Amsterdam - a city that never sleeps!

We spent five days in Amsterdam, arriving there New Year's day. We had a wonderful time. Compared to Canada's winters, the weather was not too bad! Lots to do and lots to see in and around Amsterdam. Would love to go back when the tulips are in full bloom!


Amsterdam - a city that never sleeps!

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Rittu on January 6, 2004

Amsterdam is a city that never sleeps! It has plenty to offer and is particularly popular because of its laid-back atmosphere and "anything goes" attitude!

The ground is so waterlogged the houses are often built on wooden "stilts" as a foundation. Central Station is built on 9000 stilts!! Schiphol Airport is 5 meters below sea level, Amsterdam is 1.5 meters below.

Did you know that Amsterdam has 165 canals, 1281 bridges, 70 canal cruise boats, 8 wooden drawbridges, 2500 houseboats and 120 water bikes?

Some of the best things to do in Amsterdam are a visit to the Anne Frank house and museum, a walk in the Red Light District, taking a canal boat tour, a visit to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, and exploring Amsterdam on foot because it is such a great walking city!

Also, please sample the Rijsttafel or "rice table" at one of the many Indonesian restaurants. This consists of a sampling of many traditional Indonesian dishes that are served with rice.

Also, a visit to the flower market and the flea market in AlbertCuyp are notable.
It is also famous for its "brown cafes," which we didn't get to go in, because of our young son. However, we did peek into a few that we passed from the windows, enough to know that they are indeed dark and dreary "brown" inside. ${QuickSuggestions} Although Dutch is the official language, almost everybody speaks English.

Amsterdam is structured as a semi-circle, with the Central Station as its centre! You have the Royal Palace and the Red Light District with its labyrinth of canals and old houses in the old centre (fairly safe to walk all hours of the day and night because of the multitude of tourists). This is surrounded by the three main canals in Amsterdam. These are nice to walk along and also to see the beautifully preserved canal houses, which are now offices and homes. ${BestWay} Exploring Amsterdam is easy and you also get a taste of the architecture and atmosphere. Be careful about the cyclists as they can catch you unawares! Renting a bike would be a good idea too if you are visiting in the summer or spring!


The NH Schiller Hotel

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Rittu on January 6, 2004

We had a well-appointed double room with two queen beds, a minibar and coffee-making facilities in the room. A bath with shower and hair dryer. The room was very well furnished and clean. Our window overlooked the Rembrandt Square. It was noisy with it being the New Year and lot of tourists in town, but we did not mind it! The hotel houses wonderful examples of Art Nouveau and modernist pieces. The hotel is ideally situated to allow you to see all the highlights of this exciting city. The unique blend of traditional and contemporary is reflected in the hotel's interior. Brasserie Schiller in the Schiller Hotel is a classical Art Deco-style restaurant. The Brasserie serves traditional Dutch/French cuisine. Breakfast was included in the room rate of 180 Euros a night. It was a full breakfast buffet with cereals, muesli, croissants, a variety of breads and rolls, and cold and hot items to choose from. We could walk to all the sights from this central location. Very convenient! We did not find the need to rent a car. Public transportation and walking was enough!
NH Schiller
REMBRANDTPLEIN 26 36
Amsterdam, Netherlands
31 20 5540700

Indrapura

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Rittu on January 7, 2004

This is an upscale restaurant right in Rembrandt Square. Reservations are usually required. Very nice ambience, and it is furnished as a club in colonial style.

We tried the Rijsttafel, or the "rice table," which is a sampling of the many flavors and textures of Indonesian cuisine. It can be shared by two or more people. Once your table has been set with low food warmers, all your dishes (could be between 17 and 35) arrive at one time.

Among the customary dishes and ingredients of a rijsttafel are loempia (classic Chinese-style egg rolls); satay, or sateh (small kebabs of pork, grilled and served with a spicy peanut sauce); perkedel (meatballs); gado-gado (vegetables in peanut sauce); daging smoor (beef in soy sauce); babi ketjap (pork in soy sauce); kroepoek (crunchy, puffy shrimp toast); serundeng (fried coconut); roedjak manis (fruit in sweet sauce); and pisang goreng (fried banana).

