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Friday, August 20, 2010

Lesbians and the Leidseplein Part one: The Hans Brinker Welcomes You

Hans Brinker, I later found out, is the name of the legendary young Dutch boy who is supposed to have saved his village by putting his finger in a leaky dike.  At this point I'm going to not pander to the overt double entendre of incontinent lesbians, and point out that the whole story of the boy is a fable and such a thing never actually occurred.  It's gained so much provenance over the years that you could be hard pressed to prove the fact that Hans never existed when there are buildings named for him, and a statue dedicated to him somewhere.

The budget hotel that bears his name is one of dozens of such types of places scattered throughout the city.  In North America, the term "no frills" as far as value for money could easily be applied.  Set your expectations to what they could be reasonably for paying the equivalent of twenty-five dollars a night while discarding any concept of the service expectations of a hotel should be, and you're on a level playing field with what you're going to get.

Steps away from the Leidseplein, a district on the south end of the downtown core, the Brinker is in a great location amongst Argentinian steak houses, bars, theaters and a large open square that allows buskers and other street performers to ply their trade.  You could also turn around three times and quite easily find half a dozen coffeeshops.

Hop on, hop off bus tours, student groups and other organized travel ventures make great use of the Brinker, crowds of twenty-plus young voyagers arrive every few days or so, overwhelming an already overworked reception before being cut loose on a part of town geared towards youth away from home looking for an explosive time.  I've heard the customer service at the Brinker being described as lacking somewhat, to be polite, completely absent at times to be accurate and downright hostile to be extreme.  What is to be expected when these people are forced to deal with drunk and stoned guests, many of whom are beyond over indulged and reason, at times loud or belligerent.  I'm not blessed with a lot of patience and tolerance myself, and could easily sympathize with the overtaxed staff, who at times were acting more like exasperated babysitters than people charged with running a rooming establishment.  

All I required, and all I got was a bed for when I was no longer able to stand, and a place to read my newspaper in the morning while I waited for the neighboring businesses to open so that I could exchange colorful Dutch notes for smokeable drugs.  I had set my expectations on a low bar, and got what I expected, but in a good way.  The first hostel I had stayed at the year before, Bob's Youth Hostel, had easily led me to believe that one wasn't going to get more then a lumpy mattress on an bunk frame and a bowl of cereal poured out of a communal box qualifying for free breakfast.  I did, however, find aspects to this place that I truly enjoyed.  For one, the hotel had a unique take on happy hour, where they didn't discount the price of individual drinks, but sold you your beverage at a rate of two for one.  This worked well into a limited budget and meant less trips to the bar. 

I had come a rather long way, and was beginning to get the feeling of rationality creeping in.  That unpleasant notion that I'd done something I shouldn't have, and have no way of getting out of.  The only solution, then would be to eradicate my higher consciousness,  and keep myself in a state of inebriation as long as I possibly could.  I set to work on this straight away, and would not let up over the next month, which was as long as my money held out, and what found me stumbling into the Hague in early October with no hope and no cash, and would bring me about to where I now was, overtired and hung over on an early Friday morning, falling in love and burning more bridges.

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