Gastropod Surprise, or, Did he really just say brothel?

Thursday nights the shops are open until the unfathomably late hour of 9 o’clock, so I tried to get in a few evening/nightlife shots for you. The two of us strolled around a bit, looking for miniature screwdrivers to help us fix the, ahem, gol-durn laptop, and then we went out later with our housemates. In the name of neighborliness and yummy Dutch beer.

This is the road we take when we go just about anywhere in the city. It’s called Lange Mare, and that’s the Marekerk in the background. It was the first church built in Leiden after the Reformation and was designed specifically as a Protestant church – round, rather than cruciform-shaped, so that everyone has equal access to God. Um, symbolically speaking, that is. Also, the bells toll ALL the time, occasionally for fifteen unrelenting minutes. It’s mostly nice, but sometimes… Not that I don’t love the sound of church bells, but for heaven’s sake, can’t a girl get some beauty sleep? I’m in desperate need here, people.

A typical sweet shop. Less marzipan than in Germany; also, jelly bellies.

We actually ended up at the pub in the left of the picture (with all the chairs) later that evening. It’s called “Annie’s Birthday,” which makes no sense, and the inside looks just like a hobbit hole.

Here’s our favorite Kebab shop. Have you ever had one? Kind of like a gyros, but Turkish. You can get them all over the place, but this shop has an engaging chef and welcoming atmosphere for foreigners. It’s says “Top Kebap,” but the sandwich wrappers themselves say “Kebab,” so I’m pretty sure the sign’s just screwed up.

Happy to pose for me.

Not so happy to pose for me.

Just trying to get a leg up…haha, I kill me.

Pretty much any evening downtown, if you walk for 15 minutes, you’ll smell pot. Sometimes it’s smooth and pleasant, mostly it smells like burning trash. I was trying to get a picture of this coffeeshop a few blocks from our apartment without any of its clientele noticing me (because I didn’t want to look like a total idiot), but tarnation! I done got me a stoned Eye-talian.

Here are our friendly and gracious housemates, Remco and Ernst! They’ve been a big blessing to us, not in the least because we’re using their refrigerator, washing machine and Internet for free. They’re college students studying Engineering and Law/Business Administration. (And as far as I know, Ernst is single….ladies? Any takers?)

I had my doubts about sharing a house with strangers, but it’s working out really well. They’re both fans of the soccer club Ajax – a bit more gentle than the rabid, I’ll-eat-your-babies kinds of fans we’d like to avoid while we’re here, though. Just the occasional roars and floor-poundings during games. They offered us the use of their membership cards, so it looks like we’ll be going to a game in Amsterdam sometime this fall, which is awesome. They’re also helpful in the language area, particularly since our books a) don’t agree with each other, and b) are wrong. And they say no one in the Netherlands likes the Amsterdam accent because of Ajax. Amsterdammers are arrogant, they say. They want everyone to acknowledge that Ajax is the best, which is a problem, because, darn it, Ajax IS the best. So Ernst and Remco root for Ajax but mock their accents in return.

They are also excited about smoking Cuban cigars with us. Apparently, there’s a humidor as big as a whole room in Den Haag. This is great, except I don’t care. I’ve never been able to appreciate cigars, I’m afraid.

Now, during our evening out, a certain tall, devilishly handsome Texan kept on requesting to try dark Dutch beers. The first beer he ever had was in an Irish pub in Barcelona. It was a Guinness, and he said it tasted like compost, but he downed it like the ex-Mormon he was and hasn’t looked back.

The first place we went, they ordered for us, and his beer was lighter than my Heineken. When we got to Annie’s, they tried again, with the following result. Kind of a wussy, watery, reddish-brown. Like it was going to try to be a dark beer, but all the other beers kept picking on it and calling it ugly.

And we got some interesting revelations last night. The first, that our next-door neighbor was once discovered in our hallway brandishing a knife because he didn’t like the noise our housemates were making. The second, that this house used to be a brothel.

Blink, blink.


Yeah. Or, as Remco said, “It used to be a, how do you say it? A hooor house.”

About 10-15 years ago (according to the landlord), the establishment run from these premises was of the appealing-to-gentlemen variety. Our living room was the bar (I didn’t know real bordello’s had bars, did you? I thought that was a Wild West stereotype.), and the 2 bedrooms upstairs, as well as our bedroom, were the, um, er, you know…bedrooms. This explains the urinal in the downstairs shower room – customer convenience, don’t you know. Remco’s sister used to live in our apartment, and he says before the floors were redone you could see where the bar used to be.

This should probably give me an icky, creepy feeling, but I’m immature enough to find it mostly hysterical.

Less hysterical was what I found after we got home. How the expletive did a SLUG get into our bedroom? I turned from the sink after brushing my teeth to see this son-of-a-deleted no more than 3 feet from our bed. Which, as you recall, is on the floor. At a nice, convenient slug height. (Cover your children’s ears.) Holy SHIT!

Don’t know how it got there. We suspect it either came in with our new houseplant or squeezed its grotesque little body through some preposterously narrow gap by the door. All I know is that it got one free ticket to getting its sorry ass thrown over the courtyard wall.

Goodnight, Gracie.


~ by themeansister on September 26, 2008.

4 Responses to “Gastropod Surprise, or, Did he really just say brothel?”

  1. Thank you for warning those of us with delicate ears in advance!

  2. The Texan’s beer reminded me of a quote from “In Bruges”: “One gay beer for my gay friend, one normal beer for me, because I am normal.”

    That’s right, Texan.

    Also, the best concert I ever saw was in a theater that was formerly burlesque – so I think that bodes well for your apartment.

    Thanks for the great blogs…really enjoying the updates.

  3. Well, that’s one for the grandchildren. Wish my dorm had been a brothel, it’d give it some character! Right now all it’s got going for it is….er…that you used to live underneath me! Woooo.

    Miss you, love you.

  4. I endeavor to give satisfaction. Sorry that Carver can’t use this for reading practice, though, Anna!

    Joel, we are planning to go to Bruges – you and Chris should come visit! With your unlimited funds and free time. I promise to provide a slug-free environment. I’m glad you like the blog – it’s a lot of fun to write.

    Nora, at a place like H-dale, you’ve got to create your own fun. Mac can be JUST as good as any ex-brothel!

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