We've been having so much fun writing the E-zine for you guys over the years, that we almost didn't realise this is the 50th edition! It kinda' seems fitting that with this milestone comes the equally big news that the Mayor of Amsterdam has declared he won't ban visitor's from the city's coffee-shops! We're super happy about the news and also this - the best E-zine ever, full to the brim with the Mayor's major move, city events, music reviews and travel tips beyond Amsterdam. Enjoy the read and here's to 50 more!
Amsterdam Cannabis Cafes Remain Open to Tourists!
After many months of deliberating over the new drug laws enacted by the previous government, the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, says he will not ban foreign tourists from the city's famous 'coffee-shops'. Score one for the good guys!
Amsterdam has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the top tourism destinations of Europe. Each year some 4.5 million people flock to the Dutch capital to party, cruise around on bicycles, marvel at the beauty of the canals and architecture, and, of course, indulge in a little ganja.
Several decades ago, the Netherlands relaxed the laws pertaining to soft drugs, decriminalizing the possession and consumption of cannabis. Ever since, Amsterdam has held a mythical status for stoners world-wide, seen as nothing less than a holiday hot-spot for pot heads and a shining example of what a liberal democracy can, and should, be.
All of this was threatened recently, however, by the previous conservative government, which took a decision to ban all foreign tourists from the country's cannabis cafes, where it is legal to sell and consume marijuana. This move by the government was made as an effort to curb illegal drug smuggling and to prevent people from just popping over the border to buy some weed - only to then transport it back to another country. A legitimate concern, to be sure, but what about the peace-loving, law-abiding tourists who just want to get high, eat the oh-so-delicious Stroopwaffles and ponder the artwork of deranged, one-eared Dutch painters? And what about the coffee-shop owners and the 90% of their income that comes from foreign tourists enjoying their goods? Bigger still - what about Amsterdam?!
Well thankfully Mayor Van der Laan, who has long opposed such legislation, saw things differently, and said no to the ban. For once, in a world gone mad, justice and common sense have prevailed. Every year 1.5 million people visit Amsterdam to consume marijuana, which represents roughly a third of its total visitors. In a city that relies heavily on tourism, that's no small measure. But this issue is about more than just money and economics. When asked about his decision not to enact the ban in Amsterdam, the Mayor said: "the 1.5 million tourists will not say 'then no more marijuana' - they will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs, and no control of the quality of drugs on the market – everything we have worked towards would be lost to misery."
For the occasional toker and the dedicated stoner alike, whether you've been to Amsterdam many times before or are just making your first pilgrimage, this constitutes a huge victory. Rolling into a coffee-shop, perusing the menu and smoking the sticky-icky is an immensely enjoyable experience, and one of the things that makes Amsterdam the unbelievably amazing city that it is.
But there's more to the Dam than just legal cannabis and here's some helpful advice about other fun things to do, whilst on holiday in Amsterdam. Firstly, pick a fun and funky hostel or hotel to stay at in a cool area. If you're booked in at the Flying Pig, you're already off to a good start. Second, rent some bikes. This is by far the best, and most fun, way to cruise around town, from site to site and a quintessential Dutch experience. There are also several good bike tours, both in and outside the city and this is a great way to meet people, and get insider information from your tour guide. Thirdly, eat Stroopwaffles! Their deliciousness knows no bounds. Finally, party hard and enjoy the nightlife. Amsterdam has tons of bars and clubs, and there are super fun pub-crawls most nights of the week.
Also be sure to raise a toast to the Mayor of Amsterdam and be glad that the glory days are still right now, instead of a fading memory.Fear not, dear reader, the doors to Paradise will remain open a while longer so swarm in and enjoy!
- Seth Valentine
Play this game and win free nights @ the Pig!Play our yearly winter game and win 2 free nights. This is your chance to stay at the Flying Pig for free; just practice your old Packman skills again!
Play the Flying Pigman Game and try to get as many points as you can. You can play as often as you like; the person with the highest score (before the 1st of January 2013) wins two nights of free accommodation at a Flying Pig hostel for one person – or one night for two people. (which you can use anytime in 2013, but only if there is availability of course)!!
You can find the rules in the 'How to Play' section and make sure you fill out your email address on the scoreboard, so that we can contact you!
