On June 12, 2013Cecily Layzell posted:
Also this weekend, in celebration of Father's Day, is an extra special, extra manly edition of NeighbourFood, Amsterdam's premier monthly prepared food market. Think roasted wild boar, fist-sized burgers, homemade sausages and other rugged stuff. Women and children are of course welcome as well. http://neighbourfoodmarket.nl/en/
On June 12, 2013Cecily Layzell posted:
If you're in Amsterdam in the coming week, be sure to check out the winning images of this year's World Press Photo award, which are on display in the Oude Kerk until June 23. http://www.oudekerk.nl/en/agenda/world-press-photo-2013.html
On May 31, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:Famously flat—few inclines are steeper than a canal bridge—Amsterdam may seem like an unlikely place for panoramic views. There are exceptions to every rule, though, as our guide to the city’s best vantage points reveals.
1. Twenty Third Bar. Take an elevator up to the twenty-third floor of Hotel Okura and enjoy jaw-dropping vistas with an expertly mixed cocktail in hand. Sightseeing doesn’t get much more stylish than this.
2. Felix Meritis. In celebration of its 225th anniversary, this venerable cultural center has reopened its astronomical Observatory to the public. Until the end of October 2013, revel in the unimpeded panoramas of Amsterdam’s historic center, or focus on 10 of the city’s most significant buildings through carefully positioned telescopes.
3. Westertoren. Amsterdam’s skyline is punctured by numerous church spires. And the best place to see them is from the crown-topped tower of Westerkerk, a 17th-century Protestant church next to the Anne Frank House. The 275-foot tower is open to the public from April through October.
4. EYE Film Institute. Few buildings symbolize the resurgence of Amsterdam Noord more than the glittering white EYE Film Institute. Opened in spring 2012 on the north bank of the IJ River, EYE preserves and promotes Dutch movie history. For a visual feast of a different kind, bag a table on the institute’s fantastic waterfront terrace.
On May 31, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:A growing interest in fresh, healthy produce has seen a corresponding growth in the number of farmers markets in Amsterdam. Pick up breakfast, picnic provisions or an original food gift at any of the farmers markets that pop up weekly or monthly around the city.
Organic Market on Noordermarkt. Held every Saturday, this is Amsterdam’s oldest and busiest organic farmers market. Come rain (which is frequent) or shine (which sadly is not), local and regional producers fill the square with fruit and vegetables, cheese, meat, fish, artisanal breads and pastries. A number of specialty stalls dedicated to mushrooms, olive oil and salt make interesting browsing.
Organic Market on Nieuwmarkt. Also on Saturday and with a similar range is the organic farmers market on Nieuwmarkt. What makes this market different, however, is its scale. Fewer stalls and shorter lines mean producers have more time to chat—something they are generally eager to do.
ZuiderMRKT. Established in 2011 by health-conscious Oud-Zuid residents, the weekly ZuiderMRKT has a gezellig (cozy), community feel. In addition to the essentials, you’ll find sustainably caught fish, English pies and Brandt & Levie’s dangerously addictive sausages.
Pure Markt. Appearing in different neighborhoods on different Sundays each month, this moveable feast has perhaps the most eclectic selection of all of Amsterdam’s farmers markets. Mustard, smoked eel and even Dutch grapes can be found alongside Iberian ham, Chilean empanadas and Hungarian champagne.
NeighbourFood Market. Selling prepared food and drink—so not strictly a farmers market—newcomer NeighbourFood encourages you to linger at long tables over plates of Spanish pintxos, Chinese pork buns, sushi, waffles and more, washed down with freshly brewed coffee and glasses of wine.
On May 31, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:Nothing evokes a sense of place quite like taste and smell. Share your travel experiences with friends and family with these food gifts from Amsterdam.*
Cheese. Hard Dutch cheeses like Gouda can be found in grocery stores the world over. But step into the delightfully stinky surroundings of leading fromageries Abraham Kef or Tromp, and it will quickly become clear that Gouda is not the only kaas on the block. For something original, look for cheeses flavored with herbs and spices—aromatic nagelkaas containing cloves is delicious—and don’t hesitate to ask to try before you buy. Vacuum-packed, your selection will keep for several months.
Chocolate. It may seem like a standard gift option, but Dutch chocolate is quite literally a treat. A number of chocolatiers, including the “Vans”—Van Soest, Van Velze and Vanderdonk—produce and sell boutique bonbons, but our favorite remains Puccini Bomboni, whose unconventional flavor options include lemongrass, tamarind, rhubarb and thyme.
Stroopwafels. Keeping things sweet are stroopwafels, two buttery waffle cookies filled with indulgently gooey stroop (syrup). Eat them straight from the packet—we challenge you to stop after one—or balance on a steaming cup of tea or coffee for a few minutes to soften the syrup filling. Stroopwafels are available all over town, but we like the ones from Albert Heijn grocery store which are sold in pretty blue and white tins.
