Amsterdam

I initially wrote a few pages during my first few days in Amsterdam, at the wow Hostel. An attempt to resurrect that piece of writing will be patiently composed on this ‘post’.

The WOW Hostel is a ‘massive’ building in Bos en Lommer, Amsterdam, a small-ish, regenerating town in the West of the city, mainly populated by Turkish and Arab – North African – Dutch citizens. However, like most European cities, it is now been ‘gentrified’; Artists from all over the world have found a home in the town, along with many other areas in Amsterdam.

From the station, I took a short tram ride to Bos En LommerPlein (Bos en Lommer Square). Behind the market square stands a tall hotel – beyond it stood my destination.

WOW hostel, located a short walk away from behind the hotel, converted from an old school, faces a range of “street-art”, typical of a ‘gentrifying’ town.

I walked through the first tunnel. On walls are well-designed graffiti art; underneath the tunnel, fenced out, stands a small on-going piece: A tiny “beach like” design.

My first guess, as I have been to WOW before, was that it probably is the work of those who live – or stay in the hostel.

Wow has within it a floor full of rooms designed for artists: High ceilings, artwork hanging in the corridor, big rooms and a lot of space. Rooms are cheap and range from 300 Euros to 330, which is almost dirt cheap.

One would think that the rooms must be terrible, dirty, sad and dark. But, No. The rooms are excellent, well kept and clean. The space is only available for those with an art degree, whom also are often compelled to help renovate the hostel – still under construction (the other rooms are available to all).

WOW hostel is a project, exhibiting an almost ‘commune’-like atmosphere, only to be far from it.

The dormitory rooms are as clean, well-kept and as cool as the Artisan rooms. I have been to a lot of hostels, and I can safely say that WOW is the best I have ever been to. The hosts are calm; the rooms are tidy beyond surprise, cleaner than most hotels. It is cheap: I paid 28 Euros for three days, including breakfast and the use of the kitchen – for a six bedroom dormitory.

The first night, I kept lonely, in my books and drinking coffee – cigarettes. The common Room – also massive – contains a big table where writers, journalists and all wannabes can sit around and pretend. I was not pretending to read but pretended to like the coffee I was drinking, is a legend of mine.

Across me sat a couple. Well, what looked like a couple. “This is the great thing about coffee and cigarettes,” said the female half, referring to an idea made under conversation by someone famous or something. I seldom listen to people properly. On my left was what I thought was an American Novelist or writer: He had the image, the accent, the book and wrote in his pad – continued writing – got up, walked around and started writing again. “He probably has writer’s block,” I thought.

We began talking, do not ask how, for I do not remember. I took another disgusting cup of coffee and invited the ‘writer’ for a smoke or two. We sat in one of the common garden areas of the building. After a few minutes of chit chat it turns out he is Latvian: residing in Amsterdam since 2013, he is now broke and seldom has money to stay in one of the rooms in the hostel. “it fucking hurts when I wake-up,” he said, stroking his neck. When he has no funds, he sleeps in the corridor, on a bench. Luckily, he is never caught. I will not attempt to give his name.

That night, around 11.30 pm, I said my goodbye’s and “please to meet you”, and took a short stroll before I went over to my room.

Third floor, room 316: A six bedroom was cut almost in half – four beds, toilet, shower on one side, and two beds (one bunk bed) in the other room, split by a door. I slept on the bottom bunk – easier to get to, close to the toilet and do not have to wake people up by trying to walk down the ladder.

The top bunk was occupied by a Dutchman, a young man, probably around “21-24 years old,” was my first thought. I walked in quietly, only to find the young Dutch man drinking beer and walking around the room, playing music.

“Hey, you ok?,” I said. “Yeah man, thanks. How are you ?”

“I am good, thank you”. “You from Britain,” He said.

“Yes, I am, unfortunately”.

We became friends. The next day, Ralf, the new Dutch man mate, and I strolled into the Centre. I had to visit the consulate first. “This is a very upper-class town,” said 23-year-old Ralf, scratching his head, looking up at the buildings.

And, yes, it was. We were in a neighborhood where residents’ dogs outfit surpassed our monthly wage in high-street value; A coffee costs over a meal from the pizzeria, as if it were made of gold: “I hate these neighborhoods, but I strangely would love to live in such peace,” said Ralf, sipping his coffee.

We do. We do dislike the upper-middle class neighborhoods – strange and expensive places, moderately powerful people. In a strange way, their comfort is attractive.

The British consulate, Amsterdam, Netherlands, is located within an ‘area’ called ‘Konningsglaan’, an upper-class place. I had lost my passport on the first day of arrival and had to inform the consulate.

“You will have to pay 95 pounds, sterling, for temporary travel documents,” said the general consul. But I never underestimate the low-level of intelligence among the British border force; after all, they represent the prevailing ideology: Stupidity. It should be obvious to most; people who are given this feeling of being ‘detectives’ or something more than they are are bound to miss the obvious. So, I said: “Can we wait before we cancel my passport and buy the travel documents?”. And, “may I have a stamped document for the police?”. “Yes, you think Eurolines [the coach company I travelled with] may find it ?,” she replied.

The document clearly said, “This is not a travel document”. I knew I can get passed the border guards with it.

***

The next few days flew by. I will call them NSFW moments, for I will abstain from revealing all that happened.

Highlights: I was robbed for my phone. And Arab man, Algerian, approached me in of the back-streets, began talking to me and did some ‘football’ trick to take my phone: He pretended to play football to get close to me and, before I can look into my pockets, I realized that he had taken my phone.

I reported the incident to the police. Anger took over me and I wanted to beat the guy till he gave me a new phone and took me to dinner to apologize. But that would have been uncalled for – and ignorant: The situation he was put in, putting aside his personal choices and mistakes, was not one favorable to the growth of most humans. I do not blame him as much: One cannot blame a schmuck for being educated into it. European cities are not so… cute towards immigrants from nations that they previously destroyed. See France.

The worse moment was on Thursday: Not as bad as one may think: Ralf had to leave. We were having such a good time just talking, chillin’ and exchanging ideas. Cool kid. Very cool. We brought each other food and never moaned or calculated how much we had paid or had done for the other. I love that.

To be continued…

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