Every city has its weird stuff and Amsterdam is no exception. Even having visited the city many times, some things never cease to amaze me. Whether you are visiting the city for the first time or you have already been previously, don’t miss this guide to the weird stuff of Amsterdam.
1. A long queue to eat chips
It doesn’t matter if it snows, rains or if it’s simply freezing, at any time of the year, when you pass by VlemincxX, a kiosk of less than 10 m2, you will find a long queue of tourists and locals, waiting patiently their turn to get their cone full of greasy chips from the counter. Chips are indeed one of the delicacies of the Netherlands and people don’t mind to wait however long is necessary to enjoy their precious fries with mountains of mayonnaise. I prefer mine with apple purée, also available at VlemincxX
2. A shop which only sells condoms
The Condomerie is probably the only shop in the world specialised exclusively in condoms and lubricants. Any colour, shape, size, flavour can be found in this colourful shop in the outskirts of the Red Light district. They even have a cannabis lubricant… I am not sure if you are supposed to get high when you lick it…
3. A museum which looks like a bathtub
This is the Stedelijk museum which contains an interesting collection of contemporary art and it hosts temporary art installations, some of them good, others just rubbish, a risk that you may want to take. Definitely the best thing about this museum is the funny building, a work by Benthem Crouwel Architects; same makers of the superb Rotterdam Central Station
4. A church that is a nightclub
Paradiso opened its doors as a club and concert venue in 1968 and has since then hosted a multitude of concerts and DJ sessions. This is not so weird anymore since we can find churches transformed in music venues in other parts of the world but what is remarkable is that in the Netherlands this is the case for a high number of formerly religious centres. This phenomenon is a consequence of the well stablished laicism in the country where only 26% of the population consider themselves religious, one of the smallest percentages in the world.
5. A museum called MOCO
This is once again another manifestation of the importance of checking first the meaning in other languages of a certain name for a baby, pet or place before going for it. And yes, moco means snot in Spanish, which can be a setback when pondering over visiting the museum. Or maybe it might result in a more avid curiosity, who knows. MOCO is a brand-new museum (it opened its doors in April 2016) and hosts a permanent collection of Banksy’ works. It combines works of the iconic graffiti artist with those of other very well-known artists; there is currently an exhibition of Roy Liechtenstein. To me MOCO is basically the best example of the commercialisation of arts
6. Coffeeshops, of course
I am not going to tell you anything new which you don’t already know about the fact that in the Netherlands you can legally buy and smoke marihuana in these cafes. But to me what is really weird is that even if once you enter into one of these cafes and you immediately feel like you are inside a thick cloud, where you can hardly see your friend’s face sitting across the table, don’t you ever dare to light a plain cigarette because you will be booted out without any contemplation. Another curious note on the subject is that even if coffeeshops can legally sell marihuana in the Netherlands, it’s forbidden to grow it for mass production; only growing cannabis for personal use is permitted and every household can have a maximum of 5 plants. So this is the one-million-dollar question: where the hell do these coffeeshops source this volume of grass from? A real mystery…
7. A restaurant full of mothers
Moeders is just another restaurant in the centre of Amsterdam but what is special about it is their beautiful homage to all the mothers in the world. Its walls are filled with photos of women who we presume are mothers; you can even ask to hang your mother’s picture on the wall if you find a free spot. I haven’t tried the food yet, so you will have to judge for yourself, but I might be right in thinking that it will taste like your mum’s.
8. A crane that is a hotel
You would not believe it from the outside but this apparently ordinary crane is a hotel and a very expensive one. It has only three luxury rooms which can exclusively be accessed taking an outdoors lift. The rooms have an exceptional view of the river IJ and the city on the other side of the water. Not recommended for those suffering from a fear of heights. I am one of those but I would not refuse a night there if somebody invites me
9. A Chinese temple
Yes, true, we can find Chinese temples in other cities’ Chinatowns around the world but the fact that this one in the Red Light district is located a few meters away from a street full of windows with sex workers is an astonishing reality
10. And this is definitely what will never stop amusing us!
The amazing skill of the locals to find their bikes among thousands of others, even after a boozy night out…
Photos: Elena de Francisco CC BY-SA 4.0
And what is really weird is that it was sunny when I took the photos…