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Visiting Amsterdam - a few Tips
Just few tips when visiting Amsterdam and Surroundings.
Visiting Holland is always a pleasure. The Dutch are very friendly, smiling and easy-going. In general most Dutchman speak English, which is very different from quite a few European countries such as France, Spain and even Italy.
Amsterdam is an alive city with restaurants and bars open until very late. The stores are open every day from about 10 in the morning, closing around 6 -7 in the evening or at times later.
Walking around the Amsterdam streets is great, and the city centre is not that large. One can walk all of the city center without having to use any transport. We walked all around and it is great.
But, if you want to get quickly from one part of the city to another, or do not want to walk use the very effective tram and bus service. The current costs are 2.6 Euro (approx 3.6 US Dollars) for a ticket valid on all Amsterdam public transport (not the national railway) , or a 24 hour ticket at 7 Euro (9.7 US Dollars). You can purchase the tickets on the trams from a dedicated person sitting in a cubicle and if they are not there then from the driver. Remember to swipe the ticket (it is an RFID card) when getting on and off the tram. If you do not swipe it when getting off the next time you get on the train you will find that the ticket has been canceled
You can also purchase various tickets which include Museums and some attractions. Before you do so, just check that you really will use up the amount you pay for the ticket and the attractions. Simple maths. In our last visit we preferred walking and it didn’t justify purchasing.
Attractions and Buying Tickets
Amsterdam has a lot of Museums on many subjects and you can find them in all tour guides so I will not dwell on them.
What I will say is – buy the tickets for the museums especially Van Gogh, and possibly the Rijks Museum from the tourist ticket offices which are spread around Amsterdam. This is also true for Madam Tussauds.
Buying tickets in advance can save a lot of time. The lines at the museums and attractions can be long and this way you just go in without, or hardly waiting. In addition, the prices will probably be cheaper and one can purchase combinations including the Hop on Hop off bus or canal cruises. There are offices on all major streets of the center of Amsterdam and one cannot miss the red and white coloring. They also offer tours around and out of Amsterdam which are quite reasonable.
Anna Frank House is another must. I recommend that you purchase tickets on-line (cost 8.50 = 11.75 US Dollars). This will save a long wait in a long line.
The Anna Frank house is unique in that it is the original house where Anna Frank lived with her family in hiding , and in which she wrote her diary during the Second World War and from which was taken and murdered by the Nazi’s a month before the emancipation. It gives a feeling of what happened to the Jews in Europe during the Holocaust.
The center of Amsterdam is the central shopping area. Most of the streets that lead from the Dam square ( Central square where the Palace is situated) are lined with shops. Pricewise – this depends where you come from ,but in general Amsterdam is not expensive, and even less expensive than other European cities.
Floral market on the Singel Channel is interesting with all the different Tulip bulbs available at very reasonable prices. The only drawback is that you cannot bring into most countries any plants, seeds or bulbs which do not have the necessary permits. There are some that state they have bulbs that are cleared for the US and Canada. The prices of the bulbs, flowers, pot plants and orchids is low and very reasonable.
Albert Cuypmarkt on Albert Cuypstraat – it’s worth taking a walk along this street to get a feel of another view of Amsterdam. At the beginning of the market, on the west end of the street is a great bakery where you can have a cup of coffee or some thing to eat. Well recommended – you arrive at it if you walk from the Museum area towards the market along tram route 16. In the market you can taste waffles made fresh as you wait, or small pancakes freshly made with butter and toppings. It is also recommended to go to a small fish deli on one of the side streets (on the southern side of the street)where you can buy freshly cooked fish (or sea food), sauce and a roll. Just delicious.
Amsterdam is not an expensive place for food and one can find reasonable restaurants throughout the city. Granted, reasonable for Europe as one can find a meal from 14$ up. Besides this one can eat French fries with mayo or other sauces, a Dutch specialty, as well of course the cheeses , chocolates and pastries which are great.
Trips out of Amsterdam
A 20 minute train ride will take you to Alkmaar which in summer has a cheese market. It’s worth a visit even without the cheese market. We luckily didn’t know that there was no cheese market in October and had a great day there.
and Marken , shipping villages are just a 20-30 minute drive just North of Amsterdam. I recommend that if you can, go there by yourselves and not with a tour – this will give you the freedom of being there as long as you want. Holland is very easy to drive in, and with a GPS it really isn’t a problem. I advise driving to Marken – a dyke has been built that enables transport to this quaint village. Another option are ferries from Volendam to Marken.
Giethoorn ( http://www.zwaantje.nl/uk.index.html) – a small very special village situated approximately an hour and a half north-east of Amsterdam. Once again I suggest driving up and enjoy the Dutch countryside. The houses are surrounded by canals and are accessible by water or narrow bridges. No cars can drive around the canal area of Giethoorn. A truly beautiful and special village and very much worth the visit.
Enjoy your stay