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Rembrandt or Not? Old Drawings, New Names

When in is the home to Rembrandt. The old master spent most of his life in this town. Currently the Rembrandt House Museum is holding an exhibition Rembrandt or Not? Old Drawings New Names.

The exhibition addresses how art historians attribute work to certain artists. The exhibition is the first of its kind in the Netherlands. The exhibition presents 60 drawings that were made by Rembrandt, his apprentices or contemporaries. All of the drawings were initially accredited to 17th century artists. The exhibition is the work of Peter Schatborn who was the head of prints and drawings at the Rijksmusum.

The style and similarities can be seen in the drawings. Apprentices had to learn the style of the master. Rembrandt's apprentices were many. Among them were Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flink.

It is easy to see how art historians have mistakenly attributed drawings. It makes you think how the more valuable paintings are attributed to artists of the period. Looking through these drawings posted on this blog which artist would you think drew them? Go to the Rembrandt House Museum to find out and learn about the process.

The exhibition runs  1 February to 27 April 2014.

Our Tip:

Visit the Rembrandt House Museum before you visit the Rijksmuseum. Step back in time to see and feel the environment before seeing the masterpieces in the national museum, Rijksmuseum.

Open hours and prices can be found here at their website for Rembrandt House Museum.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!

Similar blogs:
Rembrandt House Museum


Rembrandt's House Museum: Amsterdam

When in Amsterdam....visit the Rembrandt House. The old master lived most of his life in Amsterdam. At the height of his popularity he resided in a magnificent house for twenty years in the middle of Amsterdam's Jewish Quarter.

Rembrandt's House 1868
At this museum you get to step back in time and understand the environment that Rembrandt lived. The house has been reconstructed and filled with objects from Rembrandt's time. Also, the house holds the largest collection of Rembrandt etchings.

Rembrandt's House initial restoration in mid 20th century

It was in 1906 that the city purchased the building and began a long process of restoration. It was not until 1999 that the current restoration was completed. This was due to the purchase of the adjacent building to house the library and information centre.

Paint making in the 17th century at  Rembrandt's House Museum, Amsterdam.

The best thing about the museum is the demonstrations. Each day the Museum shows how etchings were done in the 17th century. There is also a demonstration on how paint was made in Rembrandt's time.

Our tip:

Visit the Rembrandt House Museum before you visit the Rijksmuseum. Step back in time to see and feel the environment before seeing the masterpieces in the national museum, Rijksmuseum.

Open hours and prices can be found here at their website for Rembrandt House Museum.

 When in Amsterdam....enjoy!


Things to do in Amsterdam: Local Tips from famous Amsterdammers

When in Amsterdam....there are so many things to do. Here we have translated advice from famous Amsterdammers of what to do in the city for visitors. These exerts were taken from a book titled: Mijn Plek Amsterdam. 2013. The book was only released in Dutch but is a great gift idea.

Hanna Bervoets

Hanna Bervoets
 Photo taken from
Hanna Bervoets is born and breed Amsterdam. She is famous for being a writer, journalist, columnist and appearing on Dutch television.

Hanna's tip: visitors should go to Cafe-Restaurant Noorderlicht in Amsterdam-North at the NDSM wharf. There, tourists get to see a special and little exposed piece of Amsterdam.

Job Cohen

Job Cohen
Photo taken from
Job Cohen is former social democratic politician and famous for being Mayor of Amsterdam 2001-2010. He was rated European of the Year 2005 by Time for his handling of race tension in Amsterdam.

Job's tip:a tourist should be directed to the new (eastern) Ij islands. An example for the whole world how an ancient port which no longer serves it initial purpose can be transformed into a modern part of the city. When I started as mayor there was nothing, now it is really beautiful.

Leo Blokhuis

Leo Blokhuis
Photo taken from

Leo Blokhuis is an expert in the field of pop. He is also a professional graphic designer and a broadcaster.

Leo's tip: tourists should visit the museums, it's really not normal how much there is to see in the larger museums of the city. Very happy they are open again to the public.

Jeroen Pauw

Jeroen Pauw
Photo taken from talent kitchen

Jeroen Pauw is a journalist and television presenter.

Jeroen's tip: I hope that tourists see Amsterdam as a relaxed and cheerful village. I get annoyed by people watching and thinking it is dangerous. Walk to Wilhelmina Dok (north Amsterdam) find a cafe and drink quietly a coffee. Then Walk through the park and go to the museum (Film museum).

Glennis Grace

Glennis Grace
Photo taken from ceo-evenementen
Glennis is a born and breed Amsterdam famous for her singing.

Glennis's tip: A boat tour is really special. But also a bus or perhaps even by bicycle. A fun and comfortable way to see the city.

Johannes van Dam (deceased)

Johannes van Dam
Photo taken from Het Parool
Johannes was born an Amsterdammer and died in Amsterdam. A journalist and the Netherlands most famous food critic. He had a column for 25 years in the national daily Het Parool. 

Johannes's tip: Go to the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Hermitage. Then a cruise the canals. For the best croquettes in Amsterdam you need to go to confectionery Holtkamp on the Vijzelgracht.

Tygo Gernandt

Tygo Gernandt
Photo taken from

Tygo Gernandt was born in Amsterdam. He is famous for being a voice, television and film actor.

Tygo's tip: Just the city sweep you up. Walk out of Central Station and just keep walking. Be yourself and do what you want to do. This is what I would advise.

Ellen Hoog

Ellen Hoog
Photo taken from
Ellen is a famous for her field hockey talent. She was a member of the Netherlands' European and World Champion national field hockey team

Ellen's tip: Visit the Nine Streets. When I 'm abroad I look for this atmosphere. The squares, terraces and canals give a very pretty picture of Amsterdam.

Youp van 't Hek

Youp van 't Hek
Photo taken from

Youp is famous for being a comedian and making fun of the rich. He is also a columnist for the national daily NRC Handelsblad since 1988. 

Youp's tip: At five in the morning take a boat through the city. The students are home, the whores go to bed and sleep. The city wakes up at the same time. Its really great. Get on your bike and go eat somewhere you 've never been without a reservation.

Lnage Frans

Lnage Frans
Photo taken from
Lnage Frans is born in Amsterdam and is famous for being a rapper and a television presenter.

Lnage's tip: Cruise through the canals. Just an hour of listening to the tape and admiring all the beautiful things.

We hope this was helpful. If you would like to see the book this came from Mijn Plek Amsterdam. It is a book that asked 25 famous Amsterdammers about their part of Amsterdam. We bought a copy from the Amsterdam City Archives bookshop.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!

Other interesting Blog Posts:

All-time Top 10 Things to do in Amsterdam: a critical look

Amsterdam Top 10 Eats: a critical approach


Amsterdam Guide to Dutch Design

When in Amsterdam....explore Dutch Design. Here is your guide to the best places to experience Dutch Design in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a city known for its creativity, and business. The two are wonderful bed fellows that create unique and functional products that are little quirky.

Here are a list of places to visit, see and experience the best of Dutch Design.

