Let’s Go Exploring! Rotterdam: The High of FI

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FIRECracker

FIRECracker is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
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Okay, I have to be honest with you. It took me a freakishly long time to write this post. I wrote it, deleted it, wrote it and deleted it again. Even as I write these words for the 21st time, I’m still not quite whether this post is a good idea.

But after contemplating about it for way too long, I decided screw it, I’m just going to post it. But before I go on, just a side note to Dad and Mom: if you’re reading this post, stop right the Hell now. Trust me. Just stop. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

* * *

“Do I really have to eat this?” I asked Wanderer. The color, texture, and shape of the “truffles” I just opened reminded me of mouldy spores someone scrapped off the inside of a fridge. Did we accidentally buy a box of rotten walnuts?

“Yes, just eat it.”

Closing my eyes and holding my nose, I took a handful and shoved it into my mouth.

Cautiously, I started to chew. The sour and bitterness hit my taste buds all at once, and I started to choke and gag at the same time.

I didn’t even get through half the package before bolting into the bathroom to throw up.

Needless to say, my first Magic Mushrooms experience didn’t exact go as planned.

We were in Rotterdam, and we decided “hey since we’re back in the Netherlands” let’s give Magic Mushrooms (or “Mushies” as the cool kids like to call it) a try.

 

Now, note that I don’t condone using illegal drugs. Especially not hard drugs, but prior to coming to the Netherlands, we had meticulously researched Magic Mushrooms, and realized that they were actually legal here! So we thought “why not?”

Being the obsessive compulsive pragmatics that we made sure all these conditions were met before consuming any controlled substances:

a) They are not physically addictive
b) They have a mild “come down” period (no hangover, unlike alcohol)
c) They are 100% legal and meticulously tested and controlled in Holland
d) You can’t die from taking too much

Magic Mushrooms checked off every one of those boxes. Plus, research done at John Hopkin’s university has shown positive effects when used to treat things like depression, anxiety and mood disorders, while at the same time showing such a low toxicity in rats that I would have to eat kilograms of it to be in any danger (something which is physically impossible considering how gross they taste).

Basically the main chemical in Mushies that causes the visual and mood altering effect is called “Psilocybin.” And how it works is by binding to the same receptors in the brain as serotonin–the neurotransmitter that helps relay messages between areas of the brain.

When psilocybin binds to these receptors, it has the effect of allowing the brain to re-organize connections and link previously unconnected regions of the brain. This is what causes that “open-mindedness” and “increased creativity” effect users get by making brain connections they’ve never made before. Once the mushies wears off, the connections return to normal.

Yes, we like to be informed with our recreation drugs. Science bitches! (if you want to know more about how Mushies work, watch this ASAP Science video)

In our travels, I can’t count how many times we’ve been offered everything from weed to LSD to ecstasy, and we’ve said no every time because a) I didn’t trust their supply chain and b) I didn’t trust the person offering it. I didn’t spend ten years escaping my cubicle prison just to wind up in a real one. But in the Netherlands, not only were they legal, they’re also sold in stores and are regulated by the government, so those concerns disappeared.

So anyway, after that horrible experience with eating what tasted like the bottom of a sewage worker’s boot, we decided to call it a day.

The next day, Wanderer figured out we had to steep the truffles in hot water like tea. That made most of the horrible taste go away and it worked out a lot better.

After 30 minutes, I still wasn’t feeling anything at all and I was about to tell Wanderer this whole thing was a waste of time, when I started to notice the couch was glowing.

“Hey hun, is it just me, or did this couch used to be brown, not pink?”

Things got a bit hazy after this, but I remember at some point Wanderer turned on a playlist that he had made “pre-trip” and this is where the conversation went, helpfully recorded by Wanderer in a document he later saved as “Shroom Thoughts”

Me, examining a house plant: “Why are there beads of water on this plant? I think it’s because it’s dying and it’s crying because it’s being neglected.”
Wanderer: That’s a very high thing to say.
Me: No, I think that’s a normal thing to say.
Wanderer: That’s exactly what a high person would say.

