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“Our first day In Amsterdam” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Amsterdam

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Seattle, Washington
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
80 helpful votes 80 helpful votes
“Our first day In Amsterdam”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2006

My husband and I arrived from Seattle into Amsterdam at 9am for a 3 nite stay.

From the Airport, we took the hotel shuttle which stopped about most all the city hotels. I immediately fell in love with this city and I knew three days would fly by here...

The canals, architecture, and the 'fashionable locals' riding cool old black bikes for thier commute to work.

We arrived at our hotel assuming that we could store our luggage for a later check-in, but thankfully they had a room ready early for us. We freshend up quick, found a great lil pastry shop with yummy expresso and planned our day with our maps. (Since I wrote to the Holland tourist board, I recieved all kinds of great maps that proved very useful.)

We proceeded with a walk about Mint Tower and headed down Leidse straat. We came to the entrance of Vondelpark and just took it all in. If I wasn't so jet lagged we would have rented bikes for the day right then!

We walked to the Rijks Museum square where the Van Gogh Museum is located as well.

Awesome, Awesome museum! 200 Van Gogh paintings, as well as books and a computer study area for viewing.

Most all of my favorite pieces are here: The creepy self portraits, his Japanese influenced works, landscapes, portraits from his time spent in Netherlands, Paris, and southern France. His works reflect his mood and location at the time of thier creation. *The beautiful works of a madman.* We very much enjoyed it. Even the tomatoe soup in the cafe here was good, and I needed the nourishment.

We decided that the near-by Riks museum would just have to wait. It intimidated us with it's car and bike paths that drive through it! That looked like a day in itself?! It was just too nice out and my feet already ached.

Then we were off to sidewalk cafe beers then! We walked back to Rembrandtplien near our hotel and sat in the sun with the crowds in the square sharing a broodjes (snack sandwich of ham and cheese). Our Belguim ales were only 2.50 euro each. We started to relax.

After all that excitment it was Siesta time for us, and we didn't wake up until 8pm or so. We found a great place for a yummy Indian dinner called "the Tandoor". It was perfect, they made our tikka masala dish with spice just as I asked. The chef even came out to check on us personally.

We enjoyed our meal and headed to Rokkery Coffee House. The Rokkery has a cool industrial style metal sign outside and purple/blacklights. Inside was a beautiful painted wall mural, candelabras and very chill 'dub' background music, yes a very 'chill' place indeed! The staff downstairs is discreet but helpful with a menu of smokes for purchase.
Late that first night, A light drizzle fell during our walk back along the canal to our hotel, it was just wet enough to reflect the surrounding lights to where the canal and streets nearly shimmered as one.. a memorable ending to a great first day in Amsterdam!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NJ
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Never a Dull Moment”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2006

I was fortunate enough to travel for work to Holland for 3 weeks in November of 2005 and I had an absolute blast. I lived in an apartment in a small town called Hilversum, but travelled into Amsterdam frequently as it was only about 20 minutes by rail. The Netherlands rail system is efficient (for the most part) and easy to use, even for English speakers. All of the info desk personnel speak fluent English if you can't figure out the automatic ticket machines.

From the first visit, I fell in love with Amsterdam. It is a very walkable, friendly city that is criss-crossed by canals, footbridges, and cobblestone streets lined with cafes, coffeehouses, restaurants and souvenir shops. I never once felt in danger, even at night maneuvering through the most clostrophobic alleyways in the Red Light District.

There is so much to tell that I can't possibly fit it all here, so I will mention briefly some things you must see and do.

1. Walk through the Red Light District and see the variety of women that are legally available "for rent." It's pretty surreal if you never seen it before. If smoking (or "blowing" as they say in Holland) is your thing, you will find a number of coffeehouses selling weed and hash right on the menu.

2. If history and art is your thing, then merely walking around will supply your fix. It seems that each neighborhood has church towers and homes that are about 300 years old. The Oudekerk (sp?) in the RLD is nearly 600 years old. There's the Anne Frank House, the Rijks museum and the Van Gogh museum as well. Much to see.

3. Go to the daily markets where they sell flowers, bulbs, food, clothing, and various obscure flea market kitsch - there's the Waterloo market, the market in front of De Waag (part of the original gate to the walled city), and the Bloemmarkt (sp?) for flowers.

4. If you want a nice day trip out of Amsterdam, hop on the rail for about 10 Euros and go see the windmills at Zaanse Schans. It's a historical district north of A'dam with windmills and a village that are approximately 350 years old. It's very much a storybook experience. When you get off the train in Zaandijk to walk to the windmills, you'll see that the whole area smells of chocolate, due to the De Zaan cocoa mill - mmmm, mmmm!

