All About Amsterdam
Amsterdam will satisfy the appetite for just about everything. It has a character all of its own. Apart from the obvious, it is very much a city of culture, music and theatre. Music and theater lovers have plenty to choose from in its 65 theaters and concert halls. Amsterdam has many wonderful parks, most notably the Vondelpark which is the largest. It has a pretty lake, even an outdoor theater, and is a great place to get away from the maddening crowd. Amsterdam is often referred to as the 'Venice of the North' and has an amazing number of canals -- about 100 of them -- and over 1000 bridges. The Amstel River flows through the heart of the city. Needless to say, all these waterways create a very special ambiance, and the buildings lining these canals only add to the charm.
Where to Visit in Amsterdam
There is so much to see in Amsterdam. Among the most popular are the Van Gogh Museum, the Ann Frank House, the Rembrandt House and the Rijksmuseum or National Museum. Another must see and a special highlight is the Scheepvaart Museum which boasts one of the largest maritime collections in the world, which includes over 200 model ships. Indeed, a replica of the 1748 sailing ship, 'Amsterdam', is moored just outside complete with live sailors providing constant entertainment, acting out life at sea as it was way back when.
Eating Out in Amsterdam
Restaurants are of course everywhere in Amsterdam offering a wide variety of enticing food. The city offers an almost endless supply of very good restaurants, many with outdoor seating. They are especially dense in numbers on Damrak, a wide street leading from the train station to the Dam Square, the very heart of the city.
Since January 2002, when the Dutch said farewell to the Guilder, the unit of currency has been the Euro. Euro notes and coins are those in common circulation in the all other EU member states. You can change your currency into Euro at bank branches throughout Holland, and Bureaux de Change offices at airport, ferry and rail stations and at ATM machines using your credit card.
Amsterdam Weather and Climate
The Netherlands like most North European Countries has a temperate climate with weather that has no great extremes, but which is nevertheless variable. Walk out in the sun, get wet in the rain, dry out in the wind ………all of this in the space of ten minutes. The word most often used to describe the Dutch weather is 'changeable'. It can also be very localised: torrential rain at one end of a village, pleasant sunshine at the other. There are also sometimes spells of cold weather which can last from 1 week to a forthnight. With this in mind, be sure to pack an umbrella, some light rain-ware and warm clothing.
Crime in Amsterdam
As everywhere else, Amsterdam has its share of crime, including that which is specifically targeted at tourists. Pickpockets pose a persistent and widespread problem and are commonplace where tourists are concentrated. The Red Light district and rail stations are favourite hunting-grounds for these particular thieves. That said, it is on the whole safe for visitors and you can expect to enjoy your visit without mishap. You would need to be unlucky to become a victim, but it is advisable to take sensible precautions to safeguard yourself and your property. Remember these points:-
- Don't make an obvious public display of your wealth or large amounts of money.
- Don't carry loosely secured handbags.
- Don't leave your belongings on open display in your car.
- Don't park your car at night in isolation from other vehicles; stick with the crowd.
Car Parking in Amsterdam
Visitors should be aware that you always have to pay for car parking on the streets of Amsterdam. Stadstoezicht and the Police, by order of the Amsterdam Municipal Council, strictly enforce all parking regulations. If you do not pay or if you do not pay ennough you will be fined and your car will be wheel-clamped by "Stadstoezicht" (The Amsterdam Department of City Supervisors). The charge to remove the clamp is approximately € 120,00, so do avoid it.. If traffic wardens observe that a vehicle is parked 'incorrectly', a fine may be also imposed. If the vehicle is a hindrance or danger to other traffic it will be removed.
Getting Around Amsterdam
For a general overview an ideal way is to take one of the city sight seeing tours by bus and canal boat. These can be booked at your hotel, any travel office, even at the train station, and they are well worth the money. The city bus tour only takes about 2 hours, is very well narrated in several languages, and gives you all the necessary information about the many historical buildings, museums, churches, parks and even the Red Light District. Once you are finished with the bus tour, you can board one of the canal boats and get on and off whenever and wherever you please for the remainder of the day. They stop close to most of the major attractions, so sightseeing in Amsterdam is a breeze. Walking is the other option, of course. The city is very compact and you can get to almost anywhere on foot. Since all of the streets and side walks are brick or cobble stone, comfortable footwear is an absolute must!
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