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Amsterdam Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Amsterdam vacation


odeonjim
Restaurant de Silveren Spiegel 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I was lucky enough to have a lovely trip to Amsterdam with my mother this February half term. She'd just turned 60 and wanted to celebrate. I promised to take her out to dinner while we were there, and we stumbled across de Silveren Spiegel by chance. And we were glad we did. We had been thinking of checking out Gaucho's Argentinean Steak House (which was recommended elsewhere on ciao) and weren't too inspired by the look of it. On turning round, we spotted a tiny, leaning, old-looking building nearby, apparently a restaurant, and looking very attractive. We wandered over, the menu looked good (if pricey) and we went in there instead. De Silveren Spiegel (literally "the silver mirror") is a gourmet restaurant within a pair of step-gabled houses built in 1614. The original owner was a Laurens Spieghel, and used a pun of his name to call his house "the silver mirror". His coat of arms, a silver and a gold mirror, still hangs on the front of the building. The building itself leans forward, in the manner of most Amsterdam houses, not because of subsidence, but because it was built in that way originally. Apparently this meant that heavy loads and furniture could be hoisted into the upstairs windows without the facade of the building being damaged On entering the restaurant, there is a small bar area, with an open log fire and lots of dark oak panelling. We waited there for a few minutes while we were found a table - and were made to feel very welcome by the waitress (who was apparently the part-owner). She offered us some Dutch wine (I never knew there was such a thing, but it was very nice indeed). The dining area is small, being the living room of the former house. There was another large stone fireplace, although not lit this time) and more oak beams on the ceiling. There was also the original staircase from 1614 - a tiny, narrow spiral affair, in the corner of the room. There were six or seven tables - the restaurant really does feel exclusive - and all were occupied. I must admit that the appearance was stunning - candlelight, cut glass and fresh flowers. This would be an ideal place for a romantic dinner for a couple. I believe there is a separate dining room for groups and banquets upstairs. The menu was different from most I have seen. There were quite a few unusual Dutch specialities that I would hesitate to try (eels, pigs' trotters, that kind of thing) but there was also a good range of more "normal" food. The vegetarian choices weren't too varied, unless you are a fish-eater. The restaurant has a set 5 course meal available for 50 Euros, or for 75 Euros with a different wine with each course. Having experienced a restaurant with far too much to eat the previous night, we doubted that we could eat five courses, so we opted to choose separate dishes from the menu. Before our starters arrived, we were brought a complimentary mini-starter of hot mustard soup. This was in a tiny jar-type container, very unusual and beautifully presented. I'm not much of a mustard fan, but this soup was like nothing I have ever tasted: creamy, velvety and with grains of delicate mustard seeds. It was only a small portion, which was just as well. I doubt I'd have wanted too much of this, as the taste was beautiful, but quite rich. The real starters arrived, again, beautifully presented. Mine was duck stuffed with almond paste: very delicate slivers of duck breast, with a nutty, crunchy pâté-like stuffing. There was an apple sauce with this, and wild mushrooms. I can't remember exactly what they'd done to all of these, but I do remember that the duck was the best I've ever tasted - not at all greasy, and full of flavour. My mother's starter was a crab and scallop salad - she said it was delicious, and it certainly looked it. The main courses were even better: I decided to go for turbot with sauerkraut and potatoes, and mum had roast duck with various vegetables. I'd never had turbot before, but it was a lovely firm fish, buttery and spiced. The sauerkraut was amazing - without any sour vinegar taste, but sweet and creamy. My mother's duck was again delicious, and the thyme potatoes that came with it were out of this world. There were so many different tastes that were familiar, but unusual, and we kept pestering the waiter and asking about the recipes. However, he was thoroughly charming and pleasant, always helpful and willing to talk about the food. I think he was enjoying practicing his English (which was excellent). We talked each other into having a dessert, and had a spice cake with ginger and basil ice cream. The cake itself was a very thin slice of striped cake, with delicate pale green scoops of ice cream. Despite the cake being so small, it was just the right amount, as it was rich and full of cinnamon and spices. The ice cream was totally unusual and original, and complemented the cake perfectly. With our coffee we were brought home-made petits-fours. Although I thought I'd burst, I managed to scoff two, and again, they were simply stunning. The meal itself was quite extraordinary. I've never eaten food of this quality before, and though I was a bit frightened by the prices on the menu, once I'd tasted the food I decided it was well worth the high cost. The service was friendly and helpful, and not at all rushed. We felt like honoured guests, and were able to really take our time enjoying the meal and the atmosphere. The fact that we ate slowly, and had time between courses, meant that we really savoured our food, and allowed it to settle between courses. It made me realised how rushed we all are usually, and how important it is to take more time enjoying things sometimes. Our meal came to over 140 Euros, and once we'd added a generous tip we'd spent (or more precisely I'd spent) over £110. In the cold light of day I'd never have imagined being happy to pay that much for a meal for two, but it seemed completely worth it, as I'd enjoyed the meal so much. I have no idea what the nutritional value of the meal was - probably far too much butter and cream than is good for you, but who cares when it tastes this good? The waiter assured me that all the ingredients were local produce and organic, and that they only used fresh, seasonal produce. Apparently the menu varies all year, depending on what is available. The restaurant has a website at desilverenspiegel.com - it takes a while to load, but you can see photos of the building, and check out the menu. If you are in Amsterdam, and not on a tight budget, I can recommend de Silveren Spiegel to anyone who fancies a delicious, high quality meal in luxurious surroundings, especially if you are celebrating something special

