”

“Bullshit,” chimed Dave.

“No, seriously guys. Why don’t we go back today and I’ll prove it?”

“For two reasons,” I interjected. “One – she won’t even recognise you. Two – I don’t have another €60 to splash, and neither do you.”

“Fair enough,” he reasoned, coming to some sense.

Climbing up the flimsy staircase, and onto the deck, we could tell it was going to be a scorcher. Despite the sun yet to reach its highest point in the sky, the temperature was already well above 30 degrees Celsius. What better a day to lounge around and sample some of the city’s culinary delicacies then?

Hopping on a tram, we stole a ride to Vondelpark. Situated to the South-West of the city, this is the Dutch capital’s largest expanse of open space, and 10 million visitors per year use it to play sports, walk their animals around the nature trails, and relax on the grass next to grandiose water features. This chilled-out environment also makes it the ideal place to take a trip of the psychedelic variety as well.

Entering a nearby Smart Shop we were welcomed by a stereotypical Dutch guy, tall with slicked-back hair. The pristine white décor and sanitised smell gave the aura of a pharmacy, but we knew that most of the inventory on sale in this particular branch would likely lead to disciplinary action were they to be prescribed by a medical practitioner back home. Beneath the glass casing of the counter which the man stood behind were a plethora of hallucinogenic and psychedelic substances. A jubilee of drugs which would make any stoner think they had died and gone to stoner heaven.

“We are looking to get some magic truffles please,” requested Jake.

“Have you had a trip before?” asked the gentleman.


“Okay. For you guys, I would recommend the Mexicana variety. This is known in South America as Flesh of the Gods and, although the mildest, still gives the user a vivid colour perception and intense laughter.”

Noticing that the next strength up was called Dragon Slayer, we nodded in agreement. I didn’t feel quite up for attempting to tame a mythical beast and save the princess just quite yet.

“Perfect. We’ll have three packets please.”

“No problem. Now, I always suggest that users eat them on an empty stomach and avoid alcohol consumption for the duration of their trip. Most will start to feel the effects within one hour of consuming the truffles, and an average trip lasts from four to six hours. If you do start to have a bad trip at any point, then just take some sugar. This will neutralise the effects and bring you back down.”

“Thanks, man,” we chimed in unison. Wandering out the air-conditioned shop, and back into the sun, it felt like we’d just gone through the process of purchasing a new phone than of a substance marked as illegal by the British Government.

Locating a supermarket, we stocked up on yoghurts, chewy candy, and electrolyte sports drinks, before heading through the park gates. Nearly every blade of grass was covered by picnic blankets and rugs, as every person and their dog (literally) seemed to have had the same idea as how best to take advantage of the glorious weather. We meandered along the crisscrossing pathways and around the park’s two main ponds, before eventually finding a secluded shady spot under a large oak tree. Taking in the surroundings, and making ourselves comfortable, the distinct smell of weed drifted across the breeze. Dave put on his holiday playlist, cracked open the packets of truffles, and we eyed them up with disgust.

I hadn’t had anything to eat since biting into a nuclear hot slice of pizza the prior night, but the tiny, hairy, brown roots in my hand were doing nothing to fulfil my appetite. I stirred them into the yoghurt, scooped up a large spoonful, shoved it in my mouth, and immediately started to gag.

It was what I imagine chewing mouldy tree bark to be like, mixed with the taste of raw cabbage. After just three mouthfuls Dave was vomiting into a nearby hedge, but by some miracle Jake and I managed to swallow them; grimaced expressions glued on our faces the entire process. Once each packet had eventually been consumed we chatted away in nervous anticipation, the intermittent gulps of water doing little to wash away the taste.

The first thing that struck me was the leaves on the trees bursting out in density and colour, zooming straight into focus like someone had just flicked on a ‘high definition’ switch in my retinas. My gaze then shifted upwards as the fluffy clouds puffed out like white paint bursting on a baby blue canvas. The grass under my body spiked up on its end, trying hopelessly to lift me up into the art show above, as the trees waved and clapped on their brave effort.

