The tension was thick as banana cream pie when we arrived in Amsterdam. I had no ideas. Deep internet research provided information about windmills and wooden shoes. Yawn. Desperate for a lead, I contacted the authors of guidebooks. They told me about great windmills and authentic wooden shoes. Was there no Road Less Traveled activity in the Netherlands??
The first day was spent recording old voice-over at a local studio. When I came out of the booth the two sound engineers said, "What the heck are you doing? This sounds awesome!" I explained the show concept and inquired if they had any ideas.
One guys asked, "Have you heard of fierljeppen?" and then he showed me a video. Yes!
The next guy said, "Did you know the Netherlands has the best kickboxers?" This guy made a phone call on the spot to Glory gym.
Ten minutes of conversation produced two amazing segments. Always ask the locals.
I felt a little weird about punching Marloes Coenen in the face. This is ridiculous because she's a professional fighter, but it's hard to overcome the "don't hit girls" programming. So I went in for takedowns. She was licking her chops watching my slow, telegraphed attempts to hug her to the ground. Marloes can wrestle and grapple at an elite level so I was really taking the tiger by the tail and she made me pay for it.
In Marrakesh we had an incident in the hectic Jemma El-Fnaa. This place is a mind-blast of intense sights, smells, and sounds; but tourists should be advised to watch their wallets. We negotiated a fair price for a quick shot of a snake charmer. We got it and I started marching off. Then I noticed my cameraman was absent. I turned around and saw him surrounded by five guys yelling, pointing fingers, and sticking their chests out. A game of intimidation for more money. I ran back and backed us out of their circle. "A deal is a deal guys. You must honor our deal. We're leaving.. you're not getting more money... goodbye!" He required saving once more in Thailand. Just replace the five intimidating guys with five tall and gorgeous ladyboys.
Relationships were strained during the long drive into the Sahara. On the long drive from Marrakesh to the desert we stopped and bought a delicious box of figs. A couple hours later these figs gave us terrible gas. I released an unholy breeze in the car. Within seconds our driver and his buddy pulled the loose ends of their turbans over their faces. I quickly (and convincingly) blamed the incident on the producer sitting beside me.
Watch this episode on the Travel Channel this Saturday at 9PM (Europe, Africa, and Middle East)