New Adventures.Visiting Old Friends,Paris,Rome,Barcelona,Naples.Taking our First Big Train Ride.Cruising down a river.OH,what FUN!!!!
Amsterdam 1015 MV, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 624 3899
Even though it opened in 1985, savvy locals consistently rate this unassuming, canal-side Jordaan restaurant one of Amsterdam's pioneering modern kitchens. The dining room—a generic whitewashed box—is so modestly understated it reads like an afterthought, but the restaurant's loyal, urbane crowd is too smart for faddish decor themes. What keeps them coming back is self-taught chef Wil Demandt's impeccable food. Regularly popping up on the Amsterdam-via-the-Mediterranean daily menus is a pared-down surf and turf of quietly spicy merguez sausage crossed over sweet Dublin bay prawns, and Provençal-style rabbit with red-onion confit over grilled polenta. If you don't finish your plate, Demandt may plod out in his chef's coat and apron, like a Dutch hausfrau, to ask why—proof that this is one restaurant where the local celebrity chef is actually working the kitchen. And, as it turns out, the dining room.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 6:30 to 10 pm.
Vlaamse Friteshuis, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1012 XK, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 624 6075
What the corner pizza shop is to New York, the meat pie cart to Sydney, and the falafel stand to Tel Aviv, so are Belgian-style French fry joints to Amsterdam. This takeout storefront, sandwiched between lovely Spui Square and the shopping districts of Leidseplein and Kalverstraat, has served love in a paper cone since the 1880s. Bonus: The accompanying sauces have gotten more adventurous over the years (curry, mayo with green peppercorns, etc.). Don't dally; it's only open until 6 p.m.
Tempo Doeloe, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1017 VJ, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 625 6718
Yes, it's a cliché that visitors to Amsterdam must try Indonesian cuisine, a legacy of Dutch colonial rule, but that doesn't mean it's skippable. The Indonesian table d'hôte, called rijsttafel, is an assortment of multiple plates that was fashionable long before anyone outside Spain heard of tapas. Genteel, intimate Tempo Doeloe is a classic of the genre and serves up 15 to 25 dishes such as: gado gado salad (fresh veggies in a peanut sauce); satehs (chicken, pork, goat); beef in a coconut and coriander cream sauce; and lobster in black bean sauce. Dishes run from mild to spicy; if you order the spiciest (terlaloe pedis), hang on for the ride of your life. End with cinnamon multilayered "Indonesian" cake, pineapple ice cream with jackfruit, or fried banana flambé with Grand Marnier for dessert.
Open daily 6 to 11 pm.
College Hotel Restaurant
See + Do
First things first: Marijuana is not fully legal in the Netherlands, although possession and consumption of small amounts are tolerated—a prime example of the Dutch personality trait called gedoogbeleid, or turning a blind eye. Amsterdammers are also realists, who recognize that—as with prostitution, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage—people are going to smoke pot anyway, so they might as well do it safely. Coffeeshops (as marijuana cafés are called) are permitted to sell up to five grams of the stuff to each customer. There are also "smart drugs" shops, which dispense magic mushrooms and the like. There are as many types of coffeeshops as there are visitors to Amsterdam, from fancy and literate to down and dirty. One classic is Dampkring—you saw it in Ocean's Twelve—near the University of Amsterdam. The painted and sculpted central column, like a giant toadstool, is hallucinatory even if you don’t smoke (29 Handboogstraat; 31-20-638-0705; www.dedampkring.nl). Don't want to toke up with the college kids? Siberië looks out on a handsome canal in central Amsterdam and could pass for an East Village café were it not for its mind-altering wares. Show up on the right night and you might find DJs spinning or get your horoscope read (11 Brouwersgracht; 31-20-623-5909; www.siberie.net). If it's all about the pot, go to tiny, straightforward Grey Area, a frequent winner of the Cannabis Cup (Oude Leliestraat; 31-20-420-4301; www.greyarea.nl). When buying any variety of marijuana, make sure that you ask its properties and be prepared for the effect—if the menu doesn't give you a solid description, the staff will be happy to. And remember, a coffeeshop is emphatically not a coffee house (koffiehuis in Dutch). The latter serves a concoction called coffee; don't even think about lighting up in one.
