“How do I get to Amstel 194?”
This is the number one question I get asked on the street. Tourists asking for directions is something that you have to come to terms with if you live in my neighborhood. Living in Rembrandtplein, it is typical to see more tourists walking around than locals. The tourists are quite easy to spot: staring up at the buildings, map clutched in hand, and a general lack of direction as to where they are going.
The reason for the huge numbers of tourists in my neighborhood is the great many attractions that are in the area. Some of the great sights in the area include The Hermitage (current home of the city’s Van Gogh collection), the Willet-Holthuysen Museum, the National Ballet, the Jewish Historical Museum, the Tuschinski Theater, the Bloemenmarkt, the Portuguese Synagogue, and the park at Rembrandtplein. All of these are within a short walk from my front door and this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the things worth checking out in the area.
That being said, the number one tourist attraction that I get asked for directions to is not on that list. Back to the original question, “How do I get to Amstel 194?”.
At this point you are naturally asking yourself, “What’s is this Amstel 194 you keep speaking of?”. Well my friend, Amstel 194 is the address for a great historical canal house that sits on the bank of the Amstel River. With a wonderful view and a prime location, this home has become, from what I can tell from the number of people trying to find it, the premier tourist attraction in Amsterdam. “What’s so special about this house?” you may be asking. Well… It’s no longer a home. It’s not some great museum. It’s not a sex shop or coffee shop. The lovely canal home at 194 Amstel has been transformed into the Xtracold Icebar Amsterdam!!!
Yes, that’s correct. A lame gimmicky ice bar is the number one thing people are looking for in my neighborhood. How depressing.
I’ve been asked ONCE for directions to the Hermitage. I’ve been asked ONCE for directions to the Tuschinski Theater. Once, I overheard someone asking for directions to the Bloemenmarkt. I have been asked for directions to the Xtracold Icebar no fewer than 10 times!
I don’t know if it’s just that hard to find or there are really that many people who want to spend €20 to spend 30 minutes in a -10 degree room knocking back the two tiny beverages. I truly don’t see the appeal. I will be the first to admit that the Dutch have a tendency to keep it a little too warm for my liking in their bars, but substituting one extreme for another is just silly.
Although I don’t see it in my future, if anyone ever decides to drag me into that place, I’ll be sure to update this post with more icy details. In the mean time, don’t hold your breath.