“Look at that,” Dave elated, pointing into the sky. “A lion’s face and mane.”

Sure enough, like daylight star-gazers, I too saw it formed by the clouds, until its roar was drowned out by a plane tearing through the misty mass and leaving nothing but a rippled jet-stream in its wake.

“How cool is it to think there are 300 or so people sat up there travelling at hundreds of miles an hour and heading thousands of miles away?” mused Jackie. He’d turned into a true modern day philosopher.

“Sick man. Holy shit, though, look at that pigeon.”

I had been lying flat on my back, but in re-adjusting my position I’d lifted up my head slightly and locked eyes with a suspicious looking bird. It glared back and refused to break the gaze as if it were saying ‘I know what you’re up to, and I approve.’ I immediately burst out into hysterics, the tears rolling down my face hidden behind my sunglasses. The ‘laughter’ trigger of the truffles had clearly been pulled. Whilst I attempted to subdue this uncontrollable laughter streak an old man walked his dog past and a grin rose on his face. A second round of the giggles started. “He knows what’s up,” I whispered indiscreetly to my pals. “He definitely knows.”

Around the time we were reaching our maximum highs, a group of stacked 6ft+ Dutch guys used their T-shirts to set up goal posts on the grassy clearing we were overlooking and challenged some other dudes to a game of football. With a large number of female on-lookers, the testosterone was running almost as high as we were. Bare-backed slaps were dished out for each well-timed tackle or pass, and group hugs were the norm every time there was a score.

“That guy is so built,” blurted out Jake. “I mean, just look. He’s massive. I’m going to start going to the gym again. That’s certainly some end goals right there.”

Dave and I looked at each other with genuine concern. Was Jake about to come out?

Before we could take this line of thought any further though we were again distracted. This time however so was everyone else in our part of the park, high or not. A woman came by walking the fattest dog imaginable. Its stomach hung so low that you couldn’t even see its legs, and she was pulling a stroller behind her. The dog was so heavy that it had to be wheeled to and from the park before and after its exercise. Satisfactorily amused we turned back to the game of football, and in the time it took them to play the whole second half the dog had still not waddled from sight.

Glancing at my phone I realised that three hours had elapsed since we’d first swallowed the truffles, and I was starting to need the toilet. There were some portable toilets only 100m away, but when I suggested to the boys that I was going to venture off they looked at me like I’d said I was about to attempt a summit of Mount Everest.

“There’s no way you are going to make it man,” said Jake. “Look how far away that tree is.”

“What, the tree right next to the toilet?”

“Yeah,” said Dave, pausing Don McLean’s American Pie, which had been on repeat since we sat down.

“God, you’re right actually,” I found myself agreeing. “That tree is pretty far away. I’m never going to make it.”

In the fear of wetting myself for the first time as a grown adult, however, try I did. I made it across no bother at all, and whilst taking a piss began to wonder what all the initial concern was about. Wanting to get back to our little haven under the tree as quickly as possible, I’d sprinted across the grass like I'd been racing against Usain Bolt. As I began my return journey, however, I became consciously aware of how high I actually was. Feeling like I was floating across the ground like a ghost, and anxious to act normal, I decided to copy the movements of the man next to me who was walking in the same direction. I mirrored his hasty footsteps until I reached the boys, delighted at how I managed to complete the journey with no issues.

“Please tell me you were doing that deliberately?” guffawed Jake through fits of laughter.

“Doing what?” I said, genuinely confused.

“Walking as slowly as possible and taking the piss out of that guy beside you who was clearly as high as a kite.”

“Shut up! I thought he was walking normally so I was matching his steps.”

“Oh dear…”

Four and a half hours after we first felt the effects, the truffle magic eventually wore off and we returned back to reality, with its greying skies and dim foliage. The entire experience was absolutely brilliant and provided me with a host of new perspectives and ideas. They say money can’t buy happiness. Well, for €12.50 I was the happiest person in the world on that Friday afternoon.