We loved the food and service was very good too.

Indrapura
Rembrandtplein 40-42
Amsterdam, Netherlands
(020) 623-7329

Gaucho's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Rittu on January 7, 2004

This is an Argentinian steakhouse with a dark wooden interior with pools of light over large wooden tables and cowhide bench seats. The kitchen is behind glass and has a fierce wood-burning grill.

The menu focuses on meat and majors in beef. There are starters - Argentinian sausages, empanadas, etc. - but people come for the steaks. Rump, sirloin and fillet in three sizes up to 300 grammes, or they´ll gladly cut you a larger slice. A 225-gramme (about 8-ounce) sirloin cost about 18 Euros. That covers just the meat. Optional sides include jacket potatoes, fries, grilled corn on the cob, and the salad bar. Also, freshly baked bread rolls with herb butter. On the table is a pot of Chimichurri, which is the traditional Argentine accompaniment of chopped parsley, coriander, garlic and oil. The wine list features Argentinian wine. They have an excellent house Argentinian Malbec/sangiovese blend which we tried.

CAU
Damstraat 5
Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1012 JL
+31 20 623 9632

Grand Holland Tour

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Rittu on January 6, 2004

This was a full-day tour departing by luxury coach from the Damrak near Central Station in Amsterdam. We drove through the Dutch countryside to the town of Aalsmeer, which was our first stop. The drive through the flat countryside with its villages, windmills and canals was interesting!

The sights included on the tour were:
Aalsmeer and its Flower Auction
Rotterdam
Delft and a visit to a Delft Blue Factory
The Hague
Scheveningen
Madurodam

For more details, read my FreeForm entry titled "Sights on the Grand Holland Tour"!

Grand Holland Tour
Damrak, Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Canal Tour

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Rittu on January 7, 2004

The boats offer an informative tour through the canals, a definite must. The four main canals in the canal belt are Prinsengracht (Princes’ Canal), Herengracht (Gentlemen’s Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal), and Singel. The route will take you in a complete circle around the historic center, shifting from one canal to another to show you a section of each of the four major canals and the broad harbor. You get a close-up view of the houseboats along some of the canals too.

Clear windows curve up to the roof. You can slide the glass back for an unobstructed view. Some boats have a small open deck in the rear.

There are some boat tours at night that serve dinner or wine by candlelight. Even if you have taken a boat ride in the day, it is worth doing it again at night, with bridges outlined by thousands of tiny white light bulbs.

We began the tour outside the Rijksmuseum. Another location where you can catch the boats is at the Rokin canal, a few hundred yards south of the Dam.

Amsterdam Canal Cruises

Amsterdam

Aalsmeer Flower Auction

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Rittu on January 7, 2004

It is the world's largest! Millions of flowers and plants are bought and sold here each business day. Although the majority of them come from local producers, many are flown in from other countries. Once they go through the auction, they are loaded onto airplanes for the trip to the U.S. and other countries to be sold that day from your local florist shop.

The auction house is huge, about the size of nine football fields under one roof. The carts of plant material are hooked together and pulled through the auction area, where it is displayed to the bidders one cart at a time. We could look down from the visitors' gallery, which is 6 metres above the working floor, and see the hustle and bustle going on below us! There are audio boxes that provide extra information. You can also look into the auction rooms where the biddings take place.

Some Interesting facts:
An average of 19 million flowers and 2 million plants change hands every day within a surface area of 1 million square meters. These are supplied by around 7000 growers worldwide, and bought by 1375 wholesalers and exporters. Within a couple of hours, they are exported to almost every country in the world. Aalsmeer Flower Auction’s market share is 44%.

Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer is a growers’ cooperative. Around 3300 growers are members of the cooperative society and thus joint owners of the auction building. As members, they are obliged to sell their entire product via the auction. The grower contributes a percentage of his sales profit for the use of the building and staff costs; this is known as the commission. This percentage is set in the general meeting. Buyers are not members, but are registered as buyers in the computerised administration system.

