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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Amsterdam – Observing the Red Light Day 3— Part 1

It’s my third day here. I’m kind of settled in. I love my room at the Torenzicht. I’ve had the same one every year, for five years — all except the last. There was some kind of booking confusion and I got transferred to another hotel.

The first time I had this room was the most interesting. I’d come back from an afternoon walkabout, charting a cognitive map of things on my first day. The Oude Kirk (Old Church) makes an excellent landmark, it’s very big and everyone knows where it is.

Only problem is there are about five of these structures, all of them old and look about the same. One is called, ‘The New Old Church’, I‘ve no idea what the names of others are, but only one is in the center of the Red Light Distinct.

I was standing at the railing of a small porch outside the hotel bar with a guy from England, watching the endless parade of tourists.

We fell into an easy conversation: Where ya from? How long have you been here? Stuff like that. He was smoking a joint.  You can’t smoke inside, so people come out here to have a puff or two.

“You want?” He held the blunt out to me. “Good stuff,” he says without breathing.

“Sure, why not.” We talk for ten or fifteen minutes, time enough to take a few drags before going up to my room. The “good stuff” didn’t seem to affect me very much, though I realized I had been more chatty than I usually am. We had gotten down to wives, and pets, and kids before the conversation ended—a standard sort of pot experience.

My room was adequate, if Spartan. Just the bare essentials, two reasonably comfortable single beds and a sink— bathroom and shower down the hall. I start to throw my backpack down on the nearest bed where I’d left the clothes I’d changed from after checking in last night.

I notice the mattress is wet and dump the backpack on the floor, then take a closer look. It’s very wet. In fact, there is a puddle . . . of water. OMG! I'm tripping. This can't be, I tell myself. I did not do this, and no one has been here. I'm only occupant, and the sink is on the other side of the room. Jesus, what have I been smoking? Keep calm, I tell myself. You’ll be okay. Relax. Close your eyes. When you open them things will be back to normal. Things did not go back to normal. I put my hand in the puddle. This is water. This is real water. How did it get here?

At last, a drop splashed in the puddle, coming from the ceiling. Pipe leak in the room above. Thank God. I am still sane. I go down to the bartender and tell him what happened. He says I can get another room and they will pay to launder the wet clothes I’d left on the bed. Seeing an opportunity for free rent I said I would spend the rest of my stay in the ‘wet bed room’ if they would give me two days rent free. He happily agreed.

The Torenzicht’s rooms have been updated since that first year, 2013. My room has been divided into two rooms, each with a single bed, TV, and Wi-Fi. Rent is just a little more than what I paid five years ago. View from my window’s still the best in Amsterdam, in my opinion.

View From My Window

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