Amsterdamage (Bucket List #126)

Amsterdam, Netherlands • July 2015 • Length of Read 8 Minutes

Scotland’s climate in July 2015 had more resembled an Arctic winter than the fresh summer we’d spent the previous 11 months longing for, so I decided to head to Amsterdam for a boys weekend with my two pals, Dave and Jake. We convened in Edinburgh Airport, where it became apparent that, despite being a city break, Dave was going to be treating it like one would an Ibiza holiday. As Jake and I loitered about the check-in desk, our lanky musketeer pitched up wearing a cheap pair of kaleidoscopic sunglasses, a free promotional T-shirt he had acquired from a nightclub, a wicker fishing hat, some slip-on plimsolls, and a pair of maroon cargo shorts.

“Jesus Christ,” quaffed Jake as we headed through security. “We didn’t even set you the challenge of turning up looking like an idiot and you’ve still manage to exceed all expectations. How much did that total attire set you back?”

“£9.89,” grinned Dave, genuinely proud of himself at having fashioned together an outfit for less than the cost of the three pints we’d ordered upon reaching the departure lounge.

I spent the short flight intermittently reading some Hemmingway and humouring the middle-aged couple beside me, who were laying over in the Dutch capital before heading off to the wilderness of the Norwegian fjords. From the look on the woman’s face, I could tell that it was clearly her husband who had proposed, and then booked the trip. I was pretty jealous, but couldn’t figure out a way of asking whether I could trade my two nights on a canal boat for a week on their luxury cruise liner.

That’s right, the three of us were going to be staying on a barge for the weekend. We’d been extremely efficient in getting the flights arranged, but somehow booking accommodation had slipped all of our minds. Realising too late that, on a July weekend, Amsterdam was most likely going to be choc-a-bloc, we’d scoured travel websites for hours looking for somewhere to get our forty winks each night. When a canal houseboat had popped up for only €20 p/p per night we pounced on it immediately, thinking that, if nothing else, it would provide a bit of laughter along with the mild claustrophobia and sea-sickness.

Pier 4 was where the vessel was moored. A short stroll from the Central Train Station past the floating Chinese Restaurant and NEMO museum. It turned out that check-in was closed from 2pm-4pm, so we dumped our stuff on the deck and tried to strike up a conversation with the bikini-clad American girl stretched out on one of the sun loungers. Unfortunately, however, Melissa would have been shoe-in for first prize at the ‘Most Mundanely Boring, Plain-Vanilla, Humanoid on Planet Earth’ competition. We were relieved when Ursula, the manager of the barge, arrived back from her afternoon lunch break.

This woman was quite the sight to behold. Strikingly overweight with a du-rag bandana was wrapped around her thinning grey hair. Showcased on her arm, thanks to the cut-off tank top, was a large love heart tattoo with the words ‘Mom & Pop’ stencilled inside it. She was certainly not one to forget quickly... unlike whatshername up on deck.

The ventilation in our cabin consisted of a tiny porthole in the roof. With Jake’s farts renowned as being some of the smelliest in town, this brought up the dilemma of whether we kept it shut and suffocated to death, or left it open and risked likely theft. As Jake left Dave and I deliberating whilst he used the toilet, however, it was quickly agreed upon that the rest of the guests looked trustworthy enough. Despite this decision, however, upon checking out, the aroma coming from our room definitely wouldn’t have been bottled for a new line of perfume anytime soon.

Already in desperate need of some fresh air, we wandered into the hub of the city and took seats at a canal-side burger restaurant outside the Bulldog Hostel. This chain has expanded into cafes, bars, coffee shops, and clubs; cornering the twentysomething-tourist-stoner-party scene in the process. The girls entering and exiting the venue were dressed as provocatively as possible, appearing as if they were attempting to challenge those hidden behind the doors illuminated by red lights further along the street for sluttiness. The lads were all tensing their egos and ripped torsos, which were bursting out from under beer-stained tank tops. It had been three years since I used to live in The Netherlands and frequent Amsterdam at the weekends, and nothing had changed.

