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lukasdj Amsterdam - A travel report by luca
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Amsterdam,  Netherlands - flag Netherlands -  Noord-Holland
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lukasdj's travel reports

Fascinating Amsterdam

  30 votes
In the second week of May 2005 we have visited Amsterdam (my wife and me). Beside the attractions of the city, we wanted to see the countryside with the fields of tulips, the villages of the fishermen, the cheese factories and the windmills.

Bridge - Staalstraat, Groenburgwal
Bridge - Staalstraat, Groenburgwal
Our travel has been divided in two parts: the city of Amsterdam and trips outside the city. Amsterdam is one of the most cosmopolitan, tolerant, and liberal cities in the world and Dutch people are very friendly. The countryside is beautiful with the fields of tulips (Keukenhof), the cheese factories (Edam) the villages of the fishermen (Volendam, Marken), and the windmills (Zaanse Schans). About the second part of our travel, I have written another report. This one concerns only Amsterdam. In the city you can find whatever you can imagine: from museums (RembrandtHuis, VanGogh, and Rijksmuseum) to coffeeshops; from old churches (Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk) to sexy shops (in the Red Light District); from ancient houses (Van Loon and Willet-Holthuysen museums) to houseboats. Bicycles are a symbol of Amsterdam but we haven’t seen a lot, maybe because of the drizzly weather, however the best way to travel is by tram: they are frequent and fast. We were enchanted by the sights and atmosphere of Amsterdam and Noord-Holland. Sure our preferred city and country in Europe.

Favourite spots:
View from canal-boat
View from canal-boat
You have to take at least one canal boat ride, but if you’ll take more you’ll not waste your time. You’ll have an overall view of the city from a different point of view: around several gracths, under many bridges, and you’ll see into some houseboats window. The boat slowness takes you back into the past and you can image noblewomen walking down the streets and busy rich traders unloading their imported goods from barges. The town-planning during the Golden Age around the Herengracht , Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht had very strictly stylistic rules. The result is a fascinating sequence of buildings that seem all equal but each of which has its own particular detail that makes it unique. You can’t leave Amsterdam without visiting The Anne Frank House. There she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis during the WWII. It’s really strange and touching seeing such a place, things, and symbols that you have always seen only on TV, in movies or in books.

What's really great:
View from canal-boat
View from canal-boat
Amsterdam cultural heart is located in its south part. Around Museumplein you can see the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum (modern art), and the Van Gogh Museum; if you need a break during your visits, you can walk to the nearby Vondelpark.
The Rijksmuseum has the major collection of Dutch art. The show-piece is “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt but there are many others and my favourites are Vermeer’s “The Kitchenmaid”, and Avercamp’s “Winter Landscape with Iceskaters”. Beside these paintings, I like the other collections of sculptures and artefacts that describe Dutch history following the most important naval battles and VOC’s oriental trades of spices and porcelains.
The Van Gogh Museum comprises about 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 800 letters collected by Theo, brother and art-dealer of Vincent. Here are all the well-known pieces like “Sunflowers” and “Bed room in Arles”. I was struck by “Garden of St Paul’s Hospital” and “The Reaper and Wheatfield with Crows”.

If you want to learn something about Dutch life during the Golden Age, you have to visit Van Loon and Willet-Holthuysen museums. The furnishings of the houses, in the bed rooms or dining rooms, show the prosperity and the luxury of the well-to-do families. Nowadays if you own just one of these antiques, your home seems more noble. On the contrary in theirs kitchens the most innovative piece was a wash-basin with a water pump, I don’t think it would be valued by my wife as porcelain tea-set! Another important house to visit is the Rembrandthuis, where he lived, taught for 20 years, and realized most of its major paintings.
After these indoor visits, take a breath outdoor in the Begijnhof: a small group of buildings hiding a peacefully court. There you can see the oldest wooden house; it survived all the Amsterdam’s fires. Then in the Hortus Botanicus: is a botanical garden with lots of plant species, and also a beautiful tropical hot-house. You can stop off for coffee in the orangery.

View from our window
View from our window
We wanted a central starting point for our strolls and, if possible, a room with a view over a channel. We founded a special offer by a hotel in the southern part of the Nieuwe Zijde at the end of spuistraat. Our room was small but clean and its window faced the Singel channel.
It’s a quiet zone (Spui), near the Amsterdam Historisch Museum and Begijnhof but also near Kalverstraat, the most important shopping street (for the happiness of my wife).

