2006: Amsterdam fun, part 4

Regina Bustamante, Plaxo’s Director of Globalization, found a company with offices in Bucharest and told me to meet with them, if I had time. So, Wednesday morning Tini and I drove over to their office and had a meeting. It turns out that their major office is in San Jose and this is their engineering office. We met with an IT guy and the Office Manager. They were very nice and seemed quite competent.

Next we had lunch at the City Grill and sweated like pigs during a nice meal inside. Afterwards, we walked over to Leslie’s office so that I could help with some computer issues. I spent about an hour with ??? and made progress. I also suggested that Leslie meet Tina (Tini’s girlfriend) who is graduating with a Social Working degree very soon. I also told Leslie that I might want to do some fundraising for her back in Silicon Valley. My idea is to round up as many successful Romanians as I can find and try to get them to make personal or business donations to Leslie’s NPO. I hope to do this over the next few months.

Headed to the airport and flew to Amsterdam.

Arrived at 7 pm, hopped in a taxi, and got dropped off at the Eden-Rembrandt Hotel just off Eden-Rembrandt Plein (square). The hotel is very new and modern, and fantastic. I checked into my room and found a note from Dan to meet him and Mark at a “coffeehouse.” Before I could leave, Dan arrived, raring to go.

Took a walk through town and headed straight for one of Dan’s favorite coffeeshops (The Rockery). It is a tiny place right on the street with crazy artwork and décor everywhere. There’s room for about six tables and a bar, where they served juices and sodas. You can go downstairs to the “store” and review the produce. Everything reeks of old building and pot. The lighting is low and mysterious—these places all of an interesting, thick feeling to them. There’s a split door with the top-halve open and a small wooden counter on it. Standing behind the door/counter is a Jamaican guy in dreadlocks who does not look happy to see me. [Dan later explained that these guys are all like this and that one needs to get into their vibe—slow, mellow, easy—before talking with them. Anyway, I told him that I’ve never been here before and was curious. He looked at me like I just told him the world was about to end and flipped a wooden card on counter to reveal the “menu.” No surprises here—it was a menu that sold pot and hash, with several varieties and prices. I asked him—to his dismay and apparent anger—how one chooses. He said something like “well, mon, eet depend on wetar you wont eet in da body or da head…” I said, “um, er, …” and he got even madder at me. Mon, you gotta to chill… 🙂

We stopped for dinner (after much debate) at a Tapas restaurant. The food was fantastic.

Next, of course, we headed to the famous Red Light District (RLD) to see what all the fuss was about. I tried to get Dan and Mark to go to a “show”–just for the intellectual curiosity of course–but they were not interested. The area is in the very center of Amsterdam and is beautiful old Europe, very….. well Amsterdam and Dutchy. [I know that some Nederlands will want to kill me for that.] The tall, stone row houses crowd around the many canals as throngs of people trek up and down the streets while staring in at the women for sale and bar hopping as they go. Of course, there are numerous “shows” that offer everything from bananas to couples—the guys out front are very aggressive in trying to get you in.

I have a growing feeling that Amsterdam is the perfect European city for an American to live in…

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