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ashleymoray
Grand Amrath Hotel--A Grand Establishment 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A converted shipping building, the Grand Amrath Hotel is, indeed, Grand. Located on the Prins Hendrikkade, the renovated building still retains maritime motives, and its rich mahogany is reminiscent of the splendor of the early 1900s.

There is fairly easy access from the Amsterdam train station. It is a 5-10 minute walk, but the taxi is only 15 Euro. The Hotel is close enough to central Amsterdam including access to the Red Light district, “old church”, and the train station. You will need to use either the local bus/tram service or taxi to get to Anne Franke’s, or van Gogh’s museum. A taxi from the hotel to van Gogh’s museum is about 20 euro.

***Beware of taxi scams! One attempt includes telling you that the meter is broken and charging you a fee higher than what is listed. Report all incidents to your bell captain who will notify the authorities.***

The services at the Grand Amrath are truly five-star. Breakfast at the Seven Seas Restaurant consists of very large buffet style including continental and hot cooked cuisine. However, unless booked as part of your room (bed/breakfast), you will pay the extra charge of approx 18 euro.

The Amrath's bar/lounge is as comfortable as the exceptional rooms. Light meals and a host of beverages are served by very polite and happy staff. The lounge also looks over one of the many canals and is a great place for a tea break.

The Wellness Center is a sanctuary with immaculate catering to total customer satisfaction. The spa consisted of a good-sized (for a hotel) exercise room with the latest technology treadmills, steppers, and exercise bikes. The spa boasted three separate dry saunas and an aroma steam therapy room with mood lights. The four-person whirlpool was very typical of European continental style—moving water, but not hot as a Jacuzzi might provided. What the whirlpool lacked was made up for by the warm-water swimming pool with an internal lap resistance lane (jetted water pushing against you for a swim-in-place workout. Lastly, I highly recommend at least one spa treatment, the Chakra was wonderful!

The standard double room was anything but standard. The executive-board room styled high ceilings added to the opulence of the smoke-door leading to the en suite. The double bed was nearly perfect in comfort with exceptional quality bedding. Amenities included an HD flat-panel television. Housekeeping provided the DVD player and assisted with the hook-ups. In addition to a water kettle, the “free bar” included a Nespresso machine and free refills of your favorite beverage.