Licorice. Like British Marmite or American peanut butter and jelly, licorice (known locally as drop) is one of those foodie institutions that you either love or hate. For licorice lovers, HEMA, an institution in itself, sells sweet and salty varieties of the potent confections. Candy Freaks, a quirky independent store on Nieuwe Hoogstraat, also carries a good selection, which you can pick and mix yourself from the colorful bins.
*It’s worth noting that some countries restrict the import of certain food and drink products—notably meat and dairy—so check before you buy. It would be such a shame if your carefully selected hunk of Dutch cheese were confiscated by customs.
On May 31, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:For the best views in Amsterdam, pull up a chair at one of these Forbes Travel Guide recommended restaurants. With so much to look at, just don’t forget to eat.
1. Ciel Bleu. The name of this restaurant means “blue sky.” Located on the twenty-third floor of Hotel Okura, it’s easy to see why. Enjoy spectacular cityscapes while feasting on chef Onno Kokmeijer’s sublime two Michelin-star fare.
2. Hotel de Goudfazant. Don’t be fooled by the name, this is strictly a restaurant. In the unlikely surroundings of an industrial terrain in Amsterdam Noord, Hotel de Goudfazant combines an elegant Dutch-French menu with sweeping vistas of the Eastern Docklands across the IJ.
3. Restaurant Open. Perched on top of a 1920s railway bridge that has been transformed into an airy, glass-fronted structure, this eatery offers contemporary cuisine and contrasting views of Amsterdam’s architecture, from old canal houses to modern apartment blocks.
4. Riva. The younger sister of popular brasserie and bar Dauphine, Riva has something its older sibling can only dream about: a prime waterfront location on the River Amstel and a floating terrace. The perfect spot to watch Amsterdam life drift by.
On May 28, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:Avoid the tourist tat and take home a stylish reminder of your visit with our tips for the best souvenirs to buy in Amsterdam.
1. Delftware. Originally produced in Delft, a small city about an hour southwest of Amsterdam, Dutch blue and white porcelain has become synonymous with the Netherlands as a whole. Jorrit Heinen (Muntplein 12) carries a wide selection, from Christmas ornaments and flatware to vases and high-end collectibles.
2. Liqueur. The family-run A. v. Wees De Ooievaar, the last remaining traditional distillery in Amsterdam, produces a range of liqueurs and old-fashioned bitters. Made from a bewildering array of herbs and spices, the drinks are beautifully packaged and have evocative names like Bride’s Tears, Rose without Thorns and Little Hans in the Cellar. Try before you buy at the distillery’s tasting room De Admiraal on Herengracht 319.
3. Dutch design. Characterized by minimalism, innovation and humor, Dutch design has been on the rise since the 1990s. Browse the showrooms of Droog and The Frozen Fountain for stylish homeware and contemporary furniture by established names (Jongerius, Wanders, Hutten) and upcoming talent.
4. Flowering bulbs. If you miss the dazzling display of spring blooms at the Keukenhof Gardens just outside Amsterdam, prepackaged bulbs are available all year round at the floating flower market on Singel canal. Dozens of varieties of tulips are available, but lilies, hyacinths, crocuses and narcissus make colorful souvenirs too.
5. The Diary of Anne Frank. Although her story had a tragic end, Anne Frank has inspired millions since her diary was published in 1947. A luxury, hardcover edition of the book is available from the Anne Frank House (Prinsengracht 263-267), now a museum, where Anne and her family lived in hiding between 1942 and 1944.
On May 28, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:Amsterdam is famous for its trading history and enterprising spirit. The Dutch East India Company, often considered to be the world’s first multinational, was founded here in 1602 and introduced spices to the Dutch capital. Cheese made with cloves and chocolates flavoured with peppercorns reflect this history and make unusual souvenirs.
The last remaining traditional distillery in Amsterdam is the family-run De Ooievaar. It is most famous for its genever (the precursor of gin), but also produces a range of liqueurs and old-fashioned bitters with evocative names like Rose Without Thorns and Bride’s Tears.
As distillers have moved out of the city, craft brewers have moved in. The best known is still Brouwerij ’t IJ, which produces around a dozen light, dark, and seasonal beers. These are available in the brewery itself or at De Bierkoning behind Dam Square.
For something more enduring, snap up a piece of Dutch design. Characterized by minimalism, innovation and humor, Dutch design has been on the rise since the 1990s. Both Droog and Moooi sell products by established (Marcel Wanders, Richard Hutten) and upcoming talent. Clothing by Dutch fashion designers adorns the racks of SPRMRKT.
