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Amsterdam

is laid out in a series of U-shaped canals which end at the Main Train Station. The area near the main Train Station is the roughest and most touristic. This is the area where you are most likely to get asked for spare change or accosted by drunken party goers. It is not a bad area, but not our favorite part of Amsterdam. If you want to be central, but in a more pleasant part of the city, our recommendation would be to stay near Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square). Rembrandtplein area is ideal, because it is the very center of Amsterdam, its very lively and only 20 minutes by foot to any of the main tourist areas, including the train station.

A one day tour of Amsterdam could include (in order):

Van Gogh Museum / Rijksmuseum (Both located at Museumplein)

If I were going to visit only one Museum in Holland it would be the Van Gogh Museum. Why? First, because I enjoy his paintings, second, because the way the museum is laid out tells the story of his life, with different rooms representing different periods. The first room you will visit contains the work he made while still living in The Netherlands. Everything is black and white, heavy and basic. While in The Netherlands, he had a conflict with his father and ran off to Paris to live with his brother and major supporter, Theo. After Van Gogh moved to Paris (and you move to the next room) his paintings became colorful. He experimented with various styles and uses of colors and became a master. When he moved to the south of France (and you move to the next room) his mental problems intensify, and his paintings become more creative. The last two rooms represent the final periods of his life just before committing suicide. From his paintings and the rooms, you can almost feel that you have a peek inside his excited and tormented mind. Sadly, Van Gogh was never very popular while alive. He sold few of his works and gave most of them to the brother who loved and supported him. Most of the collection still belonged to the heirs of Theo before being donated to the museum.

Go early, first thing in the morning, because the lines can be very long. The Van Gogh collection is one floor. The rest of the Museum houses contemporaries such as and Monet, Manet, Gauguin. To see the museum website Click Here. To see a bootleg video of the inside of the museum Click Here.

If you want to see more museums, go to the Rijksmuseum to see, for example the famous Night Watch by Rembrandt. To see the museum website Click Here

Anne Frank House

Ok, you have seen into the insanity of Van Gogh. Ready for more? Got your Prozac? It is time to go to the Anne Frank House. If you read the book, this is almost a must. But at the same time it is sad to see the cramped rooms where this bright, creative 12 year old girl spent the final days of her life in...freedom. To see the museum website Click Here

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Canal Cruise

Now you must be tired and ready for a rest. Take a Canal Cruise through the city. You will learn a lot of details from the tape recorded city guide that you will surely forget (for example, the number of bicycles that are dug out of the canals every year). But for about euro 10, you can sit peacefully for an hour, relax and see the city from a different perspective.Click Here.

Coffee Shop

These are unique to The Netherlands, so you might as well see one or two. Everyone has heard that you can see different types of marijuana sold from menus. But did you know that the menus can not be openly displayed? The reason is that the coffee shops are not allowed to advertise. So the menu is either brought out from beneath the counter upon request, or it is embedded into the counter top and with a push of a button, the menu is lit up. You will recognize coffee shops by the marijuana leaf in the window. To see a video of a coffee shop. Want to see more? Try a so-called smart shop. Smart shops sell psychedelic mushrooms and other soft drugs.

Red Light District

Some like it, some hate it. But if you are in Amsterdam, you might as well see it. No where else will you be able to walk so easily and comfortably through a red light district. As is well known, the girls are scantily dressed and sitting or standing in shop-type windows beckoning to passers-by.Best viewed in the early evening after the sun has gone down, but before it gets too crowded. Watch your wallet / purse.

Queens Day

Do you want to experience Amsterdam at its wildest? Come during Queen's Day, generally celebrated on 30 April (except when it falls on a Sunday). This day is celebrated all over the Netherlands with lots of music and alcohol.

Recommended Hotels:

One of the best Hotels for Price/Quality is the NH Doelen. It is located on the intersection of the river where Amsterdam gets its name, the Amstel River and a lovely canal. So, the views from the hotel are very charming. It is only two minutes from Rembrandtplein and the flower market and 15 minutes from the main train station in one direction and Leidseplein (Leidse Square) in the other. The museums are perhaps 20 minutes by foot. This is the location where Rembrandt painted the Night Watch. The Doelen is a high quality hotel at a reasonable price.

Located IN Rembradtplein is the NH Schiller Hotel. Full of history and charm. Step out of your hotel and into the charming Dutch square, right in the center of the city. Reasonably priced considering the location and quality of the hotel.