Catch Amsterdam in One Day, Part 1: here.
Welcome back! This is the second half of my day where I head to the Van Gogh Museum, get sidetracked by the Heineken Brewery, and head back to the Red Light District to meet an old friend and see some pretty red lights 😉
We’re coming up a bit past lunchtime, but I don’t have time to sit down and enjoy food (and I’m cheap, calories are calories, like I wrote about here). So the best thing for any tourist with this problem is to look for one of these:
Oh yeah, hot dogs!
American hot dogs (made in Germany, check the pic). Full of all sorts of ingredients you don’t want to know about. But hot damn:
How can you not want to eat this? This will fill my stomach until well after dinnertime. Okay, so I gotta walk all the way across town, but there are a few other transport options. Such as a boat.
See, the canals in Amsterdam are often used just as frequently as the roads. In fact, they have yellow taxi boats, and even this DHL* boat:
I wanted to see the Van Gogh Museum as I have always been a big fan of Van Gogh’s work. That, and I love museums (I once spent 8 hours in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto… and enjoyed it). However, Museumplein (where all the cool museums in Amsterdam are) is pretty far, so I decided to hop on a canal boat to get to the Van Gogh museum. Unfortunately, I got on the wrong boat. This one:
Those crazy Amsterdammers. They ended up taking me to the Heineken brewery instead. Ah well, it couldn’t hurt to at least check it out:
Yup, this is the original Heineken Brewery. It’s spelled wrong because ‘Brouwery’ is actually Dutch for ‘damn tasty’.
The tour of the Heineken Brewery was actually quite awesome. Of course it involved all sorts of ancient beer memorabilia, like the following:
Old Heineken Stein mug.
Heineken bottles which were used to build houses after being used for beer (true story).
And and overcomplicated, far too detailed explanation for how the beer is made:
A really kick ass brewery tour which looks like the factory from Final Fantasy 7, but without all the messy materia business 🙂
That last pic is of what beer looks like and smells like prior to becoming actual beer. This give me an interesting face.
They made us taste it too. It was… less pleasant than real beer (if you can imagine that).
They then made us go on a Heineken Ride. The ‘Brew You’ ride. It takes you through the experience of being a Heineken being made at the factory. It reminded me of Star Tours at Disneyland, but without Pee Wee Herman’s voice, some extra bubbles added in, and lots of cheesiness. But the payoff was:
A beer tasting lesson by this guy. With fresh Heineken, straight from the factory. I was able to learn why the head of a beer is so important. I honestly never knew (to keep the beer from going flat). I won a second free beer for saying the color of Heineken is gold.
This gets everyone a bit tipsy so they can wander around the space-age bottling stuff:
And a robot that pours Heineken perfectly, and then tests it’s chemistry.
By this time the beer has usually kicked in and they give some lounge chairs straight from a Sci-Fi movie which will feed your head with all sorts of Heineken propoganda, dating back to when TV was invented.
Once you stumble out of there, you are finally congratulated with this trendy/scary looking pub:
And two more free beers. Straight from the factory. Plus, they had awesome tables with digital coasters.
An electronic display would have a coaster show up under your beer any time you placed it on the table. The display would change to different pictures and the coaster would change into different objects.
This amazed me and I wondered how it was done. After wondering aloud with many excited expletives in Hungarian, Some French guy pointed to the ceiling.
Ah. So… it must check for diameter. Someone dropped another circular object on the table and the theory was solved.
Stumbled out of the Heineken brewery and headed towards the Van Gogh museum. Ran into the only Japanese restaurant in town (of course):
Didn’t check it out, but it looked expensive. At least the おたる was correct（no kanji though, I can only imagine the owner was from the small town of 小樽 in 北海道 Hokaido).
Ran into the famous iamsterdam sign on the way (with kids crawling all over it):
Finally made it to the Van Gogh museum:
Which was honestly… mixed. It was small, you can do it in under an hour. It is missing my favorite Van Gogh painting: Starry Night over the Rhone (which is in Paris), but it still had plenty of his other works to look at and all of his famous letters (to his brother). Super, super interesting (to me) was it had his Japanese paintings:
What? Japanese? Van Gogh took a fancy to Japanese art while he was living in Paris and began copying them. His Kanji looks a bit funny, but his interpretation of Hiroshige (歌川広重) is still fascinating. Besides, it’s great trivia. 😉
The museum was kinda lame and wouldn’t allow ANY pictures, not even on a crappy phone camera. Perhaps I’m spoiled by most of the great museums which allow you to take pictures of anything you want, as long you don’t use a flash. Still, it seemed rather weak.
On the way back from the museum, it was getting dark, but I was still able to catch this amazing display of breasts in a public park.
Apparently, this is some public service announcement that says breast augmentation is okay if you’ve had breast surgery. Um. Something like that.
This was just a really pretty row of trees.
Halfway back to my hotel and I caught the end of a lovely sunset.
A kickass facade for a movie theater.
I was running low on time and had to meet my friend at Amsterdam Centraal station and I was already exhausted. So I cheated and had Burger King…
(it can’t be cheating that much if I were the only American there)
Half an hour later I had met my friend, we headed towards to the Red Light District Area, and it was pitch-black. But there was just enough light to see this interesting place:
I’m guessing it was a place where chicken fights were held. What do you think?
Had a few beers with an old colleague of mine whom we will refer to as Audrey. He’s one of those types whose brain is brimming with so many ideas (good and bad) that he has to keep talking incessantly to release the pressure, lest his brain would explode. Luckily, I brought along an mp3 recorder to capture some of the genius from the conversation which I’ll edit the heck out of and post later. Apparently, he’s working on some technology for some awesome online game. I offered my services if he ever needed music/sound. He seemed pleased with the offer 🙂
Audrey also takes advantage of his Netherlandian freedom, so I was able to complete my Amsterdam experience by watching him smoke some green colored herbs. It seems that marijuana is legal in Amsterdam. Honestly, it’s not my thing (beer hangovers are bad enough), but I believe people can do whatever they want with their body, so by all means… Watching someone smoke cannabis in a public bar is a bit strange a first. But just like the Red Light District, you get used to it after a few minutes and don’t even notice it.
Speaking of the Red Light District, this is what it looks like at night (contrast with what it looked like during the day: here):
At night, the Red Light District comes a bit more alive, with more people and tourists and honestly, way hotter girls (you know, if you’re into window shopping). But aside from that, not much changes. I couldn’t quite bring myself to go to any of the live shows (there is apparently something involving a Banana?) as I didn’t have another travel companion with me to goad me into doing it. But from what I have heard, it’s relatively safe and about as disturbing as going to a strip club for the first time. I’ll have to save it for another time then 😉
But I did promise you some Pretty Red Lights, and here they are:
Later on, I stumbled behind the Red Light District and saw an entire Chinese town complete with their own temple:
I’ll have to look into the 漢字 for that later. By this time, it was well past my bedtime and I had experienced more of Amsterdam than most people do over 3 days. The only thing I didn’t see was a few windmills. But really, I’ve seen windmills before, I wasn’t interested.
I walked back to my hotel, crashed, and woke up early for the flight back to Budapest. Just in time for the yearly riots. On that note, I’ll see you tomorrow.
And I’ll leave you with two pics I couldn’t quite fit into the story, but are amusing enough on their own (look closely):
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!
If you missed it, you can catch the first half: here
*for the 4 of you Americans who still don’t know what DHL is: it’s like FedEx/UPS, but bigger and not American.
Long Walks, Falling Leaves, and Grand Pianos, Budapest Day 5