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Friday, April 16, 2010

Weekend trip to Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam. What can I say about it? It is the capital and largest city of The Netherlands. It is famous for its canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, its red-light district, and cannabis, which is legally sold in many of its coffee shops.

Cannabis alone might be enough of an incentive for some to visit Amsterdam but as stated Amsterdam has much more to offer in culture and arts than cannabis alone. This is my second trip to Amsterdam. The first time was when I was touring Western Europe with a tour group and this time round is to travel with my significant other.

Now one of the things you're meant to do in Amsterdam is to take one of the canal cruises along its famous canals such as the Grachtengordel (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht). But due to weather reasons we decided to opt out of that. Blasphemy you say. Oh well, we walked most of our journeys so what we didn't see via a boat we would have seen while walking around the city anyway and we went just after Christmas.

The first we did was to walk around the areas of where we were staying just to get bearings of where everything is. We ended up walking around to Nieuwmarkt, then along the red light district and then the town centre itself. There is a great Indonesian café located near the Nieuwmarkt called Toko Joyce and so we decided to have lunch there. After that we decided to check out the main sights of Amsterdam.

During our stay in Amsterdam, the main sights that we had checked out in chronological order was the flower market located on the Singel canal, the Rembrandt statue located at Rembrandt Square, the National Monument, the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Heineken Brewery for the Heineken Experience, and canals after canals.

Canal with Nieuwmarkt located at the end of it

Town Square

One of Van Gogh's famous painting.

The Rijksmuseum was very cool because its exhibition called The Masterpieces shows the most famous pieces of Dutch art from the 17th century, usually called the Golden Age of the Netherlands. Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals reflect in their work different aspects of Dutch national character.

The Van Gogh Museum itself was another awe inspiring museum to check out because this modern museum houses some 200 paintings and 550 sketches showing Van Gogh in all his moods. This biggest in the world collection, combined with hundreds of letters by Van Gogh, and selected works by his friends and contemporaries, form the core of the museum's collection. Now if that doesn't do it for you well then back to the cafés you go then. :P

Apart from that because of the weather decided to cut down the number of other sights to check out. During our stay, it was pouring down half the time so we only checked out the most famous sights. We didn't check out Anne Frank House because partly we didn't want to join the long queue as I forgot to purchase advance tickets online and then it was freezing cold. Lame excuse but there you have it.

All in all it was a decent trip. Only had one bad experience and that was when we were checking into Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam,  the staff there was adamant that he couldn't find our reservation. We only stood there arguing for almost 10 minutes before another front desk staff approached us and guess what, they found the reservation straight away in their system.  Obviously we kicked up a big fuss and so I did one thing that was sure to get some attention and that was to send a customer comment through the main hotel's website. Sure enough when we were checking out, the hotel manager wanted to know my experience staying at the hotel and was very apologetic. Serve them right for treating their customers this way.

Don't let people treat you like sub class people! For more pictures you can follow the Amsterdam link in the snapshots area on the right.

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