Amsterdam Journals

Amsterdam Getaway

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A November 1999 trip to Amsterdam by jim

Supper Club Photo, Amsterdam, Netherlands More Photos
Quote: My girlfriend and I spent a week trying to see as much of Amsterdam and the surrounding area as possible. Our trip also included a visit to Belfeld (a small Dutch town) and Brugges, Belgium.

Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand

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Hotel | "The Grand (Westin Hotel)"

Quote:
After a long flight, we wanted a great location (near historic sights and the Red Light District), comfort, and the feeling we were in Amsterdam - which is what we got. The hotel is designed like a small villa. You arrive in a beautiful courtyard (old buildings, cobblestone, and private garden). By European standards the room was fairly large, but it always takes me a day to adjust to everything being a bit compacted in Europe. The bed was the most comfortable bed I have slept on in a long time and the kitchen made a special effort preparing things that were not on the late night menu (the apple pie was awesome). Don’t expect much from the spa. The fitness equipment was very outdated and sparse,...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 12, 2000

Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197
Amsterdam, Netherlands
(31) 20/555311

Canal House

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Hotel

Quote:
I read about the Canal House in several guide books so I wanted to check it out. It blended with the rest of the homes on the canal in a very peaceful and romantic setting. The inside was very comfortable with a lounge and library to relax plus interesting and antique décor. The rooms were simple but fine. Ask for a room with a view of the canal (these rooms are slightly larger and otherwise you're looking at walls outside your window). There is no tv (no big deal considering the channel choices). Breakfast is included in the price of the room. It was a buffet of muffins, breads, meat, cheeses, cereal and hardboiled eggs (a key component of Dutch breakfasts). It was easy walking distance to ev...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 12, 2000

Canal House
Keizersgracht 148
Amsterdam, Netherlands
31 (0) 20-622 5192

Bilderberg Hotel Jan Luyken

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Hotel | "Jan Luyken"

Quote:
Although I don’t recommend changing hotels every night, I wanted to see all of the different sections of town. I had read about the Jan Luyken house in a travel guide and thought it would be a good choice. The location was sensational. It was a couple of blocks from the best museums (i.e. the Van Gogh museum), the Holland casino, canal boat rides, Vondel Park (a great place to run and relax), and the Leidensplein (a concentrated area of nightclubs, pubs, shopping). The room included a Dutch breakfast (cold cuts, cheese, eggs, cereal, etc.). The hotel also had many conveniences such as free Internet access (that worked intermittently) from a computer in the lobby, business services, and bike rental. Ho...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Bilderberg Hotel Jan Luyken
JAN LUYKENSTRAAT 58
Amsterdam, Netherlands
31-20-5730730

Ambassade Hotel

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Hotel | "Hotel Ambassade"

Quote:
The Ambassade Hotel was comprised of a series of canal houses that had been purchased over time. So every room is unique in its own way. The location was great (the center of town) and the staff was extremely helpful in every possible way. The room was nothing special but the fact that we had our own door to the street made it feel like we were coming home to our own place. Also, my fiance and I had to sleep on two twin beds that had been pushed together (good for a good nights sleep but not much else). The breakfast was the best we had in Amsterdam (but it was not included in the price of the room even though some of the old literature on the hotel indicated that it was). Overall, I would recommend t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Ambassade Hotel
HERENGRACHT 341
Amsterdam, Netherlands
31-20-555-0222

Canal House

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Hotel | "Friend's House"

Quote:
We had the good fortune of staying with some friends we had met via correspondence on the Internet (my girlfriend was trying to track her family lineage). They were very gracious hosts and it was very interesting staying in a small town Dutch neighborhood. The interesting thing about Dutch homes is that every square inch of the house is maximized. For instance, the staircase is virtually straight up and the attic doubled as the guest bedroom. As for the evenings activities, it involved a night of Chinese takeout, wine, good conversation and classic rock (including songs I hadn’t heard since high school).

