OK, Fodorite's, a little Amsterdam info?

Apr 30th, 2001, 09:15 AM
  #1  
Lee
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OK, Fodorite's, a little Amsterdam info?

Greetings,

We are arriving at Schiphol and are staying near Vondelpark at the hotel Villa Borgmann. With that in mind, we were planning on taking the train from the airport to Centraal station and then on tram #2. Does this sound like the way to go?

We are arriving in Amsterdam on Thursday, May 3rd and were curious about the tulips. We would assume that everything is in full bloom, does anyone know if this is true?

Any other tidbits or thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 10:59 AM
  #2  
Karen
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Hello. My husband and I just returned from a trip to Europe, including the Netherlands. Just a short distance from Amsterdam (which, by the way, is a cess-pool) in a little town called Lisse is Keukenhof Gardens. It's just about 25 or so km's southwest, your hotel should have a brochure. Absolutely stunning! We are avid gardeners back home in here in Florida, so the flowers were an absolute delight. The peak season is April - May so your timing is perfect. You can even buy bulbs and have them shipped home, wherever that may be. Touristy - maybe, but the gardens are splendorous.

One more hint, if you find yourself ready to vomit at the thought of spending one more second in Amsterdam then absolutely necessary, try some of the smaller towns. In particular, we went to Delft (see: expensive pottery) right outside of The Hague. Just lovely, it was everything we wished Amsterdam was, just smaller scale and clean.

One final note, English is widely spoken in the Netherlands. Taught in the schools, in fact.

Have fun!
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 11:09 AM
  #3  
wes fowler
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To counteract the negatives in the previous posting, consider the following:
In Amsterdam, take a stroll along the Herrengracht. It's the canal between the Singel and the Keizersgracht and has the most notable collection of
Amsterdam's impressive canal houses. You'll obviously note the varied and distinctive gables of the houses, but keep your eyes open, too, for the cartouches on many of them. There are fascinating details by and over doors and windows that are too frequently overlooked by sightseers. It will only take a few minutes walking for your curiosity to be aroused about what the innards of one of these houses are like. At 605 Herrengracht at the canal's eastern end near the Amstel is the Willet-Holthuysen museum, a furnished three-story home dating from the late 17th century. The museum also has a fine collection of silverware, glass and ceramics. As a bonus, there's a garden in the French style! If you want to pass up the museum, the garden is visible from the Amstelstraat, the street on the banks of the Amstel River.

Since most of Amsterdam's museums are closed on Monday, you might want to look into the Van Loon museum, another late 17th century home with a lovely formal garden, which is only open on Monday. It's at 672-674 Keizersgracht, the canal just south of Herrengracht. On your way you might want to stop in at the Six collection. Another house dating from the late 17th century it houses a number of 17th century paintings including a number of
Rembrandts (Six was his patron). For admission, you need a card of introduction available from the information desk of the Rijksmuseum on presentation of your passport. If an early morning trip to Aalsmeer is out of the question since you really should be there long before 9AM, look into the
Bloemenmarkt, a retail flower market held on a dozen or so canal boats by the Mint Tower. The flowers and bulbs come from the tulip fields around Haarlem and from the Aalsmeer auction house.
For some interesting background reading on the Netherlands and the character of its people, you might want to look for "The Embarassment of Riches" by
Simon Schama. It's a history of 16th and 17th century Netherlands that addresses the tremendous impact the untold wealth materializing from the
Dutch merchant navy had upon the Calvinist ethos of the Dutch. A fascinating, but heavy read.


 
Apr 30th, 2001, 11:43 AM
  #4  
John
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Lee, yes, Tram No. 2. Look here: http://www.channels.nl/tram2.html

