Travel’s Guaranteed Disappointments
Want to hear a sizzling anecdote about the day I followed a local’s tip and went to an off-the-radar bar in Amstelveen? Well, it was a perfectly average bar, with a normal range of beers and absolutely nothing else of interest to report.
It’s not a story that’s going to make me a billionaire through after-dinner speaking work, but it does illustrate a good point about the value of local tips. For every brilliant piece of advice, there will be one or two absolute stinkers. People pick their favourites – places they go to out of habit and are pretty much interchangeable with any mediocre joint into the world – rather than spots that will be in any way memorable or fun for a visitor who only has a limited time in the city.
Let’s face it, the sad truth is that a huge percentage of locals drink in chain pubs and Starbucks, then eat in McDonalds or KFC, just like they do everywhere else in the world.
But if ‘local secrets’ have a success rate roughly equivalent to that off a juicy pork chop in a lion’s cage, then there are always worse bets, guaranteed to be excruciatingly dull.
On that note, hello brewery tours! While everyone loves what comes out of breweries, the process of it being made is phenomenally unexciting. Think about it – if making beer was anything like as much fun as drinking beer, we’d all be doing it.
As it happens, every single brewery tour in the world follows the same format – yawning through an hour of staring at big metal tanks in the desperate hope that there are some free samples at the end.
Similarly lacking in thrills are houses that famous people once lived in. Their life may have been one of incredible feats, ground-breaking innovation and universally admired talent, but their house will be a collection of old furniture. That furniture might have signs on it – the chair Abraham Lincoln sat on, the bed Beethoven slept in, the table that Shakespeare’s wife probably made pies on – but it’s basically stuff that wouldn’t sell in a jumble sale. The trudge round becomes a desperate attempt to convince yourself that it’s in some way important.
These are dull, but don’t come close to the most fearsomely awful type of tourist attraction – the cultural village. These supposedly educational hellholes have the added horror of not being able to escape – you have to sit there pretending to enjoy the poor sods in ‘traditional’ costumes doing dances that no-one has done by choice for 80 years. There’s then an explanation of why people in different tribes wear slightly different hats and another awkwardly uncomfortable hour of dancing before everyone finally gets to go home. The dancers, of course, ditch their costumes, get back into their jeans, then pick up their mobile phones and arrange to meet friends in the pub.
Signing up for any of these is, frankly, foolish. But there’s one type of tourist attraction that’s great just enough of the time for it to be continually worth trying.
There are few disappointments to match the one achieved when you climb to the top of the tallest building in town. Whether the Eiffel Tower, Cologne Cathedral or the Empire State building, you end up trudging to the top, only to find safety barriers stopping you from getting a good photo. And the one thing you’d really want on that photo – the one thing that distinguishes the city from every other city in the world – is the thing you’re standing on top of.
It’s at this point a local secret that DOES work kicks in – forget the tallest building, and go for the second tallest.
- David Whitley
Music Reviews From The Flying Pig
Lara Bradley’s Music Review: Green Room Rockers
Hello all you music lovers, piggie hostel fans and just plain awesome people!
I’m back with another alternative and awesome album for y’all! You know how I like to tease those little eardrums with a bit of variation. One month I’ll swing to electro, the next to indie, then boomerang you back over to psycho funk?! Well I hope you’re in your seats ladies and gentle-peeps coz’ this installment includes one of my most random choices. Something super apt for the Amsterdam vibe.
I’m taking it back a few years to pay homage to some truly good soul felt music. My choice of destination on this musical journey? None other than Green Room Rockers.
Green Room Rockers
Welcome to Jamaica! There’s a heat wave here at the moment and we’ve spent countless days in the park, and on the dock just chilling - listening to tunes. This album was made for days like this. Half chillaxed with a smoke in hand and the other half pumped up and excitable - diving off the pontoon into the sea. We do love a bit of a Reggae Ska vibe in the Dam and this American born lot have made their mark on the ska scene over the past few years, shaping the songs with their deep rooted soul sound, coupled with the fresh influence of the Caribbean band members.
