Weed, Windmills, Women… And Heineke
A four day stop in Amsterdam left us with little time to explore everything the city has to offer. If you’re short on time, here’s a list of highlights.
Red Light district
If you have strong views about the sex trade, you might want to avoid this area. Having said that, I found the experience enlightening and would definitely recommend visiting the Red Light District.
I’m not really sure what I had in mind, but full length windows filled with gorgeous women – and men – showcasing their offerings was not it. These windows lined the streets and women of various ages and sizes posed for the public. These ladies are drop-dead gorgeous. I didn’t know where to look. I mean, it’s rude to stare!
As soon as someone purchased their services they would close a curtain and go to work.
If you’re not looking for one-on-one time, you’ll find the usual cafes and restaurant, but mostly there are sex shops offering a variety of sex shows. We decided to pick a show at random and see what the fuss is all about.
Just a warning, unless you want to take part in the show, it’s probably best you don’t choose front row seats.
I crawled into a back row and made my way to the far end near the wall, hoping to not attract any attention. You could bring your drinks along, and just like any other theater production the show began with a variety of scenes.
All in all, it was an enjoyable evening. Forget seedy, dirty back alleys… The Red Light District is clean, well-organised and incredibly entertaining.
The Heineken Experience
I didn’t really have high hopes for the Heineken Experience… I’d been on a brewery tour back in South Africa and I figured this would be much of the same. But I got to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.
It’s less a brewery tour and more of a museum filled with interactive elements, including a beer tasting.
If you’re doing the self-guided tour you can expect to spend about 1.5 hours here. At the end of the tour you can even get your name printed on a special Heineken bottle – we’ve still got ours!
Amsterdam Coffee Shops
With over 200 coffee shops in Amsterdam, it’s not difficult to get your hands on a joint.
I have to admit, when Tyrone and I walked into our first coffee shop, I was pretty intimidated. We had to build up our courage before we could actually step foot inside. I thought I’d be laughed out of the building. I’m pretty sure they can spot an amateur a mile away. But I put my big girl panties on and bit the bullet!
I don’t really know the first thing about the various types of weed and their effects, so we kinda just winged it.
Like most things in life, the more expensive, the better the quality. This rule applies when purchasing weed too.
Now, coffee shops are not allowed to advertise but it’s pretty easy to spot them. Once you walk inside there’s usually someone behind the counter ready to assist. I would suggest just asking if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to get advice.
Also, the coffee shops tend to be cheaper the further away you move from the city centre. Expect high prices in the Red Light District.
Zaanse Schans Windmills, Marken and Volendam
I would highly recommend the Volendam, Marken and Zaanse Schans on a half-day windmill tour departing from Amsterdam. Visit a cheese factory to sample local dairy products, admire a classic line-up of authentic windmills on the Zaan River and watch a shoemaker fashion wooden clogs using traditional methods.
This was a fantastic half-day trip and an absolute must see if you’re looking to get away from central Amsterdam and explore a bit more of the countryside. After being collected by luxury coach, we travelled to Volendam. At our first stop we got the opportunity to walk the streets and admire the small fishing town.
Our 45-minute stop included a visit to a local cheese factory for a demonstration and a sampling of its dairy production. Tyrone was in heaven.
Then we admired old wooden stilt houses and visited a local shoemaker to watch the art of carving and painting Holland’s iconic wooden clogs.
Did you know that back in the day, if a man wanted to propose to a woman he would carve her clogs and leave them outside her door? If she accepted his proposal she would bring the clogs inside. If not, they would be waiting for their maker exactly where he had left them.
Once we were done, we then traveled to Zaanse Schans, a pretty town on the Zaan River and a popular destination due to its well-preserved windmills, some dating back to the 17th century.
Then after about 5.5 hours, we finished our tour and headed back to the center of Amsterdam.