Dam good time in Amsterdam
You know you’re a proper grown-up when you have the time of your life on your birthday weekend in Amsterdam without spending it giggling your way around the Red Light District high as a kite.
There’s a name for it now - adulting - and it feels pretty Dam good (see what I did there?) I don’t know whether Amsterdam has rebranded itself since an epic stag do 17 years ago but these days it feels more like an upmarket, sophisticated tourist destination and less like the final date of a Mötley Cruë European tour in their Sunset Strip era.
One establishment where one stag chucked an epic whitey back in 2003 after unwisely guzzling a whole special muffin, is now a gentrified bistro where, as Frankie Boyle said recently, their drug of necessity would be cocaine, to give them the confidence to charge what they do for their beer and grub. Having said that, it was delicious.
The highlight of last weekend’s visit was a trip to the Ice Bar, where you glug your booze of choice from a glass chipped out of a chunk of ice in a room chilled to -9.4C. Ten minutes in there certainly sharpens the senses.
Plus, one of the best things about city breaks, this one was booked by the boss as a treat months ago for last week’s landmark birthday, is that you walk miles and miles around an amazing city without really noticing how far you’ve gone.
Thanks to modern wearable technology that has the capability to monitor how much methane you produce daily when you break wind, it measures how far you walk - and we covered at least 10 miles a day, ideal when recovering from a back muscle injury.
One note of caution, you need eyes in the back of your head to avoid being mown down by an army of cyclists and scooterists who, I’m guessing, operate under some bizarre right-of-way law as they pelt around the narrow streets.
I’m amazed a hundred tourists a day aren’t killed as they stare up in wonder at the wonky houses that look like the endgame of Jenga that by some miracle of engineering haven’t toppled into the canals.