For my money A'dam is one of the most enjoyable cities in Europe - make that the world - and I just don't understand why so many people find it objectionable. Yes, there are street people and a red light district (pretty unspectacular IMO) and yes, the Dutch are more tolerant of behaviors some folks find objectionable, but set against that the astonishing history and beauty of the place, the bewildering variety of artistic and cultural offerings, the willingness of locals to help you get around (the same tolerance at work) and the fact that A'dam is probably second only to Venice as the quietist big city in Europe (bike bells outnumber car horns) and, well, we love it...
Have fun.
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 11:51 AM
  #5  
AC
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Karen:
Wwhat made you say that Amsterdam is a cesspool?? You seemed to be in a hurry to get out! I'll be there is four short weeks and looking very forward to it.
Please give us your impressions.
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 11:54 AM
  #6  
marj
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i also find amsterdam to be a lovely small city. i'd just like to add that i found the people to be especially friendly and knowledgable, and willing to share tidbits about current amsterdam and its history. They also speak beautiful english and seem very well-educated. i also appreciate there openminded-ness. i was there with my children and felt perfectly comfortable. also the anne frank house was one of the most moving places i've ever visited and was very educational for my kids. although, we made a point of avoiding the red light district.
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 12:04 PM
  #7  
Amy
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I too think that Amsterdam is a great little city.
One of my favorite spots is Beguine Court (just off the pedestrian shopping street). It's a "peaceful oasis" (cliche, cliche!). The canal boat tour was a nice orientation, and the houseboat museum on the canal is unique. The city history museum is fascinating, too. Don't forget to eat in a pancake house--they're more than maple syrup. I had a ham, cheese, and tomato one that I'd love to be able to duplicate. Have a wonderful trip!
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 01:16 PM
  #8  
Annette
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Hi, Lee -

You might consider the KLM shuttle bus for transportaion into the city - more than the train & tram, but I thought it was very nice after the long plane ride. The blue and white KLM shuttle is around $15.00 for a round trip ticket and it waits right outside the airport door. It would let you off at the Cok Hotel, which they say is 100 meters from your hotel, The Borgmann Villa. Let us know what you think of the Borgmann Villa. It looks nice, and I considered it for my trip last December.
Amsterdam is so lovely. If the Van Loon museum is closed, the Museum Willet-Holthuysen is an interesting look at a 17th century canal house, as Wes said. I really wanted to take a walking tour given by Mee in Moken at The Amsterdam Historical Museum. (Didn't go, because my traveling companion, my 11 year old daughter just didn't want to!) To go on one, you go to the cafeteria of the Amsterdam Historic Museum and ask at the counter - they will let you know when the tour goes. (The group meets in the cafeteria, at least they did last December) The group is called Mee in Mokum and they are seniors who volunteer to give walking tours - in English as well as Dutch. The tour last two or three hours.

Good place for lunch with panoramic views of the city is Cafe Kalvertoren at the Kalvertoren shopping center Tower (entered via Heilgewg, Kalverstraat and Singel)

All this info is in the Time Out Guide to Amsterdam. Parts of it are online at the Timeout website. WWW.channels.nl/ is a blast, one of those virtual tours sites with links to restaurants, museums, attractions - take a look at it. Enjoy your trip - listen for the bike bells and make way!

 
Apr 30th, 2001, 02:16 PM
  #9  
wes fowler
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Lee, if this is your first trip to the Netherlands, do take the bus from the airport to the city and keep your eye peeled for highway overpasses as you ride in. It's disconcerting, but a wonderful introduction to the Netherlands to ride on a four lane highway above which boats sail by on the highway's overpasses.
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 06:49 PM
  #10  
arjay
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We were at the Villa Borgmann last month and found it to be very pleasant. It's a bit 'off the beaten track,' which was one of the things we liked best about it (along with having a spacious, sunny room). We took the bus from Schipol into town alighting at the Cok Hotel stop - the VB info about being "100 metres" from there is a bit confusing. The Cok Hotel runs from a busy front street where the bus stops, thru a courtyard to a quieter street on the rear - this is the street you want. From the Cok Hotel courtyard, you make a left and it's about a two block walk. The hotel will be on the right hand side of the street. The bus however was a lengthy way to get into town...made for a quick interesting tour, but it probably took in the area of an hour. The train would probably be quicker - tho if this is your first stop in Europe, the chaotic jumble of trams outside Centraal Station may be a bit much for a weary, jet-lagged brain. We found Amsterdam interesting - but very urban. I heard someone say that Holland is the most densely populated country in Europe. The Anne Frank house was very moving (and in my mind, an absolute 'must'). We also liked the VanGogh Museum.
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 07:52 PM
  #11  
Art
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Hi Lee, It has been many years since I spent much time in Amsterdam, but I always enjoyed the city and surrounding areas. If you venture out of the city, you'll find field after field of Tulips. Just beautiful. In The Hague there is a fascinating miniature village named Mudurodam. Worth at least 1/2 day. If you will have a car, you might want to take a drive along the dykes. I found it fascinating to think that most of the country is lower than sea level and they are all that stands between a dry and a country under water. There are also great museums to see in Amsterdam as well as the Anne Frank house.
Have a great trip
Regards
Art
 
Apr 30th, 2001, 09:23 PM
  #12  
April
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A cesspool? What did I miss? My husband and I thought Amsterdam was thoroughly delightful. As for street people, I see more of them here in Canada than I ever saw there.
 
