Amsterdam CoffeeShops Guide

smokin' - Super Silver Haze, Royal Dutch hashish, Jack Flash, Parvatti, and White Widow, to mention some of the cerebral delights on offer from three of the finest coffeeshops in Amsterdam.

Mind-melting, trip-tastic smoke that, no matter how hard we tried, never seemed to run dry. To appreciate this almost too surreal dream, let me take you back, back to the beginning. Saturday 24th August, and after a crazy journey from England, through France and Belgium, our bus arrived border check-less in Holland After a brief sojourn (read two or three joints) we made it to our base camp for the week-end, Camp Zeeburg.

I was hoping to take a breather and maybe sink a beer or two at the camp bar, but, alas, no rest for the wicked. O.K., here we are, I pointed to our camp on the wall-mounted map of Amsterdam, and here is the gear, with Greenhouse, Greenhouse Namaste, and the Sensi Coffeeshop being highlighted for all eager eyes. Next, I distributed personal maps and judging passes, with one girl laughing It's like a treasure hunt!

Our mission: to try and judge the best hash and weed Amsterdam has to offer, and, with tongue firmly in cheek, we made our way to our first stop, Sensi Coffeshop, just down from the award winning Sensi Seed Bank and Hash Marijuana Museum. Obligingly, the staff at Sensi had given us the upstairs African style chill-out room, with cushions lazily festooned across the floor, and a huge bong sitting temptingly for all to see and dare to try. In exchange for our smokin' pass, we were given a generous bag of hash and weed apiece, and so, the battle commenced, with Amsterdam's finest versus England's bravest.

Retiring upstairs (the ground floor of this coffeeshop is a great place to people watch, with huge windows overlooking the canal and streets of this busy red-light district), I lay down, head on pillow, closed my eyes, and day dreamed an hour or so away, floating on soft sounds and sweet incense.

 After this first stop, the party, like the partygoers sanity, disintegrated, dissolved, and disappeared, fragmenting into smaller parties, with our group now unsteadily headed towards Waterlooplein and the Greenhouse Namaste, Arjans (the owner) latest offering, and a sister to his original and much prized Greenhouse on Tolstraat. Wonderfully (for me, at least!) this coffeeshop has beer, and following a cold one (?), I offered my pass and was given five bags of assorted hash and weed, with a bio, hydro and imported weed, and an imported and a Nederhash (local, indigenous hash). Like a kid in a sweet shop, my already-red eyes bulging, I droolingly chose the Thai weed to wrap in skins. I took a deep breath, and lit my joint off one of the weirdest candles I have ever seen. By now (as if we hadn't already), we were beginning to struggle to differentiate between the varied delights on offer, especially as the joints being rolled were getting bigger and bigger and the tobacco content getting smaller and smaller - one of my friends offered a guy behind the serving counter a smoke of his near-pure Nederhash spliff, yet, smilingly, the guy declined. Sensible.

Arjan had kindly laid on a minibus to ferry us from Waterlooplein to his sister coffeeshop at Tolstraat (a great idea, seeing as my vision was becoming distinctly hazy and my sense of direction becoming increasingly clouded). We staggered into the Greenhouse, to be greeted by what I believe to be the best bar in Amsterdam; everything from fruit juice to Jack Daniels is here, and they serve great food too. Oh yeah, the smoke is definitely worth a mention too! A few games of pool later, we headed back to Camp Zeeburg.

After a brief lay down in my cabin, the sounds of a party roused me from my semi-comatosed state D.i.Y. and Clueless System laid on the music, and the whole travelers campsite and what seemed like half of Amsterdam were rockin' till the early hours of Sunday. By now, most people hadn't slept since Thursday, yet this didn't seem to stop most of them heading back the three miles into town for round two. Our day was spent lazily lounging around the three coffeeshops, smokin', day dreaming, and, for a few, snoring! A diet of coffee, whisky, fruit juice and lots of munchies and more and more smoke fulled my leisurely day.

A huge bong at Sensi, a game of pool at Greenhouse, a thousand laughs, and a few hot rocks later, we somehow managed to finish the day at the Red night-club, with D.i.Y. mixing the music: I think most people made it, although I know of a few who slumped over bar tables, hid under their bed sheets, and of one guy who crashed under a tree in the warm summer sunshine.

Monday lunchtime was time to leave, with having spent over two days enjoying the friendly vibe and relaxed atmosphere of Amsterdam, most people were wanting to stay, apparently feeling more at home there than back in England and so, to the point of all of this? To smoke in a civilized environment, at ease with the normality of it all, with the liberating glow of freedom of knowing that the door won't be kicked in at any moment and that we won't be carted of to jail for purely and simply smokin' a herb.

Anyway, back to reality, and back to England Saturday, September 14th saw myself and my girlfriend at the second C.H.I.C. Cannabis Hemp Conference, at the Parkway Cinema, Camden, London. We listened to speakers including Howard Marks (drug smuggler supreme) and Rob Christopher (the event organizer and founder of the Cannabis Museum and information center in London). It was here that we held our award presentation in appreciation of our Dutch friends efforts and gracious hospitality. We presented hemp paper certificates and hemp leaf awards (with hemp fibre board, felt and twine) thus:

* Most Chilled: Sensi Coffeeshop
* Best Hash: Parvatti - Greenhouse
* Best Weed: White Widow (Bio) - Greenhouse

The final result?

Holland 1, England 0

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