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Amsterdam - Your best memory/fave thing to do there

Amsterdam - Your best memory/fave thing to do there

Aug 7th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Here's my trip report. Amsterdam is wonderful:

"Final stop: Amsterdam. Five nights’ stay, first visit for all of us.

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Amsterdam! You always hear of the Red Light district and the coffee shops and the laissez-faire attitude, but you don’t hear how open and friendly the people are, how lovely the canals and side streets, how wonderfully trendy the restaurants and cafes, how people are out strolling at all hours of the night and you feel safe everywhere. I think I’d expected it to be quaint and charming (which it is), but in a dark wood-paneled cliché way, not in the young and contemporary way it is.

The standard reply we were given in Amsterdam, when we asked for anything, was always “Of course!” How refreshing.

We stayed in a fabulous location, at The Hotel Residence le Coin, which was directly across a small street from the Hotel de l’Europe, down the street from the Hotel Doelan, on Nieuwe Doelenstraat (sp?). A great neighborhood in the heart of old Amsterdam.

The hotel has a lift and A/C, also free use of the hotel’s washing machine and clothes dryer in the basement (which was welcome as we’d been traveling over a week when we arrived there). Each room has a little kitchenette, a nice-sized bath, large rooms with wooden floors and a sitting area. It’s fairly new, so everything sparkles. Very friendly front desk, too.

Two cafes on the same block as the hotel were wonderful: Café Katoen for a university atmosphere, and Café le Jarden, for great table seating on the canal.

Amazing dinners at two restaurants in particular:
“Stout!”, at Haarlemmerstraat 73 (www.restaurantstout.nl). Fabulous ‘foamy asparagus’ soup with shrimp, chateaubriande, fresh fish, dessert course, wine list. Very trendy lighting. Great service. We’d gone to the neighborhood in search of a restaurant called “Lof” which we’d seen written up. We didn’t like its atmosphere, but were lucky that Stout! was just across the street.

Also at “Restaurant Dining Eleven” we had a great dinner. It’s at Reestraat 11. Also trendy and contempory, well-presented and beautifully-served meal.

Another nice dinner at “frenzi”, at Swanenburgwal 232. Very simple and contemporary. We arrived shortly after 10:00p.m., when most restaurants close in Amsterdam, and persuaded the owner to sell us any left-overs they had in the kitchen! They put together a nice Caesar salad with cooked-in-the-shell shrimp and mango. Very nice.

Also a good brunch at a place across the street from frenzi—called “Puccini”. Creative salads and sandwiches. Very nice also.

We took a canal cruise one evening. Toured the Anne Frank Huis and the Van Gogh Museum. Visited the Nieuwe Kerk (sp?) Our teens went to a concert at the Paradiso and loved it.

One afternoon we did the 2:30 “Best of Holland” excursion to Volendam and Marken, with a stop to see wooden clogs made, Gouda cheese created, and to visit windmills. It was by bus, with a boat from Volendam to Marken. A lot of fun. Even our two teens liked it.

Our teens also liked shopping at one street in particular, between our hotel and the museum district. Also a Zara shop there, and many others like it. They thought the selection and prices were better in Amsterdam than what they’d seen in London and Paris even.

A detail about Amsterdam if you go there-- carry enough Euros in cash, because many places won't accept a credit card for a 'small' purchase (i.e. under 25 EU).
The only unpleasantness we encountered in Amsterdam related to cab rides and inconsistent pricing. Especially when our two teens were grossly overcharged cabbing to the hotel from the concert. They were well aware of the route, having walked it already twice, but we'd wanted them to cab home late at night. They knew the cabbie took a very round-about way back in order to over-charge. Also, when we arrived at the taxi sand at Central Station, I was literally swarmed by rather aggressive cabbies and felt uncomfortably jostled by them all.

A great trip all in all. Weather was spotty, with rain showers on and off, but not bad.
We enjoyed EuroStar from London to Paris. Then we took the Thalys from Paris to Amsterdam. It, too, was very nice, until we encountered a derailment which had rail traffic stopped at central station. We were re-routed to Schipol airport, and told our tickets would get us to Central Station on another train. It didn't make much sense, as that train also got held up by the derailment mess, and was a commuter which was quite slow. Also, they didn't give us much direction as to how to find the next train, but we figured it out. Some locals simply shrugged and indicated that the train system didn't usually run 100 percent smoothly. Not a good start to Amsterdam, but we loved it there anyway."

Aug 7th, 2007, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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<a particularly memorable experience was the canal boat ride. Over-hyped and the worst waste of of time in Europe>

not really, I loved the canal boat rides. DH and I did it twice. After being on your feet all day, it's really nice to sit back on a boat and just take in all your surroundings. Very relaxing.
BoniseA is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 10:05 AM
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I agree, BoniseA. What's not to like about taking a break, gliding down the little canals, and drinking a Heineken?
Aug 7th, 2007, 10:33 AM
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and for a more personal boat tour rent a Pedalo at one of the places on canals and do your own rendez-vous with the canals - Heineken or other inebriating substance et all.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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We also liked the boat tour. It's also a good way to see some parts of the city.
Gina_07 is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 11:04 AM
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You guys have given me tons of good tips and info! Plus, had me cracking up!

