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Amsterdam

Stag & Hen Destination

A stag or hen party is almost inevitably going to be a raucous affair, and those in Amsterdam are no different, but along with the traditional entertainments (and some here with a decided twist) it is worth considering the other opportunities the city has to offer.
Even getting to Amsterdam can be a bit different from most other European party destinations. Naturally you can take a plane, Schiphol one of the continents busiest and best airports. But if your location makes it practical there’s the option of making a cruise across the North Sea part of your break – and these days you’re likely to have amusements well beyond the bar to make time fly, like a casino, club, and restaurants.
Make your trip even more memorable (or by cutting back on the drinking time make it memorable full stop) by taking in one of the cultural glories of this elegant old city: the Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market, or one of the diamond factories; or how about the Van Gogh Museum, or to celebrate a different cultural heritage Ajax’s hi-tech football ground? This is a city that’s great for walking – with the usual caveats that like any city it has areas best avoided – the canals adding to the scenic openness, and the lack of hills making it easier on the feet than say Rome or Athens.
That flatness makes cycling a much-used method of getting about, one ingenious idea for stags and hens a so-called beer-bike, a pedalled bar that tours a suitable area of Amsterdam. You have to admit it is different.
Somewhat quicker vehicles can be a part of your trip either for the tour or to get the adrenaline pumping: arrange a limo, a Hummer, or a Cadillac if that grabs you; or take a luxury tour bus for big groups. The thrill-seekers can do karting, or try something few will have experienced before, land-sailing. And even if it is not one of the world’s great ski resorts (it really isn’t) Amsterdam can offer you the chance to try indoor snowboarding.
The canals already mentioned make another way of getting around a very popular choice – a cruise in one of the party- or sight-seeing-craft can kill two birds with one stone – a glass or two of your choice of refreshment, and views of historic buildings, giving you a flavour of beer and city in one.
Along with its artistic and historical heritage, Amsterdam has fantastic culinary riches. Calling steak and tits meals (honestly) cultural is probably stretching things, but if your tour company can arrange a Rijsttafel we say go for it – this is a banquet based on Sumatran cuisine, with a world of tastes, textures and aromas to be discovered. Some stags and hens have been known to enjoy a refreshing beverage as part of their evening, with a world of choice available to you here, but you can work something extra along those lines into your party with a trip to the Heineken brewery, or for those who like the independents more to Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Fans of the cocktail will know the name Bols, makers of some of the finest ingredients to be shaken not stirred, and the House of Bols offers cocktail making tuition that some may find enlightening. There’s even a vodka museum.
It has to be recognised that other ways of losing one’s inhibitions exist, and in Amsterdam the coffee house culture where cannabis is available in various forms is a major tourist draw – it is reckoned that one in three tourists to this city come for, or at least partake of, a trip as it were to these institutions. On (or off) your own head be it. Recent talk (as of November 2012) of tourists being banned from these places has apparently petered out, the mayor seeing such a move as creating more problems than it solves.
There is another source of pleasure that is decidedly illicit in our own legal system, but for which Amsterdam is actually famed, the Red Light district (actually there are several) where ladies of the night display their wares in shop-windows. Again, on your own head be it. Or something. But not perhaps the groom’s if he has any sense.
Toned down versions of such activities are around in various forms here, with sexy maids or dominatrices to spice up your evening, or (can we already call it thus?) the good old lap dancing club. And talking of stag and hen standbys – paintballing, clay-pigeon shooting, and the shooting range are all easy to arrange.
But then the Dutch tend to make life easy – you are unlikely to need your Dutch phrase book for a start. And if you go with an organising company they will make sure you don’t. Have fun, play nice, be safe.

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