Amsterdam is truly one of the greatest party cities in the world, especially if you’re a pothead. Not only is it home to some of the best marijuana in the world, but it’s also the freest in its attitudes toward smoking pot. Personal amounts of marijuana can be purchased and imbibed in any of a hundred different coffeeshops. Keep in mind that outside of coffeeshops, smoking is still frowned upon, so it’s not a great idea to light up in the streets. Before lighting up in a bar, be sure to ask the bartender if they allow cannabis smoking - most of them don’t.
If you take the train from Schiphol Airport – which is the cheapest, easiest way to get into town – you’ll arrive at Centraal Station at the north end of the city. From here, it’s just a short walk over to Haarlemmerstraat, where some of the city’s most prominent coffeeshops and restaurants reside. There, you can pick up some bud and breakfast at the Green House or Barney’s Uptown before heading to your hotel.
Dam Square toward the north is basically the heart of the city, surrounded by concentric semi-circles of streets (straats) and canals (grachts) that spread out around it toward the south. Cutting almost straight down through the middle is the main shopping strip, Leidsestraat, which ends at the bustling Leidseplein Square, filled with some of the best bars, restaurants and stores. Along the way, you can veer off to visit some of the chillest coffeeshops in the city – among them, de Rokerij, de Dampkring and one of the several Green House locations. For some of the best hash in the city, in terms of both quality and variety, head southeast of the Dam to the Bluebird, which has two binders displaying tons of domestic and imported hashish.
When the munchies hit, the Leidseplein has some great Indian, Thai and Italian restaurants, Argentinian steakhouses, killer falafel spots, as well as fast-food favorites like Burger King and Mickey D’s for the less adventurous. And if you want ketchup with your fries, you’ll have to ask for it – the Dutch eat theirs with mayo. If you’re feeling homesick, the Marriott and American hotels serve a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day (but make advance reservations!).
For art lovers, there’s nothing more fun than chowing down on a space cake and hitting a museum, particularly the Van Gogh or the Rijksmuseum, where you can see the gigantic Dutch Masters paintings come to life before your eyes. There are also the less conventional museums devoted to hash, sex, erotica and torture, as well as the sobering Anne Frank House.
One of the best things about the city is that it’s small enough that you can get just about anywhere on foot, so just pick up a map (preferably one from our Cannabis Cup Guide, which has the better coffeeshops marked) and start wandering around. Sure, you could rent a bicycle, but navigating the city’s busy, unfamiliar streets while high (and possibly drunk) is not very stoner-smart.
After a long, hard day of getting high, you’ll be ready for some nightlife, and Amsterdam has something for everyone. For those into hip-hop, house and trance, there are happening dance clubs like Sinners in Heaven and Odeon. Those who lean more towards hard rock can hit dive bars like The Cave, Korsakoff or The Black and White. For live music, the Melkweg and Paradiso book major international acts, or you can check out some cool blues or jazz at Bourbon Street. If you’re in it for the long haul, there’s usually after-hours at the Dolphins café. And, of course, there’s always the infamous Red Light District, where the randy and curious stroll the streets ogling the semi-nude prostitutes standing in the windows.
The weather in November is pretty chilly and rainy, so be prepared to bundle up. Sure, the weather there may be a bit nicer in the summer, but there’s just no substitute for that last week in November when the Cannabis Cup rolls into town. Coffeeshops prepare all year to impress the thousands of stoners who descend upon the city, rolling out the special offers and free samples – and HIGH TIMES throws one hell of a party, featuring big-name musical performances and a gala awards show.
Now that marijuana is becoming legal in the US, I’m sure many of you are asking yourselves, “Why go all the way to Holland when I can get great weed right in Colorado or California?” The answer is history. For decades, as the Drug War has raged here at home and people have been thrown in prison simply for enjoying some herb, The Netherlands has stood as a shining example of tolerance and rationality, allowing tourists to buy and consume cannabis without fear or guilt. The advances being made here in America wouldn’t have been possible if they hadn’t shown the world how things could and should be. And many of the top strains we enjoy here in the US were originated by the “Dutch Master” breeders.
Bottom line: making the pilgrimage to Amsterdam is something every true stoner should do at least once in their lifetime – and if you’re going to Amsterdam for the weed, there’s no better time to go than for the Cannabis Cup. As someone who’s been to more Cannabis Cups than just about anyone else on earth, I should know.
For more information on the 26th HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup, visit cannabiscup.com.