This included the calibre of talent. There was so much fucking talent. Wherever I looked there were heavenly blessed beauties roaming along the pavements. Then they started appearing not only on land but on the water as well. One of the boats actually obtained a round of applause as it weaved its way slowly between canal bridges, the 15 blondes on board wearing short, billowing dresses and flowered headbands a real sight to behold. And they knew alright. It was a surprise then when their thunder was stolen by the lonesome bald bloke cruising along about 10 metres behind them. One hand operating the rudder of his shitty little rust bucket, and the other clasping a beer, he was so laid back that he was almost horizontal. An absolute boss. Whether he’d started out on his cruise with a bucket of fucks or not, we didn’t know, but it was evident that there were absolutely none left to be given.

Finishing our food, we moved down the street to the Old Sailor Bar for more beers, taking up a bench by the open window. I went to the bar to order the first round and got chatting to the cute little blonde girl who squeezed in line beside me. Charlie was Romanian, and I could see her travelling companion eyeing us up from a nearby table.

“Feel free to come over and join us,” I said, nodding towards where Jake and Dave were sitting.

“Perhaps,” she winked back.

I paid for our drinks and headed back to the table. Dave and Jake were in deliberation with an Aussie guy called Ryan as to whether or not the uniformed policewoman across the street was an actual on-duty cop or just a role-playing sex worker. I admitted that it looked like she had fitted herself from the wardrobe of a softcore porn photo shoot, but when she whipped out a set of handcuffs and arrested two guys for throwing fists at each other we erred with caution as to what was further said.

Like clockwork, the Romanian pair then slid onto the bench beside us. The brunette was absolutely gorgeous, although when she started telling us crazy stories about her mother it was this more senior female in her family we were wishing we’d met. When Alina was just fifteen years old, her mum had forced her to get high and drunk so as to ‘get the inevitable out of her system’ and sounded like she’d had an even wilder upbringing herself. Unfortunately, Alina also had a boyfriend, and despite her blonde sidekick’s best efforts to get her to loosen up, she was remaining loyal. As Dave proceeded to pour a glass of white wine all over her lap, we thought it be a good time to part ways. Interest lost.

Following this, we started to do what we do when in any bar, regardless of where about in the world. That is: troll others, fuck about, act like morons, and set our companions stupid challenges. Spotting a woman entering the bar with a broken arm, I set Jake the task of having to sign a stranger’s cast. All failures were punishable by a slap across the face. Fearless, he immediately rose and marched over to a girl at the bar with a bright pink cast around her wrist, oblivious to the fact that she was surrounded by an ominous group of less-than-friendly-looking butch males.

“Can I sign your cast?” he sheepishly asked?

“You can fuck off,” was her curt reply, the locals clearly out for a quiet drink and fed up of constantly being harassed by drunk tourists.

“Yeah beat it,” added one of the entourage, leering over Jake in a menacing manner.

He scarpered back to the safety of our table as a timely tussle erupted between two even larger guys at the other side of the bar. Guys that were so big, even the bouncers decided to just let them resolve their differences for fear of receiving a beat down. Once the storm blew over, it became apparent that the pair were actually best friends who hailed from Scotland’s northern Orkney Islands. It is written in the law that, when abroad, Scottish compatriots must have at least one drink together. As the rest of the bars’ patrons stared at us gibbering away in nonsensical slang, we learned that Barry and Kev were best friends currently on a stag party. The groom was nowhere to be seen, but it was clear that the group has probably split when they decided to sample some of the local cocaine. Kev’s eyeballs looked like they were about to pop out of his skull, but with the girl in the cast and her posse still looking us up and down, we thought that having such allies might be quite useful in case something else kicked off.

Slamming back four Jaeger bombs, Barry decided that what we really needed to keep the game alive was a visit to the strippers. Three of the drinks had actually been bought for us, but we thought it best not to argue with, or upset, the bear of a human. We nodded in agreement and followed him along the street, down a seedy looking staircase, and to the entrance of an infamous haunt.