Wanderer: What do you notice about this room?
Me: Well, the lines on that poster are moving.
Wanderer: Correct. Good job.
Me: Wait, are we just 2 high people congratulating each other on how high we are?
Wanderer: Correct. Good job.
Me: It IS a good job. Thank you for noticing.
Wanderer: Wait, we just did it again!

A Coldplay song comes on
Wanderer: This is a good song when you’re high
Me: He even sounds high while he’s singing it!

Me, gets up to go to the bathroom: “I’ve been to the bathroom 7 times!”
Me, gets up to go to the bathroom: “I’ve been to the bathroom 7 times!”
Me, gets up to go to the bathroom: “I’ve been to the bathroom 7 times!”
Me, gets up to go to the bathroom: “I’ve been to the bathroom 16 times!”
Wanderer: I counted 4.

Mushroom trips last about 6-9 hours, so it’s a pretty powerful substance, especially for a cheap drunk like me. It also hits in waves. The first part is very visual and giggly. But then after that, for me all these childhood memories starting getting drudged up.

“Do you think abusive parents need empathy because they were abused as a kid?”

“Do you think people turn into control freaks because of their childhood?”

I think at some point, I started bawling and saying “Everyone just needs a hug! We all just need a hug.”

Wanderer was like “Uhhh…who are you?”

However, even in my mushie-clouded brain, I still couldn’t stop optimizing. I realized that instead of buying two boxes of Mexicanas (which had the lowest strength), it would be more cost effective to buy one box of High Hawaiians (which were much stronger), but then only take half the dose between the two of us. Value, bitches!

But the biggest revelation I had was about this blog. I can be known to be a bit of an obsessive A-type personality, and ever since we went to Fincon I’ve been a bit stressed out. A big part of Fincon is about teaching techniques that help you grow your blog, and despite the fact that this blog has grown pretty explosively in the short amount of time it’s existed, Fincon stressed me out because there were so many things I could be doing to grow it faster than I wasn’t! Should I be making an e-course? Writing every day? Do I need to diversify my affiliates? Gaaah!

On shrooms, though, I went back to why I started this blog in the first place: To use my skill as a writer to help as many people as possible to understand their finances.

I didn’t start it to monetize, I didn’t start it for the blog stats, I started it to help people.

And as long as I was achieving that goal, then I didn’t need to do all of that “other” stuff. Plus, being FI means I don’t have to compromise our goal for money.

* * *

Anyhoo, so that was our first foray into Mushies…Oh right, and the city of Rotterdam was cool too. Here’s are a few touristy pictures, to prove that we did in fact, leave the apartment at some point, so you don’t think I’m a total druggie:

Rotterdam Cube House
Inside the cube house
weird “art” by the river that looks like a construction accident
Famous Rotterdam statue affectionally known as the “Butt Plug gnome”

 

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement for drugs. It’s an endorsement for Holland and its open-minded attitude. If you do go there for a trip, making sure to do it responsibly. Find a safe space with people you trust. And make sure you do your research.

Okay, so that was our Rotterdam “trip” in a nutshell.

Now, before I go I’ll leave you with this:

Random Fun fact: remember those dotted red mushrooms in Super Mario that makes him think he’s big or small?

Well, here’s what that cartoon mushroom looks like:

By Danirc788 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Here’s what hallucinogenic mushrooms look like:

By Amanita_muscaria_3_vliegenzwammen_op_rij.jpg: Onderwijsgek derivative work: Ak ccm [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Hmmm…suspicious.

Note that if you see this mushroom in the wild DO NOT EAT IT. This particular species has hallucinogenic properties, but it’s also poisonous, so again. DO NOT EAT.

