Education on the streets of Amsterdam
Few people realise just exactly how much of an education you can receive in Amsterdam. Sure, there are the countless museums and historically significant buildings sprinkled beautifully around the city. Those are wonderful. Go see them. That's not the education I'm referring to though. What I'm talking about is an education earned the hard way… in the streets, and not through a recording pumped into your brain via headphones. Again, those are nice too, but irrelevant here. My last trip to Amsterdam consisted of three insightful lessons that the guidebook didn't tell me, but I sure wish it had.
It doesn’t take all five functioning senses to recognise how much bicycles are a part of the culture in Amsterdam. You can smell the chain grease as soon as you exit Central Station, especially with that multi-story, bike-only parking garage outside. It’s actually one of greatest things about the city, how the cars are forced to bow down to the almighty cycle, but I may be biased since I made my livelihood through them at one point. Everyone raves about how easy and fun it is to get around such a place; it’s like a bicycle Wonderland.
What everyone does not rave about is that with so many thousands of bikes sitting around unmonitored and unchained in a city full of locals and tourists alike - hopped up on whatever, some of them are going to take advantage. For me, it was midday, a time when one’s guard can typically be let down due to the watchful eye of the sun. I popped into some venue or another to enjoy a meal and returned to an empty area of gum-stained sidewalk where my bike had been shortly before. That’s when I was taught this little piece of insight: around 80,000 bikes are stolen in Amsterdam every year and insurance on a rental bike is a man’s best friend. So always lock it to something, always, for if you don’t your bike may end up as one of the game pieces in a little competition the locals like to play: “Who can hurl the unsecured bike furthest into the canal?”… the city has to fish out about 18,000 every year.
Even after this minor setback I was determined to carry on with a very unorganised, very uninhibited visit to the Venice of the North. I went on a quest for one of the famed Smartshops around town, which are not difficult to locate at all. If you’re not in the know about such things, the Smartshops have for sale (legally) various euphoric and/or psychedelic experiences on a higher level than those at the coffee shops. If you are judgmental or disapproving then this didn’t happen to me … I heard it from a friend. On my first visit to Amsterdam I took a chance on something similar and was rewarded with a wonderful trek through Vondelpark - filled with giggles, an ice cream fight, our own personal tulip-filled paradise and an unexplainable bottle of juice. It was something I would have been happy to recreate.
That day finally ended. It was fun and full of enlightenment, but passed without any life changing moments. It was the day following that had a lasting effect. It was that day that I learned of a substance that has the potential to obtain full control over you, me, and anyone it comes into contact with. That substance is the delectable Dutch treat known as Stroopwafel. Sure, it sounds tasty and unassuming, but it was created by an evil genius to mock what will power you thought you had. It’s a waffle made from two very thin layers of baked batter with caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. It will incite a civil war within you as your body says no, but your tongue, having taken complete control over your mind and motor skills, forces you to devour pack after pack of high-grade, pure sugary goodness.
So there’s a bit of the valuable and unforeseen knowledge I obtained on my second visit to dearest Amsterdam. Take this information and use it to your benefit, lest you find yourself bike-less and in need of a Stroop-fix.
For those of you that may be in the city from the 5-7 of August, you are in for a special treat. This is the weekend that Amsterdam will be holding its 2011 incarnation of Gay Pride weekend. It’s one of the most electric times to be around as DJs, parties, nakedness, and glitter fill the streets, and the night time hours. One of the highlights of the weekend is the famed Canal Parade, which takes place on Saturday afternoon and consists of 75 exuberantly decorated boats sailing through the canals.
Amsterdam yourselves silly and head home with a good story. As always though, respect the locals and their way of life.
- Matt Smith
note: there is actually an Association of Stroopwafel addicts.
yes... really ;-)
Gay Pride in Amsterdam
There’s a buzz in the air the days leading up to the Gay Pride weekend, this year between August 5 and 7, 2011.
The weekend consists of DJ parties at clubs, on boats, in the street, in main squares, and some only in your underwear. There are events such as Drag Queen Olympics, Mr Gay Netherlands, concerts and films in the park.
You can’t fully prepare yourself, but knowing where to go, what to wear and most importantly leaving your inhibitions at the border, will make your Gay Pride Amsterdam weekend.