5. Stroll down the Damrak into Dam Square and people watch. The Damrak runs south from Centraal Station and essentially halves A'dam into Old Side and New Side. It is a wide boulevard that spills into a large, beautiful plaza called Dam Square, where you should sit at an outdoor cafe, drink a beer or coffee and take it all in. The square is sided by a palace, the Niewekerk (sp?) - the "New Church" which is about 300 years old, and a famous department store called De Bijenkorf (sp?), if you're into shopping.

Anyway, these are just a few suggestions on things to see. There are a million more. I can't wait to go back to explore some more. Oh, bring a raincoat as the weather in A'dam isn't terribly pleasant all the time.

Have a nice trip!

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Athens, Greece
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
439 helpful votes 439 helpful votes
“Special place but..................”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2005

i travelled to amsterdam for 12 days bettwen 15-27 of semptember and i would ike to share my experiences and thoughts....
good comments
Amsterdam is a unique city, where you can find so many freedoms, where you can find so many nationalities in a village-type city about 1 million population...is like a mini New york, the parks like vondelpark and the cycling transportation system of this place are what it make it unique.. even the providing freedoms in drugs make this place different from all the others, also nice museums and especially great asian restaurants... golden chopsticks at red light district is one of the best chinese restaurants i have ever taste.. also the indonesian cuisine was perfect.. nice thing about amsterdam is clubbuing...although the clubs havent any special decoration or interiors like these in Athens the music and the djs was fantastic...furthermore cheap drinks and a style that im also common...industrial...
bad comments
unfortunatelly there was many things that make me feel unsafe and sad...the centre and traditional area where the main touristic attractions are located is the red light district and the surounding areas...watching all the time junkies in the streets and people baking you for one euro was bad...also these areas are so overcroweded that is logical to be dirty...so the cleacness of the city in this places was bad. The feelling of that areas gives you a sad sense...junkeys and women baking for love for 30 euros...drunk people and really agressive foreing workers and people..sorry but i feel unsafe...museums. (a drunk junkey threatened of killing me!!) . i visit tropen museum(my best), van gonh and anna frank...van gong was also great but a little bit rip off..13 euros for entrance and no any lower deals for no dutch students...i have also a bad experience at mikes bike...the people there was absolutelly rude and i saw that the behaviour was unaceptable to all the visitors of the city...i still can not understand why their main supporters of renting bikes ,tourists, have that behaviour from these people..they even making fun for my english tone...and when i was ask them i believe you are just joking guys they answer me ...no!!!!i have also a rip off in a taxi driver but im not going to say more for that cause also in my city there are many bad taxi drivers; )....i went to de jaren cafe...and one thing that i find it strange is that in dutch cafes you can not have just a healthy vegeterian sandwitch with orange juice..i was the only i ask for this...and a friend of me there tell me that beers and coffes is what i should ask for....i was exepting more from a famous cafe like de jaren than a cheap beer....at last i felt little bit strange to the following...i think that if you have black hair in this country you are a second class citizen...it has nothing to do with religion or if you are southern european like me or paki...just it is not good to have black hair..sorry to tell that..probably i misunderstand something but i feel it...
in conclusion netherlands is a really intresting country(maastrich was amazing) and it worth a visit...but unfortunatelly i find some problems ..i would say unexpected..i undertsand that 170 nationalities in a small city like amsterdam is not that easy but i was exepting better conditions from an openmind country and nation...so i would say that there are not many improvememnts in that issue...all the others ,like technology,enviromental programms and supporting of a good type of life are things that this country have success.....BUT.....unfortunatelly there is a big but.....(i think i gave the explanations above)

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Norwich
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
67 helpful votes 67 helpful votes
“PRACTICAL ADVICE”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 1, 2005

Amsterdam

If it's a really hot day, avoid going on one of the canal cruises in a boat with a glass top, otherwise it'll be most unpleasant and like being in a greenhouse. If there's no room at the back where ther's no glass, wait for the next boat. Personally don't think the canal cruises worth the bother - not very interesting.

Make sure you buy a daily or weekly tram ticket rather than a single ticket otherwise you'll pay through the nose. Don't rely on the ticket people on the trams to give you accurate information on when you are at your destination. Tram is the best way to see Amsterdam.

Avoid Amsterdam if you don't like very crowded bustling places.

The many canals all well and good but after a while they all look the same. Amsterdam better if you are young and are looking for clubs/nightlife etc. If you're middle aged and want a quiet time this is not the city for you.

