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Amsterdam – Did you know?

Amsterdam can be a pretty odd place. There are all sorts of little facts and things that locals know about but strangers would never expect. I bet you didn’t know any of these things about Amsterdam.

The name Amsterdam comes from the combination of the river Amstel and the dam that was built on it in order to found the original village there. You might have heard of Amstel as the name of a beer that was named after the river, because that’s where it was brewed.

Amsterdam has the most museums of any city in the world, measured per square metre. There’s a museum around almost every corner, covering all sorts of weird and wonderful topics, from famous painters to (inevitably) the history of marijuana.

If global warming causes the sea levels to rise, Amsterdam will be one of the first world cities to get flooded, because it’s so close to sea level and is almost entirely flat. Better see it while you can!

You can’t visit Amsterdam’s parliament building, because there isn’t one. Although Amsterdam is the largest town in the Netherlands and is the official capital, all of the government functions take place at the Hague.

When it comes to transport, Amsterdam boasts over 600,000 bicycles, almost 250 trams, over 150 canals – and around 1,200 bridges. Hardly anyone drives in the city centre, and it’s almost impossible to find anywhere to park there.

Finally, you almost certainly won’t know that one of the canal boats in Amsterdam, known as the Poezenboot, acts as a home for stray cats. A woman who had been re-housing stray cats had the idea of getting them a houseboat – after all, if people can live in them, why not cats? Forty years later, the volunteers at the shelter look after seventy cats at a time.

Ten Fun Things to do in Amsterdam

One of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam, particularly among couples of all ages, is to take a long canal cruise. Open-top canal boats as well as canal bikes, which you pedal yourself, are available for this purpose. Guided canal boats can be rented for private trips. Sunset and night-time cruises come highly recommended.

Visiting one or more of Amsterdam’s varied museums is also a popular activity. Museum lovers usually purchase a museum card for free and quick entry to a large number of museums. As a city steeped in European history, Amsterdam is home to art, history, and science museums alike. Be sure to stop in at Anne Frank’s House to catch a glimpse of the life of the girl made famous by her wartime diary.

With all of the beautiful sights to take in, such as the range of medieval and modern architecture and gorgeous canals, a walking tour or cycling tour should find a place on your Amsterdam itinerary.

Amsterdam is also famous for its coffee shops. The prevailing atmosphere is relaxed and casual. Despite the name “coffee shop,” beer and even marijuana and other types of hallucinogens can be legally purchased at these establishments. The coffee shops are viewed as places to relax and socialize.

Don’t forget to visit the flower market and take home some of Amsterdam’s signature tulip bulbs or flowering cacti. In the summertime, visitors can purchase a large variety of flowers.

The Jordaan is one of the quieter parts of Amsterdam. It is filled with restored old houses and small canals. Small shops offer art, antiques, and pottery to visitors. There are also many cosy restaurants, cafes, and bars in the area.

Clubgoers will not be left out due to the widespread availability of hot and happening nightclubs. For a live band, check out The Waterhole near Leidseplein. The area has a busy city feel to it with its flashy neon lights and takeaway restaurants. For an energy-filled night of good times and good beer, visit the Irish Pub Slainte. There’s no hip hop or techno music and no marijuana, but the spirits are high and the flamboyant bartenders keep the crowd going.

A visit to any new city wouldn’t be complete without shopping. Tourists can shop till they drop at the numerous souvenir shops, street markets, and plazas. Everything from mini souvenirs to antiques is available at a range of prices.

Visit the windmills of Amsterdam for a terrific photo opportunity. While most of them are closed to the public, Sloten Windmill allows visitors to enter and is set up for easy accessibility for those in a wheelchair. Volunteers are on hand to explain how the windmill works and on occasion a miller is available to demonstrate. Sloten Windmill is also a popular site for nuptial celebrations.

Last on the list of things to do is a trip to the Heineken brewery. When the brewery was still active, visitors were given a guided tour of the brewing process that culminated in free beer and cheese. Today, for a few Euro, visitors have their pick of two top-notch bars and receive three large beers and a gift. The renovated old brewery still has many things to see, including a glass staircase, copper vats, theater, and a music video studio.

