Qbe Ate R Amsterdam

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Canal Tours

Several operators depart from moorings at Centraal Station, Damrak, Rokin and opposite the Rijksmuseum - just hop on board. Canal Bus (Map pp92-3 623 98 86 www.canal .nl Weteringschans 26 per adult child 16 11) Hop-on, hop-off canal boats servicing most of the big destinations. At night, there's a 1 ' i-hour jazz cruise ( 43, runs 8pm and 10pm Saturdays from April to November). Pick up the canal bus at one of 14 stops around the city, including one opposite Centraal Station (Map pp88-9)....

Around The Spui

The square called Spui (Map pp92-3) was water until 1882. The name means 'sluice' and is pronounced 'spow' (not 'spew' -that's reserved for the effects of Amsterdam hash). The statuette of an Amsterdam street brat, Het Lieverdje (Little Darling), was the favoured setting for Provo protests in the 1960s. The Spui is now a popular meeting spot, with its pubs and bookshops nearby. It holds a book market on Friday, followed by an art market on Sunday. The extensive Amsterdam Historisch Museum (Map...

Hire

Prices listed below are for standard coaster-brake bikes models with gears cost a bit more. There's also the hakfiets (a carrier tricycle that looks like an ice cream vendor's), which is perfect for carting around kids (or drinking buddies). All companies listed here require a passport or ID and a credit-card imprint or cash deposit. Bike City (Map p91 626 37 21 www.bikecity.nl Bloemgracht 68-70 per day week 8.50 41) No advertising on the bikes, so you blend in better with the locals. Holland...

Southern Canal Belt

If the western canal belt is upscale and refined, the southern canal belt is more diverse and populist, though no less stately. The southern canal belt spans the area from the Leidsegracht in the west to the Amstel in the east, anchored by two key nightlife districts Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. In between are the elegant antique and art shops of the Spiegel quarter and the city's gay nightlife centre around Reguliersdwarsstraat. This wealthy residential area was the soul of discretion, and...

Midrange

Hotel Arena (Map pp86-7 850 2 4 00 www.hotel arena.nl 's Gravesandestraat 51 d tr from 100 165 (D) The Arena, next to lush Oosterpark, has been a chapel, an orphanage and a backpackers' hostel. Now it's a chic 121 -room hotel with a stylish restaurant, a caf and a well-regarded nightclub, To Night (pi29). Rooms are an ode to minimalism, while the large, split-level doubles are sun drenched. Tip sections A, B, E and F tend to be quieter. Hotel Fantasia (Map p95 623 82 59 www .fantasia -hotel.com...

Lust For Vincent

The outstanding Van Gogh Museum (Map pp92-3 570 52 00 www.vangoghmuseum.nl Paulus Potterstraat 7 adult child 10 2.50 S 10am-6pmSun-Thu,to10pm Fri) houses the world's largest Van Gogh collection. Quite simply, it's one of the greatest Impressionist galleries on earth. The museum opened in 1973 to house the collection of Vincent's younger brother Theo, and it consists of about 200 paintings and 500 drawings by Vincent and his friends and contemporaries, including Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet...

Other Tours

Amsterdam Segway Tours ( s 0641424344 www .gllde.cc per person 60 S 10am & 8pm spring-Christmas) Two daily tours on Dubya's favourite contraption, the Segway. The four-hour daytime tour covers the major sights the three-hour night tour takes in lesser-known areas such as De Pljp. Ifyou haven't been on a Segway before, they'll train you so you won't get bushwhacked. Up to seven people, by reservation. Meet at the Nieuwmarkt (Map pp88-9) by the metro exit. Randy Roy's Red Light Tours (...

Boutiques

Analik (Map p91 422 05 61 Hartenstraat 34-36) Amsterdam's pre-eminent fashion designer stylish, very feminine pieces. Cora Kemperman (Map pp92-3 625 12 84 Leidsestraat 72) Successful Dutch designer specialising in floaty, layered separates and dresses in linen, cotton and wool. Laundry Industry (Map pp92-3 420 25 54 Spui 1) Well-cut, well-designed clothes by leading Dutch design house soft leather coats, perfectly fitted suits. There's another branch at Magna Plaza (p96). Razzmatazz (Map p91...

