The city of Amsterdam
Most of the people who I told that I was going to Amsterdam for a conference responded with some combination of one or more of “Oh, the drug capital of the world“, “Oh, the city of red lights and legalized prostitution“, and “Oh, this is the best place to get high and get laid“. Quite a few people that I know have already visited Amsterdam before, and less than a handful of them could name a point of interest not related to either sex or drugs.
That felt a bit to narrow minded for me, but there was not much I could express in return. Reading Wikipedia articles and tourist guides is all fine, but it doesn’t beat the experience of a visit.
I am glad to report that there is a lot more to the city of Amsterdam than just coffeshops with legalized pot and red lights district. So much in fact, that I didn’t manage to visit those high profile places in my almost four days there. So, what’s up there?
Streets. Lots of streets with some nice architecture. A complex system of canals is laid through out the city, and that makes for some amazing scenery. Canal waters, industrial skyline, lots of parks, lawns, and trees, and developed infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclist make it all a pleasure to explore the city. I wish the weather was any better, but even as such (+3..+7 C with a bit of wind and rain) it wasn’t a big problem.
One of the things that I kept pointing out for myself was how well-organized and clean the city was despite all the industrial works in the area. Canals are pretty busy with ships of all shapes and sizes bringing stuff in and taking stuff out. Railways are going throughout the city. Trucks can be easily spotted around. Also there are quite a few sites which look like factories and plants. But, somehow, it is very easy to imagine that all of that industrial infrastructure is just not there. Because it doesn’t affect the city life very much. The air is clean and easy to breath, the water is fine, and the streets are nice and clean too. Coming from a very industrial city myself, it kept surprising me over and over again.
One aspect of this infrastructure was particularly catching my attention – the railways. Railways are going through the city inside out. Plenty of passenger and non-passenger trains are passing by. But, the railways are clean and trains are very silent. Many buildings by the railways have tables and chairs on the balconies, arranged in such a way that there is no doubt some people are using them to enjoy the view and to rest a bit during their free time. In fact, the hotel in which I was staying was only about five minutes away from Amsterdam Central, and I never even heard or felt any train passing, although I could see many of them out of the window.
Of course, when talking about Amsterdam, it is impossible not to mention bicycles. They are everywhere. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, much like those people riding them. Bikes are used both as a form of transportation and as means of exercise. And while many people have cars, it looks like absolutely everyone has a bicycle, and what’s more, everyone seem to prefer a bicycle to a car no matter what is the goal of the trip, the distance to the destination, or the weather outside. Amazing really.
Amsterdam, they say, is well known for its cultural life. Museum and exhibitions in particular. I saw a few proofs of that, in the form of museum signs and all sorts of passes and batch tickets, but I didn’t manage to enjoy any of that. A few people from the conference did sneak out to museums and said that they were indeed pretty good, but I can’t trust that until I’ll see it with my own eyes. Yes, that means that I want to go back and spend some more time in Amsterdam…
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ibis Amsterdam City West Hotel
Economy hotel for business and leisure
Enjoy your stay at Hotel ibis Amsterdam City West. Thanks to the conveniently located metro station, Isolatorweg and train station Amsterdam Sloterdijk there are direct connections to the City Centre, de RAI and Schiphol.
ibis Amsterdam City West: modern and comfortable, near Sloterdijk train station and the historic center of Amsterdam. Free parking on weekends. Downtown, with the Vondelpark, Rijksmuseum and the «9 Streets», is very easy to reach by bicycle, bus (stop 55 yds) and metro (stop 440 yds). With good connections to the RAI congress center and Schiphol airport and a strategic location near Havens West, Westpoort business park and Houthavens, the hotel is also very popular with business travelers.
Hotel ibis Amsterdam City West is an excellent base for exploring the capital. The atmospheric Wester Park is within walking distance, and the Amsterdam canals and historic city centre are within easy reach by public transport. Dam Square, the Anne Frankhuis, Westerkerk Church, the Hermitage and Waterlooplein. We also recommend the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and Rembrandthuis. Or walk through the authentic Jordaan district for an experience off the beaten track.
Direct connection to the historical city center of Amsterdam (bus stop 50m, metro 400m)
Indoor car park facilities EUR 7.50 per day (max. 1m90 high). Free car park during weekends
Direct connections to the RAI congress center and Schiphol Amsterdam Airport
Free web corner and free WIFI throughout the hotel
Free international TV
This hotel participates to Planet 21 and is acting in favour of Positive Hospitality.
Welcome back city lovers to another Friday edition of I Heart My City. This week Keith Jenkins, traveler and writer behind the Velvet Escape blog, gives us his insiderвЂ™s tour of Amsterdam. Read on to discover some of KeithвЂ™s great tips, like where to score the cityвЂ™s best Flemish fries.