When in Rome. When in Amsterdam

Every-one uses them, not just the old, not just the young, not just the poor, not just the rich; and with a city as flat, structured, and small as Amsterdam it’s hardly a surprise.

As a tourist you won’t necessarily feel the need that the locals have for the national form of transport, after all strolls along the canals and taking your time getting places is all a part of the holiday ambience. However, there are roughly three quarters of a million inhabitants of Amsterdam, and between them they own more or less 600,000 bikes, so surely they must be on to something, and as they say; when in Amsterdam.

Whether the city has adapted to the cyclists or the cyclists have adapted to the city is unclear but which ever is the case the city is incredibly bicycle friendly with bike stands all over the place for leaving your bike safely, and bike lanes on all the newer roads. The city centre, due its narrow streets is a little less friendly and cyclists will often find themselves careering down old roads neck to neck with cars this is something to watch out for. Another point to watch out for that separates the tourists from the locals is the tram lines. If you were to get your tires stuck in the tram lines you would not be the first but you would certainly mark your self out as a visitor: Always cross the tram lines at right angles!

You can rent bikes at various locations around the city but the best bet is at the stations where you can get a bike for around 12 Euros per day and up. It is highly recommended to do so at least for one day and to cycle out into the nearby countryside or along the Amstel River. Take a packed lunch with you and you won’t regret it.

Many people choose to take biking into account when picking their holiday accommodation. With over 400 hotels in Amsterdam there are plenty to pick from but one might consider choosing a hotel a little way out of the city. Price wise it makes little difference if you are right in the city or a little way out; you should expect to pay around 60 euros to 140 euros for a three star hotel. However, if you do venture just a half hour’s bike ride out of the city you will find holiday villages and guest houses which often provide a much more Dutch experience where you are more likely to meet Dutch people and sample what a Dutch holiday is like. Furthermore, with an out of town holiday option you can spend a few days exploring the beautiful stretched out Dutch countryside, whilst of course having the city a mere half hour’s ride away; it’s really the best of both worlds.

The Amsterdam Alternative to Hotels

Think Amsterdam and you might envision Old-World buildings nestled around curving canals, the bright lights of downtown’s Red Light District and a host of cultural opportunities awaiting the avid tourist. With so much to do, where should you stay?

Amsterdam offers a housing option that few European cities can boast – houseboats.

Why deal with a noisy hotel when you can float peacefully on your own private boat?

Having visions of sleeping in bunks and taking turns at a leaky head? Have no fear. Amsterdam houseboats are built like miniature yachts and offer their guests every amenity a hotel can provide – and more. Amsterdam houseboats are built with living rooms complete with entertainment systems, kitchens, spacious bedrooms, and real bathrooms (No claustrophobic water closets here.) Some houseboats also include terraces and even mini gardens where guests may sit, relax, and watch the activity on the waterway.

When choosing an Amsterdam houseboat for rent, you’ll want to make sure you’re near the center of town, not docked so far away that you’ll need a bus or taxi to take you to your touring destination. On Prinsengracht Canal, in the heart of Amsterdam’s charming and popular Jordaan Quarter, is docked “The Astarte Temple” Nearby is the Noorderkerk Marketplace and some of Amsterdam’s famous night-clubs, cafés, shops and galleries. “The Lilly Houseboat” also waits to take weary travelers away from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam’s busy streets, and then back again the next day.

Located close to the newly renovated Westerpark, “The Lilly Houseboat” is within walking distance of the shops and Cantraal Station. “The Nina Houseboat” has been recently renovated and is docked just outside the city’s center. Guests on the “Nina” will enjoy beautiful views and still be close to the Waterloosquare, Rembrandtsquare and the longest market in the Netherlands. Downtown Amsterdam is a short 10-minute bicycle ride away.

When renting a houseboat, plan your vacation well in advance and plan to stay for a while. Smaller houseboats begin with three-day rentals while the larger luxury boats may require monthly commitments. However long you plan to stay, plan to relax and let the gentle sway of the canals rock you to sleep in your own Amsterdam houseboat.