Here’s how much we spent in Rotterdam:

Category Cost in USD/couple Cost in CAD/couple Notes
Accommodations: $43 USD/night $54 CAD/night Airbnbs in Rotterdam are so much better priced than in Amsterdam! I'd say they're more than 50% less. Which leads me to think Amsterdam is turning into a complete tourist trap with bad prices while other prettier, more livable places in Netherlands are still undiscovered. Do yourself a favour and check out off then beaten path places like Rotterdam!
Food: $21 USD/day $26 CAD/day ($8/day for eating out, $18/day for groceries) We cooked mostly so food was relatively cheap in Rotterdam. Plus when you're on Mushies, you don't feel hungry for 6-9 hours, so I can't afford NOT to be high! *sheepish grin*.
Transportation: $16 USD/day $19 CAD/day Rotterdam is pretty small, walkable and easy to get around, so our only transportation was the train to get there from the Hague, where are were visiting a friend (around $12 Euros a person) and $17 worth of tram tickets each for the week. "
Entertainment: $14 USD/day $17 CAD/day I wasn't sure whether to put the Mushies in the food or entertainment group. I finally decided entertainment since they're too gross tasting to be considered food. Other than that, we only paid for a small entrance fee to the cube houses (3 Euros each) and tip for a walking tour.
Total: $93 USD/couple/day $116 CAD/couple/night Compared to touristy, overcrowded Amsterdam, Rotterdam is WAY better value. I would say definitely go to Amsterdam at least once in you life but after that, Rotterdam is a way better place to visit. Plus, you might just end up with more brain connections than you left with and a really low food budget.


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44 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! Rotterdam: The High of FI”

  1. I’ve been meaning to visit Holland for years (and not for the shrooms). It’s such a fascinating country, with a interesting history and culture. Openness is just part of the culture.

    Thanks for the tip on Rotterdam! What a great value! We’ll definitely put it on our list of places to go. Still want to see Amsterdam of course.

    I’m currently heading south for some warmer temps, so Holland will have to wait for summer. 😉

    1. The openness of their culture is what puts Holland on the top of my list. When we stayed with an airbnb host for the first time in Amsterdam, she said she’d been to over 40 countries and the 2 most open-minded ones were: Holland and Canada. I can agree to that assessment!

      Hope you get to visit sometime.

  2. Thanks for keeping it real. You’d mentioned that FinCon had stressed you out, but I didn’t realize it was still bothering you, because to me, your achievements and knowledge are so amazeballs that in my head, you two must be constantly sipping champagne with angels, or whatever it is that Successful People do.

    But of course it makes sense that as a Type A, you’d want to achieve, and it would take shrooms to make you remember your core goal of helping people. 😉

    If your parents read your blog, I don’t think they’d be too shocked by the shrooms. Didn’t you do space cakes too?

    Anyway, you help me all the time. More stuff to add to my eventual travel list. And I put in a buy order for CPD. I also did a GIC ladder because I want to keep some money separate from the stock market. You and Wanderer are my heroes. Cheers!

    1. yeah, my Type A personality hasn’t turned into Type B in retirement, even though I tried 😉 That’s okay, I have Wanderer and Mushies to mellow me out.

      As for my parents, I haven’t gotten any angry calls or e-mails, so looks like either they haven’t read it or they’re totally okay with it (I suspect it’s likely the former).

      Glad this blog has been helpful to you! Just a quick question about the GIC ladder…why bother doing that when you can HISA hop? We’re consistently getting 2.5-3% on our cash cushion (moving around between tangerine, Simplii, and EQ. They’re all CDIC insured) and we don’t have to lock our money away.

      1. I did the GIC ladder because it’s already in our RRSP, so I’d have to pull it out to do HISA, right? Because brokerages just have sucky money market accounts.

        I do have some separate HISA hopping money. I have to call up Tangerine/Simplii and nag them, though. Not too fun on March break.

        Thanks for asking!

      2. Don’t forget to call Tangerine every time your higher rate expires. Renegotiate over the phone. I haven’t had to bounce over to Simplii for about a year. Tangerine keeps giving me around 2.5% every 3 months or so.
        Cheers.

