"When in Amsterdam blah blah you absolutely blah blah must visit blah a coffee shop. When in Rome blah do as the Romans blah blah... "
Sorry to say this but: rubbish! You MUSN'T anything unless you WANT to. Okay, having lived in The Netherlands for almost all my life I'm definitely biased. I just cannot imagine what the big deal is with these places. And why Amsterdam? Amsterdam isn't any more tolerant or liberal than the rest of The Netherlands. Amsterdam doesn't make its own laws, the policy is a national one. Coffeeshops are everywhere in this country. In EVERY town and in EVERY city. If I want to I can get a smoke whenever I want to. But I rarely do. No, I have no problem with these places, I think they're a fairly effective way to regulate a problem that repression won't ever solve. It's pure common sense really; a relatively harmless drug has been taken out of the hands of organized crime which otherwise could push more dangerous drugs on their clients. And that's fine by me.
However, Amsterdam is the only place where these coffeeshops play a major role in tourism. Apart from the many tourists who want to "give it a try" coffeeshops also attract tourists who are obsessed with these places and that has its impact on the atmosphere in the centre. That's what I don't like. As if there isn't anything else to this city.
No matter what you do; don't buy or use anything in the street. The first because you won't know what you get, the second because it's illegal . So is trying to take any of the stuff out of the country. If you buy anything, consume it before leaving. And when you use anything, be sure to take your time and relax. If in doubt if the stuff has any effect on you, try to stand up. Then you'll know.
And if you're not at all interested in this sort of thing then there's absolutely nothing wrong with you. Most "Romans" in this city aren't very interested either, it's mostly the tourists who are so excited about these places.
Not too much of a trap I guess, but it could be embarrassing....
If you are looking for "coke" (as I call a glass of Coca Cola), then specify this, by asking for a "glass of coke", or "a coca cola", or whatever.
Not a big deal as such, but you may not get such a nice reception if the staff think that you are in looking for hard drugs.
If you are any bit nervous, this may throw you off...
Just a tip, you dont need to set this in stone (pardon the pun)
When you hit Dam in search of a coffeeshop you may be fooled into thinking the big coffeeshop off of DamRak is a good idea. Don't do it! Yes, the Grasshopper is well known, but for all the wrong reasons. Never has there been a bigger tourist trap. Expensive and poor quality for your money. Do yourself a favour and hunt out a different coffeeshop.
Unique Suggestions: Steal a beermat!
Fun Alternatives: De Rockerij. Take a tram or walk to the Leidsepleain, and just up the side road where McDonalds is you'll find this haven. Great interior, lots of happy people!
There are quite a few of the Bulldog Coffee Shop chain in Amsterdam. They are all overpriced and over commercialised. The bright trendy signs might pull in the naive uninformed tourists but they really aren't worth the money at all. Expensive and inferior quality cannabis is sold here as well as drinks at inflated prices. Also, the decor inside is nothing special. Quite dingy and unappealing. Much better to check out www.channels.nl for some great advice on the best coffee shops to go to.
Please note that there is a Bulldog which is more orientated to alcohol and it is loud and brash. The drinks are still overpriced but the decor is much better. More like a loud bar/nightclub. It plays annoying dance music though. Not what I like to hear at the best of times, never mind in a chilled out place such as Amsterdam.
Unique Suggestions: Buy your cannabis elsewhere and use it there. Stay for no more than one drink, then leave and go somewhere decent.
Fun Alternatives: Apart from trying www.channels.nl for an extensive list, the ones I can immediately recommend from first hand experience are De Kuil, Grey Area, The Other Place, Greenhouse Effect, Baba's and Betty Boop's. There are many more though and generally the standard is pretty good.
I stayed away from them but the biggest one is the Grasshopper. It's nice to go in and take pictures and all, but really not worth sticking around, unless you want to hang out with basically all the tourists. Plus, if you are going there to smoke, you are going the prices are higher there than in local places. Stick to local, you will meet cool people and have a good time.
Alas, everything closes out there at like 1 am so when you are nowhere near being sober and you know you can't fall asleep, its the only place open, unless you want to hit the red light district. It is a little shady, and if you are a girl, don't go alone...trust me on this one..
Unique Suggestions: Its a good place to go if you want to be around tourists.
Fun Alternatives: The Greenhouse (has three locations in Amsterdam).
Ofcourse a lot of young travellers come to Amsterdam to get stoned. But please be aware of the fact that you have to be over 18 to even be in a coffeeshop and it doesn't matter if you smoke or not. So make sure you always have an ID or a copy of it with you!! Even if you've been in the coffeeshop before.
We have very strict policy here in Amsterdam. if coffeeshops allow people in under eighteen they risk being closed.
The people who work in these shops see a lot of people each day. Please understand the fact that it's really difficult to guess people's age. Don't be offended if you're 22 and still being ask for your ID. It's not personal!
Unique Suggestions: Never forget to bring your ID!!! If you don't have it with you, entering the shop will probably be denied!
Fun Alternatives: If you're under eighteen let somebody who is old enough get you some stuff and smoke it elsewhere.
The Bulldog is the coffeeshop to head to if you are looking for only tourists. Prices are too high (high, get it) and there is no local ambiance.
To me, it is almost as commercial as Burger King.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go, bring your gear from somewhere else and just order a soda so you can smoke in peace.
During your visit, you might be tempted to visit a coffee shop and try the marijuana. You're not alone! On our coffee shop visit, the place had a nice crowd of people, but not many were locals. If you go, and you're not used to smoking, ask for the mildest possible, and take it slow.
Unique Suggestions: Visiting a coffee shop is quite interesting. Even if you're not into smoking, stop by and order a cup of coffee. Then ask to see the menu. Talk to the person behind the counter and ask him/her to explain to you the different blends. These people take their weed very seriously; it's like visiting a wine bar! Have your coffee, thank the person and be on your way.
Fun Alternatives: If you feel uncomfortable, then just leave. There are plenty of traditional cafes around.
Bulldog Palace is a rip off for tourists!! Beware...
Unique Suggestions: If you really have to go there, then go, no big deal, it's a cool place to people-watch, have a few drinks, surf the web etc... but if you're interested in buying soft drugs, I've heard that it's not the best of places as they'll just rip you off....
Fun Alternatives: Coffeeshops are all over the place, just ask a local and he'll let you know which are the best places to go to...
this is when up to 3000 people all pay $250.00 to go buy pot in amsterdam coffeeshops that enter the event. for that money you get a crappy t-shirt, a few cramped over crowded concerts, and a shuttle ride to different shops....whoo hoo! we only got the shirt cause we didn't use the shuttles and we only went to one show de la soul which was pretty lame..thanks to 420 tours for being way unorginized and under prepared they forgot to announce the 2nd place in the cannabis cup they started with the 3rd place shop then announced the winner..lol.. it was embarassing for them i imagine, but they made the cash so we're the dumb ones.
Unique Suggestions: don't buy anything from 420 tours, they over charge on everything. and you shouldn't have to pay to judge, sorry but that's just plain rude! and to only recieve a cheap t-shirt, barney's was giving away better quality shirts to all the judges for free!!!! and the one's that got 250 bucks from us gave us crap! the shirt is about as thick as two ply toliet paper. well enough bad mouthing 420 tours..
Fun Alternatives: go on your own!!!!!! you don't need no stinking cannabis cup!
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