Mayan Prophecy Countdown
I had a lazy morning because I was at Vincent’s place, he never gets up early ;) But, the weather was great outside and late morning we headed via train into the city of Amsterdam. Vincent had to work this afternoon for a few hours so he left me at the central station and we would hook up later, that is a cool fold-able bike he has there, only 12kg :-) It allows him to take it on the daily train ride and put it behind the seat, thus saving the fare for bikes.
So, I had the whole afternoon to relax and what better way than to take in a canal boat tour, the one I chose was the hop on, hop off, where you get off at any of the stops along the way, enjoy that area then hop back on and continue, a nice idea. In fact, nobody asked to see my ticket all day, weird, or an honesty system, with tourists?
Of course being in Holland would not be the same without the bicycles, and the transport system revolves around them, even having multi level bike parks for the park and ride system, cool :)
The tour was semi recorded, so at various points of the canal, I guess the skipper pushes a button and a voice pops out explaining some of the history and architecture. Also along the canal system were a lot of tied up house boats, a lot of them seem to be permanent moorings.
As I was getting peckish I hopped off at the next stop and grabbed a chicken skewered thing that is a Dutch speciality, covered in peanut sauce, not bad at all :) The other bits were fresh bread and prawn crackers.
The bicycle thing here is very strict, there are a lot of red tiled areas which are for bikes only and you cop a gob full if you walk on there and don’t get out of the way of the bikes!!
So, back on the canal tour and it was very relaxing indeed cruising around watching the boat life. No beer with me though, but maybe I can change that later. Mind you, there was a night on the town planned, so an early start may be detrimental ;)
During the next stop the boat was waiting for half an hour, so I hopped off to get a drink and found a better place to be, the old Heineken Brewery had been revamped into An Experience. Here you can see the history of the product and the family that still owns the company and also enjoy a very interactive experience, including tasting the individual ingredients(except the yeast) and also the finished product, a few of those, but you also get to be brewed yourself, more on that later ;)
That is a 7up bottle in my hand not beer ;) The displays inside are very interactive, but the lighting is not the best to take photos
In the following photos are four large stainless vessels, they carry the main ingredients, water, hops, barley and yeast. The yeast container has a lock on it, a very close guarded secret that strain A yeast.
The mixing chamber had large copper vessels, inside each were video projectors describing the process, very neat. You could also taste the basic product, barley and water, alcohol free though ;)
Outside to the courtyard, self explanatory
Then on to the ‘Get Brewed” ride, this is similar to the Space Shuttle simulator I was on in Florida. They have a large video screen, you stand on moving plates that shake rattle roll and jump under you to match the on screen experience, as well as water drops flying everywhere, a very good show and no chance to explain it very well, go see for yourself ;)
After that it was on to the second taste test chamber, here you try the finished product, with a chat and drinking demonstration, here are some basic facts that may or may not interest you.
1. The head on the beer is there for a reason, it stops the beer from interacting with oxygen, when this happens the beer gets bitter.
2. The carbonation in the beer helps to combat the oxygen and keeps the beer fresh from under the head.
3. If you take a big swig and swallow right away, you get the sweet taste of beer
4. If you take a big swig and swish it around the mouth for a few seconds, the beer will taste bitter because it has been aerated
I did not know number 1, so much for my expertise, but then mine is a specialised area, drinking it, not spruiking it ;) Mind you, I have always said a beer without a head tastes like crap, so now I know the technical reason behind my conclusions, you learn something new every day :)
The rest of the tour is a bit more commercial, get a bottle of beer brewed and printed with your own name on it etc and a chance to buy some beer Heineken products. They even have a beer pouring machine which tests your skill, well, I am not just a pretty face you know, I can pour beer as well as drink it :)
But eventually you get to the bar, here you get to use the free tokens and have yourself two beers :) I met up with a bunch of Turkish med students, nice to meet you all and thanks for the tip for Berlin :)
Two beers down and back on the boats again, lucky they have a dunny on board ;)
I got off at another stop near the RembrandtPlace, just to swap another token for a free gift from Heineken, it turned out to be a pair of sunnies, Top Gun style which are not much chop on a motorbike, so I kept them and gave them to Vincent. I had time for another beer here as I had been told by Vincent to stay where I was, or pick a place as they would be there within an hour. So I found a nice place to enjoy the scenery and mellowed out, it was around the area of the notorious cafes, although I did not partake of any at this time :)
Vincent and LianYa arrived so another beer was ordered. It started to rain of course, but we persevered. They then took me to a place they have been before for a great dinner, it was not over busy, but a nice view of the canal.
During dinner, Lianya had ordered icecream, with exploding sugar, this was weird stuff, when you put it on your tongue it does explode and you can hear the pops and bangs, real cute, and the waitress gave me a bowl to play around with :)
After that, more beer but first we had to ride, my first taste of bike riding for a long while, at night, half cut and in the rain, doh!!!
But, what you have all been waiting for was the red light district and I guess the origination of the word, red lights in the windows where you can inspect the product before purchase :)
We had more beers while the rain came down before a mad 15 minute bike ride back to LianYas place, then a 50min drive back to Alkmaar. But, before we left I made a purchase at one of the cafes, 3x muffins to go please, the notorious Space Cakes :) The Dude in the shop said it was made with Skunk weed and would take about 45 minutes to take effect. As I was totally sloshed by now, it would be a waste and I have tried skunk in the past and it had a dramatic effect, but anyway, maybe for breakfast in a few hours, it was now past 2am!
So, after picking up some beer and the car at Lianyas, we hit the road and were back at Vincent’s around 3am, it seems there will be no early start in the morning, but the forecast was for rain, so it is sleep in time :)
Cheers from Alkmaar, Nederlands