Want to see your city onВ Intelligent Travel? Copy and paste our list ofВ fill-in-the-blank questions into an e-mail, fill in your answers, and send your responses (with any photos, videos or links) toВ IntelligentTravel@ngs.org.
Amsterdam is My City
The first place I take a visitor from out of town is the Begijnhof or Nunnery in the heart of Amsterdam; a tranquil place with beautiful houses and trees. ItвЂ™s simply a magical place.
When I crave Dutch (or Flemish) fries, with mayonnaise of course, I always go to Fleminckx (Voetboogstraat 31, a small lane between the Spui square and the Heiligeweg). Simply the best fries in town!
To escape the daily grind of blogging, I head into town for a leisurely stroll along the canals or an afternoon at one of the many terraces to people-watch. Any of the terraces at Rembrandt plein (square) is a good bet for an entertaining afternoon.
For complete quiet, I can hide away in the countryside just north of Amsterdam. There are many options but my favorites are the area around the little village of Schoorl (simply вЂHolland At Its BestвЂ) or the islands of Texel or Vlieland with their endless beaches and dunes.
If you come to my city, get your picture taken on the drawbridge that crosses the Groenburgwal canal. Amsterdam is veryВ photogenic and there are many great spots for a memorable picture. When youвЂ™re on the bridge, keep an eye out for Amsterdammers on their bikes to avoid being run over!
If you have to order one thing off the menu from Saturnino (my favorite Italian restaurant) it has to be the sirloin steak with black truffles and porcini mushrooms.
Locals know to skip the canal tours and check out options for hiring a boat instead. ItвЂ™s so much more fun to hire a boat, pack a picnic basket and cruise through the canals at your own pace. TheВ canals of Amsterdam offer visitors a unique window into the history of the city and the lifestyle of its inhabitants.
When IвЂ™m feeling cash-strapped I go to my favorite neighborhood restaurant:В Eten aan de Rijn. I love to cook but I enjoy eating out just as much. Eten aan de Rijn has a daily three-course menu for 25 euros. Excellent food and the owners Jaap and Nadja are great company!
For a huge splurge I go to one of the Michelin star restaurants in or near Amsterdam. My favorites include Ron Blaauw (in the village of Ouderkerk just outside the city) or вЂT Amsterdammetje and Tante Koosje (in the gorgeous village of Loenen aan de Vecht, about a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam).
Photo ops in my city include the bridge that crosses the Groenburgwal canal, the Begijnhof and my absolute favorite spot in the city, the intersection of the Keizers and Leidse canals. The best vantage point is the rooftop of the NEMO science center.
If my city were a celebrity itвЂ™d be George Clooney; sexy, mondaine and despite its age, far from past its prime!
The most random thing about my city is how cosmopolitan it is. Almost 200 different nationalities live here, making it a very vibrant town with a broad array of cultural activities every day of the yearвЂ¦ and all that within a village-like setting!
My city has the tallest men. The Dutch are some of the tallest people on this planet. Honestly, I sometimes feel like a dwarf (and IвЂ™m not particularly short!)
My city has the most diverse, sexy women.
In my city, an active day outdoors involves cycling around town (a daily activity) or into the nearby countryside (I love the route that follows the Amstel River down to the village of Ouderkerk). Rowing (in the Amstel River) is also a popular sport among the locals.
My cityвЂ™s best museum is theВ Van Gogh Museum (IвЂ™m a big fan of Van Gogh). Amsterdam is famous for its museums and rightfully so. There are many of them, from theВ Rijksmuseum (with its stunning collection of Rembrandts) to theВ Hermitage (a branch of its famous namesake in St. Petersburg), theВ Tropenmuseum (Tropical Museum) and theВ Museum of Bags and Purses. Did I mention the Sex Museum?
My favorite jogging/walking route is along the entire length of the KeizersgrachtвЂ“ my favorite canal. ItвЂ™s an excellent walking route through the heart of the city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Start at the canalвЂ™s intersection with the Brouwersgracht. YouвЂ™ll pass the wonderfully atmospheric Jordaan neighborhood, the shopping haven in the Nine Streets neighborhood and many stately houses before reaching the Amstel River. I can also recommend the route along the Amstel River to Ouderkerk. As you leave the city behind you, youвЂ™ll pass beautiful windmills, grazing cows and sheep, and historic mansions.
For a night of dancing, go to Jimmy Woo. Or, for live music, check out Muziekgebouw aan вЂt Ij (the Music Center at the harbor front) for an eclectic variety of musical performances and great views of the harbor.
The FEBO, a Dutch institution, is the spot for late-night eats. ItвЂ™s a quirky experience as you eat вЂout of a wallвЂ™ but you have to try it!
You can tell a lot about my city from its different neighborhoods.
You can tell if someone is from my city if theyвЂ™re on a junk-like bike.