On May 28, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:For a compact city, Amsterdam’s neighborhoods are remarkably diverse. Here are our top five, which can be squeezed into even a short visit.
1. Centrum. Encompassing the historic center, and undoubtedly the gateway to the city, this is the Amsterdam of Golden Age canals, grand merchants’ residences and quaint arched bridges.
2. Jordaan. Once a working-class neighborhood, the Jordaan has become gentrified in recent years. A charming warren of streets, where galleries, boutiques and cozy cafes jostle for space, it is ideal for aimless wandering.
3. Oud Zuid. Beginning just below the central canals, Oud Zuid is best known for its museums (the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and Stedelijk are all located here). But venture beyond the Museum Quarter and you’ll discover handsome mansions, leafy squares and some of the city’s most exclusive shopping.
4. Pijp. A microcosm of multicultural Amsterdam, the Pijp offers an eclectic dining scene, lively nightlife and the famous Albert Cuyp market.
5. Noord. Blink and another redevelopment project will have appeared in this fast-changing neighborhood on the north banks of the IJ. Take one of the free ferries behind Central Station for food (IJ-Kantine, Hotel de Goudfazant), culture (Tolhuistuin) and modern architecture (EYE Film Institute), all with superb waterfront views.
On May 27, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:Amsterdam has an excellent public transportation system that makes it quick and easy to navigate the city. A network of trams, metros, busses and ferries—the latter connecting Amsterdam Noord with the center—is operated by GVB and has its hub at Central Station, where the majority of lines depart and terminate.
Services are frequent and in most cases you will never have to wait more than a few minutes. If you need more detailed travel information, GVB has a handy English website. Or you can visit the Tickets & Info office in front of Central Station.
Single tickets are always available, but GVB also offers a number of travel passes, ranging from one day (24 hours) up to seven days. Passes are valid on all forms of GVB transport, but don’t forget to check in and out whenever you board and disembark.
Alternatively, the I Amsterdam City Card can be purchased for 24, 48 or 72 hours and includes free entrance to 38 of Amsterdam’s top attractions, a canal cruise and unlimited use of GVB public transport.
On May 25, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:With a population of around 750,000 and a compact center, Amsterdam often feels more like a cosmopolitan village than a capital city—which is a large part of its charm. The main attractions and best neighborhoods are all within walking distance of each other. Hop on a bike and traveling times become even shorter.
If the thought of peddling around Amsterdam on two wheels terrifies you, the city has an excellent, affordable public transport network of trams, metros, busses and ferries (the latter crossing the IJ behind Central Station to Amsterdam North). The website 9292.nl is a great resource for planning your journeys within Amsterdam and further afield. Integrating all forms of public transport, it lists departure and arrival times, any changes you need to make during the journey, and prices.
In comparison, car rental is expensive and gas prices high. Add to this limited and sometimes difficult parking on the edge of canals—the municipality pulls some 30 vehicles from the water each year—and renting a car in Amsterdam quickly becomes a headache rather than an asset.
On May 22, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands and the most widely spoken language in Amsterdam. However, the Dutch are exposed to English from a young age, via imported television shows and films which are rarely dubbed, and at school. As a result, most Amsterdammers speak fluent English.
Many public and municipal services are geared towards international visitors and residents. The majority of official websites have an English version, and signs and announcements on public transport are usually in both Dutch and English. Consequently, you don’t need to speak any Dutch for a visit to Amsterdam—unless you particularly want to. There are numerous (free) online courses with audio clips to help you learn the basics.
Dutch is a West Germanic language and, although the pronunciation is sometimes quite different, German speakers will recognize the German roots. Dutch has also assimilated various French and English terms. Listen to an average conversation in a cafe and you should quickly be able to identify plenty of familiar words, including "menu," "koffie," “telefoon” and “computer.”
On May 21, 2013Cecily Layzell answered the question:Amsterdam is a popular destination year round and there is always plenty to see and do. The peak of the tourist season is July and August, when days are long and there is the best chance of fine weather.
Sun is never guaranteed in Amsterdam, however, so you may choose to visit between April and May or September and October when prices are lower and lines for the main attractions are shorter. Whatever the season, you can save considerable time by booking tickets for museums, exhibitions and so on in advance.
The majority of festivals and outdoor events take place in the summer (look out for the Holland Festival, Grachtenfestival and Taste of Amsterdam), but spring visitors won’t miss out. Join the crowds during the massive street party that is King’s Day on April 27, or marvel at seven million bulbs in bloom at the Keukenhof Gardens, a short drive south-west of Amsterdam.
Although icy temperatures in winter make a stroll along Amsterdam’s famous canals an undertaking only the hardiest will enjoy, this season should not be overlooked: you will have your pick of hotel rooms and the cold is the perfect excuse to duck into the city’s numerous snug bars.