Amsterdam’s magnetic draw for all stag parties, chav parties and any reason for lads to be on tour parties is well known. Walking the streets of the Jordaan area I literally saw it all.
A particular favourite ‘Amsterdam experience’ was three lads of about 18 lying half naked with their torsos draped out of a magic café’s window each with spliff hanging out their mouth. I don’t think the passing snap happy Japanese tourists had ever seen such a sight.
Another was the 50+ – possibly 60+ – man stumbling out of one of the pubs, beer in hand, and ‘Pussy Lover’ printed across the back of his pink t-shirt.
Everything you think would be true about Amsterdam is, in the central area anyway. Sometime after brunch the early-shift prostitutes appear in shop windows shamelessly pushing their wares like a Boxing Day sale at DFS. The hot midday sun alerts the ‘first-holiday-without-the-rents’ stoners from their dingy hostel bunks to the outside world. By the time the Zuiderkerk church bells have achieved their second chime of the day the ‘weekend-away-from-the-mrs’ stoners trying to relive that first puff are out too.
This is the perfect time to get out of the Jordaan – of course you’ll go back later, with all the sanctioned shiny drugs and glittering sex on show, you can’t not – and away from the stags and chavs of Amsterdam. It’s time to explore the markets, canal side cafes, museums and parks Amsterdam should be known for.
Museumplein – lovely grassy area to picnic in
This is where you’ll find the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Diamond Museum. Safe to say that with so many museums in the vicinity the chavs keep their distance. It’s also where you’ll find a delightful little spot for people watching, the famous iamsterdam sign – and the coolest toilets in the world!
In the bathroom just by the side of the iamsterdam sign all the doors are transparent when you enter. Once you’ve chosen your cubicle and locked the door the glass frosts leaving you with perfect privacy to go about your business. Don’t unlock the door before you’re fully back in your trousers as the transparency returns immediately. You have been warned.
Vondelpark – sun or snow it’s a fun park to hang out in
Just up the road you’ll find Vondelpark. I wrote about this beautiful park in What’s So Cool About Vondelpark? for the HostelBookers blog. But in short, it’s fun, there’s a café, free Wi-Fi, loads to explore and it’s open 24/7.
Café Sound Garden – cool independent bar with beer garden
We spent a great sunny afternoon at Café Sound Garden soaking up some rays. In fact the garden is such a little sun trap we had to go inside and play pool every so often just to escape the heat, in May as well. While we were outside two fellow punters decided it would be a great idea to jump in, have a bit of a snog in the water and then sit down again. Wow oh wow, did they stink!? Lesson learned: don’t jump in Amsterdam’s canals and expect your friends to welcome you back into the drinking fold.
Boats and barges would pull up and hop over the barrier to collect a beer from inside to enjoy on their vessel. We had a great view over the road and we made our way through quite a few rounds, which set us up merrily for a night at…
Canalside walks – or a chav-free bar crawl
Don’t be worried about getting lost in Amsterdam just walk and see where the journey takes you. Wander along the canals and you’ll find the Floating Flower Market, delicious gelato shops, amazing architecture, fun bars and more scenic shots than you can shoot your camera at.
Melkweg – top music venue
We went to see Beach House at Melkweg, which was brilliant. It was in a chavvy area of town, but the actual venue was really cool. We got right to the front and there was a great atmosphere. I’d definitely go back here in the day just to hang out more and explore the venue as there was an art gallery and cinema in there too.
Sex Museum – slightly ridiculous
Errm, ok. Everyone’s allowed a smutty dark side yes? I couldn’t resist the €6 entrance fee to take a look at some massive schlongs, big juicy boobs and ridiculous statues. To be completely honest, the museum isn’t actually that good. Or funny. Although there were plenty of hen girl groups who were howling with laughter. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for 2 foot penises or 10 rooms of sexual positions.
Where to stay – Hotel Inner
Thankfully I stayed at Inner Amsterdam near Vondelpark and by the Van Gogh Museum. It was a great area to be in – green and beautiful – and far enough away from the smutty carnage of the Jordaan area to just pop in, see what all the fuss is about and then trot on back to my cool apartment avec balcony.