So what to expect? Well, this is slightly more mellow than their old album, but still features the reliant bass lines (Monty) occasional brass proposition (Ron), sculpted together with front man Mark’s soothing and alluring tones. Conqueror kicks off the album with a sixties style guitar riff driven track. Alone is a personal favourite of mine and Confession is more melodic with a funky and jazzy feel, highlighted with the familiar sound for this style of music - the horn! On the flip side you’ve got Twenty Five which is your classic toe tapper and tells the quirky tale of Mark’s life as a youngster.
The way I feel about this Bluesy coupled with Rocksteady genius is that it’s hard not to like, right?! Just wanna move your bits and bobs to the jiggy beat? Ditto. 60’s influence mixed with Soul, Blues and Reggae, catchy drum beats and organ tropicality! Yeah, its cool. Plus if you find that sultry brunette in a bikini is winking at you, it’ll be the added affect of the cheeky/sexy appeal of these tracks, guaranteed to lure in the girls!
I love to watch bands that look like they're really enjoying themselves – you know? Taking the music from the heart and just having fun with it. This comes across in the sound and I’ll bet good money they’re great live!
After listening to the entire album from start to finish for the first time I’m thinking I need to open up my own bar on a beach somewhere – complete with hammocks, straw hats and palm trees! I’ll then slyly suggest that these guys can come and put on some free entertainment every night!greenroomrockers.com facebook
- Lara Bradley
News and Events from the Pig
News From the Pigs: Events in Amsterdam
Vondelpark Open Air Theatre
Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre: Fancy cooling off with some free open-air theatre in Vondelpark? Then head along on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to enjoy theatre and music good times. It’s a truly Dutch experience with cabaret, drama, concerts and dance – there’s something here for everyone.
The Uitmarkt rings in the start of the new cultural season each year, inspiring, entertaining and astounding theatre, music, book and film lovers alike - in the last weekend of August. In 2013, that's August 30 and 31 August, and September 1 too!
Phillip Mechanicus Exhibition Until October 27, 2013
Until October 27, 2013: Phillip Mechanicus was born and bred in Amsterdam, and is one of the biggest Jewish photographers in history. His work largely portrays famous artists, musicians and famous people - in startling and thought provoking portraits. This exhibition, held at the Jewish Historical Museum, showcases the work of Mechanicus throughout his career, with a focus on a selection of photos from the 1950s, and 1960s.
Amsterdamse Bos Summer Concerts
Throughout August: Amsterdamse Bos (or Amsterdam Forest) is a beautiful green area right in the heart of the city. For the past 28-years the forest has hosted free and ticketed music, and arts events for the general public. This summer at the concerts here, the two headline acts are Andy Burrows (previously of Razorlight) on August 18 for 15 Euros, and Hooverphonic with an orchestra, on August for 20 Euros.
This new annual event reflects the innovative culture of Amsterdam with a combination of athletics, dance music and entertainment. With tickets starting from as little as 7.50 Euros, the Flame Games are ready to provide sports enthusiasts with a well rounded day of fun.
Check out the Facebook Page for more details - as we unveil them!
Flying Pig Beach Hostel - It’s The Season For Surfing!
The water has warmed up a bit and the summer is coming to an end, which means only one thing. It’s time for some surfing!
Our town of Noordwijk is a popular spot in the Netherlands for all kinds of surfing. The south-west onshore winds in September and October make it a great spot for Kite-surfing or Windsurfing, and you’ll see an enthusiastic crowd in the water for many weeks!
September and October are also the best times to make the most of the swell coming in from the Atlantic. This makes some great waves for regular surfing.
So no matter what your discipline of water sport you’re into, The Flying Pig Beach hostel is the right backpacker base for having some fun. Better yet, the Flying Pig Beach Hostel deals with the Best surf schools in town with tope deals on equipment rental and lessons.