Music Reviews From The Flying Pig
This E-zine's Top Album Suggestions
Lara Bradley returns with her favourite album of the season - perfect for chasing away those winter blues. Relive the sensations of summer with a selection of top tracks from the band Highfields and their album, Across The Plastic Pond. Take a listen here.
Album: Across the Plastic Pond
Here it is piggies, the wild card! So, I know the summer is over and thoughts of sunshine, beers and BBQs at festivals are fading along with our tans, but don't be too disheartened! Instead stick on a track from the new folk band Highfields. With these tunes playing, together we can relive our summer days and warm nights - with a guitar round the fire.
I stumbled upon Highfield whilst trawling through the net for new music. I was just about to give up with the constant stream of: "edgy alternative indie Rock bands" when these guys kinda jumped out at me. My first play of the first song on their website brought about a massive grin and a good deal of toe tapping from the get go.
This six-piece group are formed of an eclectic mix of nationalities and backgrounds, including Jersey, Norway, South Africa, Canada and Singapore! This intriguing collection of personalities were sure to either clash enormously or create beautiful music with a hugely diverse influence. Thankfully the latter came to be so do have a listen before you read on. Try the track - Waste of Space - for a feel good vibe.
In appearance Highfields do look a bit, well, unconventional, but that's what grabbed my attention! I found this endearing and love the individual looks, especially that of quirky looking front man, Robert Mulder. The guys (and gal) are all buddies, which makes for an energetic and fun feel when you watch them play. I felt very comfortable and at home chilling out to their tunes, as if you could feel their bonds of friendship, in the ease of their group performance.
Front man Robert Mulder is no stranger to performing and has run his own music label for five-years! I love his soft voice and carefully crafted lyrics, which are real and easily digested through his unassuming, and humble delivery. Check out Robert Mulder - Tales of Old - and also the track - Fighting With My Weak Hand - as an insight into the main man behind the band.
- Lara Bradley
Events in the Hostels - Party Time!
To celebrate the smoking ban being overturned, we decided to throw a party at both Flying Pig hostels in Amsterdam! The Uptown will celebrate the happy event on Monday January 21, 2013 with a Hippie theme and the Downtown will party hard on Wednesday January 23, 2013, with a Reggae theme.
Check out the Facebook Page for more details - as we unveil them!
Also if you don't feel like strolling around in the cold during December, just stay in the hostel! As you might did you already know, the world is apparently going to end on the December 21 and where else would you rather spend your final day on earth than the Flying Pig Downtown?! We'll be having a apocalypse party with a theme of heaven and hell. If we all survive (fingers crossed) then we'll go on to celebrate with a cozy Christmas dinner on December 24. Afterwards, there'll also be a ho ho ho party - with a live DJ.
On the big day that is December 25, you guys can look forward to Christmas movies during the day and a DJ at night, then of December 31, come along to the Downtown's infamous New Year's Eve party!
Amsterdam City Events
In December Amsterdam's streets, canals and bridges are filled with lights. The main squares have ice skating rinks and if you don't feel like skating, you can enjoy some gluhwein/jager or delicious treats from the many food stalls around the city. There will also be great concerts and special events planned in museums during these winter weeks.
Amsterdam's first ever Light Festival makes its appearance this festive season, (literally) putting the beautiful city centre and its canals in the limelight from December 7, 2012 to January 20, 2013.
Festival of light
The Illuminade is a spectacular evening walk through Amsterdam taking in extraordinary illuminated artworks erected especially for the festival. The walking route puts the light artists themselves and light as an art form firmly in the limelight, introducing established names alongside up-and-coming talent in the field. The Illuminade will be open from December 15 to 30, 2012.
Boulevard of Light
Another central part of the Amsterdam Light Festival, the Boulevard of Light is made up of a series of enchantingly-lit buildings along the Amstel River, between the Amstel Hotel and Muntplein. Throughout the festival, all buildings housing cultural institutions along the stretch of water will be artistically illuminated and in order to complete the magical picture, the bridges and the lock will also be decorated in lights.
A Festive Canal Parade
The ultimate free festive experience in Amsterdam, the Christmas Canal Parade on Saturday December 15, 2012, enhances the city's intimate, historical atmosphere as tens of beautifully illuminated boats float along the city centre canals. Visitors are invited to line the canals to witness the fairy-tale entourage and listen to the warming notes of choirs spread along the winter parade route.