Activities Cycling

Pedal power rules in the Netherlands that's a Dutch truism, simply a fact of life. Bicycles, known in Dutch as fiets, are everywhere, and especially in Amsterdam, where they outnumber cars. But visitors are often surprised at the nature of Dutch bikes it's rare to find fancy mountain bikes in the city's dedicated bike lanes - virtually everyone rides sturdy, heavy two- or three-gear (often no gear) granny rattlers (Gazelle or Sparta brands). There's no need for the fancy stuff in a land that's...

Gyms

Barry's Health Centre (Map pp92-3 626 10 36 www.barryshealthcentre.nl Lijnbaansgracht 350 day week pass 15 28 S 7am-11 pm Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm Sat & Sun) Latest machines and classes, sauna, steam, tanning beds and a 'cardio theatre'. Fitness First (Map pp88-9 530 03 40 www .fitnessfirst.nl Nieuwezijds Kolk 15 day pass 16, month pass from 29 S 7am-11 pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat & Sun) Cardio and weightlifting equipment, group classes, sauna, steam and aroma rooms, sun beds, beauty treatments and...

Art Antiques

Decorativa (Map pp92-3 42050 66 Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 7) Amazing jumble of European antiques, collectables and weird vintage gifts. EH Ari ns Kappers (Map pp92-3 623 53 56 Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 32) Original prints, etchings, engravings, lithographs, 17th-to 19th-century maps, Japanese woodblock prints. Jaski (Map pp92-3 620 39 39 Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 27-29) Large commercial gallery selling paintings, prints, ceramics and sculptures by famous CoBrA artists. Prestige Art Gallery (Map pp92-3 s 624...

Find a Bike

Visit Frame Fiets Gallery (Map pp92-3 672 75 88 Frans Halsstraat 26A) for custom bicycles. Combine two Dutch passions, beer and bicycles hire a Fietscafe (0653864090 www.fietscafe .nl), a mobile, pedal-powered bar that seats up to 17 people per bike, with a big beer keg attached. One pedals, the other 16 sit at the bar and drink. Then you all swap around. See p136 for a list of bike-rental shops. Koan Float (Map pp88-9 555 00 33 www .koanfloat.nl Herengracht 321 floating 45 60mln 30 38 S...

Shopping

During the 17th century, Amsterdam was the warehouse of the world, stuffed with riches from neighbours and far-off colonies. But even if the Dutch empire has since crumbled, its capital remains a shopper's paradise. The Damrak and the area around Leidse-plein teem with tourist shops, while the busiest shopping streets are the down- to mid-market Nieuwendijk and the more upscale Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat, with department stores and clothing boutiques serving large crowds, especially on...

Tips

When on foot, don't play the dumb tourist and stand in the city's dedicated bike lanes staring at the sights you'll be knocked over by a speeding bike before you can say 'moederneuker', because here you give way to them. When riding, watch for cars. Cyclists have the right of way, except when vehicles are entering from the right, although not all motorists respect this. Also watch for dumb tourists (see above). Watch out for tram tracks - if your wheel gets get caught in one, you will break...

May

Remembrance Day (4 May) For the fallen of WWII. Queen Beatrix lays a wreath on the Dam and the city observes two minutes' silence at 8pm. Liberation Day (5 May) The end of German occupation in 1945 Is commemorated with street parties, a free market and live music, especially in Vondelpark. Oosterpark Festival (first week in May www.ooster parkfestlval.nl) Two-day multicultural festival. Luilak (Lazy Bones) In the early hours on the Saturday before WhitSunday, children go around ringing...

Bicycles The Manmachine Rules

When researching this book, here are some of the sights we saw on Amsterdam streets A man with one leg in plaster pedalling his bike with the other leg, with crutches strapped to his back. A man riding a bike with a blow-up sex doll strapped to his back. Four drunks riding one bike. A woman riding a bike while wearing stilettos and with her G-string showing. A girl riding side-saddle while kissing the boy piloting the bike. A customised bicycle modelled after Dennis Hopper's hog in Easy Rider....

