Hollandâ€™s crown jewel, Amsterdam, has a long-standing reputation for being a city where seedy vices are as common as say, tulips and cheese. Itâ€™s a well-known fact that just about anything is acceptable in Amsterdam. And whilst we’re not ones to critise these x-rated shenanigans, we thought it would be fun to dig around and find some less risque activities to enjoy in Europeâ€™s city of sin.
1. De Pannenkoekenboot (The Pancake Boat) — As a child my mom would take me on the Staten Island ferry and buy me a hotdog. I would eat it and watch the city get smaller while running around the decks looking for people to annoy. If I were Dutch, I wouldâ€™ve been eating pancakes in this memory (Dutch pancakes are more like crepes). De Pannenkoekenboot is right behind Central station, ready to take you on a free ride to the north side of Amsterdam. Itâ€™s hard to miss since it says De Pannenkoekenboot right on the side of it.
2. Tuesday Night Sneak Preview at PATHE â€“ Whatâ€™s better than â‚¬6 discount movie night? Going to â‚¬6 movie night with no idea what youâ€™re going to see! The Sneak Preview has an almost cult like following in Amsterdam, bringing out almost every social group the city has to offer, and itâ€™s almost always sold out. People pay-up to see a movie that is more or less a surprise, although some people cheat and check the schedule online. Week after week the PATHE shows a movie thatâ€™s not yet been released, you therefore have a chance to see a summer blockbuster weeks ahead of the crowds. Dutch audiences have a tendency to be a bit, um, mellow. This is more like Times Square in â€˜82; in other words, fun.
3. Wine and cheese lunch at the De Kaaskamer — This cheese shop has been here for over 150 years and itâ€™s not going anywhere. It outlived your grandparents and will outlive you too. They are more or less cheese smugglers, as they have cheese addicts from all over the EU bringing in the goods — highest quality is assured — 100% pure. You can show up without a reservation and enjoy the best wine paired cheese tasting of your life. People come to the EU looking for experiences like this, itâ€™s like something out of a classic movieâ€¦
4. Skate parks — Amsterdam is amazing for this, that they encourage people to go get hurt all over the place. When I first visited in â€™95, I was amazed that I found a number of huge metal ramps in centrally located areas. Now theyâ€™ve stepped-up and have huge parks set-up for unlimited free usage. An â€˜80’s skate-movie dream that has sprung to lifeâ€¦ a quick visit to Ben-G’s skate shop will lead you in the right direction.
5. Museum Pass â€“ Sure I could tell you about all the amazing museums here, there are tons, but whatâ€™s better than having more museums in one town than people? The Museum Pass, thatâ€™s what! For â‚¬25, at any City run museum, you can get a pass thatâ€™s good for over 400 local museums (including the Van Gogh). This is the best way to save money. The pass comes with a list of all the museums around town and allows you to walk in and out of any of them, as often as you like, for up to a year.
6. Vondel Park — Home to all our parents hippie memories and countless addicts who still try their best to resurrect those long-gone good old days of supreme tolerance. To you and I, a wonderful space filled with trees, flowers, ponds, junkies and all the wonderful smells those things bring with them. It really is quite impressive to go during the summer, watch the dogs, kids and addicts play. Nothing really can sum up the totally alien feeling of the organized chaos this park has when itâ€™s in full swing. People are sunbathing naked, junkies are shooting-up and youâ€™re having a barbeque â€“ Good times!
7. You can ride a bike to Paris — Say what you want about the price of gas these days but when the wells run dry, the Dutch truly have it all sewn-up. The infrastructure here is so strong in its support of riding bikes, that you can literally ride a bike to Paris and back without issue or any major detour. Not that anyone really does, but options are good no? There are side roads the entire way there, and a number of decent roadside restaurants to carbo-load before getting back on the road. And don’t worry about how you smell because once you arrive in Paris, youâ€™ll fit right in.
8. Jimmy Woo — This is Amsterdam’s attempt at a world-class club, a nice spot, with not so much attitude. One of the best things about Holland is that, for a small place it has almost everything, including its own celebrity scene. This is where they go to let their hair down. Of course any local credit that they have will be lost on you, so your chances of scoring are going to go way up. Find the local equivalent of Lindsay Lohan, ply your skills over a few lines and some drinks, land up in a Dutch tabloid and start a singing career. Or you can just get a group of your friends together and play notorious. Thursdays play well with the hipster crowd, offering hip-hop delights from some really talented local DJ’s.
9. Dine with strangers — The next best thing to having cool, connected friends in town is hiring a few. The quirky company Like-a-Local connects tourists with (hopefully) friendly locals whoâ€™ll invite you into their homes and cook dinner for you. Choose the 1930s-style apartment of a graphic designer couple, dinner on a houseboat or a traditional three-course Dutch meal in a classic canal house. These dinners are not only fun and potentially informative, but they’re a great deal too as most Dutch restaurants are outrageously overpriced. Meals range between â‚¬23 and â‚¬35 which hopefully includes enough wine to ignore the political conversationâ€¦
10. The KrÃ¶ller-Mueller museum — Amsterdam is a small place, so after a few days itâ€™s more than likely your psyche will long for open areas, out of the madness of the city center. Once you get off the train (or bus) youâ€™re greeted by hundreds of white bicycles. Soon as you find one that is your size youâ€™re treated to a ride through dense woods until you get to the museum, which thankfully, is in the middle of nowhere. KrÃ¶ller-Muller is home to one of the best collections of late 19th and early 20th century art in the world. Which is to say, you can find gorgeous works by Picasso, van Gogh, Mondrian, Leger, and just about anyone else you might have heard about in those college art classes you thought would never come in handy. There are no cars, no noise and no distractions (other than the other bastards who have chosen to partake in this adventure).
Julian M. Lynn
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