The Week Of Sex Shows, Music Festivals, And Fate

This Week:

  • Yep, I actually went to a live sex show in Amsterdam’s red light district.
  • And speaking of Amsterdam, was it worth all the hype people give it?
  • Finally going to the EDM Festival (Mysteryland) that I booked 3 weeks ago in Madrid.
  • I still can’t believe what happened two nights in Berlin.

September 2023

Su M T W Th F S

Where In The World Was I?

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 🚅
  • Berlin, Germany
  • 🚅
  • Prague, Czechia

Live Travel Map 🌎

Going Alone To An EDM Festival (Mysteryland 2023)

It’s finally here.

Mysteryland, August 25th-27th, 2023.

It’s wild to think that just a couple weeks ago, I was in Madrid, debating on whether or not I could and should buy tickets (see: The Week I Questioned Everything About My Travels).

This event has heavily shaped my travels thus far, so was it worth it? Keep reading 😉

I was mainly there for Alesso, but I recognized a couple other artists/DJs (Don Diablo, Hardwell), so I headed over in the afternoon.

And first off, it was incredibly easy to get to and from by transit, which was amazing.

And second off, I did some things differently this time based on my learnings from the last festival (see: Finding Love In The City Of Love).

It took place in this huge park and there were something like 10 different stages. After arriving, I got my bearings and just explored around and figure out how the food/drinks worked.

They had this token system where you buy tokens at these “ATMs” and then you exchange tokens for food and drinks.

I swear I need to figure out how to invest in music festivals because they’re absolutely making bank off food and drink… Wow.

One cheeseburger = 3

Only 3 that’s cheap!

Wait 3 euros? Nope.

3 tokens.

And the minimum tokens you can buy is 5 for 19€. So 1 token = 3.8€

So 1 basic cheeseburger = 11.4€ ($12.34) 😵

See unlike last time where I felt too sober and in my head, I decided to prioritize getting a couple drinks, regardless of the cost. I figured I’d rather pay the money and actually have a good experience than value saving and have a poor experience. The main objective was just to get loose enough that I could dance and move without feeling awkward and in my head overthinking.

And I actually got to that point and it was absolutely perfect.

It was a lot of house music, kind of techno beats. The main stage was this huge open area, so there was plenty of space and room to dance while also being close enough to the music.

I got in position towards the center line and at ~8:30pm Alesso came on.

And oh my lord the next hour was actually amazing.

From my journal:

August 28th, 2023 | Mysteryland 2023
It was worth it.
It was all worth it.
The festival was fantastic. Alesso was incredible.
All of my nitpicks of Positiv were resolved. I had the perfect chill groovy alcohol buzz, I had space to move, the music was mixed perfectly, nobody was bumping into me.
The only thing I could maybe nitpick is that I recognized basically all the music (and some transitions) he played, implying that it wasn't as much of a live-DJ'd set as Martin Garrix.
BUT, this was also a huge positive because I recognized (and like) the music because I've heard it so many times on the playlists I listen to.
So I mean com'on, we're really grasping at straws here...

The experience was so much better than Positiv. I’m so glad I went.

But this feeling somewhat changed after Alesso ended.

See, the headliner was actually someone else, Hardwell, whose style is way different. Alesso’s music style is more melodic with vocals, while Hardwell is more high-energy and aggressive.

And by then everyone had packed into the main stage area so I was bumping into people, lost my space to move, and just didn’t really vibe with as much of the music.

But I’m still glad I stayed.

Getting back was also amazing. The shuttle bus dropped us off at the train station and there was a train that came in 15 minutes straight back to Amsterdam. I think at that time they ran something like every 30-45min, so it was still possible to get back by train (surprisingly) at 1am. Incredible.

I Found My Dream Lifestyle (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Now that the festival was over, I finally started to slow down.

I spent a lot of time in Amsterdam just exploring and living life – going to coffee shops in the mornings, walking around the city, eating snacks from supermarkets.

More on that dream lifestyle in a bit.

I’m Now In Debt.

One morning I decided to go to a supermarket right around the corner to buy some groceries instead of eating out.

I was actually getting quite excited because they had a lot of great food options and the prices were all really reasonable.

Until I got to the self-checkout kiosk…

I scanned all my items and put them in my bag. I hit the button that looked like it said “Pay” and tapped my phone.

It spun for a second… Then said something in dutch I didn’t understand, so I tapped it again.

It spun again, then said something again.

I thought, ah, must be something with the tap, so I took out my physical credit card and stuck the chip in.

It spun… then said something again.

