Amsterdam and beyond

Old Jul 18th, 2015, 10:17 AM
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Amsterdam and beyond

Hi. I'm traveling with my 20 year old son (I'm 50) for 6 full days in Amsterdam. We're pretty adventurous and good at figuring things out. We love Europe. But I do usually travel with my husband, too, so I'm hoping for a little help.

I know we need to do something as soon as we arrive from the US at 8 am so not to lose day 1. Would a Sanderman walking tour make sense or should we just figure it out ourselves? I also saw they have bike tours. I'm not a great bike rider (meaning I don't do it a lot, but yes I can ride a bike just fine).

We definitely want to go out of Amsterdam (I know Sunday is the wrong day to leave town) to see other charming towns. I realize 6 days isn't a lot of time - so any advice as to which little towns and should we do more than one in a day? We like: Charming views, the water, little places to eat and watch people, shopping (not too much shopping - but looking for some nice jewelry if it's easy to find - and my son will be looking for something one might find in a coffeeshop

Any thoughts appreciated.
Ellen
Philadelphia PA
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 11:25 AM
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Won't you be jetlagged on day one? Best to keep active indeed, but there's not much to do in Amsterdam at 8 am. Your best bet is to go somewhere for breakfast/coffee/start of the day.

I recommend Latei on Zeedijk, not too far from central station (leave your bags in lockers, because you're likely not able to check in to your hotel yet).

Then perhaps it's time for a stroll, not in the red light district, but east of Nieuwmarkt, along Rechtboomsloot, Kromme Waal, Schans. Lastageweg etc. This part of town is just as historical as are the canals to the west, but they're infinitely more quiet and largely (still) residential. If you play your cards right you could end up at De Jaren for lunch, head back to CS to pick up your bags and go to the hotel. After this it will be a struggle to stay awake till evening.

Amsterdam has many off the beaten track places, where locals likely go, but tourists not so much. One of these places (an excursion in its own right) is NDSM, a former shipyard in ever more hip Noord. You get there by free ferry from CS. Mind the Russian Submarine at the NDSM dock. Once there, you can wander around the shipyard itself (it appears in many films and tv shows if a "gritty industrial location" is called for) And there are 3 places to have lunch or dinner: IJkantine, Pllek and my favorite (because I know its history and its owner quite well) Noorderlicht. NDSM is also home to "Kunststad" a hangar full of artists' studios, and a spectacular skatepark.

Also right off the ferry in Noord (Buiksloterweg) is the Nieuwendammer Dijk (wonderful cafe 't Sluisje) leading to Durgerdam. You can do this by bike, but it's also a nice walk.

I said it elsewhere, if you feel unsure on a bike, don't bike in Amsterdam. It's not a recreational activity here, but a utilitarian way of getting to work, appointments etc. So there's little patience for people who need to take their time on a bike. But public transport is excellent, also to villages outside of Amsterdam.

For instance

Muiden (Muiden Castle, town centre with its Locks, cafes)
Marken (former island, touristy)
Volendam (see Marken)
Zaanse Schans

One recommendation: take the train to Enkhuizen (about an hour from CS) and visit the Zuiderzee Museum. This will give you the Dutch Zuiderzee culture (of which Amsterdam is its most famous example) in a nutshell. And Enkhuizen is a gorgeous town, one of the cities that got rich over night with the East Indies trade, but was eclipsed by Amsterdam, leaving the city frozen in time.

If you've done Enkhuizen, you can travel back by way of Hoorn, likewise an East Indies Company staple town.
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 11:29 AM
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As to coffeeshops.

Greenhouse is always good (they have organically grown varieties: no pesticides) Another good place is Rokerij.

Also, please be aware that you can have coffee in a coffeeshop often there is a laid back, relaxed vibe and they are places to hang out in, not simply just for buying and then smoking on your own.
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 06:10 PM
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Our hotel woThe best way to reach our hotel from the Airport is by train to Amsterdam Central Station (about € 5,00 p.p. and takes 15 minutes) and from there you can take tram number 13 or 17 (€ 2,70 p.p. and takes 5 minutes) to Westermarkt. From this stop you will find the hotel in 1 minute walking distance.
You can also take the Hotel Shuttle from the Airport (16.50 Euro p.p) and this will bring you in 45 minutes to our hotel.
A taxi should cost about 40-45 Euro into the centre of Amsterdam and take about 20 minutes.
when you arrive, we will make your stay unforgettable!

Best regards,


Hotel Clemens Amsterdam**
Raadhuisstraat 39
1016 DC Amsterdam

And then these are some little towns I read are the best to visit? I was thinking we could take a train and see a couple towns in one day.

