Netherlands, Amsterdam - Story of my trip to the Netherlands in Amsterdam

Netherlands, Amsterdam - Story of my trip to the Netherlands in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam, chronicle of a journey

Rita and I left for Amsterdam from Malpensa on May 6, 2010 with the Easyjet (115 euros a / r for 2 pers), we had prepared the trip by consulting many diaries on the web, to search for the hotel and restaurants (all with website Internet).

Upon arrival, we take the train to Centraal Station using the vending machine that accepts some cards and coins. (7.6 for 2 pers.).

We arrive in Amsterdam in 20 minutes, at the station we buy the strippen caart (7.65 euros), a multiple ticket to use public transport even for more people, then we go to the Tourist Office in front of the station and buy the "I Amsterdam card "to travel 72 hours, from validation, on all means of transport, enter museums, churches, take the tour of the canals by boat, various discounts, etc. We were very uncertain about the purchase, but it turned out to be the right choice , above all because public transport is comfortable, fast and frequent, and the entrance is paid everywhere, and then considering the rainy weather, being able to jump freely on a tram could have been convenient.

We arrive at the Hotel Nadia, located in the center, practically in front of the Wester Kerk, the staircase is very steep, our room, overlooking the Kaisergracht, is a bit small but equipped with everything, TV (no Italian channels), safe, free wifi, rich breakfast in the room overlooking the canal, electric coffee maker, normal bathroom (100 euros per night). We settle down and start the visit, we notice the cyclists whizzing on the reserved lanes, we are surprised that the sidewalks along the canals are used for parking cars and heaps of garbage bags, often broken, paper everywhere, even in the central areas, I would never have thought that.

We start with a walk on the Prinsengracht, the most popular canal then we move on to see the Dam, then for dinner at the Argentins restaurant near the Damrak (found by chance), we were not very satisfied, we spent about 32 euros in two.

Friday, May 7th

We begin the wandering around the city, focusing on Wester Kerk, one of the symbols of the city, but it is closed (it will always be like this), so we only see the outside, we head towards Dam Square, the main square of the city, it is very large , on it stands the Royal Palace, currently under renovation, in the center of the square the obelisk that commemorates the liberation from Nazism.

To the side is the Nieuwe Kerk, in Gothic style of the fifteenth century, used as an exhibition room, the interior is rather sober, wooden vaults, large 75 stained glass windows with religious scenes, which make it very bright, the pulpit is remarkable in wood with precious inlays and gilded gate.

We see the Magna Plaza, a large shopping center in a fake Renaissance style, with designer shops and the Madame Toussaud museum inside.

Then with a comfortable tram we go to the Van Gogh Museum, there is also a temporary exhibition with works by Gauguin and other impressionists, which we visit then we move on to Van Gogh, among the approximately 300 masterpieces on display I mention the disturbing and famous Wheatfield with crows, the works are exhibited in large rooms, practically arranged in chronological order in order to follow their life through the works (not to be missed).

Inside, a good self-service restaurant with a rich menu of desserts, sandwiches, soups and some other hot dishes, we spent about 14 euros each.

We then head towards the center, along a stretch of the Herengracht, to visit the Begijnhof, the famous residence of lay nuns, we enter and we find ourselves in a pleasant garden with religious statues, the buildings in classic Dutch style are adorned with tulips and flowers on the side two chapels one Protestant and one Catholic (functioning) in the Catholic church are interesting the stained glass windows and the paintings with scenes of the miracle of Amsterdam, the courtyard is also overlooked by buildings used as common homes.

In the evening dinner at the Van Puffelen restaurant on the Prinsengracht, a nice and elegant place halfway between a pub and a restaurant, young and bourgeois environment, good food, we had a risotto with mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella and bacon, soup of the day, breast duck with sauerkraut, leeks, bacon and cheese sauce, pineapple with chocolate and vanilla cream, coffee and beer for around 40 euros in total.

Early in the morning we visit the Anne Frank house, near the hotel, a stone's throw from the Wester kerk of which we hear the tolling of the bells from the hotel, Anna Frank also talks about it in the diary (the house is practically adjacent to the church), long queue, we pass through the rooms where the testimonies of anti-Semitic persecutions are exhibited, documents, photographs and in a showcase some original pages of the diary, go up into the house and enter, via a steep staircase, the rooms where the eight were housed illegal immigrants who spent more than two years in silence and darkness, we also see the secret passage hidden by a shelf and the attic with the chestnut tree that appears at the small window.

Saturday, May 8th

We go out quite excited and continue walking through the canals and guides in hand we go to look for the historic buildings, in order to see the differences, in particular of the pediments and decorations, then we head towards the Oude Kerk, passing through the Centraal Station we visit the Catholic church of St. Nicholas, nearby we see the Schreirstoren (weeping tower), an ancient medieval fortification, very similar to the Waag, inside there is a shop.

The Oude Kerk is located in the red light district, narrow by the canal and the adjacent streets (a few steps away are the characteristic windows with little women), it is the oldest church in the city, in Gothic style, the bell tower is one of the most beautiful of the city, this is also used only as an exhibition venue, the interior is rather bare, has a single nave, large windows with interesting stained glass windows, the famous organ of 1700 is known, the floor is practically made up of tombstones.

