Tuesday 12 September 2017

Open Monumenten Dag

Or Open Monuments Day as it translates into English, is this weekend. It’s a chance to visit listed monuments that aren’t usually open to the public.

Dolores went to several places last year but I missed it due to being on my travels. It sounded pretty interesting, so I was keen to join in. Luckily Dolores did all the complicated stuff of looking where was open and where she fancied going.

I was very keen on getting a look inside the Aalsmeerder Veerhuis, a random early 17th-century building not far from where we live.

“We can go on our way to Dirk’s.” Dolores says. “It’s best to get there earlier before all the annoying old women turn up, talking loudly and getting in the way.”

We troll up to the Veerhuis 5 minutes after it opens. But there are already people inside and a pair of old ladies on bikes appear as I’m photographing the outside of the building.

It’s quite grand inside despite just being used as offices. And the building extends backwards much further than I expected. Only a couple of the rooms are open so it doesn’t take that long to look around. And then continue on our way to the supermarket.

We haven’t much time after unloading our shopping before we need to set off for our next destination. Not a building, but a bus tour through the rural parts of Amsterdam Noord. Unfortunately, that requires first getting a tram to Central Station then changing to a bus to take us to Noord. Meaning we’ll need to brave the tourist hordes.

Predictably, the tram is full of them. Mostly standing around by the entrance clogging everything up. The twats.

They’ve been rebuilding the station for the last decade. And still haven’t finished. Though the new bus station at the back, where we’re headed, has been completed. As have a few new tunnels under the tracks. The new tunnels are filled with posh shops and even a bar. It looks more like a night club than a station. A night club with almost no customers.

At the back of the station, I notice something before we mount the escalator to the bus station: the pub Little Delirium. I remember now about them opening a smaller version of Delirium Café in the station.

“We can go there for a drink on the way back, Ronald. We’ll probably need a toilet stop by then.”

I thought that was my job suggesting pubs. What is the world coming to?

It’s a bit of a walk from where we get off the number 32 bus to where the tour starts. In a deserted light industrial estate. Luckily there’s a poster to reassure us we’re in the right place. Soon another couple of people turn up.

The tour is on an old bus, built in 1966. It’s a funny short and narrow bus. That’s for a reason. It was meant to serve routes in rural North Amsterdam where the roads and bridges are narrow. It’s mostly following the route of the number 30 bus.

I’ve only ever been to North Amsterdam a couple of times in almost 30 years of living in the city. Mostly because I’ve had little need to. It’s mostly just residential, though new brewery Oedipus is located there. The brewery isn’t that far from our pick-up point.

Our tour takes in Schellingwoude, Durgerdam, Holysloot and Ransdorp. Schellingwoude is sort of attached to the rest of Noord, but once past there it’s wide open countryside, all cows and canals. It’s like being way out in the sticks. Except we’re still technically in Amsterdam. It’s really weird. The roads are very narrow, sometimes just single track.

The first two villages are built on dykes. With the front of the houses at dyke level and the rear at polder level, meaning they’re one storey taller at the rear than at the front. It looks pretty impractical for a settlement. They’re just a single street, with water on one side and polder on the other.

“I haven’t noticed any shops yet, Dolores.”

“At least you can get the supermarkets to deliver now. I’d just buy a week’s worth of food at a time.”

I’m still struggling to accept that these fields and open vistas are part of the city. Though that hasn’t always been the case. This was a separate council until 1921, when it was merged with Amsterdam.

We’re busy for about an hour, tootering along the narrow lanes and squeezing over bridges. It doesn’t look a lot of fun for the driver.

It doesn’t take us long to get back to Central Station. Where we drop by Little Delirium. It’s not actually that small at all by Amsterdam standards. Though it is compared to the main Delirium, which is massive for Amsterdam.

We’re thinking of eating there until Dolores sees the prices. “We can get a sandwich in Albert Heijn.” She suggests. That’s fine by me. A chance to top up with bacon.