This location is very popular worldwide and citizens here like their stay, the unsurpassed stay offered by this station. The region is not greatly costly also and you group with lesser budgets can enjoy their stay. Always believe renting one of numerous stylish apartments. Holiday lodging rental is a relaxing and more affordable choice touring this part families and travelers with pets should check with their travel agents to secure that all the rentals are secured before leaving home, People would love to take up a Travel provided their accommodation is affordable. There are zillions holidaymakers from all over the planet visiting to this amazing and amazing and revel for their holiday here with is complete of fun and enjoyment so start your journey today.

The history of Amsterdams red – Part 1

The Dutch are moral realists. They don’t believe that making so-called vices illegal will cause them to go away, or result in fewer people indulging in them. In the Netherlands, both prostitution and the purchase and smoking of marijuana are legal, based on the theory that since many people will pursue these activities anyway, you might as well create safe and comfortable venues for them.

When I visited the 800-year-old red-light district, or Rossebuurt, of Amsterdam in 1984, I was coming from a city well-known in the U.S. for its moral liberalism: San Francisco. Yet even in San Francisco, as in every other town and city in America, prostitution is against the law. Sex workers either hide away, reachable only by phone or the Internet, or they lurk on street corners in the seedier parts of town, where they are the victims of beatings, robberies, murder, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. In contrast, Amsterdam red-light prostitutes pay taxes, have access to medical care if they want it, and even have their own union and information center.

Like other tourists, I was amazed at the apparent cleanliness and orderliness of the sex worker industry in Amsterdam. Here were prostitutes in alluring outfits openly offering sex to tourists and locals from the windows and glass doors of their one-room apartments. I was surprised that there was a 14th century church, the Oudekerk or Old Church, in the same historic neighborhood that featured brothels, sex shops, sex clubs, and marijuana and sex museums. And I was amused by the Disneyland-like atmosphere of the prostitutes’ colorful, brightly lit bedrooms facing an otherwise ordinary street.

But in the intervening years since I visited, clouds have appeared in the controlled atmosphere of Amsterdam’s red-light district. Not everybody in Amsterdam approves of prostitution, and there is discrimination against them, particularly economic discrimination. There are also many illegal immigrants working as prostitutes. According to Amsterdam vice cops, two main groups of human traffickers now flourish in the area and try to take advantage of young women by forcing them into prostitution. Many of these women are lured to Amsterdam from Eastern Europe. A 2004 Amsterdam study found that many prostitutes are not independent workers and have a pimp who is either a former boyfriend (called a “loverboy”) or involved in human trafficking (called a “Turk”).

For the past five years, Amsterdam has

Celebrate Christmas in Amsterdam

If you have ever wanted to celebrate the Christmas season in a brand new and interesting place, you might want to think about celebrating Christmas in Amsterdam.

An Amsterdam city break is a great idea if you want to spend the Christmas season somewhere new. First of all, it is going to have a slightly cooler climate, which means that you will still feel as if you are in the middle of the winter. Yet, it will be much more mild, meaning that you can still enjoy walking and biking around the city, as well as traveling on the canal. These are the best parts about Amsterdam, so you want to be sure that you can do them during your visit.

Christmas City Breaks in Amsterdam

There are many great things about celebrating Christmas in Amsterdam. First of all, there are several churches that you can visit no matter what your particular affiliation is. This means that you will be able to still enjoy your favorite holiday services, without having to worry about not being in you home church. There are several religious monuments and shrines that you can visit during your stay, which will make your Christmas even more memorable.

The part of spending Christmas in Amsterdam that you will most likely enjoy the most is the fact that the city is one that is always wide open, welcoming, and full of joy. For the Christmas season, there will be carolers, Christmas parties, pageants, and celebrations no matter where you are going within the city. Not only that, but these celebrations are all very welcoming, which means you will be able to enjoy them no matter who you might be or why you might be in the city.