The ensuite was fit for royalty, and that is exactly how we felt staying at the Grand Amrath. In addition to the standard equipment, the hotel goes the extra mile with exceptionally deep and long steel tubs with hand-held shower attachments. A separate rainshower is also fitted with a hand-held powerful massage shower. Of course, the separate guest robes and slippers were also high quality and completed the experience.

Highly recommended!


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adventurer
Ice-skating in Amsterdam 5 stars
Brrrr...it's cold in Amsterdam in winter, so what's better to welcome in the cold than to go ice-skating! Yes, besides the Anne Frank Museum and coffee-shops, Amsterdam has lots more to offer!

I adore the winter atmosphere in Amsterdam -with quaint canals, cobble-stoned alleys and locals cycling by, it is almost poetic. It is most authentically European to say the least.

With Christmas around the corner, little Christmas stores dot the streets, with mulled wine and sugar-coated doughnuts on sale, and Saint Nicholas distributing sweets on the street. Ice-skating rinks are set up almost at every corner of this bohemian city. Especially at Museumplein which is transformed into Christmas Square during this festive season, you can completely immerse in the holiday mood!

Leidseplein also has this big ice-skating rink, with skates available for rental at 5euros an hour. After swirling around on ice, swaying to old dutch folk music, it doesn't get any better with a cup of hot chocolate!


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catipoo
Febo -Yuk! 1 stars
Febo. Stay away from this fast food vending machine! The Dutch seem to love this place but I’ve had a close look and it really doesn’t appeal. I’m slightly critical as I am vegetarian and don’t like fast food but something really doesn’t seem right about buying hot food from a vending machine. It’s cheaper than your average place for a good reason. For starters, How long has it been festering there for? It is easily recognizable in locations around the Netherlands with its big yellow sign and red letters but this particular one in Amsterdam is surrounded by many more appealing alternatives such as the amazing Wok to Walk and the Australian Waffle shop.

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Sinbad the sailor
Amsterdam for a tour 5 stars
Amsterdam is a very interesting city given the diversity of attractions it offers. You can certainly take a boat tour along the canals, but to me walking around the streets with typical narrow and tall houses was the best way to feel the city.
Amsterdam is also famous for its erotic “red lights district” and not very healthy “coffee shops”!! If you don’t happen to have a friend living in a boat-house, then one of the many nice café esplanades located over the canals will provide for a similar inspiration.
If you have to select a museum, visit the Rijksemuseum’s impressive art collections. The central train station is a good place to start your tour in the city – and be sure not to miss the Dam Square and the Royal Palace there.


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anja78
Cobblestones, canals and bicycles 5 stars
Amsterdam would have to be one of my all-time favorite cities. Especially in summer it is great to stroll along the canals on the narrow cobblestone streets, watch boats and cyclists go by and enjoy the sun. Or you can take a boat ride on the canals and get an impression of the city from there. If you grow tired of walking around get a seat outside one of the numerous coffeeshops and relax.

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andromeda
Water wise in Amsterdam 4 stars
Amsterdam surprised me in many ways. It seems to have and tolerate just about everything. Besides the lax laws, the artsyness, the innumerable variety of cafes and people from all cultures, it also had neat concentric canals running through the city and boats plying across them, reminiscent of Venice. And then as I turned a corner, I saw a harbour where anchored were ships looking like those right out of lore and books (and a treat for someone like me who lives in a landlocked city and is fascinated by seafaring life). It made a pretty picture and I spent an easy hour watching the craft just bob about under low clouds.


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andromeda
Green day in Amsterdam 4 stars
By about late afternoon, a haze settles over Amsterdam; faintly greenish and smelling curiously of a familiar herb. As is common knowledge, marijuana (and various other natural drugs/psychotropics) is legal in Holland. Amsterdam, being the cultural melting pot that it is, was strewn with interesting cafes that serve cannabis on the menu. It’s almost a part of the ‘sightseeing’ for a curious tourist. (Un)fortunately, for a broke backpacker like me, a taste of the sweet leaf would be a pricey choice, so I passed it up (which wasn’t too much of a sacrifice considering I’d had enough daze of ganja through my college years in India).


