Bierkonig beer shop, just a stone’s throw from Dam Square and the Royal Palace. Bierkonig without any trouble; in fact, I just followed my nose, so no street plan was needed at this stage. The shop was closer to the centre of town than I first thought and was certainly well worth visiting. I won't go into too much detail here, as I intend writing a separate article about the shop, but what I will say is that not only is it an Aladdin’s cave crammed full of all the bottled beers you've ever dreamt about, it is also run by highly knowledgeable staff willing to give their unbiased advice on any particular beer that you may have in mind. So, without giving too much away, a big thank you to owner Jelle Hultink for your help and recommendations, as well as reinforcing my preconceptions about a particular beer that I intended to buy.
After purchasing my beers, I thought that rather than going straight to a pub, it would be best to find a supermarket and buy a few of those aforementioned goodies. I was unsure of Sunday shopping hours in the Netherlands, and didn’t want to return to the boat, empty handed. I'd noticed a branch of Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn, in the road directly behind the royal palace, so I popped inside for a look around. I managed to obtain the items I was looking for and managed to squeeze them into my rucksack without damaging them. I also added a couple of extra beers from the ‘tJI Brewery, that I picked up in the supermarket.
As an aside, whilst at lunch, the previous day, before we departed from the boat, Mrs PBT’s took great delight in telling the couple sitting on the adjacent table, that I had brought a book along, describing how to get around the city, by visiting 80 different pubs. I described this as a piece of good planning, but the subject went right over the heads of the pair, one of whom seemed more interested as to where a replacement pair of designer sunglasses could be obtained. Talk about getting one’s priorities wrong, but the couple did provide proof, if it were needed, that the company on cruise ships can sometimes leave much to be desired.Getting back to the subject in hand, I had drawn up a shortlist of pubs to visit but was hamstrung by the fact that quite a few of them were closed on a Sunday or didn’t open until early evening. I was especially disappointed that the one pub, that I really wanted to visit, was one that was closed on the sabbath. The pub in question was In De Wildeman, and it is one of Amsterdam’s most famous beer bars. De Wildeman back in 2016 and was really impressed with what I found, as its combination of cosy intimate bars, tiled floors, wide selection of beers plus friendly and knowledgeable staff, made it the ideal pub. One has to respect the fact that everyone deserves at least one day off a week, and I suppose Sunday is as good a day as any but given Amsterdam’s popularity as an all-year-round tourist destination, I’m surprised the pub hasn’t sorted out some sort of rota. On the way back from Dam Square, I came upon De Drie Fleschjes – Three Little Bottles, a famous gin bar owned by Bol’s, but like De Wildeman, unfortunately closed. Proeflokaal de Ooievaar – the Stork. The pub looked lovely and cosy through the window but was rather crowded. Another candidate, Café Heffer, seemed to have been converted to a burger bar, since my edition of pub guide was published, in 2015. There was no shortage of fake Irish pubs, of course, all waiting to pull in the stag do crowds, plus the occasional cannabis shop. I took a photo of one, for the benefit of a work colleague, but despite coming of age in the early 70’s, that really isn’t my sort of thing.
The service had just ended, and the congregation was starting to file out, I too took my leave of Amsterdam and headed back to the Queen Victoria, to be reunited with Mrs PBT’s and share a nice buffet dinner.