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Amsterdam: A Clever Blend of Old and New

September 14, 2004
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There is one thing that distinguishes Amsterdam from many other, great capitals of the world — its ability to blend history with modern day living. While well known as a centre for business, art and culture, the city is still characteristically Dutch. The capital of the Netherlands has made the leap into the 21st century without sacrificing its heritage.

The annual Grechtenfestival or Canal Festival.

Philips welcomes you to Amsterdam for the 7th European Microwave Week. Here you can find anything you want — food, history and entertainment — all within a small area where bikes are ubiquitous, not cars. An excellent public transportation system can take you anywhere you want, affordably and efficiently. The canals, too, are always a relaxing way to travel. Better yet, why not use your spare time away from the show to get some exercise by renting a bike and joining the friendly people of Amsterdam in enjoying their city on two wheels.


Orientation

Amsterdam’s system of canals, bridges and one-way roads may seem a bit confusing at first. A helpful illustration is to think of it as half of a bicycle wheel: the old, medieval city is centred around the Centraal Station — the hub, with roads, smaller canals and the Amstel River spreading out from it like spokes. The ring of concentric canals date back to the 17th century, bordered by the Singelgracht. Approximately five minutes from Centraal Station you will find Dam Square, the centre of Amsterdam. Within walking distance from the train station you can also explore Leidseplein and Museumplein for various culinary and cultural activities or Rembrandtplein for a night out.

Canal bikes are an alternative form of transport.

Getting Around

The public transportation system in Amsterdam is excellent. You can call an information service (0900-9292 at a cost of €0.50 per minute) for helpful assistance. Alternatively, visit www.9292ov.nl, which includes a travel planner.

A fast and easy way of traveling in and around the city is by tram. You can buy tickets from the driver, a conductor or a machine in the middle of the carriage. However, it is considerably cheaper to buy a ‘strippenkaart’ from a post office, train station or tobacconist. The trams run until just after midnight (the last trams leave Centraal Station at approximately 00:15).

As mentioned earlier, renting a bike is a great option because the road infrastructure is well suited to those on two wheels. Cyclists have their own lanes, although you should be aware that mopeds and scooters also use these lanes. There are several places where you can rent a bike:

Macbike

Leidseplein (next to Paradiso)
Tel: 528 7688

Mr. Visserplein 2

Waterlooplein
Tel: 620 0985

Centraal Station

Tel: 625 3845

Bike City

Bloemgracht 68 (Westerkerk)
Tel: 626 3721

Damstraat Rent a Bike

P Jacobszoondwarsstraat 11 (Dam)
Tel: 625 5029

Taxis are safe, relatively affordable and available around the clock. You can order a taxi by phoning 677 7777. You can go almost anywhere in the Netherlands by train. Check out the website of the Dutch National Railways, www.ns.nl, for train times. Then again, Amsterdam is small enough to be covered by foot. Walking gives you the opportunity to really enjoy the atmosphere, the canals, the architecture and the cafes. Please avoid walking in the bike lanes (coloured in red) and be aware that streets may change their names along their length.

Buy souvenirs in style at the Magna Plaza Shopping Centre.

What to Do and See

Anne Frank’s House

Westerkerk
Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for two years in the rear of their house at Prinsengracht 263. The entrance to the back of the property was hidden by a revolving cupboard, which was made especially for that purpose. Go early or late to avoid the queues.

Rijksmuseum

Museumplein
This large museum contains paintings by some of the Netherlands’ great 17th century painters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Hals. The Nightwatch by Rembrandt is its prize piece.

Van Gogh Museum

Museumplein
With the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh, this museum is a must for any visitor to Amsterdam. It contains more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 letters, as well as the artist’s own collection of Japanese prints.

Hortus Horticultural Gardens

Waterlooplein
The gardens offer the opportunity to commune with nature in tranquil surroundings.

Heineken Brewery

78 Stadhouderskade
What used to be a brewery until a few years ago is now a museum and visitor’s centre. Enjoy the ‘Heineken Experience’ tour, which ends in the See You Again Bar.

Houseboat Museum

Prinsengracht opposite number 296, facing Elandsgracht
Many people in Amsterdam live permanently on water. You can see their houseboats all over the city. But how does it feel to live in one? How much space do you actually have? The museum shows you a snugly furnished, traditional Amsterdam houseboat.