Something is brewing in the Amsterdam nightlife. Something that reaches past the walls of the clubs. Something that breaks boundaries. The city is buzzing with young organisations, upcoming talent, new initiatives and exceptional hybrids. In this climate -probably the healthiest Amsterdam has ever known- Valhalla is born. United under one roof in the Amsterdam RAI for the first time, Valhalla is the best our capital city has produced in the past years.
Christmas Markets & Ice Skating
From the end of November until the January 7, 2012 the famous Leidseplein turns on the festive charm. Less than a 5-mintue walk from the Flying Pig Uptown you can you can enjoy this winter wonderland. Get your skates on and have a spin around the ice for € 5 (free if you happen to be traveling with your own skates). You can then warm up with a selection of hot drinks and traditional christmas snacks like Oliebollen (doughnut balls), poffertjes (small Dutch pancakes), waffles and braadworst - all served up in little stalls around the rink. You should also check out the funky Christmas Market in westergasterrein over the weekend of December 22 and 23, 2012.
Europe's Famous Hostels - Things to See in Copenhagen
Here with their top city pick this month is Europe's Famous Hostels - recommending everything cool to see and do in the city of Copenhagen, when you stay at Copenhagen Downtown Hostel.
Home to the world's best restaurant, and an epicentre for cool design - the Danish capital is a mixture of Scandinavian tradition and modern urban living. The city is famous for modern art and design and in addition to a host of world class galleries with exhibitions throughout the year, the city teams with smaller galleries and artists studios. Sample modern Nordic cuisine at one of the many restaurants or take in the view at one of the cafes along the harbour – particularly in summer when the quayside is most lively. Copenhagen is a great city to explore. Take a stroll down the world's longest pedestrianised street through the old town and shops, wonder along the canals and islands, or take advantage of the free city bikes and discover Copenhagen like a local. Home to the Carlsberg Brewery, the Royal family in the Amalienborg Palace, the 17th Century Rosenborg Castle, Europe's oldest observatory and famous Little Mermaid sculpture - there are plenty of things to see and do.
1. Tivoli Gardens
Opened in 1843, Tivoli is one of the world's oldest amusement parks. Best known for the beautiful gardens it houses in the centre of Copenhagen along with the 28 ride funfair. There is also an aquarium, concert hall, open air stages, the famous Christmas Market and places to eat and drink. If you're in Copenhagen over Christmas don't miss the firework shows. More info: www.tivoli.dk
2. Nyhavn - "New Haven"
Originally a busy commercial port when Copenhagen was a world famous shipping centre, the port is now full of cafes, bars and restaurants – all set in the tradition colourful port front buildings. The prices aren't backpacker friendly but you can buys drinks nearby and enjoy the views like the locals do.
3. The Little Mermaid
Denmark's most famous author, Hans Christian Andersen, created the fairytale that inspired the founder of the Carlsberg Breweries, Carl Jacobsen, to dedicate a statue to The Little Mermaid in 1909. A sculpture was commissioned and the Mermaid was presented as a gift to the city in her home on the seafront. Her birthday is celebrated every year!
4. Strolling in the Strøget area
In the heart of the city centre lies the world's longest pedestrianised street, flowing through the city's shopping area from the City Hall Square all the way to Kongens Nytorv. Take a stroll down this street from the main square and check out the shops, including some of Denmark's famous designers, and restaurants along the way – it's 1.1km long and affords views of the sea from Kongens Nytorv.
Famous for being a self-proclaimed autonomous area on an island within Copenhagen, the community of Christiania is unique in that the 850 residents have formed their own laws, including the legalization of cannabis. The area is great to explore the alternative culture in Copenhagen - the community is popular with artists, activists and those interested in New Age lifestyles. Look out for the political graffiti but be warned, photography is not allowed.
A haven for modern art lovers, this outstanding gallery is a short train ride from Copenhagen and set in a unique beach-front location. With over 3,000 permanent artworks and rotating exhibitions from world famous artists, this really is a great place to soak up some culture - check out their website to see what's on. In Summer you can picnic on the beach, and in winter walk amongst the sculptures in the snow. On a clear day you can see across the Øresund to Sweden too! www.louisiana.dk
More info and free booking at www.famoushostels.com