I write this as i leave amsterdam and must say that the city was lovely. Amsterdam has special place for me, as when i was 6 weeks old my mother sat me on her lap for a 7hrs KLM flight from NYC. While i dont remember that trip at all, it was my first international trip of what i hope is a long lifetime of many flights.
The Atmosphere on Monday for the Netherlands game was amazing, much better than the drunken Brits. Things were very quiet in the city on Tuesday but at night we managed to find a Brazil bar to watch the Brazil vs North Korea game, the atmosphere in there was nothing short of electic. From the DJ playing a cheesy "BRAZIL" chant after every chance the Selacio had, to the halftime entertainment of a Samba band marching into the bar and playing there drums as the ladies showed off whatever moves they could in 15 minutes it was great. The game kicked off at 8:30pm, and we got seats and a great view at 8:05, but by kickoff time the entire bar was PACKED and people were even outside watching on a TV in the window, i must say the crowd arrives right on time for these matches here, its not like in NYC where you might pre-game adn get a good seat at the bar for a while before the game starts.
Wednesday was a day to wander around the less tourists parts of the City, i had heard alot about the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam and after a slightly confusing but nice 30 minute walk from the Lesipledein we arrived. Kickoff was approaching of the Spain vs Swiss game and low and behold just 5 minutes before the game we found a real Spanish bar. Real in the sense that 2 guys were wearing Espana shirts. The place said it was closed the kitchen till 6pm, i figured it was just their mid-day siesta but as it turned out the whole staff were the only customers in the bar and they were not going to be working if La Fuerja Rioja were playing. A few San Miguel beers, a nice place of the finest spanish meats and bread, a glass of rose wine for my buddy Paul and we had the first real upset of the tournament. Spain a team that has only been beaten twice in what seems like the last 4 years lost 1-0 to Switzerland. The Swiss a suprise at the 2006 World Cup are off to a flying start in their group.
Later Wednesday night being the americans we are and wanting some english language entertainment we opted to pay 15 Euros for the Boom Chicago improv show at the theatre in the leisplein. I would recommend it to any tourists in town as we got a free beer and a solid 90 minute of decent improv entertainment from the 4 member cast. After the show wandering around the bar on every corner streets, i saw a beer that i had not had before. It was called a Leeuw Bier, and like so many of the nice amber lagers here it was tasty. More interesting conversation with some Dutch football fans with the main topic being if Johan Cruijff could play as well in today's modern game as in the Total Football days of the 1970s. I think that any of the greats in the past could easily compete at todays game, while they dont have the size and speed of todays players, the game is not always about that.
More wandering at night ensued and a cool bar was found. The Mini Bar is a relatively new joint from what i was told. Check it out online at www.minibaronline.com the concept is a cute one, there are about 40 lockers/mini bars in the place. You can buy a key for a locker and like a hotel its your own mini bar. Pull out a little bottle of Vodka and mix it with Cranberry, or take a beer for a friend. At the end of the night your tab is computed or if you are a real baller you just have the send you monthly statements on your credit card. Since i was only in town for a night and not buying a locker, i had the waitress bring me a 3.50Euro Henieken. That price was about the average for a bottle, with a full half liter(US 16oz draft ) running about 5 Euros. With the 400 year Dutch tradition of not tipping, the costs of beer here in Western Europe is not that bad. When you do leave a 1 Euro tip for 2 beers, they treat you like they just saw Jesus come down from the mountain. If in Amsterdam i would recommened checking out the Mini Bar. The Address is the unprounceable Prisengracht 478, its right near a canal like so many other places.
I must say as i approach Brussels on the "slow" High-Speed Train i'm looking forward to the thousands of great beers available there. Compared to the crap UK beer i was drinking my first week, these Dutch and Belgian beers are a marked improvement.