Interior design Shops

  • Moooi Gallery: Furniture label of the famous Marcel Wanders.
  • Droog: A collective established in the 1990s that has become the flagship store for Dutch Design.
  • &Klevering sells interior home accessories.
  • Frozen Fountain stocks emerging and established designers. Look out for the specially commissioned pieces.
  • Mobilia Woonstudio: has an impressive selection of top Dutch design labels.
  • Thinking of Holland: stocks Dutch Design souvenirs.
Knotted Chair: Marcel Wanders


  • Stedelijk: The home to contemporary art. Has a great range of turn of the 20th century furniture by famous designers such as Berlage.
  • Museum Het Schip: An old apartment block that represents the Amsterdam School of architecture.
  • Foam: Amsterdam's most recognized photography museum. The concept was developed by Amsterdam based creative agency Vandejong.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


  • Andaz Amsterdam - the 5 star hotel part of the Hyatt group is located centrally in the old old library on the Prinsengracht. The interior is designed by the famous Marcel Wanders.
  • Dutch Design Hotel Artemis, a little out of town the hotel building's design was influenced by geometric forms of Mondrian, Dudok and Rietveld. Furniture and fittings are designed by contemporaries such as Piet Hein Eek, Marcel Wanders and Richard Hutten.
Andez Hotel foyer Amsterdam

IAmsterdam Sign
  • Yes, you read it right.. The great sign markets the city of Amsterdam. Designed by the creative group KesselsKramer. 
  • The sign is always moving but look for it in its normal home on Museumplein.

Bike Shops
Blackstar Bamboo Bike


Amsterdam Streetware brand Patta

Dutch Design Tours

If you have any further suggestions please let us know. We are on Facebook, and Google+,  

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!

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Amsterdam's Jordaan: Saturday Market

When in of the most beautiful parts of Amsterdam is the Jordaan. A working class district constructed in the early 17th century. 

Jordaan Market, Amsterdam.
The neighborhood was under threat from destruction in the 1970s. The local municipality wanted to modernize the area.

Locals got together and saved what was possible. Saturday is market day. Locals and visitors flock to the neighborhood by local produce and shopping for an array of items.

Our travel tip: On Saturday visit the Anne Frank House and book your tickets online so you don't have to line up. After, head up to the Jordaan market and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Jordaan. 

If you wish to visit the Jordaan join the Omy Amsterdam Jordaan sightseeing walking Tour. Groups are limited to 4 people. This allows you to pop into local places and experience the beauty of the Jordaan. 

For more information visit our website:

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!

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This Day in Amsterdam History: 31 January 1696

The Amsterdam City Council had decided to impose tax early in the month on the burial of people and businesses engage in funerals. Industry people spread the word that the poor would be unfairly affected.

People that had suffered under previous taxes revolted at the new tax. On 31 January 1696 furious  set upon the house of Mayor Jacob Boreel on the Herengracht. They thew all of his belongings into the canal. The mob then descended on the house of city Captain. He was already hated for his heavy handed approach.

The City Council acted fast. The city militia was allowed to shoot on the crowd. Two rioters who had gained entrance to the weigh house on Dam Square were thrown out of the window.

The riot stopped as suddenly as it had started. The end result was that the tax on the dead was repealed.

Photo: from Amsterdam City Archives (no google+ account)
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Best Coffeeshops in Amsterdam: small and local

When in coffeeshop questions have always been asked. Mindful that most Amsterdammer do not smoke weed. We sent out a resident specialist guide from the Amsterdam Coffeeshop Industry Tour to check out the best of Amsterdam's famous cannabis coffeeshops. Please note that the Tour is not a smoking tour but a tour on the development of the industry in Amsterdam.

The criteria was simple find Amsterdam Coffee Shops that :

  1. Are known for their quality.
  2. Are small and local. Not the well marketed high profile sites.
  3. Finally, are known for consistent and high quality.

Utopia Coffeeshop

Located in the old historic centre this unassuming place is easy to miss. Smoking locals and regular toking visitors to Amsterdam have always had high regard for this cannabis and hash Coffeeshop. Always known for their friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere the shop is only open from 6pm due to new 2014 restrictions. Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 132.


Located at the top of town in front of the Eastern end of Central station. This Coffeeshop is multiple award winner of the prestigious 420 Best Coffeeshop Award. Their product is blue ribbon material. Opening hours are not set. They open and close when they wish. True professional stoners. Address: Geldersekade 2.

Worthy mentions outside City Centre

1e Hulp

Located in the inner west. 1e Hulp, translated to 1st Aid, has been a locals' favourite for many years
Also, a recipient of bronze and silver 420 medals this is a typical local hangout. The 1940s interior and relaxing environment and quality product has meant 1e Hulp makes our list. Address: Marnixstraat 194.

Club Media
Located just off the famous Albert Cyup Market in the now trendy De Pijp neighbourhood.  Club Media is a clean and local the place has a menu full of organic weed. Famous for affordability and organic produce. Address: Gerard Doustraat 83 85.

If you wish to make your own decision feel free to analyse on a community board called The Amsterdam Coffeeshop Directory.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!

Amsterdam Museum Cannonballrun: 4. Portugese Synagogue

When in Amsterdam....the Portugese Synagogue is a cultural and architectural masterpiece. The building was opened in 1675 and survived Nazi occupation of Amsterdam during the Second World War.

The main building still does not have any electricity and is lit witth hundreds of candles. Part of the out buildings house the world's oldest Jewish library, Ets Haim.

Amsterdam Portugese Synagogue

Museum Overview/Layout
- the main building of the complex is the Synagogue.
- outbuildings surrounding  the Synagogue house the library and treasure chamber. The later is open to viewing.

Amsterdam Porgtugese Synagogue

- Your ticket to the Jewish Historic Museum includes entrance to the Portugese Synagogue
- take the free audio tour
- visit the downstairs chamber of treasures
- Remember it is a working Synagogue and is closed early on Friday and all day Saturday.
- Men must wear a Kipa/Jarmulka hat (these are provided at entrance)

Museumnacht tips
- Each year the Synagogue is filled with live jazz music. Combined with the candle light of the main room of the Synagogue this is a must visit if you are in the area.
- Yummy falafel and kosher wine is also served in the courtyard for a price. Get there early as they always sell out.
- Check out our museumnacht blog from two years ago which included the Protugese Synagogue.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!


Amsterdam Museum Cannonball Run: 3. Allard Pierson Museum

When in Amsterdam...lovers of the antiquity the Allard Pierson Museum is for you. The Museum is the archaeological museum of the University of Amsterdam.

Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam

Museum Overview/ Layout
- The building is impressive with marble floors and high ceilings
- Museum laid out over 2 floors
- Floor one is temporary exhibition and the Egypt rooms
- Floor two is Roman, Greek, Etruria, Cyprus and southern Italy and Sicily artifacts
Egypt artifact - Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam
Temporary Exhibition
Eternal Egypt Experience - covers Egypt through the centuries. This exhibition goes beyond the normal mummies and Tutankhamun that one expects of ancient Egypt exhibitions. The exhibition starts at 1600,000 before Christ and goes through to 20th Century.

The exhibition is the findings of a combined archeolgical digs conducted by 7 Dutch and Flemish Universities in different parts of Egypt. There is a large multi-media component of the exhibition that takes around 20 minuttes. The exhibition runs until 5 January 2014.

- for those with a Museum card there is a 2.50 euro additional fee to enter the museum.