Utrecht
Haarlem
Leiden
Delft
Gouda (though I hate cheese)
Maastricht

I agree about the bikes. I'm a little nervous about it. My son says: You can do it, Mom.
Oh about the coffee shop non-coffee - he will want me to try the alternate coffee. I'm not a big non-coffee person. Will I be okay having one or two puffs to make him happy? I don't want to get really high. I prefer my wine after 5.

How about a canal ride? Is there a good company or anything? We do have Ann Frank tickets pre-purchased. Of course Rembrandt museum is a must too.

Thank you SO VERY MUCH for your replies!
Ellen
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 01:00 AM
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Utrecht, Haarlem, Leiden etc, all wonderful. But really really worth it for a full day away (and you'll really want to spend the remainder in Amsterdam) is Utrecht. A gorgeous centre of town, canals with wharfs at the water's edge, many are terraces, artists' studios, workshops. Quirky cafes, shops. A couple of really special museums. It's a student town, not many foreign tourists go there, it's got a young, alternative vibe in a historic city because the university is there.

Maastricht is really a full day's worth of traveling: not worth it.

Just don't bike. And please don't let him bike after smoking!

About the smokes: what you smoke here are super developed strains with insanely high THC content. So whatever you do, don't smoke an entire joint. These are such powerful varieties that you'll know right away when you've been hit. If you get that nice fuzzy feeling coming on: stop! I've had foreign business clients get stoned out of their skull and crawling around trees while my manager was bemusedly watching the spectacle. I don't know how much your son smokes, but if he's an occasional smoker, let him go easy. A few tokes and you're done. Really. And go somewhere where they've got nice things for the munchies. Not those awful waffles.

By Rembrandt museum you mean Rijksmuseum, I think. All good. But also consider FOAM and Huis Marseille (photography)

By the way, when are you exactly going? This year SAIL is in Amsterdam, so there's a lot more to do than a canal tour when it's on.

A recommendation for dinner (go there by water taxi and you'll have your canal boat ride sorted)

http://www.remeiland.com/
http://www.water-taxi.nl/vipwatertaxi/nl/home/

awesome location, food's quite good and it's a really nice surprise destination, also, you'll be incredibly in the know about hot locations in Amsterdam
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 02:57 AM
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Bruxelles (Be) is less than 2 hours with Thalys fast train.
It will be another 'vibe', won't fit with water etc, but is a beautiful city - if you envision a daytrip, it is a very good one.
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 12:05 PM
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Thanks again for the help. It looks like Utrecht and Leiden could be done in one day. Train to Utrecht and then onto Leiden IF we're in the mood. Does that sound reasonable? By doing a train, we can always have dinner at the second town and not worry about driving after drinking.

As for the smoking - I want one puff to show I'm a cool mom and that's it. I am so glad you warned me. I shared the information with my son - he does smoke a lot (not a drinker or any other drugs and a 3.8 average at school so it's hard to complain too much sigh).

Love the cool restaurant idea. What are some of the best fish places with wine on the water where he can still have a beer?

So you don't suggest the Sandeman walking tour? Just the canal (blue boat)? Would the Sandeman bike tour be something I could handle or no way?

Thanks again!
Ellen
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 12:38 PM
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canal boat tours are a good start - better IMO than a walking tour with obviously limited scope - be sure to by a National Museum Card that lets you in hundreds of museums nationwide - just go to about three in Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum; Van gogh and Anne Frank House) and the pass pays then you can freely enter many others you may love but would not have paid $10 or so to enter - also gives priority entrance at some popular museums.

http://www.amsterdam.info/museums/museumkaart/

anyway for some of my and others things about Amsterdam: (though of bit dated still valid in many ways):

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ite-things.cfm

As for coffeeshops - I have never been in a bad one - some of the famous ones are the Green House like menachem mentions - both locations and the Bulldog Palace - glitzy and attracts many young Americans - mix of sports bar with big tvs and videos and coffeeshop with cannabis freely bought and smoked and my personal favorite the Dampkring, right in the heart of the pedestrian shopping zo Dene area by the Spui - parts of Oceans Twelve were shot here - a favorite with locals - coffeeshops appleaning with garish signs to foreigners often may have poorer prices for poorer goods - where locals go is a good sign
https://www.google.com/search?

q=De+Dampkring&sa=X&es_sm=93&biw=1600&bih=1075&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ved=0CDgQsARqFQoTCMytg6T458YCFQQzPgodNPMBlA

But any coffeeshop is cool - now a koffieshop is a coffee shop as we know it.

Day trips - with your list you can't go wrong. I love Haarlem - short train trip and neat old town but any will be very different than cosmoplitan Amsterdam.