NEMO

Oosterdok 2
NEMO is the biggest science museum in the Netherlands. Discover the world of science and technology in the stunning copper-clad building designed by Renzo Piano.

You will find modern architecture among the museums and palaces.

Eating and Drinking

With more than 1,000 restaurants to choose from, Amsterdam offers something for everyone. However, it is advisable to reserve a table, particularly in the city centre. You should also note that the Dutch eat early, so some restaurants may close earlier than you expect.

Dutch

Die Port van Cleve
The place to try the authentic cuisine of the Netherlands in stylish and sophisticated surroundings.
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 178 (Dam)
Tel: 624 0047

Chinese

Nam Kee
The restaurant’s many Chinese visitors are a testimony to its authentic Chinese kitchen. More of a Chinese-style ‘diner,’ the restaurant has expanded its seating space over the years. Its popularity, however, means that sharing a table with others is the norm, rather than the exception.
Zeedijk 111 (Nieuwmarkt)
Tel: 639 2848

Amsterdam blends the historical with the modern.

French

De Belhamel
Decorated in Art-Nouveau style, with many original details, the restaurant offers splendid views over two of Amsterdam’s most beautiful canals. The cuisine has French-Italian origins, but the menu also offers traditional Dutch dishes.
Brouwersgracht 60
(Beginning of Herengracht)
Tel: 622 1095

Greek

De Twee Grieken
If the Athens Olympics has given you a taste for all things Greek then try this eatery for authentic fare.
Prinsenstraat 20
(Westerkerk)
Tel: 625 5317

Italian

Cinema Paradiso
As the name suggests this restaurant used to be a cinema. The former auditorium is now the main dining area of the restaurant, with an open kitchen to one side. It is only possible to book a table for parties of ten persons or more.
Westerstraat 186 (Jordaan)
Tel: 623 7344

Toscanini
The authentic Italian food at this busy restaurant is prepared in an open kitchen. Do not go expecting pizza, and book early to ensure a table.
Lindengracht 75 (Jordaan)
Tel: 623 2813

Sample the relaxed café culture.

Japanese

Tokyo
This large all-in-one restaurant offers a sushi bar, teppanyaki tables and traditional Japanese cuisine, providing a unique taste of the Orient.
Spui 15
Tel: 489 7918

Mexican

Rose’s Cantina
Located on the street that runs parallel to the floating flower market, this restaurant is lively and good value. The pre-dinner cocktails are worth a visit in their own right.
Reguliersdwarsstraat 38
(Flower Market)
Tel: 625 9797

Spanish

Centra
Located in the red light district, this restaurant offers traditional food at reasonable prices with the paella being a specialty.
Lange Niezel 29
Tel: 622 3050

Vegetarian

De Bolhoed
The long established and bohemian ‘Bowler Hat’ restaurant has a picturesque location and endeavours to serve organic food, where possible, in an amiable and relaxed atmosphere.
Prinsengracht 60 (Jordaan)
Tel: 626 1803

Vliegende Schotel
Using fresh produce the menu is healthy and varied. Vegans are welcome and there are even fish dishes for non-vegetarians.
Nieuwe Leliestraat 162
(Jordaan)
Tel: 625 2041

The famous Skinny Bridge is just one of the 1281 bridges to be found in the city.

International

Take a culinary trip around the globe without leaving the city boundaries.

Hemelse Modder
Oude Waal 9
(Old Centre)
Tel: 624 3203

Kapitein Zeppos
Gebed Zonder End 5
(Near the Nes)
Tel: 624 2057

Kort
Amstelveld 12
Tel: 626 1199

De Luwte
Leliegracht 26
(Westerkerk)
Tel: 625 8548

Unusual Locations

For those who would like to eat out somewhere different, Amsterdam has a few places that might fit the bill.

1e Klas (First Class)
Situated in the former 1st Class waiting room at Centraal Station, offering grand turn-of-the-century style.
Platform 2b,
Central Station
Tel: 625 0131

Dam Square is at the centre of Amsterdam.

Pier 10
A former shipping line office with some tables that have dramatic harbour views (ask for them when you book).
De Ruiterkade
Steiger 10, Pier 10 behind Central Station
Tel: 624 8276

In De Waag
The location is a stunning Middle Ages Weigh-House.
Nieuwmarkt
(Old Centre)
Tel: 557 9844

As this guide illustrates, Amsterdam has a great deal to offer. Use it to have a good time away from the show and enjoy your visit.

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