Museumnacht tips
- The theme this  year for the Allard Pierson Museum is The Senses. There is a large program of activities  including an antient jukebok and make your own antique perfume. For more information visit here.

When in Amserdam....enjoy!
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Piet Modriaan in Amsterdam 1892 -1912: Amsterdam Museum Exhibitions

When in Amsterdam....explore the influence on art. The Amsterdam Museum is currently displaying 62 pieces by Piet Modriaan. Modriaan is famous in the art world for pioneering the abstract (Neoplasticism/ de Stijl) school of painting.

Modrian in Amsterdam 1892 - 1912
(photo: Omy Amsterdam Tours)

This exhibition (on display to January 2, 2014) concentrates on his early works when he lived in and around Amsterdam. The works show the progression of Mordiaan as an artist (he would change his name to Modrian in Paris 1911). Modriaan is normally remembered for his line paintings. This exhibition shows a human, an artist who is developing from influence, environment and personal  philosophy.

Born just outside Amsterdam to a strict Calvinist family Modriaan moved to Amsterdam in 1892 to study at the Academy of Fine Art. The exhibition shows how young Modriaan painting was typical in 19th century style. Landscapes and especially windmills were consistent objects of his paintings. He built up a career of commissions painting portraits and landscapes.

The exhibition dramatically shows the influence on Modriaan of the Van Gogh exhibition in Amsterdam in 1905. From 1907 his colours change to be more radical. His radical colour choices put him at odds with patrons and his family.

Windmill in Sunlight, Modriaan 1908

Modriaan again changes his style after his trip to Paris in 1911. He is confronted by Cubism. Combined with the use of dramatic colours during the First World War  Modriaan turns his attention to the philosophy and painting, especially the line and colour. The process becomes more important than the result.

It is always fascinating to see an artist develop. Piet Modriaan in Amsterdam 1892 - 1912, exhibits rare works seldom displayed publicly. For those who love early 20th century art this is a must see. Great in combination with a visit to the Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums of Amsterdam.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!

Amsterdam Museum Cannonball Run: 2. Amsterdam Museum

When in Amsterdam...the best museum about the city is of course the Amsterdam Museum. Housed on the location of the former monestry and city Orphanage the location dates back to 1581.

Amsterdam Museum entrance Kalverstraat
Museum Layout/Overview

5 main areas of the museum

- 1. Cafe and courtyard

- 2. DNA Amsterdam exhibition. An overview of the cities history using new and interactive multi-media exhibiting techniques. Perfect for someone with not a lot of time or not that into museum.

- 3. Amsterdam by centuries: is a more detailed looked through the city's history. Great if you wan to delve deeper into the ages.

- 4. Temporary exhibitions and childrens area.

- 5. Civic Guards Gallery: free gallery to walk though

Temporary exhibitions

Piet Modriaan in Amsterdam 1892 - 1912 (Modrian) was born just outside Amsterdam. He spent most of his youth in Amsterdam living in at least 10 addresses across the city. One such address is the Kalverstraat where this exhibition is on show. Mordian's work spans the late 19th century and early 20th century. His most famous works internationally are those after 1920.

This exhibition consists of 62 works from his early days to pre-1920s. It is interesting to see the artist develop through his work. This exhibition will be on display until February 2014. 

- See the Rembrandt painting The Anotomy Lesson of Dr. Jan Deijman (1956). Part of the permanent collection.
- Another Rembrandt is on loan until August 2015 from the American's National Gallery of Art. Saskia van Uylenburgh. In the DNA exhibition.
- There is a good short movie of what Ajax Football Club means to Amsterdam.
- Modern art lovers will relish the Modrian exhibition in combination with Van Gogh museum and Stedelijk Museum.

Museumnacht Tips
- There is always a good party in the cafe and coutyard. This year the theme is New York jazz, Boogie Woogie, Eddie the Eagle and Modrian. Get there around midnight.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!


Amsterdam Museum Cannonball Run: 1. Jewish Historical Museum

When in Amsterdam...Cannonball Museum Run Stop 1 is the Jewish Historical Museum. The weather was bad so we dropped  into a place close to home in old Mokum town.

Museum Layout/ Overview

- The Museum is housed in a complex of four former Ashkenazi synagoguess laid over three floors.
- Lower floors are the temporary exhibitions, cafeteria and entrance into the Synagoge. This area explains the basis of Jewish religion.
- Upper floor is the permanent exhibitions serparated into two room.
- First room covers the Jewish community in Netherlands and Amsterdam from 1500s to late 1800s.
- Second room is devoted to the 20th century experience of the Dutch Jewish Community.
- Disabled access is very good.

Jewish Historical Museum Amsterdam

Temporary Exhibitions

Philip Mechanicus: Photographer ( exhibitions runs until 27 Ocotber 2013)
 This is the first posthumous restropective work of this Amsterdam photogrhaper. Philip was born at Zwanburgwal a few blocks from the Museum complex.

Son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish German month this enabled the family to survive the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.

The exhibition covers the life work of Philip Mechanicus who was a writer and photographer.

For us the best part of the exhibition is the photos of Amsterdam streets shot between 1955 and 1962.

Shtetl in the City: Antwerp through the lens of Dan Zollman (exhibition runs 16 September until 2 February 2014)

Dan Zollman is an Antwerp native from a Jewish family. His exhibition brings alive the world of Antwerp's ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews. Zollman opens the viewer to a community that is often closed.

An interesting look at a community from a city, Antwerp, that has had an enormous impact on the city of Amsterdam.

Dan Zollmann Sjtetl in de stad

- Take the free audio tour it comes in multiple languages
- If you are interested in WWII and don't have a lot of time you can spend 1 hour just in the 20th century room.
- Museumnacht 2013 will be an event Digiffiti: Amsterdam street language and art influenced by the city's Jewish history.
When in Amsterdam....enjoy!


Amsterdam Museums: Museumnacht Cannonball Run 2013

When in Amsterdam...Autumn and Winter mean museums, expositions and concerts. As the seasons change Museum Night (Museumnacht Amsterdam) is an event to which to look forward. Many Amsterdam museums open for a one night extravaganza from 7pm to 2am. The buildings filled with special events, exhibitions and music.

So with 23 days to go to Museumnacht Amsterdam we thought a run around of Amsterdam museums would be a good idea. Armed with our Museum card (Museumkaart) we want to:

- Visit as many Museums participating in Amsterdam Museumnacht 2013 as possible;
- Blog about new exhibitions in our musums for Autumn and Winter in Amsterdam,
- Recount the permenant collections of our museums.
- Provide an overview of the museums,
- Tips and anything you should see before Museumnacht.

The most important aim is to provide English reading residents of Amsterdam and our visitors encouragement to get out and see our wonderful varied Amsterdam museums. There is so much more than the Big 3: Anne Frank, Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum.

You can paritipate too!

- Read our blog,
- Comment on our posts,
- Buy a museumkaart and send us your thoughts on a  museum you visited lately,
- Buy a ticket to Museumnacht, check out the Museumnacht website and read our blog in anticipation.
- Join the Cannonball, get your Museumkaart and come. Facebook postings are best...stay tuned....