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Rockville, Maryland
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
200 helpful votes 200 helpful votes
“Beautiful, artsy, and European”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2005

Note: As an American, this was my 1st trip overseas. Some comments may pertain to all of Europe, not just Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a mostly beautiful capital city. With so much old architecture and canals, it's hard to describe. YOu need to see it for yourself. The people are friendly and spoke many langauges. The city is very tourist-minded. Employees at hotels, restaurants, and shops were very helpful. Locals were kind and answered questions when asked, but mostly went about their business.

There is some litter, and a few narrow roads smell of urine (primarily in the Red Light District). On occasion, at the right time and place, you'll catch a whiff of foul water smell. The water in the canals is green and dirty. Don't touch it. Yet, the canals and bridges are all still very pretty.

Don't let the dirty water and occasional foul smell stop you from visiting. The place is pretty and the skyline and architecture are infectious. I can't imagine walking a more beautiful city.

It sometimes rained and we bought an umbrella. But the weather was so much cooler than our usual humid Washington DC summer. Some days it rained every other hour. It frustrated us but made us laugh.

BIKES:
are everywhere. Jump out of the way when you hear the bell. Apparently bike thefts are common. I had the privilege of seeing a guy cutting off (his own?) bike chain, another man in the wee hours of morning testing bikelocks for durability, and in the Red Light District I saw a woman return to where she'd left her bike, to find only her chain and lock sitting on the ground. All truly Amsterdam experiences in my opinion.

SIZE:
Amsterdam is relatively small, with all attractions located within a 1-mile radius. You can walk everything if you like. Or trams are convenient too. We never rented a car or bike during our stay. At key locations and certain hours, taxis are abundant.

BEER:
I don't drink, so I missed out on all the beer. Heineken is everywhere and has its own museum. Beer is served in large mugs while my cokes and waters came in tiny 6-oz, $2 bottles.

RED LIGHT DISTRICT:
was a nice walk if only for the carnal sites; I did it twice. At midnight (in August, when every European was on vacation) the Red Light District was overrun with tourists. During my 7-day trip, the only visible law enforcement were in the Red Light District. And they were plentiful.

I was offered drugs several times there, in several languages. They were very friendly drug dealers, polite, and happy to move on to more willing clientele. If I'd hoped to see a mugging or a strong-arm robbery, this is the area I'd expect it. But nothing like that happened.

The streets of the Red Light District were filled with tourists of all ages, sometimes pushing en-masse taking me along with them. One woman photographed her husband and 8-year-old son together in front of a porn shop. There were as many female gawkers as men, so the mood did not match my vision of a dirty, smelly sex shop. I never entered any of the sex shops there.

My 2nd walk thru the Red Light District was at 9pm (or 21:00 European time), just before sundown. It was less crowded and more of the windows were closed-curtained. I suspect because more men were partaking of the ladies' services at that earlier hour.

CRIME:
For all the warnings I'd read before embarking on my trip, we experienced no crime at all. Of course, I kept my wallet in my front pocket and my friend kept her purse in front of her. Warnings of pick-pockets abound throughout the city. But it didn't happen to us and we never saw anyone complain or contact police.

I was offered cocaine on the street (Red Light District only). But that's to be expected. I never felt unsafe at any time.

MUSEUMS:
Large areas of the Rijksmuseum were closed for renovation (August 2005) which was a major disappointment. I snuck through the construction site to see the grand entranceway there. It must have been beautful without the scaffolding and debris. But Rembrandt's works were still on display.

Van Gogh museum was next door and also very nice. Both museums have audio tours at your own pace which, for me, really made them fantastic visits. Each museum is about $15 to enter (with audio tour).

Anne Frank's house, or Anne Frankhuis, was my favorite. We wisely arrived at 8:45am and were about 20th in line. Note that Anne Frankhuis is original (aka: not airconditioned) and could get quite hot in summer. As we left around 10:30, the line to enter was wrapped around the block.

HOTELS:
The Amsteram rating system for hotels does not match the American 5-star rating system. You'll want a 3-star hotel, minimum, and expect a 2-1/2 to 3-star experience.

We stayed in 4 hotels during our trip; three in Amsterdam. They were the Hotel American, NH Doelen, and NH Schiller. All 3- or 4-stars.

Each hotel had fairly random quirks including exterior noise, hallway noise, lacking airconditioning, etc. Fans were provided as needed and did the job. Noise was not usually bad. Although our NH Schiller room, for some reason, attracted fruitflies during the day requiring us to keep the windows closed. We opened them at night for cool fresh air. The NH Doelen's elevator failed in the morning, leaving me to carry all bags down 3 flights of stairs.

But these quirks never "ruined" our experience. It's Amsterdam and you'll have to acclimate yourself to smaller elevators (one of ours had no door, allowing us to touch the floors as they passed by) and old, sloped floors that made me think I was on a boat.

