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There’s this oddly-shaped building right next to the Amsterdam Centraal train station. It looks like a big metal box with one end sinking into the ground. We noticed it on our very first train ride into the city. On our second ride into the city, we finally realized what it was: a climbing gym! We had done our research on climbing gyms before even leaving Portland, and we were so excited to realize that this was in fact one of the gyms we’d discovered in our search!

We vowed that once we lived in the city, we’d go and check it out. We did just that. One day, searching around the web for running routes in Amsterdam, I stumbled upon a MeetUp site devoted to Expat Netherlands Adventurers. That sounds about right. In my searching, I discovered an event on the very day we were moving to Amsterdam – climber’s night at Klimmuur Centraal.

It was an ambitious plan, but we signed up anyway. We nearly lost our motivation after getting comfortable in the awesome new apartment (post to come on that), but Evan rallied us and out the door we went.

Thirty minutes and a snowy walk later, we arrived at the sinking building. It’s right on the River IJ, and it has its very own footbridge to cross the river and reach the gym. We walked inside and instantly felt…at HOME. There’s something about climbing gyms that always feels familiar. Perhaps it’s the sounds of people comparing notes about a new route, or maybe it’s the smell of sweat and chalk, or it could be the unselfconscious grubbiness of climbers worldwide. Whatever it was, it was a very welcome feeling in a new city.

One thing that was not familiar was the restaurant and bar in the middle of all the action, serving up a mixture of Belgian and Dutch beers on tap and climber-friendly snacks. Oh, yes, you heard me right – beer in the gym. I know it seems a little strange to have a bar in a gym, but at a climbing gym it just makes sense! Climbing is so much more social than a regular gym. Serving food and beer definitely helps foster camaraderie among fellow climbers as they discuss the night’s routes, complain about sore muscles, and swap bragging rights over a piping hot bowl of pea soup and pint of La Chouffe.

Kilmmuur cenraal

Evan and I were in heaven. We were so excited to climb that we hardly even met the MeetUp crew that inspired us to come in the first place. We introduced ourselves to the host and got down to business. We climbed for 3 hours, until our forearms couldn’t take it any longer. We were surprised when we were the first ones to sit down at the tables in the center of the gym. Were we lazy since the rest of the group was still climbing? We didn’t really care. We went up to the bar and each ordered a pint of our favorite Belgian beer. Once you take a sip, you’re done climbing for the night – that’s the rule. Seems sensible, doesn’t it?

The rest of the crew quickly followed. They joined us around one of the three big wooden tables that sit in the center of the gym and we got to know our fellow Expat Netherlands Adventurers. We sat next to a few girls who had lived in the Netherlands for a few years and picked their brains for tips on the city, sights to see, places to go and adventures to pursue. We also talked about windmills and canals and beer and Dutch food. And then they brought it all home in one recommendation:

Brouwerij ‘t IJ – a Dutch brewery INSIDE a windmill that serves Dutch food overlooking a canal.

Guess what we did the next day?

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