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Things to do in Amsterdam - The Pig E-zine
issue 38 - April/May 2011



Spring Into Amsterdam

Beer. Terraces. Tulips. Sunshine. Queen’s Day? What more could anyone want from Amsterdam when the weather begins to get warmer? Spring is undoubtedly the best season for anyone visiting the city. It’s a week by week seasonal rush you can clock by nature: first come the snowbells, then the daffodils kick up in Vondelpark, the cherry blossoms carpet the streets with delicate pink blooms, and the sun finally, thankfully comes out.

Spring in amsterdam While the birds build nests along the canals, the humans begin to terrace the streets. Large, stacked piles of forlorn chairs and tables locked together during winter and covered with chilling snow begin to unfurl and stretch out across the cobbles with the first swell of warmth, topped with beers and platters of bitterballen, and relaxing sunshine time.

The best terraces in Amsterdam can often be hidden. The Jordaan remains a favourite spot with locals for its canal side decks or try the large beer terrace that spreads over the Singel near underground bar Brug9, or the bars along the Zeedijk that catch the late afternoon sun. Also worth checking out are the university bars with their cheap beer and young crowd in the De Wallen.

Cafe de jarenI’ve always had a soft spot for the terrace at the Restaurant de Jaren, which has a huge roomy café, decent coffee, a fully loaded bar and an outdoor terrace that sits on the watermark at the confluence of two canals, making it a perfect spot to watch the traffic float past on the waterways. Occasionally, a few people will even arrive by boat for a quick pint in the sun.

But for those who miss the beer gardens back home, try micro brewery Brouwerij ’t IJ, which has a great flower rimmed terrace in the sun and it’s only a short bike ride out of the central canal belt. The brewery serves its own varieties of tasty beer brewed on site. Only available during Spring, the house speciality is the Paasij, a strong amber coloured bock. Each afternoon they open up their tasting room where you can sample their all organic beer and order meatballs in a gravy made from their beer. As an added bonus, they run free brewery tours every Friday and Saturday afternoon at 4pm (Take that, Heineken experience)!

The NoordermarketBut when the sun is shining, it’s also an opportunity to explore the streets and Amsterdam’s amazing outdoor markets, wolfing down the tasting platters from Albert Cuyp market or grabbing a quick pastry snack from the Noordermarkt farmer’s market, sampling the free cheese, grapes and stroopwafel crumbles on offer at the stalls. Even in the city, it’s worth a stroll past the always-popular Bloemenmarkt. Just a ten minute walk from the Flying Pig, it’s better known to tourists as the floating flower market and during Spring it swells in a riot of colourful blooms at bargain prices.

Spring is also the kick off for festival season in Holland, and the biggest is also the best – the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens. In spring, Holland’s preoccupation with buds turns from the green to the floral as tulip time kicks in.Sure, it’s a flower shower, and a bit daggy. But it will also surprise you with just how brilliant it can be.The gardens are easily accessible with a quick train to Schiphol and a special bus to the gardens. The KeukenhofBusloads of coaches filled with tourists from across the world descend like flocks of hungry seagulls, leaving with paper carry bags filled with tulip bulb souvenirs. Luckily, there’s so much room in the Keukenhof parklands you can easily escape the hoards.

The gardens are fairly huge and set in forested parkland. The tulips themselves are planted in serpentine waves of colour throughout the grounds, with hundreds of colours, varieties and breeds (with some of the silliest names around - like ice cream dream and green wave). While the Keukenhof rolls all of Holland’s clichés (cows, clogs, canals, pancakes, tulips and windmills) into one place, it’s not tacky. In fact, it’s simply beautiful.

tulipfields around AmsterdamYou can rent a bike to explore the nearby forest, you can take a picture sitting in a giant clog (come on, you know you want to) and you can also climb up into a fully functioning windmill, which offers a beautiful view over the multi-coloured tulip fields.

And just nearby are a few dozen, giant, full-length beanbags - the perfect chill out place to relax in the sun as the northern hemisphere warms up. There’s also a number of restaurants serving traditional food scattered through the grounds, (make a beeline for the dimpled hotplate at the poffertjes hut, next to the petting zoo). Above all else, it’s a chance to get out of the canal belt and the confines of the Damrak, to see just how green, and beautiful the flat expanses of countryside in Holland can be.

