Amsterdam - Netherland
|Written by Administrator|
|Monday, 13 October 2008 09:38|
AMSTERDAM LOCAL HISTORY
The citys Golden Age started in about 1580 when Amsterdams shipping trade dominated the world. This period of prosperity lasted until the 19th century when French forces occupied Holland and Amsterdam was blockaded by the British and had to almost abandon its dependence on the sea.
In the early 20th century Amsterdam prospered as a major industrial center with rail links to the rest of Europe. The Second World War was a particularly difficult time for the city as it endured the hardships of German occupation. The citys large Jewish population was particularly hard hit with only one in sixteen surviving the war.
In latter half of the century Amsterdam became the center of liberal Europe and relaxed many laws involving drugs and homosexuality. Today Amsterdam is a vibrant, exciting city that embraces all people and cultures and is the fourth most popular tourist destination in Europe.
Rijksmuseum. This large museum houses some of the greatest Dutch paintings of the 17th century, including works by Rembrandt, Van Hals, Steen and Vermeer. It is advisable to buy at least one of the many guidebooks on sale for the museum, as it can be quite a confusing place. Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Canal Trips: Amsterdam has an extensive canal network and it is definitely worth taking one of the canal boat tours to see the city from the water. The tours last around ninety minutes.
Van Gogh Museum: Vincent van Gogh is probably the most famous of all modern artists and the museum dedicated to his works is therefore very popular. Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Concertgebouw: This is the home of the famous Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, renowned for its excellent acoustics. Even though it hosts the worlds best musicians, you can attend lunchtime concerts from September to May for free. Open from 10am to 7pm daily.
RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Prostitution is actually legal in many parts of Europe, but nowhere in the world is prostitution a major tourist attraction like it is here. Prostitution in Amsterdam is a curiosity for some, and one of the reasons to visit for others. The Red Light District is exactly what you probably think it is, but it’s also mostly safe and clean and should be a stop on almost every visitor’s itinerary. It’s hard to avoid, actually, being so close to the train station and in the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhood.
Just for a quick orientation: Yes, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, and in Amsterdam one of the ways to get involved is to stroll through the Red Light District. In this part of town, working girls rent small rooms with enormous windows along the canals and side streets to flirt with passers-by under the glow of what are literally red lights. Their quick and unromantic services reportedly start in the €50 range and go up from there.
There is no need to feel any shame walking through this area, and in fact, you’ll likely be weaving your way through groups of locals and even groups of elderly tourists of both sexes as well. Everyone, except perhaps young children, can visit the Red Light District when in Amsterdam without feeling embarrassed.
A few cautions There are some warnings about this area though. You’ll notice groups of police officers in the area nearly every minute of every day, but unfortunately this area still has a bit of a crime problem. Bicycles get stolen all over town and this is where the thieves often go to sell them for a quick €20. If someone approaches you with a bike for sale here there is a 100% chance it’s recently been stolen and also your money will soon be used to buy hard drugs for the thief.
And speaking of hard drugs, depending on what you look like, you might have questionable characters offering to sell you cocaine or heroine or other hard drugs as you pass near them. As tempting as this may be to some people, you’ll never actually get what they are promising, so trying to buy hard drugs here is a terrible idea in every way.
The Red Light District will be shrinking In September 2007 the city of Amsterdam announced it had struck a deal to buy 18 buildings that are home to 51 windows, which is about a third of the current total. The windows will be turned into new shops and residences as a way to help weed out some of the criminal elements in the neighborhood.
In December 2007, the city announced plans for shutting down many of the sex-related businesses as well as bars and hotels in the Red Light District. Look here for the full story on Amsterdam’s Red Light District being scaled down.
Besides traditional Dutch fare, Amsterdam, being the cosmopolitan city that it is has many excellent foreign food restaurants it is said that the best Indonesian food outside Indonesia can be found in Holland.
De Belhamel - Brouwersgracht 60. With a great view over one of the cities main canals, this art deco styled French restaurant is one of the best of its kind in the city.
Orient - Van Baerlestraat 21. One of the highly recommended Indonesian restaurants of Amsterdam where the practice is to serve many small dishes together known as a Rijstafel (rice table) restaurant.
Roses Cantina - Reguliersdwarstraat 38 (Flower Market). This bustling Mexican restaurant is renowned for its hearty portions and as good a Margarita on the rocks as you will get anywhere in Mexico.
De Blonde Hollander - Leidsekruisstraat 28 (Leidseplein). One of the few restaurants that serve authentic Dutch food as you would eat in someones home.
Simpel - by Willem Smit from Netherlands - 2005-07-17
The Anne Frank House is probably the most famous attraction in town for new visitors. This is the actual house where Anne Frank, her family, and four others spent two years in hiding before being betrayed and turned in to the Nazis. If you’ve read the famous diary much of this will be familiar to you, but even if you haven’t this can be a fascinating place to visit.
The section of the upstairs area where the family hid is surprisingly spacious, and thanks to them annexing the apartment next door to expand the museum, the facility is large enough to hold displays that tell not only the whole story of the Frank family, but also displays that highlight other forms of persecution and discrimination. There are no official tours, but the displays are logically laid out and written in English as well as Dutch.
Location The Anne Frank House is located along a scenic section of Prinsengracht, at #267, and is just across from part of the stylish Jordaan neighborhood. The interiors of the buildings are original, but on the outside the museum looks like a bank except for a few small signs. In fact, many people pass by it the first time without realizing it. If you see the line of people along Prinsengract, you’ve found it.
Price and tips for visitors Lines can get very long in summer in particular. As with so many attractions like this, visiting first thing when it opens or shortly before closing is usually the best way to beat the lines. It takes about an hour to see everything so you don’t have to allocate a huge part of your day for this, but it is worth checking out for sure. In summer they keep longer hours to accommodate the crowds. Normal admission is €7.50 but discounts are available for young people and students.
AMSTERDAM BARS & CLUBS
Last Waterhole - Armsteeg 12 (Oudezijds). To be found in the Red Light District, this is the haunt of Amsterdam�s biker crowd. They are tame by normal standards and visitors are welcome at the pool tables or to join the jam sessions onstage.
Winston Kingdom - Warmoesstraat 123. A smaller venue featuring a variety of live music from R&B to Ghanaian percussion to punk and club. There is also a poetry night once a month on a Monday.
Escape - Rembrandtplein 11. Home to Amsterdam�s hottest Saturday night, Chemistry, often hosting Hollands top DJ, Dimitri. The venue is a large hangar with a capacity of 2000, although due to its popularity you will probably still have to queue.
West Pacific - Haarlemmerweg 8-10. This converted gas factory is regarded as the up-and-coming location in the city. It has an onsite cafe, a fireplace and is open late.
AMSTERDAM PARKS & GARDENS
Magna Plaza a massive five-story mall is also to be found here. The Jordaan is where most artists sell their wares. Most shops take Monday morning off with extended evening shopping on Thursdays. The majority of shops are closed on a Sunday.
AMSTERDAM CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES
NEMO - This is a state of the art educational center for science and technology. It is housed in a futuristic looking building that resembles a ship. This is not only for children, adults are guaranteed to enjoy this outing and will definitely learn something new. Open Tuesday to Sunday, or daily in school holidays perfect for a rainy day.
Leidseplein - This is one of the most colourful squares in the city, perfect for a sunny day, you are sure to find jugglers, fire-eaters and performers here in the daytime.
|Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2008 09:58|
We have been getting a lot of questions and we know there are a lot of experienced backpackers here, so we would compile a list of tips for them.