Where to go
Good clubs hosting pride events include Studio-K and Paradiso. For open air parties there will be stages set up at the Homomonument close to the Westermarkt and in Rembrandtplein.
For the Canal Parade, position yourself anywhere on the Prinsengracht and get there early. Bring beer, a foldable chair, face paint and rainbow flags. Don’t be alarmed if you see signs for the Canal Parade missing the C.
On the Sunday for closing ceremonies (if you’re not completely kaput from the previous events) head to the Rembrandtplien for yet another open air dance party and dance your hangover away!
What to wear
Anything that glitters, and face paint. The less clothing the better. Think Lady GaGa. The Gay Pride Weekend includes all people not just gay men. There’s an air of freedom and acceptance no matter your gender, race or religion. It’s a place where you can let loose and enjoy the party, the music and the naked people.
Amsterdam is already a liberal city, accepting anyone and anything. This is magnified during Gay Pride Week to the extreme. The whole city transforms into a wonderland of rainbow body paint, hot pants and neon coloured wigs.
Relax and enjoy! If you’re really dressed up - you might even be invited onto a float!
- By Aly Coy
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This E-zine’s Top Album Suggestions
Kruder & Dorfmeister - The K & D sessions
A breakthrough in low-down, head-nodding beats – I present to you Kruder & Dorfmeister’s album of remixed classics, The K & D Sessions. Released in 1998 it still seems fresh compared to offerings from other remixing masters of the same period. However because of it's success it almost seems overplayed these days.
On the first disc, right from the long, low throbs of Roni Size’s - Heroes and Alex Reece’s stretched-out - Jazz Master , you can tell why K&D are still the kings. From completely slow and dubby to some mighty drum ‘n’ bass, they smash all types of musical genres.
The darkness of Going Under is balanced by the out-and-out funk of Bomb the Bass - Bug Powder Dust. And their take of Rollin’ on Chrome by the Aphrodelics is basically just a dirty, down tempo hip-hop tune. This album’s frequencies have been frequently vibrating my home speakers for at least five years now.
Read more on wiki about the Kruder & Dorfmeister - The K & D sessions.
Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orchestra – Boulevard De L'Independance
I was so excited when this album was finally released in 2006 on the World Circuit Label. The debut album of Toumani Diabate a famous Kora (africian harp) player from Mali. In his country he is considered a living Legend and after I heard this album for the first time, I am in agreement with the population of Mali. This man is a legend!
Toumani decided to go it alone after playing for many years with other famous West-African musicians such as Ali Farka Toure and Vieux Mali. He went to London to produce this amazing fusion for traditional west africian vocals, Funk and Latin rhythms. The energy of his playing brings out the best in his band and he creates a complex yet perfect wall of sound with simple rhythms at the heart of it all. Every song on this album is worth a listen but the real gem is Tapha Niang - a song that builds up with clever horn harmonies and amazing vocal melodies; a beautiful track that always reminds me of travelling.
Mos Def- Mos Dub
Now excuse my French but what a bloody, amazingly produced and clever bunch of tracks this is. I have done some research and apparently this album was never officially released - it just kind of appeared of out of nowhere. Produced by Max Tannone (an English DJ and producer) this took him three years to finish. It’s a series of old dub tracks, mashed up with acapella verses from Mos Def - one of the best rappers of our time. Not only is it making old and almost forgotten Dub tracks from the likes of Burning Spears and Israel Vibrations accessible again, it’s also showing what a diverse rapper Mos Def really was. I first heard this album in the car with a few friends on a weekend trip to Paris and it quickly became the soundtrack to the weekend. My favourite track of the album is definitely Ms. Vampire Booty.
- Musa Trevathan (DJ Moose)
News from the Beach
Beach Parties, July 16, 2011: at various beach bars on the Queen Wilhelmina Boulevard and Queen Astrid Boulevard in Noordwijk, various artists are set to perform live music including sets from Aanvang tussen between 20.30 and 21.00, and Sluiting from 01.30.