Then the little green light turned orange and a lady came over to help me out. She said, “what kind of card do you have? An international card?”

I said, “yeah”

She said “We don’t take international cards or credit cards, only local debit cards and cash.”

I remembered that I had on my todo list to get more cash because I only had 5 euros left and my groceries cart was ~23 euros.

In shock, I said “Uhhhh I don’t have enough cash” and was just starting to turn to start putting everything back when this random woman in the self-checkout kiosk to my right comes over and says “I gotchu, I just moved here and it happens to me all the time” and she came over and paid for my groceries.

I offered her my 5 euros in cash and she refused and just said to pay it forward!

So whoever you are out there, I appreciate you!

I left feeling embarrassed, but also just incredibly confused that a major grocery store chain wouldn’t accept a credit card. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me. But over the next couple days, I learned it’s actually quite common in Amsterdam.

One of these days I’ll find an opportunity to pay it forward, but until then, it feels like a debt to repay.

A Stroll Through Amsterdam

Just a couple clips to capture some of the sights and sounds while walking around.

I Went To A Live Sex Show 😳

So… speaking of those “interesting” things I ended on last week (Finding Love In The City Of Love)…

Apparently Amsterdam’s red light district is quite famous. I knew it existed, I just didn’t realize it would be so prominent and such a seemingly large area.

It was quite interesting to walk around and explore. There were a lot of people (tourists) strolling the streets and canals.

But lining the buildings were signs saying “Live Sex Show” and windows with sex workers in minimal clothing making eye contact with people as they walked by wanting them to come in.

I heard just to get into a room with someone started at 100€ and it went up from there based on what you wanted.

So another night I couldn’t hold back my curiosity and thought, well when in Rome right? and bought a ticket to one of the shows.

It was a small-ish theater setup with a stage and curtains up front, and was actually quite filled with other people.

I don’t have other pictures for… obvious reasons… 😅

There would be performances/acts every couple of minutes, from stripper poles to full blown … yeah, then the curtains would close for a couple minutes before the next one. This went on for about 1 hr 30 minutes before they repeated.

It was interesting. Not exactly what I was expecting but also I don’t really know what I was expecting.

I’ll uh… leave it at that 😅

Would I go again? Eh, maybe a different night.

Worth it to try? Sure.

Will I remember that experience? Yep.

Okay Life Just Feels Right

The next day I rented an e-bike and decided to explore the city by bike. There are an UNBELIEVABLE amount of bikes and bikers here, so it only felt right.

I had an absolutely AMAZING time just biking around. I don’t know if I can describe the feeling in words.

Biking and walking around, the city just feels amazing.

  • The streets are all this beautiful brick.
  • All of the houses are unique and have intricate details.
  • The canals are everywhere and add this natural beauty.
  • There are trees, greenery, and flowers everywhere.
  • The biking and walking infrastructure is amazing. You rarely have to worry about intersecting with cars and you can get literally anywhere by bike. No one wears helmets because it’s that safe…
  • By default you’re biking and walking, which is already fantastic for your mental and physical health.
  • The e-bike in particular was soooo fun, I barely broke a sweat because with every pedal the motor would kick in. I’d blow by everyone on the little hills over canals easily.
  • The transit is amazing, there are trams everywhere and they come every couple of minutes.
  • The weather is cool and fresh (like 62ºF/17ºC), which compared to this heat wave has felt amazing. Most days a light jacket is just perfect. You never sweat and you’re never too cold.
  • Oh and I even biked through the “suburbs” with single family homes (and sheep!) and there still were tons of people also biking, the roads were all bike-friendly, and it felt safe and fun.

I feel like there’s this general level of stress assumed and felt while driving anywhere in the U.S. Ever since I got my Whoop wristband and started tracking my heart rate, I would notice a spike in my “Stress” metric (measured by Heart Rate + Heart Rate Variability in the moment) every time I was driving between locations. This was fascinating to actually get data on…

So while biking around Amsterdam, I couldn’t help but keep thinking, how could anyone feel stressed, frustrated, or angry here? You bike and walk everywhere (scientifically good for you), you’re never stuck in traffic, it’s beautiful everywhere, and the weather is perfect.

It felt like what I imagined an ideal society would be like.

I thought Amsterdam/Netherlands might be over-hyped based on how much I heard positive things about it, but after a couple days there, I now understand. It was just as good if not better.

Sure, Amsterdam has its problems, no city is perfect, but man I’ve never felt so good and positive from just walking and biking around a city. The city designers in the Netherlands are absolutely doing something right.

The New Lifestyle

I started imagining what life might be like here.

