I'm very disappointed. I managed to log onto the internet in Amsterdam, in the place where we were staying and update this blog. The thing I'm disappointed about is that it doesn't seem to have worked. This means there is very possibly an update from me on someone else's blog in the Netherlands. If so it'll be a confused and frankly silly update. I can't pretend that the "atmosphere" of Amsterdam hasn't been of some effect. In fact, so much so, I can hardly remember anything about our little journey. The only thing I do remember about it is that I was, briefly, kidnapped!
It's late, my fellow stags have fallen asleep. I'm bored. I'm also unusually hungry. What should I do? I'll ask at the bar if they've got any food. Something nice. "There's a cake shop just down the road". Brilliant. Off I go. Door opens and I'm out into this terrifying city. I stride off towards the shop. Suddenly I'm struck by an overwhelming sense of paranoia. Terrified by the concept of being mugged.
"F#ck, f#ck, where's the place we were staying? It was behind me a minute ago."
I'm lost. I can't be lost. I'm lost. I've only been out for about two minutes. I'm lost!
Right, I'll get one of these taxis, "hello mate, I'm not far from where I'm staying but I'm totally lost, could you do me a favour and get me to here:" I place my keycard in his hand, it has the name of the place I was staying. He's Turkish and doesn't speak much english but he sort of rolls his eyes and says "ok".
Off goes the taxi, into the night.
We've been going for about five minutes now and suddenly I think to myself "oh my god I'm being kidnapped". Obviously that can't be true. He's just taking his time because he wants a bit of a taxi fare off the stupid lost Englishman. That's all. Then I start thinking about the murder of Theo Van Gogh. I read a book about it recently called Murder in Amsterdam[link to video about this fantastic book]. Perhaps this bloke is a member of the Hofstad terrorist network*. Oh my god, I'm going to get cut up into bits as part of some ritual killing. An example to Tony Blair and his Government. No, stop, you're just getting paranoid.
We've been going for twenty minutes. A grim silence has descended on the cab. My mouth has gone dry. I tell the bloke I want to get out of his cab. I am infact considering opening the door and jumping out. We're in a normal looking area but I don't recognise any of it. Just buildings and shops. He pulls up outside a terrifying dark alleyway. "Here we are" he says.
I'm out of the cab like a shot, I throw 20 Euros at him and say "take my money I'm off". He beeps his horn and I stop running. "You forgot your change" he shouts. I pop back and snatch it off him. "You know where you are?" he says. I run off. Away from the dark alleyway and towards the well lit buildings.
"Hello, is that the Police? Yes, I think I've just been kidnapped. Or, I thought I was. Or. I'm lost."
"You've been kidnapped?"
"Erm, no, actually probably not. I'm not sure. I'm lost and scared."
"Are you been smoking?"
"No, I'm just really tired."
The police are on their way. I'm in Amsterdam, in some street, which I've just told to the operator. I'm slightly less terrified. The "atmosphere" of the Coffee shops has worn off a little bit. I'm out of the scary area where we went for our stag weekend and this relaxes me considerably. I almost feel a little sheepish when the police arrive.
"I'm lost, I don't know where I am, sorry for all the fuss," I explain to the slightly comical police officers. One of them is a short squat woman and the other is a tall man with a nice blond moustache. They both look very European. "You're in Amsterdam" adds the woman, looking quite pleased with herself. "Where are you staying?" asks the man and I show him my key card. He says, "ah yes, it's just here" and points me again towards the forbidding dark alleyway. "Right, it's just I don't know where I am, I-", my pitiful sentence is interrupted by the woman: "you're in Amsterdam" she says, again, as if I didn't hear her the last time.
They escort me down the dark alleyway and there's the place I'm staying: "The Flying Pig". It's got all the right qualities to it but it looks totally different to the place I left just fifteen minutes ago. I wave the police goodbye, thanking them and apologising to them. They dissapear into the darkness. I pop my keycard in and the f#cking thing doesn't work. I'm outside the wrong place. I try again and again and again. Suddenly the paranoia kicks in again. I'm down a dark alleyway outside a hostel that won't let me in.
I look at my keycard and notice there are two addresses on there. It's a chain of hostels. I'm outside the wrong one. One is in the north part of the city, one is in the south. F#cking hell. F#ck!
I can't think straight anymore. I call a mate and he talks me through the process of getting a taxi to a pub where he meets me and walks me home. My head is in bits.
It's not the tough-guy laddish story most people would come back from a stag weekend in Amsterdam with is it?
* A little knowledge is a terrible thing. Most people, I imagine, would never have heard of the Hofstad Terror network. Yet here was I worrying that I'd been abducted by them. Absurd.