Dutch toilets, Secret Speakeasies and Other Mishaps

October 1, 2019

When we land in Amsterdam, it’s only 10am but I already feel drunk. Even if I manage to sleep on an airplane, I always have the weirdest dreams and wake feeling etherized. Our room at the W Amsterdam isn’t ready yet, but that’s okay because they let us into the spa for free and we spend a couple lovely hours loafing and soaking and steaming. Not a bad gig.

Plus, the hotel is decorated with all sorts of weird-ass artwork by local folks.

“Whoa, not sure it was such a brilliant idea to spend half an hour in the jacuzzi,” I say, lurching slightly. “I feel wasted.”

He laughs. “Hydrate, bitch. You’re not supposed to take a nap anyways, so you’re just going to have to stagger through the canals until bedtime.”


Our room still isn’t ready and I’m dangerously hungry, so the concierge points us towards a nearby restaurant and my husband watches, awestruck, as I inhale a giant burger and fries.

“Ummm, I don’t think you’re really supposed to eat that,” he says. “You know, missing gall bladder and all.”

I glower at him and shove another French fry (Jesus, the Dutch make the best dang fries) into my mouth. “Mind your own beeswax, bud.”


Of course we get hopelessly lost that afternoon, trying to navigate our way through canals and charming little side streets. We always get lost in cities bisected by waterways (Venice, I’m talking to you) but isn’t that part of the charm? There’s nothing else to do but wander and gawk and laugh because you’re so directionally challenged. We snag a spot on a boat tour and watch the world go by.

The Dutch are the tallest people in Europe, and the men are all built exactly like my husband, with strapping broad shoulders and crazy long legs. Everywhere he goes, people speak to him in Dutch, just assuming he’s a resident of this great and diverse city. This pleases him NO END because my husband’s greatest goal is to mask that he’s a tourist in any city we visit. God forbid someone blow his cover, which I always do, because I am clearly a blond, loud-mouthed, clueless American and I give zero fucks who knows it.

“Can’t you just try to blend in a little?” he always hisses.

Whatever. I’m not an ugly American, just a little…audacious. Yeah, that’s it.


One of the things that flummoxes my dear husband is the way my personality changes when we travel. When we travel, I become downright chatty. I’ll talk to people in elevators, in pools, on buses, in streetside cafes.

I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s because I want to prove that I’m not an ugly American?

Anyways, it’s this sudden ability to socialize with the locals that leads us to the following tidbit of information: there’s a secret speakeasy not far from our hotel. There’s no sign on the door and your hotel concierge has to call to get you the secret entrance code (which changes nightly) and it’s all so badass cloak-and-dagger that I decide we HAVE to go.

Another oddity about my travel persona; I can suddenly stay up past midnight, which it is by the time we arrive and give our names and the magic phrase to get us in. The attendant nods and leads us through a restaurant, into the back, through a metal door that looks like a fucking meat locker, for Chrissakes, and up a set of stairs. The room is small and smoky and full of people swilling very posh looking cocktails to the thrum of techno music.

“Oh, this is going to be trouble,” I grin.

“This place is too cool for us,” my husband says.

“Which is the point,” I say. “Nobody here knows how un-cool we really are.” I sit down on a plush velvet stool. “Get me a drink, cowboy.”


“Whoa, these things go down wayyyyy too easy,” I say. “Am I on my second or third? Crap, I’m delirious. How many hours have we been up?”

“Many, many hours,” my husband drawls lazily. “Damn. I think these drinks are stronger than we think.” He looks at his watch. “Oh man, it’s 2. We better go.”

I pout a little. “Okay. Lemme pee first.”

It takes me longer than I think to find the dang bathroom, tucked away up some stairs and in a dark hallway. By then, things have gotten dire. I really, really need to pee suddenly.

I run/waddle/scramble to make my way into the stall in time, drop trou and barely make it without incident.

Or so I think.

In my speakeasy stupor, I’ve forgotten my phone was in my back pocket, and it’s so dark in there that I don’t realize what I’ve done until I hit the flush button and see a flash of metal in the bowl.

“Fuck!” I yell and watch in horror as the toilet proceeds to overflow onto my shoes and I’m bent over, sloshing through muck, trying to save my phone. Which is stupid, because of course, it’s toast. And now I’m sloshing around smelling like toilet water.


I squish and slosh back to the bar. My husband takes one look at me and cringes. “Awww, Jesus. What did you do?”


I wake in the wee hours of the morning, parched and cotton-mouthed. Water. I need water.

But I don’t just need any water, I decide hazily. I need cold, cold water from the mini-bar, which happens to be downstairs because the W felt so bad about the delay in our room being ready that they’ve upgraded us to this cool, two-level loft. The bed and master bath are upstairs; the mini bar and the lounging area are on the main level.

I deserve cold water from the mini bar. Nothing else will do.

I take a few steps down the tile (read: slippery) staircase, trip on the third stair and tumble, limbs flying, all the way down to the bottom.

Crash and boom and bang and thump and “Fuuuuuuck!”

“What the Hell are you doing?” my husband yells, suddenly wide awake and on his feet.

“I needed water,” I say lamely.

“There’s a freaking faucet upstairs!” he points out.

“I wanted COLD water,” I mutter. I cradle my right arm and wrist. “Owwww.”

He flicks on the overhead light and studies my arm, which is swelling rapidly and immediately beginning to bruise. He gives me a death-stare and mumbles a few choice words under his breath, one of which I’m pretty sure includes “bloomin’ idiot” and “can’t take you anywhere,” but he sighs and picks up the phone to call for ice. “Do not attempt to go back upstairs without me,” he says in a leaden tone. “Just stay put, dammit.”


He leads me back upstairs, wraps my arm in ice, gets me ibuprofen and the dang cold mini-bar water and flops back into bed.

“Just go to sleep, okay? Can you just do that for me?”

“Mmm-hmmm,” I say meekly, and then I can’t help it. I start laughing. I’m banged up and it hurts like a mother but hey, no matter. Wounded on the first day of vacation isn’t really that big of a stretch for me, is it?

Welcome to Amsterdam.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie October 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Omg. I still can’t quite believe all the crazy shit that happens whenever you travel….


GLENN October 2, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Ha, love this, had me flashing back to my time in Amsterdam with the canals and bikes and sweet, sweet smell of reefer wafting out of the cafe’s. Beautiful city!


elizabeth October 3, 2019 at 8:32 am

OMG–I had a…not dissimilar mishap in Chicago after going to a speakeasy and then heading back to our hotel, though fortunately neither my camera nor my phone was injured in it. So I get this, I really do.

At least we can laugh about it now, right?


Dawn in Michigan October 17, 2019 at 3:42 am

Awww man. Not the first DAY!


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