Working on my laptop in an apartment or coffee shop. Then, taking a break, stepping outside to a beautiful city, biking to a grocery store or cafe, maybe biking over to a park for lunch.

Every couple of days maybe taking a train to a different city to explore and being able to take a bike and train everywhere without feeling rushed by trying to plan around something like 3 trains per day.

Also, I had the idea to take a train to a different city in the area because I’ve heard they’re also great, I just never got around to it. I felt like if I liked Amsterdam this much, I knew I’d like the others just as much.

I felt like I’ve been looking for a new lifestyle or place on this trip and I honestly feel like I found it. Like, this feeling was what I was looking for.

So yeah… remember that whole section on Paris last week… well, sorry Paris 😅

I felt a little sad to leave, but I know I’ll definitely be back. I’ve stuck the Netherlands in my back pocket for later. Now is the time to continue exploring.


☝️The boat of girls that made extended eye contact with me, smiled, and giggled as they drove by.

This City Is Absolutely Nuts (Berlin, Germany)

The Story Of Recovering First Impressions

Coming from such a good experience (a city I thought might actually be utopia), Berlin was already in a tough position.

But it really didn’t help that the hostel I booked required a ~15 minute walk through a dark industrial car-centric area at 9pm… 😬 Reminded me of walking to my hostel in Avignon, France, both from the train station and that night I walked back from the city (see: Why You Should Go On The Pub Crawl Twice Instead Of Once).

The architecture of the houses in Berlin was sooo different from everything else I’ve seen so far.

It felt very… simple. Which, I couldn’t help but compare to the incredible architecture and detail I’ve seen in places like Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam.

And I could tell the stereotype about Germans liking their cars was true. There were a LOT of roads and a lot of nice cars. This kept feeling like a negative compared to my recent experience, but I really tried hard to just take it for what it was.

After two days of exploring and walking around, I felt like I finally started to break down those negative first impressions.

My second walk, I stumbled into an open-air concert at this random park in the city.

And found a really nice neighborhood area with a ton of greenery and a nice weekend market on the street – the perfect vibe and feeling that I like.

I also had some amazing food there. There was a surprising amount of Asian and Turkish food there.

But Berlin seemed to be a whole lot more than what I found just walking around…

Techno Clubs, 3am Nights, and Fate?

On the ground floor of my hostel was a bar area with lots of space and seats.

My second night I came back to the hostel after dinner around 10pm and it was packed with people, everyone chatting, standing, sitting, having drinks. I had to squeeze by people to get through to the stairs.

I got back to my room, totally exhausted, my feet and legs hurt from walking and I kinda just wanted to sleep. But at the same time I felt a bit of FOMO from not being down at the bar meeting people. There’s always that possibility that you meet a new friend, or chat with someone that changes your perspective.

But see, it’s way easier to enter situations like those with some sort of catalyst – either someone I already met (like from the room), or if I went at the very beginning so that everyone’s in the same situation of not knowing anyone.

Joining when there are already groups of people talking and tables of people chatting feels so awkward and difficult.

So I was in the room (no one else was there) and decided to try documenting this conflict of feelings – feeling tired and wanting to sleep, but also kind of wishing I was downstairs chatting with people.

I literally can’t make this sh*t up.

If you jump to about 55 seconds in, you’ll hear that someone walks into the room, quickly halting my recording.

This girl walks in.

And in about 3 seconds I could already tell she had this extroverted energy to her.

She goes, “so the bar tender downstairs is taking a group to this techno club, are you going? You don’t really look like you’re going.”

I respond “uhhh I mean I wasn’t really planning on going out, but I dunno.”

And she goes “I don’t know if I should go, do you think I should go?”

At this point I stand up and start matching her energy, saying “well I mean why wouldn’t you go, like com’on?”

We start talking for a couple minutes. She’s clearly on the fence, but starts leaning towards going out as we talk. At the same time I start thinking, well damn, if there’s a group going out, that’s kind of exactly the opportunity I was looking for, so hell I’d go too.

We both get changed, exchange names, and head downstairs.

(I feel like it’s somewhat important to note that I didn’t think there was anything romantic there…)

We get downstairs and I immediately go to the bar and order two shots because I’m like okay, game face on, I need to get more chill. Also if we’re going to a club I’m not going sober 😂

I come back and she’s talking with some people she met earlier, so I join in.

There were a couple seconds of awkwardness, like “who’s this new guy?” but I started a little conversation, asking the guy next to me where he’s from.

Over the course of the next 30 min to an hour, I learned a couple important things.

