Special Report - A Guide to Amsterdam
This special report is one in a series of six pages to
300A - Past, Present & Future (Observations & ideas)
Granted, a page about Amsterdam may seem a bit out of place...
April 9, 2006 - Preface (I haven't had time to start the proper 'Beginner's Guide to Amsterdam' yet.)
April 9, 2006 - Preface
If they didn't get too carried away at the Limburg
Well, I'm always most happy to help out.
The picture at the top shows 'De Waag' on the
It gets you through the city centre much quicker than a car, although cycling in town can be hazardous to your health if you're not used to the insane traffic here. Rumours that one of Holland's other favourite means of
transportation is the clog (a.k.a. the wooden shoe) are grossly exaggerated. Our ancestors wore clogs because it was the only type of footwear that wouldn't rot away in the swamplands and if you happened to lose one of
them it wouldn't sink to the bottom of the swamp. However, anybody that ever wore clogs knows that they are extremely uncomfortable. Well, that's hardly surprising because they are carved out of wood - not quite as
flexible as leather. Needless to say, their popularity here has dwindled significantly over time.
April 23, 2006 - A Few Amsterdam Hot Spots
 is one of the more infamous parts of town: the Red Light District.
For those not familiar with the Dutch situation: a 'coffeeshop' in Amsterdam sometimes sells much more than just coffee. Some focus on soft drugs like marijuana and hashish (which are legal here), but there are many 'normal' coffee houses as well where you'll get a strange look if you ask for a joint... Anyway, this coffeeshop is located very conveniently near the central station, so many tourists visit the place for some recreational activities that are illegal at home. Those with a slightly more adventurous nature should walk down the street between  and  for a selection of dozens of other coffee shops that are actually frequented by the locals.
You'll probably want to eat and sleep during your stay in Amsterdam as well, so I've included some hotels and restaurants on the map of the city centre.  is the 'Port van Cleve' hotel and restaurant near Dam Square. When I asked Davin about his experiences he wrote: 'Excellent location just off Dam Square. Nice European flavour, very friendly staff, excellent free breakfast included, 4 stars but not expensive. Close to Gall & Gall Exclusief. So - marijuana, hookers and booze within walking distance (not that I noticed).'  is the Ibis Hotel right next to the Central Sation where the PLOWED people stayed. It doesn't look too posh but the location is hard to beat. You can get to Schiphol or any part of Amsterdam in half an hour.  is the Victoria Hotel opposite the Central Station - also located as centrally as possible and a little more upscale than the Ibis Hotel from the looks of it. Not marked on the map is Hotel Krasnapolsky right on Dam Square (#2). Mark Adams had this to say: 'Hotel Krasnapolsky is simply wonderful, if you have enough acorns stashed away. The Winter Garden buffet is outstanding. What I have wanted to try, but have not yet, is a sort of B&B on the water - canal boat-houses, which are easy to find online.'. Finally,  on the map is an hotel and a landmark in one. The Prins Hendrik Hotel is the place where Chet Baker fell from a window to his untimely demise. It was also the spot where the PLOWED people and myself shared a dram to commemorate a great musician before taking a tour through town, so that concludes this short sermon.
I picked up Rodger, Tim and Tom (Alan was already on his way home) at the Ibis Hotel and after a quick dram at the tiny plaque for Chet Baker at the Prins Hendrik Hotel we strolled down the Zeedijk (the winding street between  and  on the map) towards the Nieuwmarkt. Just before the Nieuwmarkt I took a right turn, then a left, a right and another right and soon I had the PLOWED people completely lost and desoriented in the Red Light District - a little game I like to play whenever I show foreign visitors around town. Seen from the top (like in the map above) the city centre may seem pretty structured, but especially the older parts of town are a maze of alleys and small canals that can split and intersect at crooked angles. After spiraling through the old town for a bit (Rodger described it as a 'Porno Disneyland', which evoked some disturbing mental pictures in my mind) I lead us back to the Nieuwmarkt to find a us a restaurant.
There are plenty of restaurants around the square, but most of them offer far eastern quisine (mostly Chinese, Indonesian and Thai) while the PLOWED people were in the mood for something more local on this particular evening. So, I took them South-west along the Kloveniersburgwal to see if the waterside terrace of 'De Jaren' was already open. It wasn't (probably for the better because it was still chilly for the time of year), so I dragged the Americans a little further into town to a fairly typically local restaurant: 'Sluizer' in the Utrechtsestraat. There we enjoyed a very pleasant but relatively uneventful dinner. I suppose I could go into the details of our menus, but I imagine that might become just a bit boring - so I won't...
However, I'd like to mention one funny little 'culture clash' between America and Amsterdam.
I got the impression that our sultry waitress for the evening wasn't to keen on Americans to begin with and her mood quickly seemed to worsen when Tim and Tom started to explain in graphic detail what sort of 'custom' salad they would like and what type of dressing they would like to have on it. Rodger, who has been living in Europe for quite some time now seemed to realise what direction this was going in and just leaned back with a knowing smile on his face. The waitress tried to explain that there was just one 'standard' salad on the menu with a 'standard' dressing, but at first that simply did not compute for Tim & Tom. Apparently oblivious to the growing confusion and irritation of the waitress they continued to suggest possible dressings for the salad, not discouraged by the repeated 'No, no, no...' of the waitress. I finally felt the need to jump in to bridge the cultural divide, otherwise the waitress might have expressed her discomfort in some unspeakable manner in the kitchen - on our plates... Don't expect great service in your average Dutch restaurant - the best you can usually hope for is food that arrives within the hour and hasn't been tampered with ;-)
Anyway, that's it for now. More on Amsterdam - and the experience your average tourist misses out on - in a special 'Beginner's Guide to Amsterdam' section on this page in the future.
July 15, 2006 - Couch Potato Special
I noticed that I haven't added any new stuff to this page in a while.
Anyway, check out these clips...
August 15, 2006 - Dark City
The plan was to write a short story about a concert I enjoyed with
Serge's Whiskyfun site will be the third site in our group. And I guess that's it for now...
(Check out Log Entry #300 for an overview of 2006 log entries dealing with other topics.)
If you're not bored
yet, you could also
check out these
other sections of
you could take a
closer look at
the whisky map
or check out the
details of one of
Allt A' Bhainne
Isle of Jura