Museum Card (Museumkaart)

Your best value cultural card to Museums in the Netherlands. For 50 euro you can visit over 400 listed museums in the Netherlands for one year from the time of purchase. That's right, 1 year from time of purchase.

You can sign up on the website and pay online for your Museumkaart. They will send it to you for an additional postage fee. The website is in Dutch which maybe difficult for new English reading Amsterdammers and guests.

Do you want a Museumkaart now? Buy a card at major Amsterdam museums. Tip: try the Amsterdam Museum as it is central and not overcome by visitors.

Note: the Museumkaart does NOT provide entrance to Museumnacht Amsterdam 2013.

If you wish to see what we did and tips from last year have a read of these blog entries:
- Diary Amsterdam Museum Night 2011
Amsterdam Museum Night 2012
- Amsterdam Museum Night 2012 Diary

Let the Amsterdam Museum Cannonball Run begin.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!
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Amsterdam Artist: Carl van Hees

When in Amsterdam...visit local artists. This blog highlights one of our favourites Carl van Hees. He recently opened his new studio in the historic centre of Amsterdam on the picturesque Groenburgwal. Carl specialises in fused glass.

Fused Glass Vessel by Carl van Hees

Carl van Hees graduated from Amsterdam's illustrious Rietveld Acadamy of Art. After studing fashion and illustration he turned his attention to fused glass. He was the assistent to one of the most famous Dutch glass artists Toots Zynsky.  Since those days he has been shown in expositions all over Europe and North America.

Glass Fusion Vessels by Carl van Hees

He uses the merging technique. Italian glass is heated, seperated and ground. The granules are mixed and built up in layers. Carl molds the glass to his liking. The result is a fascinating piece, shiny while granular and very tempting to touch. Our photos do not give justice to his work.

Carl van Hees: small fused glass vessels

You can see his work presently in Amsterdam two ways. Carl van Hees is part of the 25th Anniversary Exposition of the famous contemporary glass gallery in Amsterdam, Braggiotti Gallery. This exhibition runs until 9 November 2013. Otherwise, Carl's work can be viewed by appointment at his studio and gallery on Groenburgwal, in Amsterdam's old city centre. Details can be found at his

New Amsterdam Groenburgwal Gallery from Carl van Hess

When in Amsterdam...visit our local artists and enjoy!

Amsterdam Artists Open their studios.

When in Amsterdam...visit local artists. Each year Amsterdam Artists of the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood open their doors to show their new creations and workspace.

Open Ateliers Nieuwmarkt 2013 - art by Carl van Hees
 (photo: Omy Amsterdam Tours)

64 artists participated this year in an event  that has run for 38 years. In an area of Amsterdam famous internationally for Rembrandt, this event 'Open Ateliers Nieuwmarkt' remembers Amsterdam as a city of culture and locals.

The event began with the neighborhood riots of 1975. Government planned 'modernizing' the Nieuwmarkt area, introducting large roads and transport links. This would have resulted in the destruction of buildings and the local community. Many buildings were torn down and the metro link constructed but not the highway that was planned. Blue Monday in March 1975 on the Nieuwmarkt was part of a 20 year campaign by Amsterdam locals to keep the city liveable.

Artists stood with residents on the neighborhood's protest barricades. The protest's aim was for Amsterdam to be a liveable city. A city dominated by community and people not roads and cars. Through opening their doors the area's artists showed their commitment to their neighborhood.

Over the years artists have moved in an out of the neighborhood. However, each year in Autumn they open their doors to renew their commitment to this neighborhood and show their creations of beauty.

For more on Nieuwmarkt Artists visit the following link. For visitors to Amsterdam interested in viewing their work contact the organization or the artist directly and maybe they will open their doors especially for you.

We profile a few artists in the next few blogs but below is a youtube clip of the artists and their work.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!


Amsterdam's new garden at Droog Design: Biodiversity and Creativity

When in Amsterdam…visit Droog Design’s new garden. Droog Design is a Dutch conceptual design company situation in the heart of Amsterdam’s historical canal district.

Droog recently revamped their courtyard into a garden. Designers Corinne Julhiet Detroyat and Claude Pasquer were asked to create an environment that mixed natural and artificial materials. Detroyat and Pasquer took a creative sustainable approach recycling rustic materials such as wire mesh and old watering cans mixed with plants that encourage biodiversity.

The result is a weird wonderful hidden garden. The artificial materials create a fantasy feel. The climbing plants such as wisteria and bignonias bring you back to earth. Detroyat and Pasquer have used contrasting materials, sculpture and their artistic creation to form a natural world that is ascetically enticing yet questions the source of manufactures materials. The realization is that our earth is the source of all the materials in the garden and harmony of manufactured material and nature is possible in one environment.

When in Amsterdam…enjoy! 

Droog Design works with independent creative minds to realize products, projects and events.

O My Amsterdam Tours is a small group tour company that visits this garden on their Eco-Tour. Guests of the City Centre Tour, Photo Tour or a Private Bespoke Tourcan request a visit to the garden, except on Mondays.


Flying Cat at Amsterdam Art Fair

When in Amsterdam...there is plenty of art even a flying cat. After 5 years absence the KunstRai returned to Amsterdam's premiere convention center RAI. The art fair specializes in modern art. This year 70 artists exhibited their work from 31 May to 3 June.

This year the most eye catching art was the cat helicopter. Dutch Artist Bart Jansen showed his 'Orvillecopter'. Bart had a cat Orville. Orville was hit by a car and died. Bart observed a period of mourning and then teamed up with a friend, Arjen Beltman. Arjen has a passion for flying helicopters. The collaboration resulted in Orville, now taxidermy cat with propellers attached to each of his paws.

Bart Jansen is an artist who does installations and 'meaningless machines'. His only criteria is that the art 'works'. The Cat Copter has attracted a range of response some see it as disturbing others as inventive. Jansen in a statement said that Orville loved chasing birds now the dream is realised after life 'to fly with the birds'

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!

Raging Bitch: Beer of the Week at Cafe Batavia 1920

When in Amsterdam.... drink a Raging Bitch. Beer of the week at Cafe Batavia 1920 is a Belgian style Indian Pale Ale. On pouring there was a lovely white head. The first sip was immediately full of hops but then changed to flavors of citrus, apples and grapefruit.

Raging Bitch at Cafe Batavia 1920
 For those that like gin and tonics this is a beer for you. The Raging Bitch was easy to drink. After having two Bitchs the evening was kicked off in a great fashion.

When in Amsterdam.....drink an Indian Pale Ale.

For more Batavia Beers of the Week:
- Affligem Dubbel
Maredsous Blonde
Delirium Nocturnum 
- Golden Dragon


Rolling Kitchens Festival at Amsterdam's Westergasfabriek

When in Amsterdam....once a year Kitchens roll into town. Food, music, drinks, food and more food is laid out at Amsterdam's Westergasfabriek. For four days starting Ascension Day  75 vans, caravans, trucks, buses, trailers create a large open air food court on wheels, a food lover's dream.

Rolling Kitchens entrance in Amsterdam
There was so much to choose from we didn't know where to start. The weather was great, the sun came out so we started with a plastic bag of lemon infused water from the lemon fairy.