The bar tender was taking some people (whoever wanted to go) to this club, but it happened to be gay night and the dress codes in a lot of clubs are pretty strict. This one was essentially: risqué clothing and florescent colors, neither of which I had, also I was a little like 😬

But this other guy I met was going to a different club and it was more typical, they just required colorful clothing, again, which I didn’t really have but I changed into what I did have that wasn’t black and grey 😅

However, it was still a little early, so we kept mingling. I kind of moseyed around, going from standing to coming back to a group of people.

At maybe 11:15pm the second guy said okay I’m just going to go out for a smoke, then maybe 15min we’ll leave.

But by 11:30pm he and others were still chatting or grabbing a drink.

11:30pm turned into midnight…

Okay just one more smoke, then we’ll head out.

Midnight turned into 12:30am… turned into 1am…

He was this super friendly guy, so charismatic. I don’t want to put him in a box, but he did mention that he had some ADHD, which honestly made everything make a lotttt more sense.

I kept just kind of going with the flow. I felt like more along for the ride than the one leading, particularly for a situation of going out to a club and especially in a new city. I pushed a little that we should head out soon, but we all just kept on chatting.

There was a point where we split up to change clothes and decided to meet back downstairs.

But after some time, I couldn’t find him anymore, and the others in the group we were chatting with weren’t going out, so it was kind of on me to go with him.

I figured he left, so I thought damn that sucks, but this night has already felt like a success. The fact that what I was wishing happened literally happened is just wild.

But then a couple minutes later I came back in and I found him back with the group chatting… At that point he and his friend were still keen on going out, but that turned into less-so after another 15-20 minutes.

At around 1:30am or 2am we decided to just call it and not go out. I was also starting to think, man it’s getting pretty late (for me, lol) to go out now.

So we just ended up chatting for another hour and at 3am I headed to bed.

I felt a little disappointed that we never went out, but at the same time I hope you can see what happened here… I don’t even know how to describe in words what happened, my brain still can’t even comprehend.

Recording that video, literally about to say how I just wished I had a catalyst of some sort, then this girl literally walks in the door, basically on cue. The fact that I went from “I’m just gonna go to bed” to seeing what actually happened still blows my mind.

Life is freaking weird.


I woke the next morning and had some conversations with these Aussies in my room who did go out…

This guy said it was probably the craziest experience he’s ever had.

He got back to the hostel at 8am.

Let me just repeat that one more time.

He got back to the hostel from his night out at 8am.

If you search for clubs on Google Maps in Berlin, it’s actually pretty typical for clubs to close at 7am, 8am, 10am. IN THE MORNING.

But anyways…

He went to this club where after getting in, you have to give your phone and bag over to the staff because photos are VERY strictly prohibited, but maybe for good reason…

He said clothing was pretty much completely optional and people were just basically wearing nothing but leather straps.

And that every 20 minutes he saw people having s*x just… like… right out in the open.


Fate… Again??

The next night I felt a little worse, my throat was starting to get sore (I mean, I stayed up until ~3:45am the previous night 😅).

But I came back from dinner to somewhat of a similar situation – people chatting in group downstairs.

This time, though, I actually knew people, so I found the group of people I knew and joined in. I felt way more comfortable.

This night the plans were a little more scattered. I didn’t really feel that great, so despite wanting to go out, I leaned a little more heavily towards not going out, but I did stay up and chat with a whole bunch of people until like 12:30am.

But when I got back to my room, a group of people from the previous night were just walking out about to go out somewhere.

I kind of stuck to my guns and just went in to go to sleep, but then I really started to second guess myself.

I had a headache and sore throat but I thought man, when else am I gonna get this opportunity.

Berlin seems to be known for their techno and clubs and I really felt disappointed to give up that opportunity to experience it.

So almost exactly like the last night, I was recording my thoughts, conflicted.

And almost exactly like last night, this (other) girl walks in the room.

However this time, this girl said she wasn’t going out.

We struck up a little conversation though! She was from Seattle, Washington (I love Seattle!) and I thought we actually had a great conversation! We ended up chatting for like 15 minutes just in the hostel room. It was just a good experience, ya know?

I went to bed after, but I actually felt better about my decision after our conversation.

Again though I was just utterly blown away at the coincidence (or fate?) of this happening yet again.

Life is incredibly weird…

On To The Next

I felt disappointed I never got to experience Berlin’s techno scene, but it’ll give me a reason to come back. I just don’t know when that will be…

So yes I probably could’ve really stretched myself and gone out, but I think this time I’m just accepting the loss.

But was it really a loss? 🤔

The next morning I hopped on a train to Prague, Czechia (Czech Republic)!


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