Dog Shit

The Netherlands doesn't appear to have a 'pooper-scooper' policy, and Amsterdam's streets are full of it. AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM, PART 1 STEVE KORVER Simon Sellars Steve Korver is the editor of the super periodical Amsterdam Weekly. Who could be better qualified, then, to give me the inside dirt on this wonderful city What's your favourite part of Amsterdam It varies and stretches further afield day by day as the inner city gets more and more 'organised'. I like those...

Brilliant Orange

Here's one of the hottest tips in these pages if you want the best, the funniest, the most insightful analysis of what makes Amsterdam tick, then read Brilliant Orange The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football by David Winner, a book about football. But you don't have to especially like the sport to appreciate Brilliant Orange, for Winner's skill lies in setting up a history of modern-day Dutch football as a mirror - as in fact the driving force - of modern-day Dutch society and the Amsterdam we...

Orange

One Amsterdam event not to miss is Koninginnedag - or Queen's Day, or Orange Day - which is held in celebration of Queen Beatrix's birthday on April 30, when over a million revellers make the city seem like the freakingest place on the planet. People descend from all over the country, clogging and choking the train system to breaking point. The whole shebang is basically an excuse for a gigantic piss-up and to wear ridiculous outfits, all in orange, the country's national colour. It's quite a...

Scams

Beware of thieves masquerading as police in plain clothes. Usually these fraudsters address tourists in English, flash a false ID and demand to see money and credit cards for 'verification' or some other nonsense. They might also go through the victim's pockets and pretend to look for drugs. Dutch police rarely conduct this kind of search. To foil the crooks, ask to see their police identity card (note that Dutch police don't have badges as ID). Then call the real cops at g 09008844.

Red Light District

Amsterdam's famous Red Light District retains the power to bewilder, even if near-naked prostitutes propositioning passers-by from black-lit windows is the oldest Amsterdam clich . If you feel a twinge of desire, it's around 50 for 20 minutes. The district, known locally as De Wal-len, has for centuries been the undoing of countless sailors with its houses of ill repute and distilleries. The clientele has changed, but the script hasn't, because business never stops all day and night prostitutes...

Medieval Centre

Once part of the old harbour, Damrak today is an endless stretch of souvenir shops, beetling bicycles, exchange bureaux and dodgy hotels. East of the Damrak-Rokin axis is the Oude Zijde (Old Side) of the medieval city. It's a misnomer the Nieuwe Zijde (New Side) to the west is actually older, though the Oude Zijde absorbed the Red Light District in the 14th century. Originally, the city didn't extend further south than Grimburg-wal, where the filled-in parts of the Rokin end today. The...

Amsterdam Centre pp

American Express 1 C6 Architectura amp . Natura Bookshop 2 A5 Book Exchange 3 DS D5 Happy Inn Laundry 5 E5 B7 D4 Main Post Office 8 A6 E7 Thomas Cook 10 C7 Thomas Cook 11 E4 Tourist Office 12 E4 B7 Winston International see 67 A6 B8 Beursvan Berlage 17 D5 Canal Bus Dock 18 E4 Civic Guard Gallery 20 B8 Clandestine Church 21 B8 Erotic Museum 22 E6 Guan Yin Shrine 24 E6 D7 Holland International 26 D3 Kleine Trlppenhuls 27 E7 Konlnklljk Palels 29 B6 Madame Tussaud's 30 C7 Magna Plaza 31 B6...

Diy Amsterdam

Follow the canals, the crowds or that deserted side street. Or the colour that sweet smell in the air. You're bound to trip over something that tickles you pink - a museum devoted to bending light, say, or a guy on his back playing keepy uppy with a football for hours on end. Perhaps you'll see a group of subversives reviving the banned sport of eel pulling see p79 . You'll more likely find an ancient building tucked away out of sight, redolent with atmosphere and begging to be read as a...