An October 2001 trip
to Amsterdam by notso62
Quote: On my first business trip to the Netherlands, I met up with a friend who was already over there and explored the sights of Amsterdam.
The city's canals are laid out in concentric circles around the center; altenating between block after block of row-houses and cobblestone streets. Canal cruises are a lovely way to tour this city--under the arched bridges that add to the charm of the area.
The red light district is an area that can be intimidating for many of us that are bought up in more modest aptmospheres, but it simply is some place that you should see for yourself at least once. If you don't think you can handle the night scene or coffeeshops there, at least stop by the famed Sex Museum and the Marijuana, Hemp and Hash Museum. These give tourists a look at what they cannot see in other cities, without exposing them to the parts that are better left depicted in museum exhibits.
Amongst Amsterdam's many museums are three art museums that cannot be missed. The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest single collection by the artist under one roof. The Rijksmuseum houses more classical pieces; like those by Jan Van Dyeck and other famous artists. The Steldijk Museum houses modern impressionist pieces including the artists Monet and Cezanne. All three of these museums should be must-see stops on any tourist's itinerary.
The Anne Frank House is one of the most popular attractions, but one of the most understated ones as well. If you get a chance and the lines are at a reasonable legnth it is definitely worth a look. It is awe-inducing to see the cramped quarters where Anne lived with her family for the years of Nazi occupation in Holland.
Amsterdam is a great stop for a day or a week on any travel itinerary. There is so much to see, regardless of what your interests are.
Most festivals and carnivals in Amsterdam occur between the months of May and July. Queen's Day is perhaps the biggest celebration in Amsterdam and occurs the week of April 30th. During this time the city becomes a giant open-air market/party.
The Holland festival occurs during the month of June and celebrates the arts/entertainment industry in Amsterdam. It is a great time to go if your interests are in music or film.
Amsterdam is a difficult city to drive around, with the narrow streets alternating with canals in concentric circles. Most tourist attractions lie within walking distance of each other, so this might be the best option for those who don't mind hoofing it.
Bikes are available for rental and are almost everywhere in this city. It will set you back about for the deposit for the rental for the day. Make sure to lock your bike up if you ever get off! Things have a tendency to disappear that aren't tied down. Most abandoned bikes somehow wind up in the canals many times.
There is plenty of public transportation around Amsterdam. The best for visitors is the Tram--- you probably won't venture far out of the Center section which is section 5700. Other trains are available to and from other European destinations from the main train terminal. Buses and other shuttles are mostly used by local commuters so should be avoided by tourists.
Hotel | "Golden Tulip "
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 3, 2006
NH Barbizon Palace
PRINS HENDRIKKADE 59 72
31 20 5564564
Aside from being the largest collection by the artist, the Van Gogh Museum also captures the widest span of the artists career. The earlier pieces do not even look like the Van Gogh the world knows and loves, but rather like Renaissance art mixed with the beginning of impressionism. It is fascinating to view the range of the artists work all at once because it shows a real evolution into the style that made him so famous. His lifetime of work is fully captured here and can be appreciated for both it's expanse and creative genius.
Among the famous Van Gogh paintings housed here is the often-reproduced "Sunflowers" and several of his self-portraits. Seeing these up close is amazing- the level of detail captured in each brush stroke is absolutely incredible. The bright colors and beautiful brushwork will give artistic inspiration to even the most untalented of visitors.
The Van Gogh Museum is great for adults, but also has special features for younger visitors. Highly recommended is the recorded tour meant for children to give them their first introduction to this famous artist. They also have workshops that allow children to interact with Van Gogh's art in a hands-on fashion (think Van Gogh coloring books and tempera paints). These activities definitely keep the little ones entertained.
Aside from Van Gogh, other famous impressionist artists are also exhibited here. Some to note are Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin. They also have a large exhibition space with a ever-changing borrowed collection. The museum itself has excellent presentations of its pieces and interesting architecture that keep visitors constantly engaged with the environment.
On Friday evenings, the museum remains open until 10pm for late visitors. This is an excellent time to check out this attraction- there tends to be less people there at this time than on the weekends. The museum staff also puts on a nice presentation with live music and hors d'oeuvres on these evenings.
During special weeks (I was there in November when this happened) the museum is open late and is accessible when you buy a discounted pass to all the other area museums and attractions. This was a lucky bargain that our travel party stumbled upon, but you might want to look into a deal like this if you plan on visiting Amsterdam.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 4, 2006
Van Gogh Museum
Paulus Potterstraat 7
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1071 CX
+31 (20) 570 52 00
Unfortunately for those that are planning their trip to Amsterdam in the very-near-future, the Rijksmuseum is undergoing a major restoration project. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2008. During this time of construction, the main buildings of the Museum are closed to the public. Luckily however, many of the museum's finest works have been moved to a temporary viewing area in the newly renovated Philips Wing.
The Rijksmuseum's collections are publicly owned by the city of Amsterdam. The many year's of art history that this city has been a part of have lead to an extensive portfolio of great artists. Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Jan Steen, and Vermeer all have paintings featured in this location. The concentration of the permanent exhibition is from the 17th century, but the Rijks has works spanning from the 15th to 19th century as well. Large collections of Delftware and Silver are housed in the museum as well.
The most famous of all the works at the Rijksmuseum is the "Night Watch" by Rembrandt. It is a beautifully detailed battle scene that was at the time a commissioned group portrait. I personally am not a big Rembrandt fan, but this painting is very impressive in size and intricacy.
Perhaps my favorite painting in the Rijksmuseum is "The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum at Night" by Van Gogh. I love the beautiful contrast of the bright yellow cafe on the dark blue background and the use of post-impressionism techniques.
The Rijksmuseum has many famous works by Vermeer such as "The Love Letter," but it does not have "The Girl with a Pearl Earring," which is often asked about by tourists.
The Rijksmuseum is lovely as-is and will be absolutely splendid when they finish the construction project. I can't wait to visit again after 2008.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 25, 2006
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1071 ZD
+31 20 674 70 00
Attraction | "Heineken Experience"
Located convieniently near public transportation on Stadhouderskade, the Heineken Experience is a very popular tourist attraction for those visiting Amsterdam. Be sure to go either earlier in the day on a weekend or on a weekday to avoid excessive crowds. They don't stay open very late either, think more like museum hours instead of bar hours. The tour itself is self-guided, but visitors typically spend about an hour in the exhibit.
The drinking age in Amsterdam is a non-issue for most, but those that are 18-years of age or younger must be accompanied by an adult in order to embark on the Heineken Experience. For the most part, the crowd is in the 20- to 30-something range.
Outside the experience, the old "Heineken Brouwerie" sign still decorates the front of the building, confusing some people into thinking that the beer is still manufactured here. Inside the experience, it is obvious that this is not a factory environment anymore. The building has been converted into an ode-to-Heineken exhibit. Here you can learn about the founders, the process, and everybody who has helped Heineken become the massive conglomerate it is today.
The €10 admission includes a self-guided tour and tasting session. You can sample many of Heineken's famous brews in a plentiful quantity for this price (I believe you get three drink tickets with admission). It is advisable to visit the gift store before the tasting, otherwise you may be tempted to buy Heineken parephenalia that you don't really need in your partially inebriated state. The gift shop has many great souvenirs for friends back home though, so should not be skipped entirely.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 5, 2006
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1075 AE
+31 (0)20 523 92 22