With its 999,000 square meters of floor space (soon to be more than 1 million), the auction building is the largest commercial building in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer turns over EUR 6 million every day.

Aalsmeer Flower Auction
Visitors' Centre
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Delft and the Pottery Factory

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Rittu on January 14, 2004

Delft and a visit to the Delft Pottery Factory - This was one of the stops on the Grand Holland Tour. Delft is a picturesque town with its canals, cobbled alleyways, and medieval buildings! We visited the Delft Pottery Factory "de Delftse Pauw", one of the few that still make the traditional handpainted Delft pottery that is so famous all over the world. We saw a demonstration of how the pottery is made; we also saw people handpainting various items of pottery. We bought 2 porcelain dutch clogs, one in Delft blue and the other one multicoloured for about 16 euros each! They come with certificates of authenticity.

After our visit to the factory, we drove to the city square wc here we had a couple of hours to wander around, eat lunch, and visit the local stores.

The New Church (De Nieuwe Kerk) situated on the Markt is the official resting place of the Dutch Royal family. The burial vaults are not accesible to tourists. The Delft Town Hall (Stadhuis) stands opposite the New Church. The city square is very quaint and picturesque with canals and cobbled alleys leading you to the surrounding local stores and stalls. You also see Dutch architecture at its best; narrow houses with their gables surrounding the city square.

Delft Pottery (De Delftse Pauw)
Delftweg 133, Exit Delft Noord
Delft, Netherlands
015 2124920

Sights on the Grand Holland Tour

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Rittu on January 6, 2004


The Aalsmeer Flower Auction: is the world's largest! Millions of flowers and plants are bought and sold here each business day. Although the majority of them come from local producers, many are flown in from other countries. Once they go through the auction, they are loaded onto airplanes for the trip to the U.S. and other countries to be sold that day from your local florist shop.
The auction house is huge, about the size of 9 football fields under one roof. The carts of plant material are hooked together and pulled through the auction area where it is displayed to the bidders one cart at a time. We could look down from the walkways into the warehouse where we could see the hustle and bustle going on below us! You can also look into the auction rooms where the biddings take place.
Delft and a visit to the Delft Pottery Factory. Our next stop was Delft, a picturesque town with its canals, cobbled alleyways and medieval buildings! We visited the Delft Pottery Factory "de Delftse Pauw," one of the few that still make the traditional handpainted Delft pottery that is so famous all over the world. We saw a demonstration of how the pottery is made, we also saw people handpainting various items of pottery. We bought 2 porcelain Dutch clogs, one in Delft blue and the other one multicoloured, for about 16 euros each! They come with certificates of authenticity. After our visit to the factory we drove to the city square, where we had a couple of hours to wander around, eat lunch and visit the local stores. The New Church (De Nieuwe Kerk) situated on the Markt is the official resting place of the Dutch royal family. The burial vaults are not accessible to tourists. The Delft Town Hall (Stadhuis) stands opposite the New Church. The city square is very quaint and picturesque with canals and cobbled alleys leading you to the surrounding local stores and stalls. You also see Dutch architecture at its best, narrow houses with their gables surrounding the city square.
Rotterdam and the Hague After our stop at Delft we drove to Rotterdam where we saw Rotterdam Harbour, the world's largest. We drove under the curiously angled cube-shaped apartments that have each been turned to balance on one corner on the top of tall beams ... an architectural oddity for sure! We drove through this modern city, glimpsed the Euromast, a tower visible from miles around, and then on to The Hague, where Queen Beatrix resides and works; we saw the Parliament and the International Court of Justice. We drove through the elegant city to the seaside town of Scheveningen and drove along the promenade with its famous pier and the KurHaus, now a splendid hotel.
Madurodam Our next stop was the miniature city of Madurodam. Visitors can recognize different Dutch townscapes and famous landmarks. There also is an operating harbor, airport and railway system, as well as a playing barrel organ. As soon as dusk sets in, the town is magically lit by thousands of lights.
After Madurodam we drove back to Amsterdam which we reached at 6pm.

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