The Dutch Starbucks

One night after we left the casino, we started walking back to the apartment. Suddenly, a foreboding green glow came from a sign hovering above a doorway as our path immediately diverted into the entrance of an open Starbucks. I do not drink Starbucks in the United States, but have discovered that in Europe, their coffee tastes much better. However, I forgot that they can sometimes make it different, too.

I ordered us each a flat white with an extra espresso shot, expecting them to have as much milk as the drinks back at home. The barista complimented my name, telling me that she named the main character Meghan in a story she wrote. When they announced our drinks, we both looked at each other in alarm, for the size of the drink they gave each of us seemed so small, we wondered how they fit any milk into it with the four espresso shots. With some sugar, I didn’t mind it too much. It tasted like one of the strongest cups of coffee I ever tried. However, Kurt looked sick. “I’m getting a white mocha,” he said with pale annoyance. “Do you want one, too?” I agreed and waited at a table for him to return. He came back a few minutes later with two drinks that tasted a lot more like what we expected. We stayed until they began putting chairs on the tables, a sure sign they had closed. We had no real destination, so  we decided to walk back to the apartment with the sole purpose of enjoying the lovely scenery. Warmed and caffeinated, we faced the night with liquid courage of a different kind.

Amsterdam canal with streetlamps, April 2017.

The Night of the Holland Casino

Casinos around the world seem to not just function as a business, but they also serve as an oasis for the late-night wanderer in search of a future more exciting than sleep. Like moths to the moon, the bright lights and bells of a casino draw in these nocturnal optimists without regard for their plans of tomorrow.

The time neared midnight, yet we still wanted to stay awake. After all, our time in this city would not last forever. We started walking toward the casino amid the still-busy streets of Amsterdam. The streetlamps illuminated our path as we made our way into the night, finally arriving at our destination.

Holland Casino, April 2017. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

We first entered a room with multi-colored lighting and a coat check. Before they allowed us to enter the casino, they requested us to show them our passports and to pay a small entrance fee (We later discovered that signing up for a loyalty card waived that fee). The small glass door swung open, granting us access to the entire casino. A ramp led to an upper level, which we visited in 2014. At that time, that part of the casino had table games, such as roulette and blackjack. It also had a ceiling accented with muted, multi-colored lighting. I have not returned to that area since then, so I do not know if it is still the same. I assume it is, since slot machines and an electronic roulette machine still remain on the first level.

We walked toward the electronic roulette machine, which sat toward the back of the room, surrounded by glass walls and glittering slot machines, accessible only through a pair of glass doors activated by a small button. The massive roulette screen revealed the statistics for the last forty (or so) games. Inspired by the game trend, Kurt found an empty seat and began to play. I watched for a few minutes, then wandered away to play a slot machine. We met up later, each with a few dollars more in our pockets than we had started with. We wanted to stay longer, but the casino closed at 3 a.m., locking players out of the games and preventing them from making any more bets. We collected our jackets and joined the crowd outside of people struggling to return home to embrace the last few hours of sleep before the sun proclaimed a new day.

A successful night at the Holland Casino, April 2017. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.