Five things to do in Amsterdam:
Amsterdam is a “wander around” type of city, with streets intercepting canals and one district following another on the other side of any given bridge.
I would love to go back to Amsterdam for a few weeks to take the time to do this, slowly, instead of rushing from point A to point B. Unfortunately, most of you are like me, with limited travel time and a desire to squeeze as much as possible into a short time frame. So, if you have just a few days in Amsterdam, here are my ideas of special places to visit.
1. Museum place:
Museum Place is a large green space spanning several city blocks, with an outdoor area for concerts, paths for cycling and walking and lawns for picnics. At one end is the national museum, the Rijksmuseum (with a large collection of the old masters), the Van Gogh musuem, the Stedelijk museum and the Concertgebouw(concert hall). I advise you to make reservations for the museums ahead of time as there are always large lineups. It is easy to do online. http://collector.amsterdam.ticketbar.eu/en/
This is the amazing Rijksmuseum. Plan to spend a good half day or more. The luncheon area is small so either be patient or find a small café outside of the museum.
2. Flower markets:
Tulips are symbolic of Holland but these are not the only flowers around. Stores and outdoor markets of all kinds feature an overwhelming abundance of blooms. The most impressive is the Floating Flower market and I’m sorry to say that I missed it. However, there are numerous places with flowers and tulips galore. You can even buy bulbs and seeds to bring home. Here is a link to the many markets available: http://www.amsterdam.info/markets/
3. Red Light District: This area is not particularly interesting except for the obvious reasons: the numerous girls posing in the windows. I went with a guide, thinking it might be dangerous but it is completely safe during the day. I don’t know about night-time atmosphere and safety.
This “window-shopping” area is made up of several small pedestrian streets, almost alleyways, lined with small buildings each having one large window and one door at street level. The girls pose in the windows dressed in their skimpiest lingerie. When I was there, some girls flirted with the pedestrians; some looked pretty bored. What surprised me was that 2 girls had the same outfit on; I think I was the only one who noticed or cared. So much for fashion originality!
Those interested, in the girl not the lingerie, stop, look and approach the door. I suppose there is some sort of negotiation that goes on and then, the customer goes in and the window curtain is pulled. The show is over, at least for the outsiders. By the way, don’t take pictures.
This is Albert, my guide, whom I highly recommend. He is knowledgeable and interesting and is flexible in the type of tour he gives. When he meets you, he asks you what your preferences are. Private guide:Albert Walet firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Boat excursion:
Amsterdam is a city built around water so the logical way to visit is by boat. There are many boat excursions along the canals and it is impossible to miss an opportunity to take one or two. This overview of Amsterdam from the water is relaxing, efficient and intimate. The houseboats which line several canals are a unique part of the canal city and are now prime pieces of real estate. Some offer bed and breakfast so do a search if this is something that interests you. Here are a few pictures:
Here is a link to more information on the 165 canals of Amsterdam. http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/experience/what-to-do/activities-and-excursions/canal-cruising
5. Apple cake: The best apple cake, or pie, I have ever had was in Amsterdam, at a corner café called Winkel 43. This cake looks like a pie but is piled high like a cake and is served with whipped cream. Delicious is an understatement. Winkel’s is a small place, in a lovely old house, and the turnover is quick, the service efficient. There are indoor and outdoor places to sit and the waiters run back and forth all day. This dessert, or main meal as I called it, is fabulous. Walk or bike to get there as you will have many calories to burn. The bus and tram routes in Amsterdam can get you almost anywhere, and there is a stop not too far from this little gem, so hop on, hop off and walk. There are also plenty of spots for bicycle parking! Check the website for directions. http://www.winkel43.nl/
Where to stay: I stayed at a great Bed and Breakfast, “The Collector”, which is on a trolley route and within walking distance to a large grocery store and museumplatz. Breakfast is serve-yourself with an abundance of cheeses, breads, fruit, meats, jams, and fresh eggs from the hens in the backyard. There were fresh flowers in the room everyday! Wonderful place! http://www.the-collector.nl/