“It will be €60 for a 1-hour show,” said the ruffian at the door, “and that includes free drinks throughout the entire performance.”

“What a bargain,” yelled Kev. “That’s only about €1 per minute.”

It was clear that Kev’s formal education had likely stopped before he hit puberty. Which, from the look of him, could have been at about 7 years old. Jake, Dave, Barry and I forked out our cash, however, Kev had spent the last of his bank notes on the coke and was struggling to remember the pin code to his credit card. Numbers really weren’t his strong point. For their size, the islanders probably didn’t have a complete brain cell between them; lumbering ogres who did manual labour for a living.

“9-9-9-9,” Kev voiced out loud, as he bashed the keypad of the card reader.


“9-9-9-9,” he tried again, shouting even louder in the hope that the reader would feel empathetic towards his frustration. Again, however, the error message popped up.


“Fuck. I can’t for the life of me remember what the password is, and there’s only one chance left until it gets blocked.”

We thought for a couple of seconds that we might have to leave him at the entrance, which wouldn’t have been such a loss, but then it suddenly hit him. With an air of confidence and smugness, he plugged in his final attempt, again speaking them out loud in a rhythmic tone.



“Fucking yes lads. I’ve got €1,000 on that bad boy. Tonight is going to get messy.”

“4-4-1-4,” we chanted, so loud that the entire street could hear. “4-4-1-4.”

As the man behind the till looked at us in amazement, it dawned on me that never in the history of the world would credit card theft have been easier than at that point. Kev’s joy was short-lived, however, as upon entering up the staircase he lasted only four minutes of the sixty before being kicked out for acting aggressively drunk towards the employees. The rest of us stayed for the remaining fifty-six minutes, telling the bartender to keep the drinks coming as pretty girls danced provocatively around.

Leaving Barry to his own devices, i.e. pissing in the canal and turning his anger towards us, we staggered into a bunch of Aussie girls who’d just experienced a similar ordeal – minus the unwelcome countrymen. Jake was starving, so we grabbed some pizza slices before attempting to find our way home. With its winding look-a-like cobbled streets, Amsterdam is not the easiest city to navigate, large quantities of alcohol in your belly or not. Stopping a couple of girls on bicycles to try and cheekily hitch a lift, however, backfired spectacularly when, mid-conversation, I bit into the spiciest piece of chicken pizza I’ve ever tasted. Immediately my mouth turned into an inferno and the remaining conversation involved them trying to interpret my gasping, tongue-waggling effort to cool down. They soon left. With no other options, we staggered through Dam Square and towards where we thought Central Station might, possibly, maybe, hopefully, be.

Our bearings were slightly shaky, but thankfully we made it to familiar surroundings with only a couple of wrong turns and pointed ourselves in the direction of the barge. Upon passing the floating Chinese restaurant, now gloriously lit up with lanterns, we noted a familiar looking body lying motionless in the gutter at the side of the road. Kev had clearly come down hard from his ‘roid rage’. Not willing to stir the beast and risk another streak of aggression, we stepped over him and continued on our way home. I wondered if his bank card was still in his pocket…

A Three-Day Carnival Celebration (Bucket List #125)

Maastricht, Netherlands • February 2012 • Length of Read: 14 Minutes

day one

I awoke on Sunday morning bright and early at 9:15. Buzzing, and ready to start the day, breakfast consisted of Bran Flakes accompanied by what would be the first of an unhealthily amount of beers consumed over the course of the proceeding 3 days. Donning my cow onesie costume we made our way down to Vrijhof Square at 1 pm to meet the Erasmus Student Network crew and watch the opening parade. The blue morning sky had unfortunately turned to freezing sleet so it was lucky I happened to be wearing the warmest piece of clothing ever to be manufactured! The Dutch, however, just like the Scots, are unfazed by poor weather and the show definitely went on. Float after float made their way along the streets of Maastricht, each with more colours than the rainbow, accompanied by traditional Dutch music, drummers, drunken conductors shouting into megaphones and a general fantastic atmosphere. All very enjoyable, but having stood there for 2 hours we were fresh out of alcohol. The pub was a waiting.