Has anyone been to the following? The Dungeons, the Torture Museum or the Sex Museum. Each seem a bit creepy but one of a kind... or is it all too cheesy?

MaureenB - thanks for the restaurant tips. I'll be sure to try some of them!
tata823 is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 11:13 AM
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you forgot the Hash Museum displaying stuff from man's use of cannabis thru the centuries and showing several real live and huge cannabis plants growing in the museum's basement.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 11:30 AM
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Live sex show. Now that was a hoot. I did it following a very small tour of the red light district (see Rick Steve's book for tour info).....
queener is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 11:31 AM
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or 'Real Fxxxx Fxxxx as the touts out front of the show yells out - another unique and memorable impression of what could be the world's weirdest city for such things you'd never see in Madison GA!
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 12:21 PM
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I don't smoke the weed but that Hash Museum is certainly interesting. They have all sorts of items made out of hemp. I understand that hemp was a big crop in Kansas back in the 40s because it was made into rope used in WWII. There is a similar museum over in Haarlem on the Spaarne, or maybe that is the one I am thinking about.

hopscotch is offline  
Aug 8th, 2007, 06:35 AM
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Smartshops that hetismij mentions - these are another only-in-amsterdam type place - selling magic mushrooms, with dozens and dozens from all over the world on display and for sale, each with a specific purpose but all pyschedelic.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 8th, 2007, 06:42 AM
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1) swimming the length of a canal screaming "sharks!!"

2) standing in front of one of the red light houses yelling, "Margery, please come home. The blood test came back positive."

3) Walking into one of the peep shows with a huge bag of pennies and saying "Quarters, please".

4) Bowling with pancakes.

5) Dressing in a Nazi uniform and visiting the Anne Frank House.

Note: All of these activities are most successful if preceded by a trip to one of the above mentioned coffee houses.

NeoPatrick is offline  
Aug 8th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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I've been to the Dungeon...it is really amazing and I would highly recommend it. It is very well acted out and worth the money.

I've also been to the sex museum. If you like that stuff it is pretty interesting. I would recommend that too.

However, having been to Amsterdam 2x, the Dungeon was actually my favorite experience (perhaps because I took my son there...)

alyssamma is offline  
Aug 8th, 2007, 06:59 AM
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I think there's two 'sex museums'? I went to one near the RLD. It was very fun, sure kinda cheesy, but in a good way!
suze is offline  
Aug 8th, 2007, 07:07 AM
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I've been in the sex museum. Not at all creepy, just amusing (and some interesting parts). We were 3 girls and didn't feel at all odd about being in there. Got a very interesting souvenir photo near the entrance - if you go in you'll see what I mean! Most of it was just stuff to make you laugh. The best bit was the collection of Victorian naughty postcards..wow I thought they were straight-laced. They were brilliant to mull over as they weren't THAT rude but very interesting to our modern eyes. Terribly serious looking chaps with handle-bar moustaches with women with 'real' bodies instead of plastic-surgerified/plucked/skinny bodies.
nona1 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2007, 07:13 AM
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'The Old Church'(Oude Kerk)is one of those little gems only a few people seem to visit but it is fantastic. Very close to Central Station so easy to get to and find. Lovely old church (no, really?)with foundations from 1250 and you can go up the spire if you have a good head for climbing/heights for a wonderful view of the city. Good stained glass windows too. see http://www.oudekerk.nl/.
nona1 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2007, 09:41 PM
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NeoPat, you brought up so many old memories ... kind of the way a spicy meal "repeats" an hour or so later, but nonetheless.

tomassocroccante is offline  
Aug 9th, 2007, 03:08 AM
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The cat museum. Near the Golden bend on the Herengracht - worth seeing even just as a beautiful old townhouse.
zippo is offline  
Aug 9th, 2007, 04:34 AM
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I had a trip to Amsterdam and I loved it- visits to the museums, exploring the city, shopping at the albert heijn (a grocery store), eating yummy food.

Just a little warning: My friend and I met some people and were hanging out with them in a coffeeshop. We were both a little drunk. When we left the people we were hanging out with, my friend realized her wallet and camera were missing from her purse. When we went to the police station the next day, a man came in because someone had swiped his suitcase on the sidewalk.

So like any big city, be careful and watch out for your belongings!! We can look back and laugh at it now, but it put a damper on our vacation...
JessLynn is offline  
Aug 9th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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rented the canalhopper boat for a private early evening tour--brought wine, cheese, sausage for dinner as we toured.
bat is offline  

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