Lemon Fairy at Rolling Kitchens, Amsterdam
The crowd was large and the lines for food long. We definitively saw what was popular by the length of the line. There was so much food from which to choose: Mexican tacos and ceviche, Thai curry, Moroccan, Vegan, sushi, wood fired pizza, burgers, pig on a spit, Surinam roti, Indian curry, Italian see the problem we faced. What a good problem!
Rolling Kitchens at Amsterdam's Westerpark
We started with a Bara stuffed with Bacalao. This is a dish from Suriname. Bacalao is salted fish and it was warmed on the BBQ. The fish was topped with pickled cabbage and curry ketchup. Wow, the Bara was so fresh and crispy. The salted fish wonderful, the pickles spicy.
Bara with Bacaloa at Rolling Kitchens, Amsterdam
 Now we had food in our stomachs time for one of the long lines. There were some serious BBQs around so we went for the line with a big smoking BBQ.
Smoking BBQ at Rolling Kitchen's Amsterdam
Smokey Goodness BBQ stall in Amsterdam
Smoked BBQ pork roll with coleslaw was chosen. Also a home made ice tea was ordered. The smoked pork was lovely, soft and sweet with BBQ sauce. The ice tea was a hit especially to wash away the lingering spice of the Bara. However, the star of the show was the sunshine that warmed the crowd.
BBQ pork roll with Ice Tea
We walked around amazed by the different vehicles made into food dispensers.

Hungry again from looking at all the wheels, ravioli with ricotta and lemon was selected. No not a large size just a small size,please.

The sauce was a little salty but tasty. The lemon balanced the ricotta. The people serving were rocking, people eating and dancing at the same time.

Wonderful weather, great tasty food, pumping music, happy. We called it a day even though the outdoor movie was about to start. Thank you Mister Kitchen and Pacific Parc for organizing the event. Rolling home on two wheels with a full stomach was satisfying.

Rolling Kitchens runs from 1300 to 2300hrs, Thursday 17 May to Sunday 20 May at Amsterdam's Westergasfabriek.

On Sunday the last day of Rolling Kitchens coincides with the monthly Neighborfood Market. What a fantastic food weekend.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!

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Cafe Batavia 1920 Beer of the Week: Affligem Dubbel

When in Amsterdam....visit Cafe Batavia 1920. The location of Beer of the Week has a list of 42 beers and good honest tasty pub food. We notice sitting at the bar that the last two Beers of the Week have sold out and are to be re-stocked over the weekend. It is heartening that customers of Cafe Batavia 1920 are savvy, exploring beyond the standard Pils/lager.

Beer of the Week is Affligem Dubbel, a Begian brown ale.  On pouring there is a large light tan coloured head but the foam quickly disappears forming a simple ring on top of the beer. On smell, the Affligem Dubbel is malty with a hint of fruit. 
Affligem Dubbel at Cafe Batavia 1920

The first taste is lighter than expected. There is not as much body as what was expected. The beer is refreshingly light for a double ale. At first, while the beer is still cold from the fridge, you don't notice but as the beer warms the beer is sweet. There is an interesting taste that cannot simply be described by sweet. Little sip follows little sip trying to place the taste. At times there is citrus overtones, other sips seem to have more plum flavours. Getting towards the end of the beer the secret is in the carbonation or the small little bubbles that spread the taste.

By the end of the second the Affligem Dubbel the mouth is fresh with a clean sweetness and not beer. A thoroughly enjoyable beer.

When in Amsterdam...have a great weekend!

Other Beer of the Week entries:

Maredsous Blonde
Delirium Nocturnum
- Golden Dragon

Amsterdam City Archive remembers murdered Jewish Children in Exhibition

When in Amsterdam.....remember Mokum. Amsterdam City Archives remember the Children of the Netherlands who were deported and murdered in the Second World War because they were Jewish, Roma and Sinti. The exhibition titled Memoriam is on display in the foyer and exhibition room of  the Bazel building, Amsterdam City Archive.

The exhibition has three parts and is an extention of the book In Memoriam, de gedeporteerde en vermoorde Joodse, Roma en Sinti kinderen, 1942-1945. One part is a glass panel. The panel lists the names of the 15 000 children who were deported by the Nazi occupying forces of the Netherlands between 1942-45.

Memoriam Exhibition Amsterdam City Archive

The centre piece of the exhibition is a 70 meter board. The board is broken in four and is covered in photos and details of the 2 900 Dutch Jewish children who were transported to Nazi run death camps. Photo, name, address, place of birth and place of death are simply displayed.

The third part of the exhibition is the story of 15 of the children who were deported and murdered under Nazi occupation in Amsterdam.

To bring you to them When In Amsterdam went to the address to see where Dolfje and Leo use to live in Amsterdam.

Prinsengracht 862 Dolfje's old home

Nieuwe Hoogstraat 27-29 - Leo's old home

The Memoriam exhibition is similar to an awareness campaign by Amsterdam's daily newspaper Het Parool for May 4 Remembrance Day activities in 2011. The newspaper sent posters to the addresses of former Jewish residences in Amsterdam. The campaign showed in pre-war Amsterdam it was normal to have a Jewish neighbor.

The exhibition's impact is its simplicity and subjects. History is not normally told by children and the marginalized. War is masculine and winners write the events. Children's stories are not normally central. Memoriam, like the Het Parool campaign, presents humanity front and center through innocent youngsters. Their story though short is important shape constructions of remembrance of human tragedy. The Memoriam exhibition  runs 10 February to 20 May 2012. Click link for more information.

Mokum is a slang word for central Amsterdam. The Yiddish word translates as 'place' or 'safe haven' and is derived from the Hebrew word 'makum' meaning 'place'.

Related post Remembrance Day May 4

When in Amsterdam....respect.

Remembrance Day May 4

When in Amsterdam...May 4 is Remembrance Day. The day remembers those who experienced war and peace-missions. Men,women, children, and animals who suffered are not forgotten.

The Queen of the Netherlands makes her yearly trip to Amsterdam's Dam Square. Her Highness bring family, students and political dignitaries of city, province and state.

Flowers are laid at the National Monument on the east end of Dam Square. A young student whom represents the country's young, reads a poem of their hand. Two minutes silence is observed by the country.

Lest we forgot.

When in Amsterdam....respect!

Related Post -Amsterdam City Archive remembers murdered Jewish Children in Exhibition 


Golden Dragon: Beer of the Week at Amsterdam's Cafe Batavia 1920

When in Amsterdam....drink a Golden Dragon. May begins and temperatures have dropped. Sitting at the corner bar of Cafe Batavia 1920 Beer of the Week is a warming dark triple ale, Gulden Draak (Golden Dragon).

The smell of alcohol immediate is comforted with coffee aroma. The froth of the beer cappuccino. Not a drop drunk and already a coffee.

One sip and taste was full, lingered and finished bitter, refreshed, warm. The glass finished sweating and the beer developed softer subtle sweet and sour flavours.

What a beer! Relaxed and amazed by the Golden Dragon experience an introduction is made to the stranger next, Haallo, What do you do when in Amsterdam?
Gulden Draak at Cafe Batavia 1920

Previous Beers of the Week:

- Maredsous Blonde
- Barbar
- Delirium Nocturnum



Ajax Amsterdam Dutch Football Champion 2011-2012

When in Ajax. Amsterdam's only premiere football/soccer team, Ajax, claimed its 31st national title. Two titles in two years has put smiles on the many Amsterdammers.

