Saturday, 11 September 2010

Memories from the Eighties - Amster-Van-Damn!

Back in 1989 when I was a Paddy in UK (London), I escaped for the long weekend with a bunch of lads (Sten, Podge, Mick, Tony and me) to Amsterdam. In those days there were no budget airlines for cheap flights.  There were no web portals like Expedia for booking hotels n' what not. Be-Jaezuz, sure the feckin' Internet of interconnecting tubes thingy hadn't even been invented yet. The 'youth of today' (never thought I'd use that expression) don't know how feckin' easy they have it.  


So off we set on a Friday evening with no advance reservations for travel or accommodation. We hopped on the tube from Colindale to Victoria, train to Dover, then hovercraft to Calais, and finally a train to Amsterdam where we alighted and walked to a tourist office to secure our bed for the night.


We were just a tad pissed off to find out there wasn't a single room to be had due a Dutch holiday with people from the far corners of Holland descending on the city.  It was getting late and we figured we were losing valuable drinking time so we put our bags in the train station lockers and went off on the razz (mega pub crawl).


I don't think any of us were expecting what was on offer in Amsterdam.  Ireland in the late 'eighties' was practically pre-historic in terms of conservatism and London was still under the grips of Maggie Thatcher so wasn't much better but Amsterdam, Holland was off-the-hook!

Suffice to say a good time was had by all until the very wee hours and daylight, whereupon our accommodation dilemma raised it's very ugly and by now very sore head. We trekked back to the tourist office after breakfast only to be given the same 'No room at the Inn' story and were advised to head 20kms outside Amsterdam to the city of Harlem.

On arrival at the tourist office in Harlem we were given the same bad news of "Booked Solid"  so we did what any resourceful group of extremely hungover and sleep deprived  lads would do.  We rented a Volkswagen transit van (now 11am) and drove it to a nearby car park where five of us snored up a proverbial storm (some more comfortable than others).

We availed of free showers in the train station later that evening before heading back for another wild night in Amsterdam and another vampire-like day sleep in the van.  I think the car hire company were flummoxed since the 'IN' return mileage for 2 days was exactly the same as the 'OUT'.

Cultural highlights of the weekend included an Off-Off-Broadway production of 'Moulin Rouge' and a novel artistic cinematic take of the classic 'Animal Farm'. Things to Note: Flemish pastries will literally blow your mind!
Tags: .Amster-Van-Damn, ..

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10 comments:

VE September 11, 2010 9:01 pm  

I have fond memories of Amsterdam. I've been there several times. Even the memory of playing stupid when the cops were waiting at my rental car because I parked illegally (and got away with it)

Miss Footloose September 11, 2010 10:47 pm  

It always does my expat-Dutch heart good to read how wonderful Amsterdam was, is. The no-bed situation may not be better these days, but as you mentioned, the Internet does make planning easier.

Megan September 12, 2010 12:15 am  

That's just awesome. I am reminded of the time we got eight people in a honda civic from L.A. to Vegas and back...

nick September 12, 2010 9:10 am  

Very enterprising solution to the beds problem. Doesn't look too comfortable but no doubt sheer exhaustion sent you straight to the land of nod.

Maya September 12, 2010 11:34 am  

I've had my share of those travel days when you hit places without a single room available. Always came up with something, but never anything as original as your van rental. I kind of miss those days when we would just see where our journey would take us, rather than having every moment planned.

Martin September 14, 2010 3:43 am  

Heh, loved this.

I've lost significant segments of memory of the first years of this decade to Amsterdam.

And how the hell did anyone arrange weekends away before the internet?

Quickroute September 15, 2010 12:14 am  

@ VE: Euro cops are so much more tolerant than US cops

@ MIss Footloose: Welcome and yes TG for internet bookings

@ Megan: That must have been one hell of a trip

@ Nick: Not comfy but a roof over the head made a huge difference

@ Maya: I could do the impromptu thing back then but not these days alas

@ Martin: It must have been one wild city to be 'young' and free - btw the wee one looks well cute - saw the pics on FB

Thriftcriminal September 20, 2010 3:54 am  

Oranjeboom overdose eh? Amsterdam is a good spot, got engaged there (cheap diamonds).

Quickroute September 22, 2010 9:47 pm  

@ thrifty: window shopping for bling bling in Amsterdam can be .......

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