After a further 2-hour solid drinking session I refuelled myself with KFC and went back to Kevin’s with Ettiene to chill out for the afternoon and play some Super Smash Bros on the N64, accompanied by a bottle of rum of course. Darkness was soon upon us which meant pedalling half-cut back home, hosing down my dinner and then going back into town to continue the celebrations. Meeting up with Jaicy at 9 pm we miraculously managed to find everyone else enjoying a street rave down by Markt Square, and of course were more than happy to join in the fun. Two Aussies, Lyndon and Brendan, were in the midst of backpacking around Europe and were staying in Volksplein whilst visiting friends in Maastricht. Having meant to take the train to Germany the day before, they were too hung-over to move so ended up staying for the whole of Carnival and not leaving until Tuesday Morning. Add in Adele, Renee, Steffi and a whole other bunch of people who said I met them but have no recollection of doing so. Carnage was about to start.Now my knowledge of the night's proceedings from this time onwards is a little sketchy for obvious reasons, but having met with everyone for a hangover breakfast the next day (and piecing together everything we could remember) this is a reasonably accurate account of what occurred.

We join the street party and 10 minutes later enter a pub, which a week later whilst writing this I still don’t know the name of. Lyndon comes over with 2 large shot glasses filled with a red coloured liquid. “Have a Fireman” he proclaims! Not wanting to know any more details about how he managed to order such a drink I give a toast and we sink them down the hatch. After much deliberation, we conclude that it tasted like a mix of Strepsils Throat Sweets and mint and that another round is necessary. In between draining numerous more ‘Fireman’ I vaguely remember joining in an old peoples’ conga line out of the bar and back in, almost tripping over a drunken 8-year-old kid, and receiving more change for 2 drinks than I had handed over – free beer, who’s going to complain? So engrossed in this new drink we had discovered, and now feeling the effects of it, we realised that everyone else had vanished. Taking another one for the road we have yet another toast in the middle of the street before smashing the shot glasses against then nearest bike rack for no apparent reason. It must have looked at us in a funny manner.

Me: “Left or Right.”

Lyndon “Definitely left.”

We waded our way through the crowd, still raving to a haggard old jukebox in the middle of the street, and up to Markt Square. Using military espionage tactics we tried to find the highest point around to get the best view of where everyone might be – this happened to be a statue with loads of girls dancing on it. Jumping up we put our dance moves on and start chatting. There was a wreath on top of the statue decorated with leaves and fruit. What would any normal person do? You guessed it. I try to feed them some lettuce.

Me: “Where’s the best bar around here?”

Girl: “I don’t know.”

Me (Angrily): “Why not!”

Girl: “I’m only 16.”

Me: “Goodbye.”

Running away we make our way back to Vrijhof Square we enter the first bar I see.

Me: “Two shots of the strongest drink you have please.”

Barwoman: “You do know that’s Red Label Whiskey?

Me: “Perfect! How much do I owe you?”

This choice of drink did not impress Lyndon in the slightest.....

Turning on our heels we find the rest of the group (now accompanied by an American contingent) dancing around an all-white sausage cart which had two large speakers attached, was accompanied by dancers, also head-to-toe in white, and had an in-house DJ. In the words of Cooper Harris: This was definitely where I’d parked my car! Now I can only assume that it was one of the few remaining floats from the carnival but nonetheless they seemed happy to have drawn a crowd. We followed the cart everywhere it went, dancing alongside and singing word-for-word every song the DJ played from his Generation 2 I-pod Nano. Turning around at midnight, exhausted and with the float owners starting to get slightly agitated with us, we looked to see the vast distance we had travelled – a whole 150m from across the other side of the square! I suppose time really does fly when you’re having fun.

