Tuesday, 20 March 2007


Amsterdam Bar
Amsterdam Bar, originally uploaded by Peter Glorie.

Clichés are only clichés because they’re true. Somewhere along the line, somebody stood up and exclaimed ‘Germans have no sense of humour’ or ‘the Italians are emotionally volatile’ or something else that, at that point, would have sounded as radical as it now does clichéd. Travelling abroad and discovering new countries should reverse this, and open the eyes of the ignorant and uneducated. And, by and large, it does. Apart from in Amsterdam, that is.
I stayed in the Flying Pig Hostel, an institution deservedly famous amongst travellers. I would say it confirmed around eighty-seven percent of all cultural stereotypes I held dear. The girl at the desk, who also ran the bar, had blonde pig tails and spoke perfect English in a Grolsch-advert accent. Australians stood in the corner, boozing and playing pool. Americans talked loudly about what they were going to buy with “their first million”. Everywhere, the thick fog of weed hung low.
I did my best, too, singing Michelle by the Beatles in a karaoke bar on the final night, an incident pieced together in my mind from various Polaroid pictures and camera-phone videos taken that night. Earlier, I watched a group of Scotsman dance to American pie in a tiny bar at the heart of the red light district. The locals shook their heads disapprovingly. I probably would have done, too, if I were them. It was beyond cliché.
But it was fun. And isn’t that the whole point?

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