May 1st, 2001, 12:17 AM
  #13  
frank
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Train/tram is fine, get your tram ticket at the info place across from the front of centraal station (ask for a strippencart its a good deal), thats you set up for transport - some prefer to get the hotel bus from the airport (mentioned above), both are faster than a cab at most times of the day.
Karen probably thinks it a cesspool because prostitution & cannabis are legal, unlike her home town where they are safely in the hands of gangsters.
Seriously the redlight can be a shock if you've never seen it before, I've seen a few white-faced American familes emerge, but only the first time, and its safe to go about in.(mebbe not at 3am)
Amsterdam is both civilised and fun.Visit the flowermarket on the singel canal.
 
May 1st, 2001, 04:20 AM
  #14  
Lee
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All: You folks are great! Everyone came through with some great info, as usual.

I have been to the Netherlands in the mid-80's, but not since then and only spent one day in Amsterdam and the rest of the week in other areas.

We usually make it to Europe once, sometimes twice each year (if we're lucky), but again, Holland isn't a typical stop for us.

I will wait until Wednesday (we leave Thursday) and print out all of the responses and take them with us on our trip. Lastly, rumor has it that Holland isn't as easy to use your credit card as many places in Europe, did anyone find this to be true? We normally don't take much cash. Thanks, again!
 
May 1st, 2001, 04:49 AM
  #15  
frank
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I haven't found any probs with Visa in Holland, but be warned that AMEX isn't universally accepted in Europe.There's always the ATM!
I always paid cash in restaurants there, so there may be a prob I don't know about.
 
May 1st, 2001, 06:22 AM
  #16  
Mr. Man
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To: Karen ([email protected])
Your ignorant attitude is an embarassment. People like you will never know how to enjoy foreign travel, so why bother? You are a waste and should just stay home in your trailer park or wherever trash such as yourself gathers. I'm surprised you were able to even figure out how to get a passport. People like you should be banned from obtaining one. Low Class!
 
May 1st, 2001, 06:36 AM
  #17  
Olga
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Lee,

could you please give me the phone#/website of Villa Borgmann - can't find it for some reason!

Thanks!

Olga
 
May 1st, 2001, 06:37 AM
  #18  
Sjoerd
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Most places frequented by tourists do accept credit cards. (mostly Visa and Mastercard) However, I do know several restaurants in Amsterdam, and many in other (less touristy) cities in the Netherlands, which do NOT accept credit cards.
So always check before you order your meal!
 
May 1st, 2001, 07:07 AM
  #19  
Lee
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Olga, I didn't find a website that belongs specifically to the Villa Borgmann, but it is listed on www.bookings.nl/hotels/borgmann. There you will find details, rates, address, etc. about the hotel. We booked online and received our confirmation. We haven't stayed there before, so don't have any first-hand knowledge.

Thanks to Frank and Sjoerd on the credit card info. We'll plan on using both (cash & CC) and be prepared.

 
May 1st, 2001, 07:46 AM
  #20  
wes fowler
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Consider Aalsmeer for an early morning exploration. It's a town about 9 miles from Amsterdam, accessible by bus from the Centraal Station where every morning millions and millions of cut flowers are trucked into a mammoth warehouse and auction rooms, auctioned off, then shipped all over Europe for sale the same day. You can tour the whole proceedings on a catwalk high above the warehouse floor and look down upon millions of cut flowers arrayed in two tiers on carts that are pulled into the auction rooms then linked to other carts and trucked to loading docks. The colors are overwhelming and the fragrances are truly breathtaking. the auctioning process is also viewable and fascinating to see. It's an early morning event but well worth every minute of the experience.

Take a look at the website
www.vba-aalsmeer.nl/engllish/index/html
to whet your appetite.
 

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