A travel journal
to Amsterdam by Marianne
Quote: Amsterdam a true gem!
Amsterdam is Europe's smallest capital. It has less that one million residents, even after you count all illegal residents. The better known European capitals have populations reaching 10 million. This means you can relax in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is often confused with the entire country of Holland. If you have time you should visit other parts of Holland as well. When you hear about the coffeeshops and Red Light District don’t assume the entire city is ‘out of bounds’.
Most Dutch speak English, and will always answer you in English that it is impossible for you to practice your Dutch on them.
Start your day on the Dam Square, visit the Bijenkorf department store. Do some shopping in the Kalverstraat Go to the VVV-office near the Centraal Station, to get a free map. This is also the place to buy tram tickets and museum tickets, saves you queuing upDo a bit of people-watching at the Leidseplein. And some shopping in de Leidsestraat. Here you will find many souvenir shops where you can (bulk) buy cheese and wooden shoes.
Never leave your bike unlocked, not even for a minute. Bicycles are stolen everywhere and at all times.
Bicycles do not come cheap, US and upwards. You can insure yourself against theft, the policy is valid for three years.
Try for yourself all NS train stations have bicycles for rent. Price US per day.
There are sensors at the entrance so that my visit is registered. Fortunately they don’t know who I am and were I come from. They will never know because I have no customer card and don’t intend to get one.
The Bijenkorf is a department store and the best there is in Holland. It is nowhere near Harrods in London, but I suppose we will have to make do.
The Bijenkorf is definitely more expensive than the Hema, another favourite in the Dutch High Street. It is a good thing to know that The Bijenkorf and Hema are owned by the same company.
The present Bijenkorf is a listed building and dates from 1915.
You may have noticed that the Bijenkorf uses a little beehive as its logo, bijenkorf is the Dutch word for beehive.
What I do like is the restaurant: La Ruche, on the third floor, not because of the exquisite food, but for the view. From here you can see the Dam Square, the National Monument and the Royal palace
It’s a good place to have a coffee and some rolls. There is a choice from about 10 types of coffee. They have also a good selection of Dutch cheeses.
If you have time to spare, you can browse some time at the book department. They have a wide selection of English books.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 25, 2002
La Ruche, Bijenkorf
(020) 621 80 80
If the weather is reasonable I love to sit outside in one of the cafes and do a bit of people-watching. I make it a point never to eat in any hotel-restaurant, too expensive and usually the food is not very exciting. But De Roode Leeuw is an exception.
De Roode Leeuw belongs to ‘Neerlands Dis Associatie’. This stands for ‘Dutch Dishes Association’ and guarantees that the food they serve is of high quality (all right, what else would you expect?) but more importantly they serve traditional Dutch dishes, using Dutch meat, dairy and vegetables.
I can recommend their lunches, which are called ‘koffietafel’. If you know a bit of Dutch you may recognise this word. It means: coffee table. No we don’t eat tables. ‘Koffietafel’ simply means lunch. These days we also use the word ‘lunch’, but we borrowed this from English.
’Koffietafel’ always implies a traditional Dutch lunch.
Koffietafel ‘Rokin’ € 13.39: soup of the day, several kinds of bread, cold meat, cheese, chicken pie, Dutch style and fruit. A choice of coffee, tea or milk.
Koffietafel ‘Damrak’ € 18.38:Cold chicken salad, several kinds of bread, cold meat, cheese and ‘vleeskroket’, this is a Dutch delicacy which you must try. It is a kind of deep fried meat dumpling.
I ordered Koffietafel Damrak because I like ‘kroket’.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 25, 2002
Restaurant de Roode Leeuw
Restaurant | "De Waag"
But Amsterdam expanded. At the beginning of the 17th century the Sint Anthonius gate stood within the city walls and was no longer a defence tower.
It was then transformed into a weighing house. Merchants liked it because it was conveniently situated near to the river. Soon they a weekly market in front of the Waag.
In 18th century the Nieuwmarkt, the new market, developed into one of Amsterdam's most important trade centres.
If you are interested in history you must visit De Waag. It served as the city archives. Napoleon used it for public executions.
But on a sunny day, the Waag is the a good place to do some people-watching..
All dishes are prepared by using organically grown ingredients. They work together with a group of farmers who allow their livestock to roam freely about. No pesticides are used to control weeds. All vegetables are grown organically. On the menu: "tender veal from calves who have spent their entire lives with their mothers". For me this is no recommendations, it makes eating meat worse as I can see mother cow and child calf happy together.....