Ajax Amsterdam Supporters in full voice

Half way through the 2011-2012 football season it did not look promising for Ajax who languished in 7th place in the Dutch league. However, with 11 straight victories Amsterdam claim the title with one game still to play.

Ajax Amsterdam Shirt - Photo by Sonia Hermosin

Ajax Amsterdam is the most successful club in Dutch history winning 31 national titles. Eindhoven's PSV is second with 21 titles while Ajax's arch rival from Rotterdam, Feynoord has 14 titles.

Ajax is also world famous for its youth acadamy. Many famous players have come through the ranks of Ajax they include Johan Cruijff, Edwin van der Sar, Dennis Bergkamp, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong. Exciting new young talent is always in the making keep an eye out in the future for Davy Klaassen and Derk Boerrichter as they are sure to impress football fans.

When in Amsterdam you can learn more about the Ajax at the Ajax Experience. Situated in the city center at Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) the Ajax Experience is for the football enthusiast.  Another option is to venture out to the stadium and take a tour. The Amsterdam Museum also has a great exhibition about the history of the football club in the city.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!


Amsterdam: World Press Photo Exhibition 2012

When in Amsterdam...visit the World Press Photo Exhibition at the Old Church. For 55 years this competition has highlighted world events and style in photo journalism. Considered internationally as the premiere competition for photojournalists the World Press Photo Foundation is based in Amsterdam and operates as an independent non-profit organisation. Judging is done over two weeks by a jury who discuss and evaluate anonymous entries.

World Press Photo Exhibition 2012 - Amsterdam
The jury gave prizes in 9 themed categories to 54 photographers.

Photo of the year went to Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda for an image of a veiled woman comforting her wounded son. The photo was taken in a mosque in Jordan. The mosque was temporarily a field hospital during the violent protests in Saana, Jordan, 2012. Aranda was on assignment for the New York Times.

World Press Photo 2012 - Amsterdam

The Press Photo Exhibition always challenges viewers and their sense of self. On viewing we found ourselves moved, shocked and enlightened. The Exhibition runs April to June 17 June.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!


Amsterdam's Cafe Batavia 1920 Beer of the Week: Maredsous Blonde

When in Amsterdam....drink a beer that is not pilsner. Happy Queen's Day Weekend everyone. Amsterdam  is set for a long weekend of celebration. Therefore we need a beer that is not to heavy, a beer that is different to earlier weeks. This week's beer is to help you enjoy the freshness and excitement of Spring and the Amsterdam party atmosphere.

With the help of Cafe Batavia 1920 the beer of the week is Maredsous Blonde 6 Ale.

This was the first beer to be produced by the Benedictine Abbey of Maredsous in Denee, Belgium. This Blonde 6 is now brewed by the well renowned Duvel Moortgat Brewery.

On pouring the Maredsous Blonde there was a large sticky head with wheat citrus aroma. The taste is a little tart to start with a dry finish. Citrus, spice, fruit and biscuit flavors burst through and disappear on the palate. The 6 stands for 6% alcohol. This 6 is an easy to drink blonde Belgium beer.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy Queen's Weekend!


Amsterdam Queen's Day 30 April 2012:

When in Amsterdam....enjoy Queen's Day or Koninginnedag (as it's called). The largest street party in the country is held on April 30th throughout the streets of Amsterdam. The annual festival of Orange is a national holiday in the Netherlands. It is a day to celebrate the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands. 30 April is actually the Queen's mother's birthday but Beatrix, the current Queen, has her birthday in January. Winter is not the time to have a party outside so April 30th is it.

Queens Night (the night before April 30)

The party begins the night before April 30. Many places, bars and clubs have special events for the evening. Many Amsterdammers enjoy Queen's Night with friends and family getting ready for the free market that is held the next day.

2012 Queen's Night will be different

This year Amsterdam's premiere football (soccer) team Ajax may turn national champion on Queen's night. This sernario has not occured in memory and is sure to complicate Queen's night and day celebrations. Regional football rivalry is known to out-weigh national affliction.

Prepare everything Orange

If you are visiting for 30 April bring an orange outfit. Amsterdam an historically republican city of the Netherlands goes Orange for a day. It is a day when the normally reserved Dutch let their hair down and kick up their heels, all in an orange fever.

Amsterdam's Largest Free Market

Not only in Amsterdam but all over the Netherlands Queen's Day provides the opportunity for all to test their inner capitalist and entrepreneur.The walkways of the county are covered with the largest flea or free market. This is the opportunity to get rid of old or new goods and get paid. Many with imagination create games or entertainment to raise funds for further party. Few take the money making seriously. On a day when most things are able to be sold, a fortune or at least a bargain can be found.

Amsterdam Street Dance Party

Each Amsterdam neighborhood will have music stages so that you can dance the evening away. Music will operate on the stages from 1200hrs until 2000hrs. Favorite spots are around Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein and Nieuwmarkt. If you haven't danced enough all of the night clubs will continue to 0300hrs or 0500hrs.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!



Friday Beer of the Week: Barbar

When in Amsterdam...drink a beer that is not pilsner.

The basics of Beer on Friday have been stipulated. Beer of the week is the wonderful Barbar.

Barbar is a honey ale produced by the Brasserie Lefebvre.  This Brewery is situated in a small village south of Brussels and has been a family owned since 1876.

On tasting it is not as sweet as we expected. There is a malty sweetness. Honey and vanilla flavors are present but not over powering. The finish is dry spicy and slightly tart. This is the beer for those who are tempted to move from the safety of pilsner for the first time. With an alcohol content of 8% Barbar should be enjoyed slowly.


With the help of Cafe Batavia 1920 we are slowly working our way through their 42 beers for your reading pleasure. Bar Batavia is named after the former Dutch flagship of the Dutch East India Company which was wreaked on its maiden voyage and the surviving crew mutinied and started killing one another.

When in Amsterdam.....have a great weekend!


Friday Beer of the Week at Amsterdam's Cafe Batavia 1920

When in Amsterdam....drink beer that is not pilsner.

Amsterdam has approximately 1 200 bars for a population of around 780 000 people. Many bars in Amsterdam serve only one tap beer normally a pilsner, which is a type of lager. The most famous Dutch pilsner is Heineken, other brands include Grolsch, Bavaria and Amstel. 90% of the beer sold in the Netherlands is pilsner.

When in Amsterdam is a fan of small. Over the next weeks we bring attention to the small 10% of beer consumed in the Netherlands. We do this with the assistance of Cafe Batavia 1920. Cafe Batavia has 42 beers on its list. Its central location, good pub food, comfortable smoking quarter and private function room make this bar an easy option when near Amsterdam's Centraal Station.

This week's beer of the week is Delirium Nocturnum. A triple fermented Belgium dark ale.The beer is brewed by the 350 year old family owned Belgian Brouwerij Huyghe.   

The Delirium Nocturnum (translated from Latin as Night Madness) is made using 3 different yeasts and 5 different malts. This results in a complex taste that changes with age. On drinking we found chocolate smoothness with a long finish that had a hint of spice. An alcohol rating of 8.5% provides plenty of body. With the temperature of Amsterdam spring nights just above freezing this Belgian dark ale will add some warmth to your own Amsterdam night of madness.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!


