When MISSADVENTURES first attended the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, everything Olympics was new to us. From pin collecting to fan zones to countries setting up international houses in the host city. What is an international house? Some countries participating in the Olympics set up houses around the host city that showcase the culture of their country. Olympic houses in Vancouver ranged from the Italian House, Russia House, Irish House and so on. The best thing about Olympic houses is that some of them turned into amazing bars/clubs during the night. We checked out the Irish House in downtown Vancouver there was a $20 cover charge but the space was huge and all in all pretty fun!
The one Olympic house we could not stop hearing about whether from friendly strangers or us eavesdropping was the Dutch House also known as the Heineken house. The house sounded epic and turned out to be the place to be at Vancouver 2010. It was so popular it was almost impossible to get in. Though if you had a Dutch passport it made entry much easier. One night Ellie, Steph, and I tried to get in, but the door had already been closed 🙁
We made a vow to each other that at the next Olympics in London more than anything we had to go to the Dutch House…
Fast-forward two years to London 2012: this time only Steph and I went. Saturday after the opening ceremonies, we decide to live the dream and head over to the Dutch House. First thing I noticed: neither locals nor visitors knew about the Olympic Houses. The Houses were in the London 2012 tourist map, but they were so far apart you wouldn’t really bother unless you knew what was specifically there. The Dutch House (a.k.a. the Heineken House) was by far the farthest Olympic house, but we sucked it up and traveled up there because of what we had heard in Vancouver. A long tube ride, we were finally there!
The building was beautiful lit up by orange lights. We didn’t see a line so we headed up to the bouncer. He informed us that even though we traveled all that way we could not enter without previously purchased tickets online. He said that because of the large Dutch population that would be attending the games they needed tickets and since advertised it in Holland lots of Dutch people would be going to the House. I get that it is the Heineken Dutch House so obviously Dutch people would want to attend, but these Olympic Houses are supposed to be a place to showcase your countries culture and cuisine to visitors of the Games. It’s not supposed to be an exclusive place for mostly citizens of that country! There were no tickets for the Dutch House in Vancouver, it was first come first serve basis. Tickets were not advertised for those living or visiting London, and other Houses did not require ticketed entry so why someone would make the trek all the way to the house not knowing?!
Of course, Stephanie and I were furious. Instead of the bouncer being helpful, he was dismissive and cold when we were just tourists who waited three years to check out supposedly the best Olympic House. When he told us we needed tickets we decided to see if we could take tickets from those who were leaving the club. We found three lovely Dutch people who were calling it a night and gave us their wristbands. We high fived put them on and got past the first bouncer. As we were going through security, the first bouncer we had spoken to who was dismissive, refused us entry on the ground we didn’t sign up on the website. As we went to collect our bags from the security check Stephanie realized her bag was missing instead of being helpful in retrieving it the security guard was dismissive once again. I found my friend’s bag and he turned to me and said it wasn’t hers even though he hadn’t laid eyes on her bag. Stephanie spotted it and said it was hers and we were able to leave.
It was the worst experience of the Olympics! It was easier to get into the actual Netherlands than it was to get into the Dutch House. The Olympics are about bringing the world together, not promoting exclusivity.
There is no problem having a ticketed event to control crowds, but next time tell people that you need tickets ahead of time. Save the international visitors the trouble of wasting time trekking to the House to realize that they can’t get in.