Monday, May 21, 2012

Betty, TOO!, or the best damn coffeeshop in all of Amsterdam.


They have wifi. You can tell because I'm writing this here right now.

I haven't done any research into the best coffeeshops in town. I wanted to discover them. I wanted to wander into places I like the look of and find my favorite. I have been beginning to wish I had done some basic googling. Almost all coffeeshops have unfriendly, inattentive staff. A few have been decent, but on the whole, customer service is lacking in Amsterdam. None have wifi.

But today, I've found my spot.

I have a spot I can return to whenever I visit again. I'm leaving town tomorrow, but I'm only going an hour away. I'll be able to take regular day trips, and when I do, I'll have a place to smoke, where I'll know there will be a friendly hashman.

I happened upon Betty, TOO!, at Reguliersdwarsstraat 29, by chance. I had started to stroll down a canal that was filled with flower shops. It was crowded, and I got bored quickly, so I took the next side street as an exit. At the corner I discovered a great spot for a wake and bake.

The owners are a Japanese couple, in business for six years. They offer the usual variety of different buds, hash, and pre-rolled joints, along with a selection of beverages. The hot chocolate was excellent. The prices are average. I tried their cheapest spliff, a medium strength weed mixed with tobacco for €3.50. Perfect for a breakfast buzz.

The ambiance of the place is top notch. It's not overly dark like so many coffeeshops. I can actually see what I'm smoking. The owner has English papers to borrow (try to read before the weed sets in). One can sit upstairs, outside under an awning, or at the little counter. They do not sell cooked food, but there is a selection of snacks if you get the munchies. The hot chocolate comes with a cookie. It was tasty.

The customer service makes this place stand out. The was the first coffeeshop I've been to where the person behind the counter seemed genuinely pleased that I stopped by. That makes a difference in my book. It helps if the people I'm giving my money to appreciate me as much as they do my money.

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It's Monday now. The above was written yesterday as I was sitting in the place. But, being that Sunday was my last day to really enjoy Amsterdam, I ordered another spliff, this time the Betty Haze, a stronger buzz at €6.00. It did the trick. I stopped blogging for the day and wandered about.

I had asked the proprietor where I could find decent yakitori, which I hadn't had since I left New York around Labor Day. He told me of a place not too far, and I ambled in that direction. It only took about 45 minutes to find the place, plus the time I spent lost because I was supposed to cross a traffic circle and I only went a quarter of the way around instead of half.

Eventually I found the place and they weren't open yet. I had time to kill. I found a bench and sat. An old lady joined me, and we got to chit-chatting. Eighty-four years old. Four daughters. Husband died last year after fifty-nine years of marriage. Two daughters also lost their husbands last year. Sad. She and husband owned a store for fifty years. She's retired now.

She was waiting for friends to join her for dinner. I told her that I was waiting for a Japanese restaurant to open. She told me if they was Japanese, I'd be better off going to McDonald's. "At least then you can trust the meat." What a bitch.

The restaurant had looked expensive, but I really wanted to try it. So, I walked down the street and had a sandwich at a Jewish deli. A just like New York Jewish deli. I had hot sausage. Cost €4.

Then I went back to the yakitori place and had an appetizer instead of dinner. I had two skewers, one steak and one cheese wrapped with bacon and seaweed. Delicious. I also had one drink, an oolong hai, my favorite Japanese beverage which I hadn't had in awhile. I figure that I saved about €8 by eating the sandwich beforehand.

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But, I'm supposed to be writing a coffeeshop review, not recounting my day.

I went back to Betty, TOO and had another spliff. It was my last day before heading off to Dairyland, and I meant to enjoy it. I did. I went back this morning for another breakfast buzz. Dairyland is a drug-free zone, so I'll be abstaining for the near future. I bid the owner farewell and asked for a photo of him. He said no, but welcomed me to take a photo of the place. He doesn't want his family back in Japan finding out that he peddles weed. They think he runs a regular café.


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