Amsterdam Canal House Museums: Van Loon Museum exhibit Michiel van Musscher

When in Amsterdam......visit an Amsterdam Canal House Museum. Set on Amsterdam's UNESCO World Heritage Canals you step into the existence of the city's merchant elite. With the museum card or IAmsterdam card these museums are great value. These museums are away from the crowds and let you wander the rooms and gardens of valued real estate.

The Van Loon Family

The Van Loon Family is a patrician family of Amsterdam. The family moved to Amsterdam from South Holland in the 17th century. In 1602, Willem Van Loon was one of the founding members of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) and Willem's grandson was Lord Mayor of Amsterdam. The Van Loons were raised to the position of peerage in the 1800s. The  the house was bought by the family in 1886 as a wedding present for a younger Van Loon.

The Van Loon Museum is still owned by the family today.

The House
Van Loon Museum - Amsterdam

Built in 1672, its first resident was Ferdinand Bol, pupil of Rembandt, and master artist in his own name. The house next door was owned by Jeremias van Raey, a Flemish merchant who made his money by selling weapons and grain. Van Raey rented the yet to be named Van Loon House to Bol. The architect of the house was Adriaen Dortsman who also designed the Dome Lutheran Church in Amsterdam, the now named Descartes House and the fortifications at Naarden, just outside of Amsterdam.

Van Loon Museum - Amsterdam
The Van Loon Museum is a chance to step behind the facade of a grand canal house in Amsterdam's heritage listed canals. The house is like stepping back in time. Bread is still on the kitchen table. The beds are dressed in linen. The house looks like the 17th century owners have just stepped out.

At the back of the house is wonderful garden and a coach house. The garden is beautiful and a moment of peace away from the noise of Amsterdam's streets. The newly renovated coach house is currently housing an exhibition by painter Michiel van Musscher.

Van Loon Museum Garden and Coach House - Amsterdam

Coach House Exhibition of Michiel van Musscher

In the Coach House is the first exhibition of Michiel van Musscher (1645 - 1705)  who painted during the time of Rembrandt. Van Musscher was born into a Mennonite family and was first commissioned by the Van Loon family in 1679. He was one of the most successful portrait painters in Amsterdam at the end of the 1600s. His most famous subject is Tsar Peter the Great.

Michiel showed talent for painting early in life and excelled after a few months of training.  Van Musscher's special talent was detail especially tapestry, oriental carpets and fine fabrics. His ability to paint realistically is what made the elite of Amsterdam commission him for paintings.

Our favorite painting of the exhibition was that of the painter's family. The skill of detail was evident. What was more amazing was that the painting was done months after the death of van Musscher's first wife. The painting was a memory. The artist also added a peacock, that symbolizes immortality, and a finch that symbolised resurrection.

For those who enjoy Dutch Golden Age art the Michiel van Musscher exhibition is well worth a visit. The exhibition runs from March until June. For more information regarding entrance prices and times visit the museum website.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!



Flower Thursday: Tulips and Daffodils from Amsterdam

When in flowers. Amsterdam is famous for tulips and bulbs. There is even a song Tulips are from Amsterdam. The Keukenhof Gardens are about to open (22 March) and Floriade a once in 10 year flower event is in on in the south of the Netherlands, Venlo this year.

During Spring we are going to bring you Flower Thursday. This is a day to show one of the great things about living in Amsterdam, affordable flowers.

This week we thought we might start off with the famous tulip and the daffodil. Spring is here and the bulbs are popping up. At least the Netherlands does not have the Ground Hog and Mole problems that England and many eastern states of the US have, as When in Amsterdam learned on the tours this week.

If you are visiting Amsterdam for more than one day. Go to the nearest street market or the Floating Flower Market here in Amsterdam and put them in your hotel room. A wonderful thing to see when you wake up.

Tulips and Daffodils(we think)
The flowers we bought that are picture above cost €3.50. Less than a pint of beer,or a Starbucks coffee, or a packet of cigarettes.

When in flowers and enjoy!



Amsterdam: narrow, tiny, thin, smallest house

Thin house in Amsterdam

When in Amsterdam…on a walking tour be careful when the tour guide talks about the small, tiny, thinnest, narrowest house in Amsterdam. Have a look at what we found on a beautiful Spring Day.

 Most Narrow house in Amsterdam

Tiny house in Amsterdam

The Smallest House in Amsterdam

You have now seen a four small, tiny, narrow, thin houses. One of these houses has a rear, back entrance that is below. Have a guess which house and remember, When in Amsterdam...enjoy!

The back of the narrow, tiny, thin, smallest house in Amsterdam


All-time Top 10 Things to do in Amsterdam: a critical look

When in Amsterdam has realised that every website associated with Amsterdam travel has a top list of things to do in this city. Some websites only have Top 5 or 10 lists.

When in Amsterdam could provide our own list but honestly there is no Top 10 list. Waking up in Amsterdam the list changes day to day because of mood, weather and the place in question.

So we are going to give you the All-time Top 10 list of things to do in Amsterdam (updated 2014).

Our approach is simple: 

  • Collation
  • 100 web pages were analysed.
  • Search Terms were “top things to do in Amsterdam”, ‘top 10 things in Amsterdam’
  • To qualify the page needed to have in its title top things to do in Amsterdam. For Example: Top 5, Top 10, Top 20 things to do in Amsterdam.

We collated the results then ran a critical look at the list to provide you with an alternative.
Counting down from 10 to 1.

Timmer's Flowers and Plants: Amsterdam Floating Flower Martket
photo: Sonia Hermosin
10. Amsterdam’s Famous Floating Flower Market
The last market in Amsterdam still on the water. A wonderful place for colour and it is central. The Dutch are famous for cut flowers and bulbs. The 1637 stock market meltdown because of speculation on tulip bulbs made the Dutch synonymous with the Turkish flower.

Critical look:
  • The market has no educational aspect at all.
  • The market is not really floating.
  • A retail market servicing mostly tourists from Europe.
  •  Custom’s regulations restrict other visitors from taking back bulbs to their countries.
  • It is worth a look if in the area especially for the Timmer's family stall famous for their quality cut flowers and plants.

  •  Alsmeer Flower Market: An hour by bus outside Amsterdam it is the World’s largest flower market and the world’s 4th largest building. You can’t help but learn on the self-guided tour.
Named after the famous 17 century poet and playwright Vondel it is Amsterdam’s central park. The park was created in 1864 after Victorian England made such gardens popular. It has a Picasso sculpture, wonderful bike paths, the film museum and a theater.
Vondel Park, Amsterdam

Critical look:

  • As is commonly reported Vondel Park receives 10 million visitors a year. 
  • On a sunny day finding a quiet spot in Vondel Park is not possible.
  • The smell in parts also demonstrates the lack of toilet facilities. This has been added to over the last few years.(thanks to comments section)
  • The high numbers of visitors and its central location, the park attracts people that want to be noticed. Unsocial behaviour and drunkenness does occur at the end of a hot day.
  • Westerpark is central and large like Vondel Park. The east-west layout results in more sunshine hours, if you are lucky to get a sunny day in Amsterdam. Large range of bars, eateries and toilets.