- Shaney Hudson



Queen's Day in Amsterdam

I’d like to take some time from your nice, relaxed travels to discuss a very serious matter: Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag). It’s not something to be taken lightly. If we are going to get through this alive it’s going to take sheer will, handfuls of Euros, more orange than you’ve ever worn, and a healthy amount of mind-altering substances.

book a bed for queensday  in amsterdamThis is a day where Amsterdam, already unequaled in its revelry, outshines even itself. It is certainly already on the map, but on April 30th each year (April 29th if the 30th falls on a Sunday) it takes the map and sets it ablaze with a bright orange flame.

Things really get started the night before, on Queen’s Night as it’s known. Many places around the city throw their closing hours to the wind and let the locals and travellers alike indulge all night long. It’s a dusk ‘til dawn rampage of alcohol, fraternizing, and furious dancing. However, this is only a warm-up to get you nice and loose for the day to follow.

QueensdayIn the morning, the sun will reveal to you exactly what 700,000 visitors and participants really looks like. You find yourself amidst a sea of everything orange: the people, the drinks, the fountains, and even the food. As you slowly drift through this mayhem, if you’re still able to focus your eyes, you’ll notice a great deal of the city’s residents filling the sidewalks with what appears to be everything they own.

This scene of beautiful chaos that you have discovered is the free market (Vrijmarkt). It is basically a citywide garage sale where the locals benefit from the holiday by not having to pay taxes on their sales. While your number skills will be greatly diminished at this point, it is still fun to engage in reverse bargaining by insisting on paying a higher price than what is asked, and refusing to lower it as the seller tries to talk you down. If you find yourself out and about on Queen’s Day without any alluring or tantalizing accessories, then a bit of shopping throughout the neighborhood streets ought to change that. You’ll walk away with some frilly vest, or a mannequin perhaps, and still have plenty of cash to drink/smoke away later.

lots of fun on queensdayQueen’s Day in essence is a citywide, glorious train wreck, but it is not without its organised functions. It is an open-air festival with booths, games, events, and urinals set up all over. I vaguely remember turning down one street and seeing a DJ booth elevated high above the adoring crowd below. The Museumplein usually has some larger concerts set-up throughout the day and well-known names have been known to drop in from time to time. This is a day of pure enjoyment and camaraderie, and if you can’t have a good time here, you are a robot.

At Dam Plaza there’s usually a carnival and I assure you that there is no better day to find yourself lost around its parts for a while. The Ferris Wheel will give you a great view from above of all the debauchery taking place below and the oh-so-delicious Dutch Donuts will put your munchies on pause for a while. queensday amsterdamIt was at this point in the day last year that I realised my friends and I were utterly, and completely detached from reality, seeing this strange world through severely altered vision. I couldn’t form the words but if I could have, I would’ve let them know that I was having the time of my life. We wandered, not really knowing where to go, but also, not really caring. I was in a puppy-state, needing to be led around by the hand, which makes me realize there’s a business opportunity there on Queen’s Day. If you’d like to make a few Euros, charge those confused and euphoric souls a small fee to lead them where they’d like to be, because otherwise, they might not make it. Oh and leave your valuables at home - it might get messy.

- Matt Smith



Where should the next Flying Pig hostel be?

Well that’s the question that we asked our Facebook friends open in new window to help us out with in the last E-zine and now it’s time to show off the best, the most illuminating, the thoroughly contemplated and the utterly strange answers!

Barcelona and Prague both got the most votes, closely followed by Berlin and San Francisco. What we really loved was the amount of people who wanted to have a Flying Pig in their own home town, so that they have their favorite place to hang out - just around the corner!

wayne the winner choose Vancouver as the next location for the pigAfter the very enjoyable experience of reading through all of your ideas the winner is Wayne Leonard John Throssell. He chose Vancouver and gave a very extensive explanation why, which we think matched the vibe at the Pig to the city it should be in.

In Wayne’s own words: “Vancouver, British Columbia - we're becoming more free everyday. There are vapour lounges in the city already … the people are beautiful, the city is beautiful, there’s always something to do, the food is amazing, and it’s just an all around amazing place to hang out, plus I think most of Amsterdam's ganja seeds (or a lot of the strains) come from British Columbia already, so the perfect sister/brother hostel city would be Vancouver BC!”

Congratulations Wayne! We’ll be in touch soon to help organise your free stay with us.