        1. Forgot to add that I LOVE your posts!! And look forward to reading both yours and Wanderers posts all the time.
          You guys seriously rock and you can tell that you love what you do.

  3. Hey, Don’t feel put off by round one (trying to eat the shrooms). Here’s a rougher one…

    So, Maureen Dowd (NPR journalist) is in Denver (I think) where weed is legal. she goes to a shop and scores a candy (weed) bar. Then, she gets a nice bottle of wine and settles in to her hotel room for a nice buzz that she is going to report about.

    So she enjoys her weed bar. Curiously, it’s in sections like a Hershey bar. Her high becomes REALLY INTENSE and she’s freaking out. She survives (of course),and later learns that one section of the bar is for a nice high. She ingested all eight.

    When engaging in even remotely risky behavior, know what you are doing. 🙂

    1. Knowing what you’re doing is definitely important. We were stupid when we tried the spacecakes right before a ferry and bike ride. Never again. The ‘shrooms turned out so much better since we stayed in the apartment and didn’t have to worry about getting home. Still made the stupid mistake of eating it on a full stomach though. Meh. It’s all a learning experience 😀

  4. FYI, that’s not what magic mushrooms look like. If you see red caps with white dots in nature DO NOT eat them, it will expand something but it won’t be your mind.
    Another process is required before you should even consider consuming these. Siberian Shaman would use reindeer to “process” these mushrooms before use. Look it up, it’s worth the read.
    The main psychoactive ingredient in the red caps is ibotenic acid and muscimol, psilocybin comes from a different family of mushrooms which for the record are not truffles.
    I would be very interested to read the flyer mentioned on the package that you bought.

    1. Those weren’t the mushrooms we bought. I was using it to illustrate the connection between the Mario Mushroom and ‘shrooms. But thanks for the heads up. Disclaimer added.

    1. Weed was very “meh” for me. All it did was make me sleepy (though we only tried one type). ‘Shrooms/Mushies are way better. No sleepiness and makes you super creative. Highly recommend visiting Rotterdam sometime!

  5. Do the locals really call them mushies and not ‘shrooms? Or is that just what your novice status lead you to call them? Either way, I’m glad you were looking after that plant. They definitely need love too.

    1. I’ve heard them called Mushies and ‘shrooms. In the Netherlands, they call them “truffles” because the actually mushrooms are illegal but the base of the mushroom, aka the ‘truffle’ isn’t.

  6. Awesome post guys! Whats the point of being financially free if you can’t say, do and speak about what you want to carefree of what others might think.

    I’m of the personal belief all narcotics should be legalized anyway, prohibition doesn’t work. Education, treatment and safe control seems more effective.

    PS. The bottom mushroom is Amanita and actually different from the psilocybe you ate!

    1. I don’t believe all narcotics should be legalized, but the soft ones –like ‘shrooms and weed– should be. My threshold is “can it kill you” and “is it addictive”. If no to both, then thumbs up.

      Yes, another reader also mentioned about the mushroom picture. I’ve added a disclaimer.

  7. I’ve traveled down the yellow brick road of many mushroom trips in my past. It’s a powerful trip. If the music is right, and dancing is your thing, they can bring some wicked inspired dance moves out of your body. I’ve felt as fast and as fluid as liquid mercury as my body spun through the lights and darkness flashing around me. Those moments and memories are the highest I’ve ever felt.

    There’s a Don Henley song, (Founding member of the Eagles), that has helped me put my drug-exploring past behind me, and avoid strong mind-altering substances the last few years. He sang in the song, “Boys of Summer:”

    “Out on the road today, I saw a dead head sticker on a Cadillac. A little voice inside my head said, ‘Don’t look back, you can never look back.”

    These few sentences remind me not to chase the euphoric fantasies I remember in my past. Those days are gone forever. I will never see them again. The only highs that are good for me will be found executing the visions I see in my future.

