The Museums, Heineken Brewery Tour, Marijuana Hemp Museum & More
While it is possible – and probable for many – to spend the entire Amsterdam experience probing through the bars, clubs and coffeeshops, the city does offer extensive daytime activities for those so inclined. And we’re not just talking about the sex shops and hemp museums.
During warm sunny days, consider joining the many locals in the parks. You can get some exercise, sun and enjoy some of Amsterdam’s other natural beauties.
The Heineken Brewery Tour
Perhaps this should not be under sober activities, but the world-famous Heineken Brewery tour is now called the Heineken Experience. It costs a whopping 17 Euros to get in which includes three 10-ounce Heinekens and a free gift at the end.
The self-guided tour is at your own pace (hour and a half?) and explains how they make the beer, takes you on a ride where you are the Heineken bottle, and has two bars in which to enjoy your Heinekens. You can also take photos by the Heineken drums and send a video e-mail to your friends for free.
It’s also a heck of a place to mingle with other visitors. Technically, you are supposed to leave when the next group arrives, but you can stay a bit longer. The brewery is located behind the Leidseplein at Stadhouderskade 78, and it’s open from 11 until 19:30 hrs) and from 10:30-21 on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays in June, July and August. It’s closed on Christmas, New Year’s Day and King’s Day (formerly called Queen’s Day), by far Amsterdam’s largest party, which is April 30. Americans, many of whom are not old enough to drink at home, love the place and tend to stay a while.
Amsterdam’s Top Museums
Amsterdam is full of museums; it’s one of the top tourist activities, in fact. Museum passes are available for 25 Euros. This pass allows you to enter into all of the city’s museums and gives you a 24-hour travel card. For those who want to visit more than three museums, this is the way to go.
After getting hyped up at the brewery, dull the senses a bit with a visit to the Hash Marijuana Hemp Museum in the Red Light District. Depending on your timing, you will either see rich, fat buds and inhale their smoky delights or witness one of the frequent police raids.
Regardless of your luck, the museum is open daily in the summer from 11-10, and in the off-season Sunday-Wednesday, 11-6; Thursday-Saturday 11-10 Admission: 5 euros.
The Sex Museum is one museum most PubClubbers would not mind touring.
The only raids you have to fear at the Amsterdam Sex Museum is if your mother taps you on the shoulder. For 2.50 Euros (under 17 not admitted; hey, there ARE some rules in this town), you can see sex in every way imaginable, and a few you probably didn’t imagine. It opens at 10 in the morning and closes at 11:30 at night.
Amsterdam is also so full of “real” museums it’s hard to know which one(s) to pick.
If you need to sober up, the Anne Frank Huis (of diary fame) will accomplish the feat instantly. it’s hard to believe the family was forced to live here during the Nazi occupation (Frank’s father survived the war but unfortunately Ann did not; the family was eventually discovered and she perished in a concentration camp). Hours are Monday-Saturday 9-6:45, Sundays it opens at 10. From September-May it closes at 5.
For a look into Holland’s Resistance movement during World War II, visit the Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam, (Tuesday-Friday 10-5, Saturday-Sunday 1-5.). Admission is fl5, free with the Museumkaart, a fl33.60 devise that offers discounts to museums and transportation.
On the “definite” list, if for no other reason than to tell your family and friends you’ve “been there, done that,” is the Rijksmusium. It’s a massive cultural center, one of the best in Europe, full of paintings by Dutch artists Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Vermeer and others. For those lacking knowledge of such things, you will notice crowds around two popular paintings, Rembrandt’s “Nightwatch” and Vermeer’s “Kitchen Maid.” Figure in at least two hours for the “quickie tour” or an entire day if you count yourself among those who can spend two hours at the two above mentioned paintings.It is open 10-5 on Monday-Saturday, 1-5 Sundays.
The Van Gogh Museum is pretty self-explanatory. Not as interesting architecturally as the Rijksmusium, it is a “best of” collection. Open 10-5 daily,
Canal Tours, Bicycles & Other Cool Activities
For a less erotic adventure, try a canal tour. This is a non-stressful way to see the city without having to leave your seat. Tours depart every hour and it costs 5.50 to 7 euros. Unfortunately, there is no hop on/hop off anymore.
An alternative is an 11-seat boat operated by Saint Nicholaas Boat Club, a non-for-profit organization that travels the smaller canals. The Leidseplein Theater has more information and a schedule.
You can pedal through the streets, but be wary of cars, trams, other bikers and even pedestrians. Bicycles can be rented at the train station or at shops throughout the town (such as Mike’s Bikes). Take-A-Bike at Centraal Station is the cheapest at roughy 10 euros per day or 50 per week; with a train ticket it’s cheaper. Pay the deposit and use the lock that is provided. Again, use the lock that is provided.
Could we really be in Holland? Yes, this the tranquil Dutch countrysideis just a few bike pedals away from the city.
You can zip through town or see the Dutch countryside with its authentic windmills just minutes outside the city. Tours go through wonderful small towns like Broek in Waterland and Markem, a small fishing town where locals wear traditional Dutch costumes (prices vary according to the different tours). This provides a real taste of the culture and best of all, you can be back in time for Happy Hour. You may also get a glimpse of a windmill.
The Dutch like their windmills. Originally used to power water pumps and grain mills, now they generate electricity. Another typical Dutch site you will likely encounter during your ride is one or more of the country’s interesting drawbridges.
Sun, sand and sea can be had an hour’s train ride from town at Zandvoort Beach. It is lined with bars and cafes on the sand and comes alive in the summer. It is topless, with a nude beach about 2km to the south.
Along the way is Haarlem, which could also be called “Flower City.” Flower beds and public gardens give the city a floral look. Grote Markt is the heart of that city.
That’s enough culture for us. We need a drink!