Amsterdam Christmas Breaks

While you are in Amsterdam for Christmas, be sure to rent a bike and ride through the streets. Also, a visit to the house of Anne Frank is a must for anyone who is in the city at any time. You will want to stroll along the canal, and visit all of the historical monuments that you can find along it. And be sure to stop into the small café s and coffee shops to get a taste of what Amsterdam is all about. You will be able to enjoy each moment of your Christmas season if you spend it in Amsterdam. The people are friendly, the houses are warm and safe, and you will feel as if you are directly in the middle of the joy of the season.

Amsterdam A City For Everyone

However, just relaxing nowadays is no longer good enough. We know that as busy people, we find it hard to do nothing for extended periods of time. You therefore need a holiday destination that will help you get away from it all and also give to the holiday of a lifetime in one of the quaintest cities around today.

Amsterdam has a lot to offer any type of traveller. There is the low budget accommodation for the younger travellers or for those who are travelling alone across the world. There are the top class hotels and the self-catering holiday apartments that appeal more to families. The bottom line is that there is somewhere to stay in Amsterdam no matter what your preferences.

If you are looking for a bit of culture while you are relaxing then Amsterdam has plenty of this to offer. Amsterdam’s most famous museum is the Rijksmuseum. This is where you will be able to see many masterpieces, including paintings by both Rembrandt and Vermeer. If this is not enough art to whet your appetite then you should head over to the Vincent van Gogh Museum where you will be able to learn all you’ve ever wanted about this artist anomaly. You can also get a taste of fresher art at the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art. For a more solemn historical visit, you should see Anne Frank’s house that still stands as a monument to the Jewish families that were snatched out of their homes by the Nazis during World War II.

Amsterdam also provides the complete extreme to historical culture although still very much a part of the Amsterdam culture. The city’s Red Light District is arguably the most famous in the world. Even if it is not exactly your cup of tea, you should take a walk through there at night and pop into a few of the bars and nightclubs. This is where you will see a nightlife that you will never see again. The streets are very safe and are crammed with tourists from all walks of life, especially in the summer months when the weather is still mild.

Dam Square will provide you will a true Amsterdam buzz and once again, this area is packed both day and night with people looking for fun. The fun is scattered throughout Amsterdam. Therefore, no matter where you decide to find accommodation, it should not make too much difference. The public transport is first class so you will have no problem getting to wherever you need to go. The earlier you book, the cheaper your holiday will be. So if you have not yet booked, you should do so.

Amsterdam an experience you will not forget

Mention Amsterdam, and you get a certain reaction – drugs, red light districts are the first things that come to mind. There’s a lot more to Amsterdam than that, though, as you’ll see if you go there.

Amsterdam has a long and rich history, full of ups and downs. It started in the 12th century as a tiny fishing village, but quickly grew thanks to trade with the Germans and Scandinavia. By the 17th century, it was one of the world’s richest cities, acting as a financial centre in much the same way as New York does today. However, wars with Britain and France combined with the rising popularity of other areas saw it lose this status quite quickly.

When the Industrial Revolution got to Amsterdam in the 19th century, it became an important capital once again. Canals were built to the North Sea and the Rhine, and more and more people started coming to Amsterdam again. The Netherlands was neutral in the First World War, but suffered terrible losses in the second, as the Nazis took over with little resistance, decimating the Jewish population and killing off the city’s lucrative diamond trade.

Today, Amsterdam has a huge and varied multicultural population. It’s either on a real high or failing once again, depending on who you believe, but regardless, it has long been a tourist destination for those who are interested in going to a city that is ‘magical’ in more ways than one. Ultimately, Amsterdam can be a gritty, downtrodden kind of place, but there are plenty of people who like that in a city, and there’s no denying that it also has some beautiful architecture and landscapes. It’s become a Mecca of sorts for Europe’s hippies and students, and a visit will, at the very least, never be a dull experience.

An Amsterdam Tourist Is Met With Limitless Choices On Their Vacation

Most of the time the well-heeled Amsterdam tourist will arrive in the capital city of Holland via airplane, landing at Amsterdam Schiphol International airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. However, there are also many tourists who begin their trip to Amsterdam by taking the train or a motor coach into the city, or by hopping aboard one of the many ferries that crisscross the North Sea daily.