The draught beers are fairly reasonable, but the bottles, especially the more crafty ones, are a bit pricey. Many are over 7 euros for 33cl. Ouch.

Next on our list is the Korenmetershuis. It’s another building I’ve walked past many times and wondered. Especially as it’s just about opposite In de Wildeman.

Dolores is just walking up the steps when someone calls her back. Turns out we need to book a tour. The next one being in about an hour. We’re given a little card to show that we’ve booked a place.

To fill in the time, we head over to De Bazel, which had been our last intended stop. They’ve been buggering around with the tram stops, removing quite a few. It’s been particularly bad around Vijzelgracht, where De Bazel is. Which catches us out. There’s no tram stop between Munt and the end of Vijzelgracht, meaning we have to walk almost the whole length of it back. Really annoying.

This a building I have been in before. Because it’s home to the Gemeentearchief Amsterdam, where some Heineken and Amstel brewing records are kept. It’s a particularly striking building, both inside and out.

Dolores is confused about where the open bit is. We go up to the third floor and discover everything locked up. It’s actually the basement we want, in the old bank vault. Where there’s an exhibition of maps and drawings. Not that we have much time to look at it, as we need to hurry back for our appointment at the Korenmetershuis.

It’s great fun crossing town through the ridiculous crowds of tourists. Millions of the buggers, are standing in the way or dawdling. Bastards. Totally out of hand, the tourist numbers in Amsterdam. And they’re still building more hotels.

We’ve 15 minutes before our tour starts. “We may as well nip into Wildeman for a quick beer.” I suggest. Dolores is having none of it. “We’d have to rush our drinks.” I don’t see that as a problem.

The Korenmetershuis is the guild house of the people who checked the measure of grain coming in from Eastern Europe. Quite important in the 17th century when every town had its own system of weights and measures.

I have to bite my tongue when our guide starts talking about the brewing water in Haarlem. He claims that city had an advantage when it came to brewing as the Spaarne, the river flowing through Haarlem, had clean water. Total bollocks. Already in the 15th century it was polluted by other industries in the city and contaminated with sea water. They really got their water from a spring in the dunes. It was transported by boat on a canal especially built for the purpose. For reasons which may or may not ever be revealed, I needed to bone up on that very topic last week.

The tour doesn’t take long. It’s a pretty small building. Soon I finally have my beer in Wildeman. We only stay for the one. It’s been quite a tiring day.

De Vereniging Vrienden van de Amsterdamse Binnenstad
Aalsmeerder Veerhuis
Sloterkade 21
1058 HE Amsterdam
Tel.: 020 6172735

Little Delirium
Centraal, IJhal,
De Ruijterkade 42A,
1012 AA Amsterdam.
Open 10AM–11PM

Nieuwezijds Kolk 28
1012 PV Amsterdam
Tel.: 020 6225292

De Bazel
Vijzelstraat 32,
1017 HL Amsterdam
Tel.: 020 723 0560

Bierproeflokaal In De Wildeman
Kolksteeg 3,
1012 PT Amsterdam.
Tel.: 020 638 2348


Tandleman said...

We had the same here on Saturday. We went to see the Rochdale Fire Brigade Museum and then the Masonic Temple. Guess which one tried to sign me up!

Ron Pattinson said...

The firemen?

Dolores went to Amsterdams Masonic Hall last year. Bit tatty, she said.

Anonymous said...

Might you kindly translate the inscription "DE NERING IST HIER GOET..." I'm guessing it has to do with transporting casks of beer?

qq said...

The London one is this weekend - I'm not sure if it's the original but it's celebrating its 25th anniversary. Not sure if they still let you go round Downing St - certainly used to but even then there was a lottery for tickets and you needed to provide everything up to your inside leg measurement as part of the security checks.

The open garden version in the summer is also fun.

Ron Pattinson said...


I'm not 100% sure as it's pretty weird Dutch. "Trade is good, they say, beer is brought on and on."