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Canal House
Keizersgracht 148
Amsterdam, Netherlands
31 (0) 20-622 5192

Pancake Bakery

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Restaurant

Quote:
The Pancake Bakery was right around the corner from our hotel (the Canal House) and it was recommended by the front desk. I think all of the hotels recommend this place for American tourists, because that is what it was full of. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. The pancakes were really an interesting combination of pancake / pizza / crepes. We couldn't decide what to order so we ended up ordering three 'pancakes'. I ordered the ham and cheese, and the strawberry, while my girlfriend ordered one with ginger on it (you better really like ginger if you order this). Both of mine were very nice and everyone in the place was amazed (or maybe just appalled) that I actually ate two. They were d...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Pancake Bakery
Prinsengracht 191
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1015
0031 20 625 13 33

Supper Club

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Restaurant

Supper Club Photo, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Quote:
Despite the fact that the Supper Club is quite pricey, it was still a very interesting experience. You sit on what is essentially a long mattress next to other diners. The food is served directly on the mattress in front of you by very unique servers. We got a seven course meal and wine and enjoyed every bit of it. This is part dinner show (but funky), part sensual experience, part I don't know what. Eating while lying on a bed has a certain appeal to it (although some of the diners got a little too intimate- no nudity, but you could tell what was immediately after dinner). On the night we were there, the theme was like a techno club. The waiters/waitresses were dressed in leather and lights and music...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Supper Club
Jonge Roelensteeg 21
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1012 PL
+31 20 344 64 00

Visrestaurant Bar 't Seepaerd

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Restaurant

Quote:
If you are looking for a nice fish restaurant this is a pretty good choice. Both of the fish dishes we ordered were excellent and interesting in their own way. My fiance had the grilled sole and she loved it. It came as a whole fish that covered the entire large plate. I had the curry sole and it provided a very unique taste (a mix of fruits, curry, and fish). The fried potatoes were excellent. The service was very good especially if you keep in mind that the European dining experience is typically a much longer, relaxed endeavor. You will have to ask for your check. For sfter dinner, several bars and pubs were located in the same square as the restaurant.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Visrestaurant Bar 't Seepaerd

Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 (020) 6221759

Quote:
Our first experience with Indonesian food was excellent. I ordered the Indonesian Special which included a sampling of several different foods served on little plates. It was a great way to try alot of different things. My girlfriend got a vegetarian special that she also enjoyed. The service was excellent (including a good recommendation for wine and beer) and the ambience was exceptional (very relaxing). This was also a nice place to eat on the way to the Holland Casino.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Srikandi Indonesian Restaurant
Stadhouderskade 31
Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 6640408

Koh-I-Noor

Restaurant | "Kohinoor"

Quote:
If you are looking for good solid Indian food this restaurant will suffice. We both enjoyed our meal, but the food was fairly unremarkable. The decor was very ostentatious, but interesting in its own way particularly some of the images of India. The restaurant is on a main thoroughfare (convenient but not much for ambience).

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Koh-I-Noor
Westermarkt 29
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1016 DJ
+31 20 623 3133

Madurodam

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Attraction | "Madurodam (Holland in Miniature)"

Quote:
I didn't go to Madurodam on my latest trip, but it is a memory that has stayed with me for over 22 years since my parents took me when I was a kid. For nostalgic reasons, I had planned to go back, but we ran out of time. Kids will love this tour and hopefully remember it for as many years as I have. In a nutshell, Madurodam is a miniature city highlighting places and things from the Netherlands. The detail is incredible and everyone will enjoy the day. You can couple this tour with a trip to a cheese factory, a wooden shoe factory, the flower market and you will have a Dutch experience that every family will enjoy (at least I did 22 years ago and everyone still raves about these things).

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Madurodam
George Maduroplein 1
The Hague, Netherlands
31 (0)70 416 24 00

The Anne Frank House and Museum

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Attraction | "Anne Frank House"

Quote:
You basically get a self directed tour through the actual house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for much of World War II. You will be amazed by some of the stories, the history, and the lengths to which the family went to avoid capture. I was also struck by the size of the room where the families were forced to hide. This is a quick tour that is an interesting and moving experience. Quotations from Anne Frank's diary, historical documents, photographs, and interviews help tell the story. Plan on about 1-2 hours.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

The Anne Frank House and Museum
Prinsengracht 267
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1016 GV
+31 20 556 71 00

Van Gogh Museum

Attraction | "Vincent Van Gogh Museum"

Quote:
If you are an art lover, you will thoroughly enjoy this museum. You will see the great works of Van Gogh himself (including works from every part of his career) plus the works of other artists that influenced his work. I highly recommend you rent a headset so that you will have the benefit of a narrator for many of the works.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Van Gogh Museum
Paulus Potterstraat 7
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1071 CX
+31 (20) 570 52 00