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Vihren
The main problem about that city 2 stars
The main problem about Amsterdam is the great exploitation if the free laws of the country, used only for the purposes of attracting tourists. What I mean is – there are too many “coffeeshops” and too many people trying to sell you the legal marijuana on the street (especially in the evening hours) and so on. I have nothing against the legality of marijuana in the country, and I perfectly understand that this is because the city is full of tourists searching exactly this kind of tourism, but I have visited many other cities and I know that having coffeshops all around and people selling drugs on the street is not in any way typical for the country, but just for its capital city which means these things are there only because of the tourists. If you are a tourist like me looking mainly for the sights and the beauties of a certain city and trying to feel the typical atmosphere this can be a little bit annoying, although this is actually part of the atmosphere and the city would have been very different if these coffeeshops weren’t at every corner.

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Vihren
Amsterdam 4 stars
Amsterdam is definitely a capital worth seeing. While not so beautiful as Brussels or Paris or (in my opinion) even Luxembourg city, it has a very special atmosphere typical for the whole country of the Netherlands and is a wonderful place to spend a few days. The whole city is a perfect combination between seemingly contrasting features - marvelous busy streets and surprisingly calm quarters, typical old Dutch architecture and great modern buildings, free laws and traditionality and so on.

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aclark
Literature 4 stars
Amsterdam, Netherlands is very well known for its very diverse array of literature. I got the chance to check some of that out when I was there. There is a lot of literature available at pretty much any of the book stores that you go to while you are there. I would recommend checking out some of the literature that they have there because it is very diverse and interesting. One of the prime examples of literature that Amsterdam has to offer is the diary of Anne Frank and the Anne Frank museum. I was not especially impressed with the museum, but the overall story of this young girl was one of the most fascinating heart wrenching stories I have ever read.

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LittleFairy
To sum it up 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Of course we stayed there for a few more days, but to write about all that; I think it will take me more than some days. We had a lot of fun there biking around this beautiful city, visiting all famous museums and places, relaxing in some random park on the map we could found and having fast dinner or lunch in between. I myself really enjoyed the trip. It was pretty unpredictable; we just did what we felt like doing at the moment; no strict rules, no plans. It was just simply a perfect trip for two persons. I do think that without the internet and all the tips and tricks that we can find on the internet, we could have never made it travelling as we felt like like that. I frankly do think that you guys should try this kind of travelling out too.

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LittleFairy
Vietnamese Restaurant in China Town 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
After some hours shopping and watching that movie at the Film Museum, we were super hungry and tired from all the biking and getting from place to place. My fiancé and I wanted to get some good Asian food for the dinner. We bike through the Red-light-District to get to the China Quarter. After paying a short visit to a Chinese pagoda, we got back to looking for a Vietnamese place. Everywhere were Chinese or Thai restaurants. Keen on looking for good Vietnamese food, we continued looking till the very end of the China Quarter; we finally found it. It really looks like there is only one Vietnamese restaurant in the area. I was so happy to find the famous Vietnamese “Pho” in the menu and my fiancé went for a portion of rice and beef. The restaurant was definitely good and the Pho there was truly great. Try it out if you have some time in Amsterdam.

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LittleFairy
Getting around in Amsterdam 3 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Yes, it is true that you can get around really easy with the metro or on rental bikes. One thing I have to warn you guys about the rental bikes. When we were in the rental bike shop on Damstraat like 5-minute-walk from Dam Square trying to rent two bikes, they asked us if we would want to buy the insurance for the bikes too. It cost only 2 Euros per day for one bike, but if the bike got stolen, it would be covered with this insurance. We didn't want to buy it, but then we heard a guy coming into the store saying that he got his bike stolen and didn't buy any insurance at all. He of course ended up paying everything for the bike. Yeah, I guess you know what came next, we bought some. Thank God that nothing happened during the days we went there.