The Melkweg
The Melkweg
The area around Leidseplein is the most popular with young people. There are lots of clubs, pubs, cinema but also many open-air public entertainments performed by street actors throughout the day. One of the most famous entertainment clubs for music is The Melkweg but it has also a tearoom, a bar and restaurant, and one cinema. If you are curious about its name, I can write that once it was a cheese factory!

Bulldog coffeeshop
Bulldog coffeeshop
Typical pubs in Amsterdam are called “bruine kroegs”, where you can find a warm welcome and a relaxed atmosphere.
But Amsterdam is also well-known for coffeshops, like The Bulldog chain of coffeshops where you can buy and smoke legally hash and marijuana, but remember that you can’t smoke out of them or buy from people on the street.

Dutch cuisine hasn’t the same gastronomic reputation of French or Italian cuisine, but it has its own local dishes like soups, pickled herrings, pannenkoeken, the apple pie, and cheese of course. Gouda and Edam are the most famous.
What can you drink? Beer (Heineken, Amstel or Grolsche are only some examples) and if you want something stronger you can take a glass of jenevens, a particular Dutch gin.
You can find restaurants from all over the world but you have to try Indonesian cuisine, because Indonesia was a Dutch colony and its cuisine was one of the first imported and now is one of the best in town.
At lunch-time you’ll not find many restaurants opened because Dutch people don’t think about it as the main meal, but you can try some “eetcafes” where you can have something more than a snack.

Other recommendations:
Near RembrandtHuis
Near RembrandtHuis
Even if the most important museums are all together and closer around Museumplein, don’t visit them in the same day, one after another, because you’ll get an art overdose and you’ll not completely appreciate them. It’s better to spend half a day or something more for one museum, and visit some open-air attraction the rest of the day.
As always if you want to visit something without any crowd around, you have to wake up early in the morning or use the first hours in the afternoon. It’s especially true for The Anne Frank House because the museum is small, with lots of things to listen and see, following only one forced way.
We have bought the I amsterdam card for 72 hours. It provides unlimited rides on trams and other local public transports; free admission to many museums; and discount at many other attractions. If you spend three intense days, it’s cheaper than separate tickets.
Finally, the weather change very quickly, so take with you clothes for sunny, windy and raining days!

Published on Monday June 20th, 2005

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Mon, Mar 05 2007 - 07:27 PM rating by mink_risa

Informative report. I'm thinking to get the I amsterdam card for myself when I visit Amsterdam in May.

Mon, Mar 27 2006 - 03:10 PM rating by terje

Enjoyable report! I surely will use this next time I go to Amsterdam

Tue, Jul 12 2005 - 09:18 PM rating by ardelia

I was there & your report kind of sum up the whole great times I had when I was there.Thanks & keep it up!


Tue, Jun 21 2005 - 10:52 PM rating by bootlegga

Excellent report, very thorough with some nice pics.

Tue, Jun 21 2005 - 04:36 PM rating by mistybleu

This is a lovely report Luca, keep them coming

See ya


Mon, Jun 20 2005 - 03:25 PM rating by milana

Amazing report!!I was in Amsterdam only 1 day and I was fascinated with this city.But you mentioned the places that I didn't have a chance to see.Now I want to visit The Anne Frank House. I think it's very interesting. Thanks a lot for such a wonderful report and for all the recommendations!

Mon, Jun 20 2005 - 10:15 AM rating by bear495

This is a very nice report.


Mon, Jun 20 2005 - 08:17 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii luca
its a wonderful report indeed

Mon, Jun 20 2005 - 06:37 AM rating by rangutan

Another excellent report with fantastic pictures

Mon, Jun 20 2005 - 06:03 AM rating by gloriajames

Hi Luca,
Good report, very descriptive.... though i was hoping to see a picture on tulips! How about a slideshow on your trip??

Mon, Jun 20 2005 - 05:25 AM rating by davidx

This is a great report and brings back some good memories. I loved Vermeer's Dairymaid too. We were there shortly after the Van Goch Museum started Monday openings and the tour companies seemed not to have caught up - so we had a wonderful quiet view.

Mon, Jun 20 2005 - 05:15 AM rating by esfahani

Well done, Luca!

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