Fittingly, a few of us chose to spend the early afternoon of day 4 doing research on the four ingredients that constitute the Netherlands’ most famous lager, Heineken. Then we went on a tour of Ijurg, a neighbourhood in IJ lake being built on an artificial island.
Two classmates and I decided that today was the day to rent bikes and immerse ourselves into the bike culture of the bustling city. We rode from Amsterdam-Centraal to Amsterdam-Zuid (South), where Heineken’s first and original brewery was located. Now dubbed The Heineken Experience, we learned about the sole ingredients that are used for the signature brew:
- Water: Reverse osmosis installations in Heineken breweries across the world ensure that the beer tastes the same no matter where you are
- Barley: malted to to expose the starch, as well as colour and flavour the beer
- Hops: another flavour-maker which balances out the sweetness of the barley
- Heineken A-Yeast: the secret yeast strain that is exclusive to only Heineken.
In the afternoon, we took the bus to meet our tour guide Johan in Ijburg, a neighbourhood located in Amsterdam-Oost (East) and built on an artificial island.
The difference between centuries-old narrow canals and a modern neighbourhood built on the lake allowed space for the Dutch to embrace their love of boat architecture and salvaging green space. Former garbage dumps are being converted into parks for the area.
Owners are allowed to design their own homes as long as they stay with certain restrictions, giving a more contemporary and dynamic look to Amsterdam. They were still narrow and tall but also colourful and full of life. Young families generally move to this neighbourhood and I could see myself living in this type of area. It is relaxed and spacious, offering an alternative dynamic than Centrum.
Although the proportion of Dutch using public transit as their main mode of transportation isn’t close to that of the TTC in Toronto, I would have to say that the buses, trains and trams were frequent, comfortable and reliable. There was no need for 170 bus routes – as we have in Toronto – but I did enjoy the clean maps they had plastered in buses and at every shelter to show riders where they were headed.