We return to the Centraal to take a boat trip on the canals (almost all of the excursions start from here, included in the card), also given that it starts to rain and we are quite tired.

The tour is very interesting, it allows you to get a precise idea of ​​the architecture of the city, of the system of canals, of the houseboats, in particular to compare the various types of pediments and the protruding beams (winches) which are the typical elements of the buildings , and which, in my opinion, allow us to date the buildings, the oldest are the beaked, stepped and bell pediments, some of these have frames and sculptures and other decorations, characteristics that are also reported in more recent buildings, obviously we already knew all this before leaving, then with the help of the guide we went to look along the canals for the most characteristic buildings one by one, not to be missed in the area of ​​the Golden Elbow near the Leidsestraat on the Herengracht.

We then go to the Hermitage to visit the exhibition "from Matisse to Malevich" about 75 works by great Impressionist and modern painters, from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and other Russian art galleries.

But first we go to the museum restaurant, the Neva, elegant and bright with a large menu, very modern furniture, bar with large sofas, table service (a little slow), we have a potato soup, a Russian vegetable soup made with vegetables and meat, a dessert, a glass of wine and a beer, 2 coffees, for about 28 euros, fully satisfied.

The exhibition is very accurate, great masterpieces such as "the dance" and "the red room" by Matisse, to name just two, but also works by Picasso, Utrillo and other great artists.

Taking advantage of the milder weather, we make a piece of the Kaisergracht, to go and see some buildings, including the building at no. 123

In the evening we go to the Leidesplein where the nightlife of the city is concentrated, the square is very crowded, young jugglers and musicians perform in every corner, many restaurants, pizzerias, various clubs, then we enter the Café Reynders pub, a young environment, big screen music etc, you go there just to drink. We order tomato soup, and leek, fried potatoes, an Irish stew, beer, wine, 2 coffees, bill from 39.60, we were satisfied.

Sunday, May 9th

The weather has improved. We take the opportunity to stroll around Herengracht and on the Kaisergracht, we see buildings dating back to the golden century with the characteristic pediments, external stairways, we reach the Rembrandtplein, a beautiful square with the monument to the famous painter, surrounded by bars and restaurants.

We then pass on the Reguliersgracht with its well-known seven humpback bridges, whose arches are reflected on the water forming perfect circles and some buildings have the facade slightly tilted forward, they are the famous "hanging houses".

We then arrive at the Bloemenmarkt, the flower market floating on barges (even if you have to know it to understand it), on the Singel, we also buy bulbs. On the side of the square another medieval gate is the Munttoren, an ancient mint with the clock tower at the top.

Then visit the Rijksmuseum, under renovation, you can only see some rooms, dedicated to the painting of the Golden Age, in particular the works of Rembrandt and Vermeer, needless to say that the most crowded room is the one where La Ronda is exhibited.

We go out and have lunch at the Canaletto restaurant, not excellent.

In the afternoon we visit the port area, with tram 10, then we take a pedestrianized street along the canal at the entrance to the port, many are jogging, the suburb is made up of not very tall buildings, the area appears very tidy and streets more clean of the city center.

We return with a bus that, going around the port, takes us back to the station

In the evening dinner at the In the Waag restaurant bar, located in the Nieuemarkt, the oldest market in the city, also the building is one of the oldest in the city (the Waag), originally it was one of the gates of the walls that surrounded it, to see it it almost looks like a castle.

The menu is quite rich, Dutch cuisine. We got: slow-cooked chicken with turnips and risotto, soup of the day, fried potatoes, beers and coffee for around 51 euros.

Monday 10 May:short visit to Zandvoort and Haarlem

We start the day with the sun, we take the opportunity to visit the Prinsegracht, to see some buildings with particular pediments, then we go to the Cuypmarkt, a normal local market.

Then lunch at the café Il Panorama on the Herengracht, normal administration, then by train (€ 18.4 a / r 2 pers) we go to Zandvoort, on the North Sea, a small town, about 40 km from Amsterdam, where in the past we held the Formula 1 GP

The town is almost uninhabited, a beach of fine sand, like Rimini, very wide, long as far as the eye can see, cold wind, few people, but there are some surfers in the sea, on the beach some deckchairs with tents to shelter from the wind.

Then with the train to Haarlem, city of the Renaissance of which we visit the Grote Markt, a market is taking place, on the large square many bars with outdoor tables, historic Renaissance buildings, some have facades with Baroque sculptures, in the center of the square the statue of Laurens Coster, who is claimed to be the true inventor of typefaces, the famous church of S. Bavone, construction dating back to 1300, the church was closed, we can only appreciate the massive exterior in gothic style, a bell tower very high (Torre Lanterna), some shops leaning against the walls, let's take a tour of the city.

Let's go back to Amsterdam and go to dinner at the Bloemers cafe, where we have dinner with soup of the day, a stew of meat, vegetables, dessert, spending around 40 euros for two, we were satisfied.

Tuesday, May 11th

Last day sad tour through the canals, visit some print shops, then we return to the Van Gogh museum to buy posters and souvenirs. We go to the restaurant for lunch and then after a short walk we go to the hotel to collect and luggage and then to Schipol airport for departure, happy for the visit and the narrow escape from the cloud.

Ferny and Rita, July 2010

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Video: How the Dutch Beat the Ocean. Why Amsterdam Has Canals


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