See + Do
Anne Frank House, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1016 GV, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 556 7105
Even if you've heard the story of Anne Frank time and again, a visit to the house is a must. You'll be surprised at how emotional a walk through the secret annex can be, imagining how the Franks and their friends lived their lives and catching a glimpse of the diary. The Anne Frank House is the city's most popular attraction, with more than 950,000 visitors annually. To avoid crowds, visit first thing in the morning or inquire about advance tickets purchased off-site. To learn more about the 400-year-long story of the Jews in Amsterdam, head across Amsterdam Centrum to the Jewish Historical Museum. The building is an act of reclamation in itself; its glass-and-steel structure combines four restored synagogues in the heart of Amsterdam's original Jewish quarter (1 Nieuwe Amstelstraat; 31-20-531-0310; www.jhm.nl).
Open daily 9 am to 7 pm.
See + Do
Van Gogh Museum, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1071 CX, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 570 5200
A 1973 building by Gerrit Rietveld along with a 1999 addition (locally known as "the mussel") by Kisho Kurokawa is the world's premier venue for works by tragically talented Van Gogh. In addition to some 200 paintings (including The Potato Eaters, The Yellow House in Arles, and Wheatfield with Crows), 500 drawings, and 700 letters from Vincent, there are works by his French post-Impressionist contemporaries, including Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec, and some Monets thrown in for good measure.
Open daily 10 am to 6 pm (Fridays open till 10 pm).
See + Do
Amsterdam 1071 CJ, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 674 7000
The vast neoclassical brick castle of the Rijksmuseum—is set in gardens leading to Museumplein and onward to the Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw. The museum's incredible holdings include Rembrandts, Vermeers, and delftware. Although the displays rotate, Rembrandt's most famous work, The Nightwatch, is always on view.
Open daily 9 am to 6 pm (Fridays open till 10 pm).
See + Do
Red Light District, Netherlands
You needn't have any interest in the red lights and what's beneath them to enjoy a stroll here. The interplay of tree, canal, brickwork, and gable here may put you under a spell even without the influence of Amsterdam's other most famous pleasure. (Remember, despite all the freedoms here there is an etiquette to visiting: Don't even think about taking a picture). The Museum Amstelkring illuminates an era when Amsterdam wasn't so tolerant and Catholics were forced to worship in clandestine churches (40 Oudezijds Voorburgwal; 31-20-624-6604; www.museumamstelkring.nl), while the 14th-century Gothic Oude Kerk (Old Church—the city's oldest) is a frequent venue for special exhibitions (Oudekerksplein; 31-20-625-8284; www.oudekerk.nl). To learn about the ins and outs of the district's raison d'être, visit the Prostitution Information Center (3 Enge Kerksteeg; 31-20-420-7328; www.pic-amsterdam.com), established and run by former working girls.
See + Do
Museum Van Loon, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1017 ET, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 624 5255
If you're itching to get behind the doors of one of those stately Golden Age canal houses, Museum Van Loon is your best bet. The 17th-century house museum, once home to co-founders of the Dutch East Indian Company (which pretty much co-founded Amsterdam), is stuffed with swirling plasterwork, marble, family portraits, silver, and sweeping staircases. The result, despite the Van Loon family's comic-relief name, is a lesson in gracious living.
Open 11 am to 5 pm. Closed Tuesday.
See + Do
Hermitage Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1018 DP, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 530 87 55
The Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg has been loaning art and historical artifacts to Amsterdam exhibitions for years, although it wasn't until 2004 that a permanent space near the Amstel River was designated to house the treasures. The first phase, some 5,300 square feet of galleries in a 17th-century building redesigned by architect Hans van Heeswijk, has presented two shows from the mother ship each year. On June 20, 2009, doors will open upon a greatly expanded Hermitage Amsterdam, with an entertainment complex that includes a restaurant, terrace, concert hall, and landscaped courtyard garden. The opening show, At the Russian Court, will run until January 31, 2010, and will feature more than 1,800 works. Thereafter, the museum plans on two large-scale temporary exhibitions each year.
Open daily only during exhibitions. Call ahead or check website for details.
See + Do
De Pijp, Netherlands
The city's "Quartier Latin" of 19th-century buildings is populated by a mix of cultures, especially Moroccans and Turks, plus students, hipsters, hippies, and yuppies. It's packed with restaurants, both ethnic and trendy, and plenty of cafés. Watch it all pass by in one visit to the huge street market Albert Cuypmarkt (Mon. through Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); or at night, the intimate square of Gerard Douplein is the center of De Pijp's café culture.