Biking around the city

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Attraction

Biking around the city Photo, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Quote:
The bikes are very basic (no gears, bare-bones). More expensive / fancier bikes are available, but make you a target for thieves. The more beat up your bike the less chance of theft. The bikes are also very high compared to the bikes I have driven in the U.S. This makes the ride quite fun while you are getting used to riding - you feel like a kid learning to ride again. We basicall rode in a big circle around the city. The city is flat and the ride is very easy. When we came across something we wanted to see, we locked the bikes and walked around. For example, we stopped to see the Waterlooplein flea market. I highly recommend this as a way to see and get around the city. Just don't forget...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Biking around the city
City of Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Canal Cruises

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Attraction | "Canal Cruise"

Quote:
A canal cruise is a must for anyone visiting Amsterdam for the first time. You will see and hear about a variety of buildings, history and other interesting things as you slowly wind your way through the canals. You will get some wonderful photos (as you join the other photographers on the bow of the boat). Several options for cruises exist (we took a fairly long one that also went into the harbor) and you will see cruise operators throughout the city. I recommend going right before sunset. This way you will see most of the city in the broad daylight, but also as the lights come on and they provide a beautiful backdrop for your cruise.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Amsterdam Canal Cruises

Amsterdam

Vondelpark

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Attraction | "Vondel Park run"

Vondelpark Photo, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Quote:
I always enjoy going for a run on vacation and this was a reallly nice one. The park is beautiful especially with the autumn leaves. You will see lakes, beautiful homes on the edge of the Park, a field of animals (cows, goats, llamas), a rose garden and much more. The course is very flat and the surface is hard pack.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Vondelpark
City Center
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1054 ET

Bars in Amsterdam

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Attraction | "Various Pubs and Bars on the square"

Quote:
Rather than focus on one particular bar/pub, I recommend you go to one of the squares like the Leidseplein. During the day you will find great shopping, cafes and lots of people milling about. At night, the area transitions to a hot spot for partygoers. We just walked from bar to bar and had a few drinks. You can also find dance clubs, 'coffeeshops' and anything else you are looking for including the Holland Casino.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Bars in Amsterdam
Central Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Holland Casino Schiphol Airport

Attraction | "Holland Casino"

Quote:
If you are used to gambling in the states, this experience will seem a little bizarre. Several people are betting on the same hands and the rules differ slightly from Vegas. Also, the players are terrible. I have never seen blackjack players make so many mistakes; however, if you feel you must get your gambling fix you will have fun. The atmosphere is nice and the interior of the building is interesting (kinda like a spaceship).

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2000

Holland Casino Schiphol Airport
Terminal West, Schiphol Airport Evert van de Beekstraat 202
Schiphol 1118 CP
+31 20 653 50 66

Flower Market

Story/Tip

Quote:
Everyone recommended the flower market, and since it was close to the hotel, we checked it out. The flowers were beautiful, even in November, but I was a little disappointed with the market. It was a street of flower shops (many of which specialized in bulbs, not flowers) and flower displays mixed with cheesy souvenir shops (everything from cheap wooden shoes to windmill salt-and-pepper shakers). If it's on your way to something, check it out; otherwise, don’t waste your time.
Quote:
I had always heard about the Red Light District and was very curious, so we walked to this area of town after dinner (plus it was only a couple of blocks from our hotel- see the Grand Westin). The Red Light District was a surreal experience. Almost everything is legal- drugs (marijuana, hash), porn shops (with every possible type magazine, video, sex toy), live sex shows (strip joints to actual sex), and prostitution. The area seemed perfectly safe and many couples walked through the area. The police presence was appropriately visible and until really late at night the crowd did not get overly seedy (particularly if you stayed on the main thoroughfares). Some of the side alleys were a little scar...Read More

Trying a 'coffee' bar in Amsterdam

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Story/Tip

Glowing Photo, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Quote:
'Coffeeshop' is really a nice way of saying marijuana / hash bar. You can order a coffee, order a joint (or roll your own), listen to music, play backgammon or whatever else floats your boat. First of all, the juice and hot chocolate is actually really good. Second, it is quite easy to master this process. Choose your grass or hash from a menu - in a bag or in prerolled joints. For hash, it comes in little squares you typically smoke in a pipe. You can 'borrow' a pipe, but I recommend you make a purchase and not share a pipe with strangers you'll never see. T he prices are listed by the gram and the drugs are sold in bags (usually $5 USD or $12 USD bags depending on the exchange rate). Also...Read More