The Infamous Piggy pop No.3
For three nights The Flying Pig Beach Hostel was transformed into the centre for hard partying, socialising, crazy raves, glow in the dark faces, moshing, soothing acoustic music and towering Dutchies. As you walked into the hostel you were met with a towering lion head at reception, a magical mystical smoking room forest and an exotic jungle with a bbq, beers and booze buckets.Thirty two acts gave their all to create an expericence that visitors from around the world will always remember. Bringing together drum and bass, hip hop, rock and acoustic music people danced until they could no more.
The festival was kicked off with a mental drum and bass night which literally almost brought the roof down. There was no rest for the wicked because on the second day we had a variety of bands coming from around the world to rock the hostel to its limits. Starting the afternoon off with a bit of acoustic music in the jungle and ending in moshing metal. Someone is yet to clean the footprints off the roof. The last night was certainly not the least as people knew that it was their last chance to party like a piggy for another year. We gathered local bands to showcase the best of Dutch music. Workers, guests and locals were all huge players in making Piggy Pop 3 the success it was. A big thank you to all and see you next year!
Big Love and Peace Out from the Piggies!
Europe’s Famous Hostels – ROOM Hostel Rotterdam
Rotterdam has never been classed as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, but things are starting to change. Rotterdam is a multicultural melting pot, and you can see this in all areas of life in the city; from the faces that pass you in the rush hour to work, to the restaurants that line the bustling streets in the evening, to the 7-day long Rotterdam Unlimited Festival including the Dunya and Caribbean Zomercarnaval that brings a taste of Rio to the streets of Holland.
Rotterdam was bombed into devastation during the Second World War and has been one of the great success stories in their vision and gradual reconstruction. It's a thoroughly modern city and its horizon is taken over by jutting angles and glass facades. Bridges cross over and back the River Maas and modernist statues are around every corner (my personal favourite being Paul McCarthy's 'Santa with a Buttplug' installed in the Eendrachtsplein).
For a true Rotterdam experience check out ROOM Hostel. It's owned and run by a couple of Rotterdam locals who travelled the world together before deciding to show off their passion and love for their home town by opening a hostel and the eyes of their new guests.
They've always got something going on whether it's in their own in-house bar where they have Open Mic Nights, Dutch Deligth Nights, Living ROOM Sessions, Pasta Nights or just a good old knees up, or whether it's in collaboration with the local city festivals to create events and cool things to do for tourists coming to their city.
ROOM Hostel Rotterdam opened in a historical building in the perfect location in Rotterdam near the Erasmus Bridge in 2006 and you're promised a true Dutch experience. They serve up a delicious free Dutch breakfast and one of their rooms is even called 'Dutch Delight' thanks to its Dutch themed decoration.
To mark the World Port Day celebrations in Rotterdam, Hostel ROOM is offering a special deal for anyone coming at the start of September:
World Port Day Special
Visit the World Port Days in Rotterdam & see with your own eyes how dynamic, fun, fast & hectic the biggest Port of Europe really is.
Get surprised by all the great activities up & around the Harbor. The activities at the Erasmusbridge are making the harbor visible in the heart of the city.
Hostel ROOM is located just in the middle of the Festival area (close to the Veerhaven/ Maas)
Especially for the World Port Days we put a nice low-budget special together:
For only € 25,00 p.p
1 night in the unique Port Room (12-personsroom) with view on the Veerhaven
VIP pending boat pass (with this pass you can travel unlimited to the festival sites by boat)
Exclusive boattour on the Nehalennia
* subject to availability
* if you pay a little bit more you can upgrade your room , exclusive tourist tax
Send an email to email@example.com or call +31(0)10 – 282 72 77 and mention “World Port Special” www.wereldhavendagen.nl
For other great deals (World Food Festival, Architecture Film Festial) and discounts (Blijdorp ZOO, Spido) check their website www.roomrotterdam.nl
More info and free booking at www.famoushostels.com