Biking - sounds more romantic than it is and can be dangerous - see thread menachem posted last week about that!
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 12:39 PM
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http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...m#last-comment
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 02:50 PM
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Bruxelles (Be) is less than 2 hours with Thalys fast train.>

Yes add another country though I may suggest Angtwerp for just a day is easier to do justice to and closer to Amsterdam - certainly one of the most unique cities in Europe - great museums, beer pubs (no coffee shops) and just over an hour or so by train (www.thalys.com) - book tickets really early and save a lot over walk-up fares though you can also take cheap enough flat-fare IC (Thalys is high speed) trains there in a slower time - those you can just buy when you decide to go - ditto for Amsterdam to Brussels on IC trains.)

For lots on Lowland Country trains check www.seat61.com - good info on discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. There is a Benelux Railpass but you are not nearly doing enough train travel to even look at that.

Brussels is neat too - though often maligned on Fodor's it seems - but to me an interesting if not throughly beautiful old city - again great museums, royal palace gardens, Mannequin Pis - statue of small boy peeing that has become a kind of icon of Brussels and the Grand' Place, the so-called 'drawing room' of Europe and one of the largest and most nicest town squares in Europe. Yes Belgium another country - quite different and quite the same as The Netherlands IME and not that far - also can experienc ehigh-speed Thalys train that goes up to about 190 mph!
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Old Jul 20th, 2015, 03:25 PM
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Thanks again for the help. It looks like Utrecht and Leiden could be done in one day. Train to Utrecht and then onto Leiden IF we're in the mood>

Yes but Utrecht especially has a lot of things to see - neat museums and a canal boat tour and the Olde Graacht (sp?) a San Atonioesque restaurant-studded walkway below the street level along a canal.

Leiden looks cute and is a nice place though without that many individual sights so yes you could do both in one day - I'd start in Utrecht and see how it goes. Leiden however is more dreamy with lots of canals and a youthful feeling with a major university there.

can't go wrong!
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Old Jul 20th, 2015, 08:30 PM
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My 24 year old daughter and I took the Sandeman walking tour the day we arrived in Amsterdam from the U.S. Although jet lag hits in, it is a great way to get oriented to the city, is inexpensive and interesting. I highly recommend it.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2015, 10:17 AM
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>

the best fish place imo is Vis aan de Schelde, on Scheldestraat, but it's not on the water.

As for having beer with your meal: no one, absolutely no one in Amsterdam will judge you, or him, if the Son orders a beer. But let it be a special beer, and a knowledgeable waiter might even be able to pair the beer with the food.

A couple of weeks ago a client invited me here:

http://www.iens.nl/restaurant/18022/...ickers-ad-werf

Great location, and they know how to cook. Upmarket, yet informal in a good way. Very good service, and that is something to be grateful for in Amsterdam restaurants.

They do watch the fish market for specials, and they suggest pairings with beers right in the menu.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2015, 11:32 AM
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Herring stands may not be gourmet food but are a Dutch tradition - see them on streets - pop the herring Durch style - hold high above mouth and let go. Or more palatable to me sandwiches, etc - see images:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Herr...=1600&bih=1075
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Old Jul 22nd, 2015, 01:28 PM
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Good herring can so be a gourmet food LOL. During my one dinner, once, at Okura's kaiseki style restaurant they served it. Beautifully plated, expertly treated by the chef.

One of the best herring stands is right at Schiphol, in its shopping center (Schiphol Plaza). Schmidt Seafoods supplies them and they source the best and the most sustainable fish.

http://www.happyseafood.nl/
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 08:46 AM
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Wow just wow. I thank you all so much! Someone suggested Zaanse Schans but it looks touristy (though I know, I will be a tourist).
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 03:01 PM
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Zaanse Schans yes attracts many bus groups due to its proximity to Amsterdam but it is a large site and you can go in a working windmill - go for it - there is also a nice museum there of the area's history or some such thing.

Now there is one of the biggest tourist traps anywhere attached to the museum - a private gift shop with wooden shoes, ceramic windmills, etc - all for bus groups - that is pure Schlock but also fun. You can skip that and no know it is there.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 10:05 AM
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Yeah I lean toward not going to Zaanse Schans. I like authentic.

Thinking: Day 1 Wednesday
Canal tour
Coffee houses

Day 2 Thursday
Ann Frank House/Harleem

Day 3 Friday
Amsterdam (Jordaan/maybe walking tour) Red Light

Day 4 Saturday
Utrecht

Day 5 Sunday
Amsterdam/Vondelpark

Day 6 Monday
Leiden and Delft

Day 7 Tuesday
Amsterdam/Rijkismuseum

Day 7 Wednesday
Home

Thoughts? Too much outside of Amsterdam?
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 01:23 PM
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For a charming town with a skansen I would recommend Enkhuizen. It's a full day's trip.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7623082534450/
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 02:25 PM
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I second Enkhuizen. It's a gorgeous city in its own right. Reading back, I see I mentioned it already LOL. It's an hour by train from Amsterdam and you might want to add Hoorn coming in or going back.
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