So I order a vegetarian dish.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 31, 2002
Restaurant Café in de Waag
The snackbar attendant is bursting with impatience. He propels words at me:'Patatje oorlog?''Patatje ziekenhuis?''Patatje orientaal?'
’Chips, please’, I say, defeated.He smiles at me, relieved and hands me a bag of crisps.Patatje oorlog (war): chips with peanut sauce (as eaten with Indonesian satay) and mayonnaise.Patatje ziekenhuis (hospital): chips with garlic sauce and chili saucePatatje orientaal: chips with bean sprouts and peanut sauce.
Chips is Dutch for English crisps, this is very confusing
Broodje van Kootje Is a good place to try out your Dutch and see if you get what you have asked for.
If you don’t fancy ‘patat’ you could try ‘uitsmijter’, although this is a bit more difficult to pronounce.
Uitsmijter is: two slices of bread, topped with ham and two, or three fried eggs.
Smakelijk eten or in English: Enjoy your meal!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 28, 2002
Broodje van Kootje
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1017 PT
+31 20 623 20 36
Another good point is their opening hours:Monday – Friday 07.00-21.00Saturday 08.30-20.00Sunday 09.00-20.00
When you have lived in Holland long enough you will have noticed that it is almost impossible to buy breakfast. The reason is that the Dutch have their breakfast at home, they usually take home-made sandwiches for lunch to work, and tourists have their breakfast in their hotel. Ordinary restaurants open around 10 o’clock, which is fairly late for breakfast.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 20, 2002
Centraal Station West Tunnel
(020) 636 98 36
I didn’t know there were so many shapes, sizes and varieties. Some were long and thin or short and thick, others limp or erect, dangling or hardly worth mentioning.
I didn’t come prepared and felt slightly overdressed, to say the least. But they didn’t even look at me.
I had intended to go for a walk along the beach. Zandvoort beach is excellent for walking. As far as the eye can reach golden sand and a bluish sea.
So, I set out, leaving the crowd behind, children with buckets and spades, mothers lounging in the sun, fathers reading newspapers.
Soon I had the beach all to myself. In the distance I could see another crowd. Again fathers and mothers and children, I thought. And, yes, it was another crowd.
The closer I got the more I saw. This is where I noticed the many shapes and varieties. They took me for granted although I was the odd one out, fully dressed among the nudists on the beach.
Zandvoort is about half an hour by train from Amsterdam. The nudist beach is south of the town. The best way to get there from the station is to turn left and go to the far south of the town. A cycle path leads further south, behind the sea defences. The path over the sea wall to the nudist beach is behind the a cycle parking place and signposted. You walk up a steep hill and then down on to the beach.
All along the Dutch coast you'll find wooden posts marking off every 250 metres. The official nudist beach falls between kilometres 68 and 71 just south of Zandvoort town. There are seven nudist beach cafes: Adam & Eva, Maribaya, Paal 69, Brasil Beach, Thermos, Eldorado and Amerika. Paal 69 and Thermos are exclusively gay. No need to dress when it's time for food or drink. The Dutch attitude to nudism is perfect. Even the most respectable pensioner goes topless or naked...
There are a number of beach cafes all along the beach where you can hire sun loungers and windbreaks. These are very useful as the wind can be quite strong and chilly, even in mid-summer. On windy days the sea can be quite rough and under currents can be treacherous.
If you don’t fancy the nudist beach, closer to the town you’ll find family beaches.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 4, 2002
Zandvoort aan Zee
I turn round and look at the station building. It was completed in 1889 and the architecture is fascinating. Look up and you’ll discover the most lovely architectional details.
You may not realise this but the station is built on an island. It has two towers with beautifully decorated clocks. It is a gateway to the city of Amsterdam but also to Europe as here you can board international trains. It’s only 4 hours to Paris by Thalys.
Metro, bus and tram all have a stop at the station.
In the main concourse the NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen), Dutch Rail counters sell tickets to anywhere in Holland and international destinations in Europe. There are also machines but you need a bank pass to operate them. They do not accept coins, banknotes or credit cards.
The Centraal Station is a shopping centre where you will find newstands with foreign newspapers, bicycle rental, cafes, an Etos, a Ben and Jerry's, and many other shop.
Big yellow boards show all trains leaving Amsterdam and indicate from which platform they leave. The Dutch word for platform is ‘spoor’.
For the more adventurous: the back of the station is the place where the street hookers and bike thiefs hang out. Past them is the free ferry to Noord (North) Amsterdam.
The street leading from Central Station is the Damrak here are numerous restaurants, souvenirshops, money changers, ATM machines, easyEverything, an internet cafe, queues for the canal boats.