    – Thoughts from a one-time heavy drug experimenter.

    If you’re into this sort of writing, here’s how bitcoin (and any other crazy investment) reminds me of being high, and coming down from, Heroin: https://www.wealthwelldone.com/bitcoin-reminds-me-of-heroin/

    1. “The only highs that are good for me will be found executing the visions I see in my future.”

      Sounds like the best kind of high 🙂

      Great post about Bitcoin reminding you of heroin! The highs are fun, but the lows won’t be and they always come…

    1. My Dad started reading it about a year ago. He even changed his investment strategy as a result 🙂 (Hopefully he doesn’t read this one)

  8. Hi FIREcracker,
    I think you guys are so inspiring and awesome. You inspired me and my husband to start our journey to become FI. We have read every post in your blog and started to MATHSHITUP and realized we were much closer than we thought to freedom. We sold our condo and started to rent a “cheap” apartment for Toronto. …. We had a baby and now are reconsidering to buy a place again. My nesting instincts do not let me rest thinking about having a nicer place and a place to call home for our family. We are waiting (hoping) market to drop to buy a place cash but we lose half or more of our portfolio. The itch is bigger and stronger than me. I like the freedom but I want a home too! What should we do? Help me!

    1. Making a massive decision with emotions instead of math is never a good idea for your finances. However, I do understand the instinct to own for lifestyle reasons (the baby), so if you understand that it’s not an investment, do the math to see if you can afford it.

      That being said, given the current market conditions (B20, government rules trying to cool down the market, interest rate hikes in the future), I would not be buying in Toronto right now: https://www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2018/03/06/toronto-area-home-prices-saw-year-over-year-drop-in-february-as-number-of-sales-plunged.html.

  9. I think just reading this post got me high. Does that cube house really look that bizarre, or is it just my mind bending? How long will it take me to come down? I may need someone to guide me through this!

    1. Yeah, going through that cube house is a “trip” in of itself.

      The come down from Mushies is pretty smooth–no hangover, no headaches, no side effects (at least not for us). Comparatively it’s much worse with booze. Should about 6-8 hours for the entire trip. Definitely have a sober friend or “experienced tripper” with you.

  10. Ahh fun!! So jealous you were able to get them legally and choose what you wanted! I’ve only tried them twice, but 30 min in the random “strain” of the second mushies made me so. incredibly. nauseous. With cold sweats to boot. Not at *all* worth the cool auras and visual aberrations.
    (I will say though— eating them on toast with peanut butter to mask the flavour/texture was a great pro tip from a friend!)

    1. yeah, we were SUPER careful to make sure they were from a legit “Head Shop” and not from some sketchy dude on the street. The Netherlands regulates these things like crazy so very trustworthy.

      Yeesh, the cold sweats and nausea does not sound like fun. Gotta make sure they’re from a good source.

      Good tip on eating it on the toast with peanut butter! My worry was eating it on anything other than an empty stomach, but I’m sure a little toast won’t hurt.

  11. Ha! This is awesome; I’m so glad you hit Publish. I think the coolest part of this post is that you never could have shared it, I’m guessing, if you were still in cubicle jail. Another win for FIRE!

    1. Oh definitely! Back in the cubical prison, I wouldn’t even have tried weed, never mind Mushies. Travelling and FIRE definitely opens up your mind!

  12. Having experienced this a few times (5 maybe?) in my life, I’ve always ended up having big revelations about my life (realized the importance of the food I eat on my mood, how certain friends were bad for me and I needed to cut out of my life, etc). For you, maybe it went as far as “everyone needs more hugs” but did you come to any other life revelations? The reason I ask is that as someone (27 yrs) who isn’t sure they’ve totally figured out how I want my life to go, I’d like to know if you (someone who achieved FIRE) perhaps are living exactly the way you intend to be living and therefore leave little room for major life revelations. Thanks for the story too, very interesting read.

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