Amsterdam Stories and Tips

Amsterdam has it all!

The Jordaan from a hotel room Photo, Amsterdam, Netherlands

I've been lucky enough to have visited Amsterdam three or four times to get the measure of the city. I struggle to find anywhere else that has the sheer diversity of Amsterdam.
Old world charm? Yes, just wander along one of those canal streets lined with old grand town houses just on the edge of the city centre and you will see old world charm in spades. I like it that the original loading hooks to lift goods from the boats into these old merchant houses are still there and still often used to carry items of furniture in and out of apartments.

A wild night out? Heh, the centre of Amsterdam has enough night life, sleaze and excitement to keep anyone happy. Every visitor to Amsterdam should gawp at the lit windows occupied by scantily clad working girls, although my tip is to wander past late afternoon/early evening just as things are starting; it is a lot quieter and less threatening feeling. I do find the night life in Amsterdam city centre all a little too brash and tacky for my tastes, and be warned there are plenty of scammers hanging around looking for that little too drunk kid to take advantage of, but if it's your thing to go wild you will find it.

I was proud that I didn't look too old or boring not to be offered a whole range of drugs by the dealers on the street (they often hand round on or near the bridges if you are looking).

Dear reader, I didn't inhale.

Culture? While Rembrandt isn't my taste personally, there are plenty of famous and expensive paintings to look at in the Rijksmuseum. There is also Rembrandt's house to look at with a reconstruction of his workshop. I prefer Van Gogh, and the Van Gogh museum is a must see for me. I'm always fascinated with his painting style, and marvel at how so few thick brush strokes can create a painting that is so intricate.

A quiet night out? I'm of an age where I prefer to sink a few beers in quiet and quaint surroundings. The brown cafes of Amsterdam are where I head for – traditional townhouses selling beers with basic wooden tables and knick knacks collected over the years. The Jordaan area is my favourite area for hotel accommodation although it isn't cheap; it is close to the city centre and a good part of town to find brown cafes and jazz bars.

A nice meal? I actually find the Dutch traditional food a little too stodgy and boring, but I love the Indonesian, Thai and Senegal restaurants around the place. The Dutch were a great trading nation and these long held experiences make it a great melting pot for good ethnic food.

Wacky Amsterdam? Amsterdam is also home to the weird and wonderful and it seems to be a city where your habits or hobbies can be put into a career.

Collect handbags? Love cats? Why not form a successful museum around your obsession? In my collection of reviews I concentrate on weird attractions and have just picked out four of many. One joy of Amsterdam is to wander into something you did not expect. Spot something a little left field on your travels and dive in.

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