The next thing I do is going to the VVV, the Tourist Information Centre. When you get out of the station it’s on the left. They provided me with lots of useful information on trams and canal boats.
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1012 AB
Attraction | "Canal Bus"
Old houses, warehouses, cars, bicycles, Amsterdammertjes, bridges. The roof is open, the sun streams in.
'These chairs!', involuntarily I'm listening to a young boy, cheeks red with excitement, 'Did you sit on them? It's just like .... and they vibrate!'
I smile. It's obvious that he enjoyed the Sex Museum. I wonder if he's on his way to one of the coffeeshops.
'I have never realised that drugs grow on tree', says a middle aged man behind me.'You first have to dry them, though', his wife replies, 'I think they make lovely pot plants', she continues. Hash Museum, I conclude.
'And now we are approaching the 'Skinny Bridge', you should come here when it's dark to see how it's illuminated.' The voice continues in French, then German and Dutch.
'Why does the man tell more in Dutch than in English?' a young girl asks her father. Apparently the father is a linguist, 'No, it's not like that. German and Dutch sound the same, so it seems that he tells more in Dutch, but actually he tells first in German and then in Dutch'.
The Canal Bus is a perfct way to move around Amsterdam. It’s a combination of public transport and a canal boat trip. The difference is that with the canal bus you need not do the whole route. There are stops at main tourist attractions where you can get off. See the tourist thing and hop on again. Besides on board you will get useful information about the sights you see en route.
There are three lines: red , green and blue.
red line: 85 mins.Rijksmuseum, Leidseplein, Westerkerk/Keizersgracht, Central Station, Rembrandt Huis, Rijksmuseum.
green line 85 mins. Rijksmuseum, Leidseplein, City Hall, Central Station, Anne Frank Huis/Prinsegracht, Rijksmuseum.
blue line 60 minsCentral Station, Maritime Museum, Artis/Zoo, Tropenmuseum, Central Station.
You can buy a day ticket at:Central StationRijksmuseumon boardin your hotelat the VVV (tourist information centre)in the canal bus itself
Your ticket is valid until noon the next day.
€ 14 for all three lines€ 9 for blue line only.
Amsterdam Canal Cruises
Attraction | "Circle Tram: Line 20"
Your ticket is valid throughout Holland on all city trams and buses. Your fare depends on how many zones will travel. The centre of Amsterdam is all in the same zone.
There are two ways of collecting fares:In some trams there is an extra conductor in the back. If you haven’t got a ticket or haven’t validated it you must get in at the rear. Some trams do not have the rear conductor. This means you will have to get in at the front. The driver will sell you a ticket and validate it for you.
It’s far better to buy your ‘strippenkaart’ in advance because on the tram or bus you will pay double the price.
You can buy your 'strippenkaart’ at the VVV or at the train station. There are two types one with 15 strips and another one with 45 strips. When you get on the tram, assuming you are only going within one zone, you validate 2 ticket-spaces on your card. You can do this in the yellow boxes inside the trams and buses.
When you have validated your ticket it can be used during one hour, which means that you can change trams/ buses, or that you can get to you destination and back as long as it does not take longer than one hour.
If you are over 60 or under 11 you pay half price, your ‘strippenkaart’ is pink.
If you want to travel on the tram all day it may be a good idea to buy a ticket for the circle tram. It’s number 20. It runs every day from 9.00 until 19.00 hours. From Centraal Station the first trip departs at 9.00 and the last one at 18.00 hours. This applies to both the A and B direction. The A route is clockwise the B route is anti clockwise.
This is its route:Centraal Station - Dam - Spui - Muntplein - Rembrandtplein - Waterlooplein - Mr. Visserplein - Plantage Parklaan - Plantage Kerklaan - Nieuwe Keizersgracht - Roetersstraat - Weesperplein - Oosteinde - Frederiksplein - Stadhouderskade- van Woustraat - 2e van der Helststraat - Ferdinand Bolstraat - Ruysdaelkade - Roelof Hartplein - Museumplein - van Baerlestraat - Hobbemastraat - Leidseplein - Raamplein - Elandsgracht - Marnixstraat - Westermarkt - Dam - Nieuwezijds Kolk - Martelaarsgracht - Centraal Station
Tickets can be obtained from the conductor in the rear. All normal tickets are valid on the Circle-tram. However, a special Circle-tram ticket is available. A Circle-tram ticket is valid on every tram, bus and metro in Amsterdam and can be obtained for a period of 1 up to 4 days.
Prins Hendrikkade 33
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1012 TM
+31 20 521 33 24