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LittleFairy
Biking around the city 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The first time coming to this city, I really didn't know what to expect at the beginning. My fiance on the other hand had already been to this city for the 8th time. He suggested that we could get some tickets for the public transportation and some more for the museums. We ended renting two bikes for some days and biking around asking for the museum tickets. We had read on internet that there was a ticket for like 25 Euros, with which you can enter mostly every museum in Holland. The thing was that everyone wanted to sell us the expensive I Amsterdam card for 50 EUR for 3 days instead the cheap museum card. Anyway, we finally found these cards in the Rijks museum and we also got them with a discount price because we were under 25 years old. I do think that it was a very good deal for back packers like us. Anyway, I do think that we had a really great time getting around the town on our rental bikes.

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LittleFairy
Crazy idea of going to Amsterdam 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Alright my fiancée suddenly came up with the crazy idea of going to Amsterdam from Cologne, since it is actually closer from Cologne to Amsterdam than from Worms. It really sounded like a very expensive idea at the beginning. We had to cancel our tickets back to Worms and booked the new ones to Amsterdam and back to Worms. It was however pretty cheap, about 60 EUR for both of us. We were on the other hand not very satisfied with the hotel that we booked online. It was small, not very clean but it was located really close to the central station. The hotel’s name is Neutral Hotel, I think. Anyway, for the location you really have to pay a lot in Amsterdam. It was very convenient to get around from the hotel. Next to the hotel is a McDonald’s, a neat restaurant, which is a perfect place for breakfast and the “Sex Museum”.

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aclark
Stree scams 101 (part 3) 1 stars
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
So they will say that they have to see their loved one who is very sick and they just need about fifteen or twenty euro. I am telling you this is very close as to how it will happen in real life. Now you are probably thinking that this happens in every city; you are right. But the difference between Amsterdam and other cities is that the people in Amsterdam are like really clever at how they get money out of tourists. One of the major reasons for this in my opinion is the amount of tourists that come through Amsterdam and also the amount of money that they carry on them. I sincerely hope that you found this tip helpful in your future travels to Amsterdam and I wish you the best of luck.

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aclark
Stree scams 101 (part 2) 1 stars
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
If you are planning on taking a trip to Amsterdam then you have probably heard that there are a lot of scams that take place there. Well you heard right because this is totally true. One particular scam I would suggest that you keep your eye on is people at the train station. What happens is that heroin addicts will go to the train station when they need money and scam tourists for it. One of the more common train station techniques is that they will be like “hey, how you doing man? Where you heading to?” I know it sounds funny but they will try to act like they are your best friend. They will literally talk to you for like a half hour without talking about money. Then at the very end they hit you with “Gee, do you think you could spot me like thirty Euro because I have to go visit my mom in Rotterdam and she is very sick.”

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aclark
Street scams 101 3 stars
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
If you are considering taking a trip to Amsterdam then you should beware of street scams. What do I mean by this? I mean that there is a significant amount of people in Amsterdam that have an addiction to Heroin and they are very crafty at getting money out of tourists. For example, we were in Amsterdam one time and this lady who was dressed in pretty nice clothes came up to us in a rather frantic mode claiming that she had been robbed and she needed to catch a train back to Germany immediately. There person that I was traveling with was very generous and wanted to help the lady out but I quickly caught on to her scam. I am not a cold hearted person I just know that there is no limit to what people will do to feed their drug addiction.

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aclark
Interesting history 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
If you are considering taking a trip to Amsterdam you will find that there is a lot of really cool history there. One of the historical points that I found fascinating was how the name Amsterdam evolved. It was actually formed because there was a dam at the end of the Amstel River. They decided to call it “Amstellerdam.” Well, Amstellerdam eventually turned into Amsterdam. If you find that boring there are a lot of other cool historical facts there that you are sure to find most fascinating. One of the things that I particularly enjoyed learning about there was how the whole canal dike system was put into place. Obviously I can’t explain all of it to you now because that would take up like five pages but it Is really worth learning when you travel there.

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