When the float dancers started to dismantle the cart we took it as our cue to leave, which obviously meant finding the nearest bar. With Maastricht having the statistic of encasing ‘more bars per square mile than any other city in Europe’ - this was not too difficult. Rounds of Tequila Slammers please Barkeep. Now by this point, I have been drinking for going on 12 hours straight and had eaten little in the way of food. Hunger gets the better of me and I stray away to get some Kassouflet. I get lost. With no-one else in a state to operate their mobile phones, I call Pavel. He answers. Meeting up with him we surge around every bar at the Markt, introducing myself to anyone I can find and genuinely just being a nuisance to society. A girl approaches me and claims she likes my hair and then proceeds to full-on bite my nose!

Me: “Eh Sorry? Are you special?”

Her: “…..”

Me: “I’m going to take that as a ‘Yes’.”

It is now 2 am and I need to dance more. We march onwards to the only club in Maastricht: The pig-sty shit-tip that is…… Alla!

From this point on I am blootered and nothing of much interest occurs. We dance, I meet someone from Wales and have a go at them for beating us in the rugby, I make more friends whose names I don't remember. We stay for half an hour tops before returning home. Despite raping my wallet of any cash I had left Carnival had definitely been a success so far. And that was only Day 1.

day 2

No sleep for the wicked! I woke up early on Monday, along with the rest of Volksplein, feeling like death. We all congregated on 70E’s kitchen to discuss the previous night’s antics and I managed to put together a timeline for my last blog post. Despite all being equally drunk and generally being in the same place as each other we all seemed to have had extremely different nights, but equally enjoyable. Brendan, for example, had woken up across the river and had walked all the way back, past what he claimed to have been a Medieval Castle. A quick Google maps search showed the nearest castle being 2h 39m on foot so it is still a mystery as to where he went, having taken only 45 mins to get home.

ESN had arranged a pub crawl for 2 pm and we were welcomed at Falstaff with a healthy crowd, already necking the beers. With enough alcohol in our systems from the night before to probably still be over the limit, we had previously agreed to calm down on the alcohol consumption for the day – but that clearly wasn’t going to happen! Double fisting at lunch time we danced our way around several bars until we made it safely and drunkenly to the Markt. Here the pub crawl parted ways agreeing to meet up again at 10 pm to continue our Maastricht invasion, with some participants wanting to go home for some much needed R&R. We, however, had other plans and were not going to stop that quickly. We spotted a blue float beside the last pub with the music turned up to 10 and scores of older people dancing around in flash, sparkly clothing…..their party was now our party. Jumping on the float we turned the civilized parade into a rave tent. After about 20 minutes of drunken international students upsetting this status-quo, they had had enough. We were asked first to politely leave, and when we ignored that warning were threatened in Dutch with something I was not willing to hang around to get a physical translation for.

Bar Street was the next stop on our mission to visit every licenced establishment in the city. Think of this place as a more upbeat and less sophisticated Ashton Lane and you get the picture of where we were heading. The main joint to be cased is called Café Cliniq which plays its music louder than everywhere else and has cheaper drinks prices. Unfortunately, however, it was also home to a crowd so young it would make Boho Unders look like an old folk’s home. After buying a round of drinks with a 10 Euro note and receiving 42 Euros in change I quickly exit the crèche - Without everyone else for some reason. A fair while later I randomly bump into Lyndon who is trying to shake off a girl who appears to be stalking him. With a leave no man behind attitude he runs away to the toilet to never return - leaving me stranded. I try to think as to the whereabouts of my friends and have my first sensible thought of the day – I return to Café Cliniq. None of the original group was there but I did bump into Ben, a native who is in my finance tutorial. Apparently, I also met a load of other exchange students and was buying them drinks – I have no recollection of this. I have a feeling I then met the Peruvians and tried to convince them to go with me to Feesfabrik, which I had been told was the best bar to pick-up women. I can only assume we couldn’t find it as the next thing I knew I was in a conga line going up the street towards Vrijof. There I rejoined the same group whom I had left in Café Cliniq, ordering a round of 15 beers as my apologies for running away.