No matter what route a tourist utilizes to arrive in the metro Amsterdam area, they will be greeted with any number of sights to see and things to do in this city that is considered the jewel of the Netherlands. And, while this historic city is a jewel in many respects, especially in terms of culture, the arts, and various forms of entertainment, Amsterdam Holland is also often referred to as the Venice of the North because it, like Venice, has an intriguing labyrinth of canals for visitors to explore.

Part of what makes Amsterdam such a beautiful, romantic and picturesque city is the canal system that runs throughout the Amsterdam city center and out into the surrounding districts. Regardless what part of the city that an Amsterdam tourist visitor would like to visit, there is a canal that they can stroll alongside of or take a canal boat to arrive at their destination.

Any tourist who is a lover of fine art will be thrilled with the selection of art museums that are such an important part of the Amsterdam heritage and experience. The majority of the main museums are located in an area of Amsterdam city known as the Museum Quarter, which is easily accessible by taking a canal bus or one of the very efficient trams that run through the city. The Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam is just one such venue, yet the work of Rembrandt is also plentiful in the museums of this capital city of Holland.

Another area of the city that is a draw for tourists during their trip to Amsterdam are the bright and lively flower markets which engage and mesmerize visitors with a myriad of colors, shapes, textures and heavenly aromas. The flower shops are not fixed structures but are actually floating platforms or boats on the canals.

One of the more interesting tourist attractions is actually an area of the city that is commonly referred to as the Amsterdam red light district. This is the part of the city where the prostitution trade is completely legal and operates in the open. In addition, marijuana is also legal in this part of town and can be purchased freely at any of the coffee shops in the district.

On a more somber note, one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions is the Anne Frank House, which is where she and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. The house, and the attic where the Frank family lived, remains virtually untouched and visitors often leave with a poignant reminder of the horrors of that period of history.

In general, an Amsterdam tourist is met with almost limitless choices when they decide to incorporate Amsterdam travel into their vacation plans. Visitors to this welcoming city find themselves easily taken in by the friendly inhabitants and the easygoing lifestyle that is one of the hallmarks of this amazing area.

The history of Amsterdams red – Part 2

The De Wallen is quite possibly the best known and most publicized red light district in the world today. Located in the oldest part of Amsterdam the De Wallen covers several blocks and is crossed by several canals and is composed of several alleyways that feature hundreds of one bedroom apartments where women and some men advertise themselves through the window, usually under, surprise, surprise, red lights.

Amsterdam’s red light district composes over 6500 square meters of pure debauchery. Besides prostitutes and sex workers, Amsterdam’s red light district comprises of sex shops/theaters, a sex museum, a cannabis a/k/a weed museum, and a handful of coffee shops that sell coffee and various types of cannabis.

The red light district here in Amsterdam has been in existence since the 1300′s where the coffee shops were occupied by distilleries and catered mostly to sailors of various nationalities. Also, the name Wallen, meaning walls, and refers to the retaining dam walls in the older center of Amsterdam built during the medieval era.

Near the end of the 17th century Amsterdam became widely known in Europe for it’s many “houses of pleasure”. In these luxury brothels (tolerated in the red light district) one could enjoy music, dance and the company of common prostitutes.

Through out the Middle Ages, prostitutes had a dress code and were not allowed to be married. It was prohibited for married men to visit prostitutes and prostitution was confined to certain spots in the city which would later become known as the Red Light District.

Prostitution remained a small time business and prostitutes worked for madams, frequently who were former prostitutes, for room and board and to pay off clothing costs, make-up, etc. If they stayed out of trouble, madams would not be bothered by the town governing authorities which, at times, could be harsh.

In 1911, the brothels became illegal. This ban would become more lax during the sexual revolution of the 60′s and 70′s and in 2000, prostitution became legal. Officially, this new law was to prevent forced prostitution and exploitation but everyone knows it comes down to the ability to tax an industry that simply could not be banned.

With legalization though it does not mean it’s 100% safe. Health screening is not required and neither are preventive measures, such as condoms, and as a result it is estimated that 7% of sex workers in Amsterdam have HIV/AIDS.

Today, millions visit Amsterdam and the Red Light District is promptly highlighted as a main attraction…for tourist and local alike.