Festival de Marbella, July 16, 2011: This is one of the great summer festivals at Beach Club O with Dance music galore. Expect performances from Hensbroek and Bass Eduardo Ramirez. The dress code is: "sexy with a hint of glamour" and you’ll find the venue on Wilhelmina Boulevard, exit 16 to 17 in Noordwijk. It’s set to run between 20.00 and 2.00, it’s €15.00 to get in (pre-sale) and it’s €20.00 on the night. www.clubbco.nl
Fighting the Sea, July 16, 2011: This is an annual event for young and old on the beach of Noordwijk. Teams of 10 create a mountain of sand that - for as long as possible - must withstand the rising sea. The team that builds the Zandberg that lasts the longest wins the Fighting Marine Trophy. Head to Kon Wilhelmina Boulevard or Astrid Boulevard in Noordwijk to enjoy this between 13.00 and 17.45. If you want to take part the cost is €50.00 per team and you need to register online. www.vechtentegendezee.nl
Yoga by the Sea, every Sunday morning: On Sunday mornings there are a series of workshops on the beach of Noordwijk, where everyone can participate in single sex, beginner and expert yoga classes. It’s held on the extraordinary beach ridge which is exit number 21 in Noordwijk. This starts at 09.00, costs €10,00 and it’s best if you reserve. (w) www.yogacentrumnoordwijk.nl
Flower Parade August 13 and 14, 2011: This is a beautifully decorated procession with floral floats and people driving giant bulbs! Expect dozens of cars and open lorries with the most beautiful flower creations, representing the Dutch flower industry. The parade is expected to to head through Noordwijk on the Saturday after 18.00 and on the Sunday, the floats will be on display on the Queen Wilhelmina Boulevard. www.rijnsburgscorso.nl
The Stand Up Paddle Championship, August 14, 2011: Stand up paddle boarding - also known as Suppen, is currently the fastest growing watersport. Originally from Hawaii, the sport is rapidly conquering Dutch waters. This isn’t surprising as Holland has a lot of water and you can do it anywhere. You really use all your muscles, making this the best fun and full body work out around! It’s accessible to all and you never get bored.
Piggy Pop at the Flying Pig Beach Hostel, August 12 to 14, 2011: Looking for an awesome way to spend a weekend in August? Look no further because the amazing Beach Hostel Piggies have put together the first ever edition of Piggy Pop – a new and exciting beach-life festival, set to run between August 12 and 14, 2011. Expect three days of fun, sun, music and booze, and everyone who walks through the door will be welcomed with a free Piggy drink. There’ll be plenty of live music happening with Bands and DJs, not to mention some Wicked Jam Sessions, and Music workshops; so feel free to bring your own instruments and join in! There’s no need to worry about amps or mics - we’ve got that covered!
If you’re not so musical or just want to try something different, Piggy Pop has a lot to offer. You can take part in our Art and Drama workshops, try Face and Body Painting or join us in our Mini Cannabis Cup. There’s something for everyone! If you’re into classic beach games like Volleyball or if you’ve always wanted to surf the North Sea, try it out on our Piggy Beach Day! Join us in cool new beach sports like Piggy Wipeout and Piggy Sea Golf, and be sure to hang out with us on the sand as the sun sets.
There’ll also be fun competitions like raffles and a Piggy Piñata - all with a chance to win free drinks and a bounty of prizes. What’s more there’s a whole load of drink specials, cocktails and 2-for-1 deals going on during Piggy Pop. For a little extra you can get the 10.30 Coffee Wake Up and Special Festival Breakfast, and if you’re still feeling hungry, make sure you catch one of our BBQs throughout the day.
The Pig recommends...
Sunflower Beach Hostel, Rimini - The Newest Member of Europe's Famous Hostels
The Sunflower Beach Backpacker Hostel is The Best Party Hostel on the Beach. Situated in the heart of the Adriatic coast, the hostel is only 200 metres from the beautiful sandy beach and mere minutes on foot from nearby nightclubs, pubs, cafes, and restaurants.
The historical centre of Rimini is only a short bus ride away, and the train, and bus station make Sunflower Hostel the perfect location from which to explore the vibrant city, and the surrounding medieval towns.
All rooms are cleaned daily and come with a private bathroom, balcony, bed linen and lockers. A secure safe is also available at reception and there’s 24-hour hostel access with full security, and no curfew. There's also a huge communal kitchen open to everyone and big, funky parties, every weekend!
Find out more at www.famoushostels.com/rimini-hostel