Time to get my dance on once more, I stroll into the bar with Bjorn only to be manhandled by some big black bouncer and chucked back onto the street. I am still confused about what had happened but having spoken to the barman who was outside the explanation was given as this. Completely verbatim:

“You were dancing together so energetically it looked like you were fighting each other”

For some reason, I accepted this answer and went quietly back to my table full of beer, perhaps because the man was built like a mountain.  Smashing each glass on the floor as we drank, we were feeling tired. A Fireman was most definitely needed to keep us awake.

We enter the bar and request the bottle only to be told we had drunk it all the day before and they were all out…

Lyndon asks for the next best thing and the bartender brings out a gold plastic bottle; which at first has the appearance of industrial cleaning fluid. Perhaps that’s why she had it stored beneath the sink instead of on the spirits shelf behind the bar? Now any normal person would have immediately seen that this was going to be a bad idea. After a whole day of drinking, however, this looked like a great idea. Bottoms up, we order a round………yuck!

Renee had to take Bjorn home because he was too drunk to stand of talk and we completely lost Brendan and Adele. In an almost real life deja-vu situation we leave the same bar and are in the same situation as the previous night:

Me: “Left or Right.”

Lyndon “Definitely left.”

Back towards the street rave, it is, this thing must have been going on for 48 hours non-stop by now. I find a ripped and shrivelled costume lying on the ground and decide to try it on. To my disappointment, it doesn’t fit, although a purple cow with horses legs looked like a very cool hybrid animal if you ask me. Sprinting into the Vrijhof Square in search of food we approach one of the many burger vans. “Fish” is the only word we can get out and the man behind the counter hands us dishes of battered strips of what I assume to be haddock, although not 100% convinced. Expecting to be told a price he instead just stares at us like we are aliens from another planet. We walk away with our free food, confused and debating whether to go back for more - I swear I couldn’t make this stuff up.

We enter a pub that has both a side door as well as the main entrance and instead of going to the bar like any normal people decide to walk round in circles out one door and back in through the other. It was definitely time to go home. We walk past the statue with the fruit covered wreath and see that there is a whole bunch of potatoes sitting there. Self –amusing as Lyndon and myself are, what started as a distance throwing competition lead to a stray one almost hitting the side of a police car driving past. Let’s get out of here. The journey home which should have taken 10 minutes turned into three-quarters of an hour as we developed an unhealthy obsession with finding an unlocked bike to cycle back, to no avail, however. With Lyndon pressing every flat buzzer the whole way up the street home I crashed out promising myself tomorrow would be a much more sensible and relaxed affair.


day 3

The final day of the carnival was also the tamest with two solid days of drinking getting the better of us. We owed it to ourselves though to at least head out for the closing ceremony so at 10 pm we tried to stomach some beer and jaunted down to bar street to find the ESN crew. After some cheerful dancing, it was time to head to Vrijhof Square, taking our place among the gathering crowd of thousands who were waiting with bated breath for what promised to be a dramatic closing ceremony.

A large 20ft model which was hung from a pole, the best visual description without a photo is that of a Russian Doll. People then proceeded to ramble on through a megaphone in Dutch as the crowd got all the more ecstatic as every second ticked closer to midnight. I have no idea what they were spouting but some of the crowd were so excited and drunk it looked like they might have a seizure. Starting a chant with Bjorn of “Burn the Bitch, Burn” we were under the impression that the grand finale involved setting the doll on fire. People started joining in but our rendition of ‘Disco Inferno’ might have taken it one step too far as we started to get some frowning looks from the locals. We thought it might be safer to shut up.

The clock struck 12 am and everyone started cheering….but still no fire. They then proceeded to take down the doll and pack it up safely back in a van as the crowd began to disperse… worst closing ceremony ever but then it wasn’t exactly the Beijing Olympics.

Despite having 3 of the best days of my life Carnival had defeated me, and my liver is probably still slowly recovering as I write this more than a week later. My costume did manage to survive to tell the tale though so after a quick wash and tumble dry I’m sure it’s presence will be seen on the streets of Glasgow next Halloween.