And last but not least here’s an idea derived from the mind of Glen K. Amo (possibly under the influence) that we thought was worth sharing:

“Refurbished zeppelin. It could follow me around and be my own personal FLYING - Flying Pig. But no Hydrogen! I want a smoking area.”



The Ultimate Flying Pig Fan?!

And now something you don't want to miss. Seriously – we’d thought we’d seen it all but there’s never been something like this. Some people really do everything to remember their stay at the Pig!

We’d like you to meet George – a man who loved the Flying Pig so much that he had our logo tattooed on his leg! Check it out.

meet george  pig tattoo

Can you beat our number one fan? Do you love the Pig as much as or more than George? If you think so then get involved in the one and only, first ever ... Flying Pig Fan Challenge! (cue applause)

We’re a bit scared of what we might receive but go ahead and impress us! Some of you are pleasantly peculiar people so we dare you to share your endeavors!

Share your entries with us on our Facebook page – right here. open in new window The winner will receive a free stay and of course, some sincere Piggie honours!



Cool iPhone and Android Apps for travelers
– Reviewed by the Pigs

An End to Pesky Translation Trouble: How to Understand the Language of the Natives
It's always been tough when you want to know something or when you try to put together a question in a country where you don't speak the language. For most European countries you can manage with basic English, but if you get stuck and frustrated, what then?

Well fear not because we have some good news for anyone who hits a language barrier and owns a smart phone. Google made a fantastic App for the iPhone and android phones, which can make your life a lot easier. Hell it can even improve your international love life. It's called Google Translate and even though the name isn’t all that original, we reviewed it and absolutely loved it.

Speak to Translate
Of course you already knew about Google Translate on the website, but instead of typing your text you now can speak words or sentences into your microphone.

languages recordThe App accepts voice input from 15 languages, which can then be translated into more than 50 other languages. You can also listen to your translations spoken out loud in one of 23 different languages. For voice input, just press the microphone icon next to the text box and say what you want to translate. It gets translated really fast so getting directions will no longer be a problem, especially given that it can record any useful instructions. Add this to international Google Maps and you’re flying!

Full-Screen Mode
text inputAnother feature that might come in handy if your language isn’t available is the ability to easily enlarge the translated text to full-screen size. This way it’s much easier to read the text on the screen, or show the translation to the person you are communicating with. Just tap on the zoom icon to magnify it immediately!

zoomed text

What’s the Downside?
Well I can't see one immediately, except of course you have a terribly thick regional accent and a particular way of pronouncing things. Take for example Uk celebrity Jonathan Ross who’s internationally well known for pronouncing the letter R as a W.

Get the Free App
android barcodeScan the following barcode to download Google Translate for Android. Or, search for Google Translate in Android Market open in new window.

For the iPhone Version you can download Google Translate straight from the App Store open in new window. It is available in all iOS supported languages, but you’ll need an iPhone or iPod touch iOS version 3 or later.

- MartinVR



Album review

Hey Piggies!
I'd like to share some records that I love to play behind the bar at the Flying Pig Downtown and mix in with my DJ-sets.

The metersLet's start with Rejuvenation by The Meters (1974). This New Orleans funk album by Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, Zigaboo Modeliste and George Porter, Jr. was produced by Alan Toussaint and delivers nothing less than nine banging tunes. Understandably Rejuvenation has been stripped down entirely for sampling reasons.

listen to the MetersI'm sure you want to try a piece so here are The Meters with Just Kissed My Baby.


dr. alimantadoLet's not forget the Reggae vibes! Next up we have Best Dressed Chicken In Town (1978) by Dr. Alimentado. This contains the best of all Reggae worlds. Where most albums are mixed and mastered by one single "house," this one comes with tracks taken care off by the likes of Lee (Scratch) Perry, King Tubby and Scientist, among others. The work of deejay Dr. Alimentado makes the album sound like one smooth track, so it's hard to single one song out. However Dr. Alimentado does know who shot the barber, so we might just listen to his story.

listen to Dr. AlimantadoHere's Dr. Alimentado - I Killed The Barber.


J Dilla: "Donuts"OK so I still need to bring up Donuts by J Dilla (2006). With this you can expect 31 Tracks in less than 45 minutes and THE Hip Hop album of the 1st decade of this millennium. Just start with the outro and you'll find it's endless.

listen to J.DillaHere's a selection from Donuts by J Dilla.



If you have any comments, please do contact me: or leave a note here..

Thanks for listening!

- Frank

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