Views from the window ranged from street-side to canal-side, and from ordinary to beautiful. Every hotel allowed us to check in early -- I mean as early as 11:00am. And every hotel has super-friendly staff. I'm sure if we'd asked to change rooms, they'd have been happy to oblige. One room had no drainage in the tub. We told the front desk and it was fixed by the time we returned from dinner.

In the bathrooms, forget about airflow. Some had windows, but bathroom fans are non-existent, which slowed the airing out and cooling process and allows roomates to hear each other's every personal, gastronomical musicality.

MORE ON HOTELS:
Like hotels anywhere else, they offer extras and charge heavily for them. I paid $16 for a cheap, simple breakfast which would have been better eaten elsewhere. We also paid $5 for 15-minutes of internet time while local Internet/Phone shops offer access for about $1.25 per half-hour. Quite a difference. Sleep in your hotel; do everything else somewhere else.

Book hotels early. They fill up.

TAXES:
A lovely discovery for me was that taxes are included in prices everywhere. When we both bought a $3.50 icecream cone, we could count on the final price being $7 even.

I had read that tourists can reclaim their tax dollars at the airport on the way out of the country, so we saved every receipt. As we learned upon leaving, for Americans, the rule is that you have to spend $140 in one store in one day. And we would've gotten back the taxes from that one store that day, but not everything else. So don't bother for all your T-shirt and trinket purchases. If I had bought that $500 leather jacket, keeping the receipt would be wise.

PRICES:
were not as bad as I had read. You can easily pass by the restaurant with $20-$30 meals and go next door for $9-$15 meals. Restaurants discourage tap water due to "health reasons" and sometimes refuse tapwater altogether. They sell tiny water and coke bottles. I often drank 3 or 4 bottles of water, costing between $6 and $10, with my $10 burger. When I did drink tapwater, it was fine. After all, I bathed in it at the hotel, and they wash the dishes with it, right?

Restaurant tips are a simple and enjoyably cheap 10%. On occasion I slipped into my American habit and tipped 20% which greatly pleased the server. But with my weak American dollar costing me 21% more on everything, I avoided that mistake and stuck to the 10% which was fine.

Our 3- and 4-star hotels ranged from $100 to $150 per night; more expensive for: weekends, proximity to Dam Square (center of city), and for more stars. The cost difference between 3-stars and 4-stars did not reflect a noticable improvement in quality. All were fine.

TAXIs:
Our 1st taxi-ride to our hotel cost $9.90 (taxi tips are simply rounded up to nearest Euro, so we paid $10). That friendly driver warned us of taxi drivers (of a certain ethnicity) who rip off tourists. Being a politically correct American, I dismissed his comment. I later paid another taxi driver $13 for half the same trip (who drove me 4 blocks past my destination). A 3rd taxi trip of the same distance cost us $21. Lesson learned, but what can you do?

CITY AREAS:
Although everything is walkable, you will get tired of walking. We wisely stayed in different parts of the city, changing hotels, to save us some hiking and to taste the different flavors of the city.

First we stayed in Hotel American (highly recommendable) at Leidesplein in the southwestern corner of town. I loved Leidesplein (pronounced LIE-JIZ-SCH-PLINE) because:

1. Plenty close-by shopping,
2. LOTS of wonderful little restaurants tucked away in side streets -- just go exploring!
3. Street performers,
4. On the main tram lines,
5. Proximity to Anne Frankhuis,
6. Proximity to the big museums.

We later stayed in the NH Doelen and NH Schiller hotels (both good) in the Rembrandt Square area. Rembrandt square, right in the center of the city:

1. Was littered terribly, quite ugly,
2. Closer to Red Light District, Dam Square, and Centraal Station, which made them more convenient to walk,
3. Also on the tram lines,
4. Had far fewer dining choices,
5. Had less shopping close by, and
6, The street performers were the same guy every night, and mostly a nuisance while we dined, listening to him "play" the same tunes each night.

If I did it over again, I'd stay at Rembrandt Square area first, and move to Leidesplein area later. So the experience would improve during the trip.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
They use the Euro, or course. The Euro's coins go up to $1 and $2 and the bills begin at $5. Before arriving, drop your American habit of giving "even change." For example, I made a purchase of $6.50. I instinctively handed the girl 50 cents first (2 20-cent and 1 10-cent piece) and then gave her a $10. She was annoyed. My change, then $4, was 2 of the $2 coins. So I hadn't "saved" any trouble. Only pull out coins if you can pay exact price.

Also, before I left for my trip, I dropped "Holland" from my vocabulary and drilled into my head "The Netherlands." Upon arriving I learned that the people who live there call it "Holland."

I hope this review helps you. I'll write seperate reviews for other things: Maastricht, hotels, Haarlem.

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