Het Elfde Gebod (and a Bulldog story)
You know, I really need to go back to this bar some day. But some places are best remembered as their ideal.
The year was 1996. By the time we got to Utrecht, the drugs had kicked in. I was about to tell my friend about the purple bats, but he would see them soon enough himself.
Okay, it wasn't quite a Hunter Thompson experience. After a long afternoon at the Belgique, we eventually wound our way to one of the Bulldog cafes in the red light district. Actually, Lance was just trying to get us to the red light district. Lance was our little leprechaun of a friend, and after a couple of beers, every time we talked about moving on to another bar, he would say, "Well, we could go have some more Belgian beer, OR we could go watch some bloke shaggin a bird".
So we finally made it to the red light district, and truth be told, I believe we were in and out of two or three different Bulldog franchises, before we settled into one that was known as the Energy Coffeeshop.
Sure, we enjoyed the Connect Four.
But, we should have taken John's advice and stayed away from the smart drinks. Still, naive as we were, we thought the smart drinks would indeed help us beat him at Connect Four. And something snapped in ColoniAl's world.
At first we thought he would snap right back out of it. But when he started talking more and more animated about the bad people that were out to get him, we began considering the idea of calling it a night (at 8pm), or at least getting ColoniAl back to the hotel.
But there was no sense in all five us heading back to the hotel. So somehow the taxi came and went, and it was down to Lance and myself. And you know how that conversation went, "Well, we could go have some more Belgian beer..."
So I told Lance about the Het Elfde Gebod, and suggested that he come back and meet me there in an hour or so after the show.
The bar was practically empty when I walked in. I sat down at the bar and asked for an Orval. The bartender checked, and he only had the warm bottle that was sitting out on display. So the owner said he would go upstairs to his apartment and bring down some more bottles.
The Orval tasted great. Almost as good as the 6 year old bottle we'd find at Duda's in Fells Point a few years later ... but you get the idea. And I had a few more.
The bar started to fill up. But everybody seemed to know everyone, and it had this real neighborhood bar kind of feel to it. People went out of the way to speak to me in English and try to include me in conversations.
By the time Lance showed back up again, we were all singing. Well, the only word that I could make out was "Amsterdam!" in the chorus. A cool place, I need to find my way back again some day.