8. Visit the Albert Cuyp Market
With over 220 stalls and situated within the old Latin Quarter of Amsterdam, the Albert Cuyp market is the largest street market in the Netherlands and professes to be one of the largest daily markets in Europe. Named after the 17th century painter the market has operated since 1905.

Critical look:
  • It is not the most affordable of Amsterdam street markets.
  • Expensive nature means working class Amsterdammers go to other street markets.

  • Dappermart: cheaper, more rustic, fewer tourists, rated top 10 shopping streets in the world by National Geographic 2007.

7. Ride a bike
With an estimated 600 000 to 1 million bicycles circulating in Amsterdam, the city is one of the bike capitals of the world. The compact and flat nature of the city makes biking a fast and affordable travel option in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam bike
Critical look:
  • Most anger from locals towards visitors is about biking or walking in bike paths. 
  • Many Amsterdammers believe that visitors should take a test before being allowed to rent or ride a bike in Amsterdam.
  • Riding a bike in Amsterdam City Centre traffic is not for beginners.

  • Walk smaller areas and take Amsterdam trams in between – bike riders don’t mess with trams.
  • Take a guided walking tour of Amsterdam's Old City Centre  with a private, small or larger group tours. 
  • Take a countryside bike tour or a neighbourhood bike tour and enjoy Amsterdam with good bike paths. Dutch biking the way it is supposed to be, enjoyable.
The second or third largest beer maker in the world depending with whom you talk started in Amsterdam. The old brewery has a tour called the Heineken Experience.

Heineken Experience, Amsterdam
Critical look:
  • They have not made beer in this brewery since the 1980s.
  • The tour concentrates on the advertising and marketing power of this international brand.
  • The tour only includes two half pints of Heineken. Trying to make friends with people who don't like beer on a brewery tour. Just to savour more of the product is a thirsty persons dilemma.
  • Spending the price of entrance to the Heineken Experience at one of Amsterdam’s active micro-breweries or quality beer bars will result in more beer. 
  • Amsterdam’s micro-brewery scene is building: Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Prael, De Bekeerde Zuster (the twisted sister) are well worth visit for beer lovers. Some Breweries conduct tours for groups and or individuals.
  • There are beer tours as well as pub and club crawls for the young.

5. Canal Tour
Amsterdam is known as the Venice of the North. Even though the canals do not smell and the canals are not deep like Venice 20% of Amsterdam's surface is water. With over 100 kilometers of canals, around 90 islands and 1500 bridges traveling by water is a great way to see the city.

Critical look:
  • Few Amsterdammers use their canals.
  • There are three main canal tour companies in Amsterdam. They run tours that are similar with recorded messages, and their boats have no historic relevance to Amsterdam.
Local Boating Experience, Amsterdam

  • Find a local Amsterdammer with a boat. Finding a local boat cruise is easier to find when the weather is good. Inquire with other tour providers you may use. Amsterdammers' have a network of boat operators in the city. 
  • Visit Het Grachtenhuis (Canal House Museum) learn how Amsterdam's world heritage listed canals were created.
  • Rent your own boat and captain yourself. Sleopdelen, Boaty. Becareful, when the weather is good on a weekend, out come the party boats.

4. Red Light District
Situated in the oldest part of Amsterdam this area provides an eclectic mix of sex shops, brothels, coffeeshops, hotels, gay bars and around 300 red light windows. Since 2000 Amsterdam legalised sex workers. The Red Light District is the main centre of this industry in Amsterdam.

Critical look:
  • There is more to Amsterdam than the Red Light District. The area is often full of young men peering at the scantly clad women.
  • On weekends the neighbourhood can be over loaded with travelling parties of men and women. Exciting for early evening walk.
  • Take a guided walking tour of the Red Light District. The area is the oldest in town and full of hidden secrets. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way compared to peering into the bewitching red lights.
  • Go during the day and see the shopping, art and history side of the area.

The greatest collection of Dutch art and history in the Netherlands. Normally ranked in the top 20 of museums in the world. The Rijksmuseum was under construction between 2003 and 2013. The masterpieces are layed out in a new style with focus still on the grand hallway of Masters. Classics by Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Vermeer are well represented.  

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Rembrandt House: Comparable there are no crowds and you can see what sort of bed the old master Rembrandt slept in and toilet he used. Also the largest collection of Rembrandt etchings in the world

2. Van Gogh Museum
The expressionist painter was famed for his rough style, sharp colours and considered a trail blazer for modern art. This museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings under one roof and tells the story of the man from child hood to his end at 37 years old.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Critical look:
  • Van Gogh did not spend a lot of his life in the Netherlands.
  • His fame has only come about through Van Gogh's influence on 20th century art.
  • Expect large lines.
  • Pre-purchase your tickets at the tourist information centre at the front of Central Station. Go late to avoid the crowds. 
  • On Friday night the museum is open to 10pm with a relaxed and enjoyable environment.
  • Go on a day trip to Kroller Muller Museum to experience the largest private collection.

1. Anne Frank Museum
The location of the Jewish Frank family hiding place during WWII. Teenage Anne documented her experience from the annex of this Amsterdam house during Nazi occupation. The book has become one of the world's most widely read. This popularity accounts for approximately 1 million visitors a year to this museum.

Anne Frank House Museum, Amsterdam.

Critical Look:
  • For a small museum there are a lot of people at certain times. 
  • The museum has a difficult job balancing the broader context of the period.
  • It is more of a pilgrimage than a museum.

  • Avoid the long lines and buy on lineGo late in the evening or arrive early before it opens and the school groups arrive. 
  • Resistance museum provides you with a greater snap shot of World War II in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Rated one of the best museums in the Netherlands don't expect long lines here maybe just a school group now and then.
  • The Jewish Historical Museum provides detail on the Jewish community's influence on Amsterdam through the centuries. Ticket to this museum includes entrance to the Portuguese Synagoge and nearby Deportation centre.  

Overview of Amsterdam's Top 10 Things to Do:
  • The 'Big 3' as the industry calls them, fill out the top three. 
  • Sex, alcohol and boats are four, five and six. 
  • Bikes, markets, parks and flowers round out the list. 
Quite a range for a small city of less than 1 million people. Have you got a suggestion? Let us know what you enjoyed in Amsterdam.

For more things to do check out the following:

Amsterdam Top 10 things to Eat: a critical approach

Things to do in Amsterdam: Local tips from Famous Amsterdammers

Overcoming the biggest problems for Visitors to Amsterdam

If you are bringing a teenage daughter who reads books click here

When in Amsterdam.....enjoy!
Comments (3)

Can I Smoke Cannabis in Amsterdam? Update Oct. 2011

Dutch Cannabis Coffeeshops have been in the news recently. Headlines like ‘No Tourists in Netherland’s Coffeeshops’ and ‘Dutch to ban foreigners from Cannabis Coffeeshops’ have dotted the news for the last year.

When In Amsterdam has received many questions from prospective visitors asking if they will be able go to Amsterdam’s famous Cannabis Coffeeshops when visiting the city in the forthcoming months. The simple answer is, Yes.

For a November 2012 update click here.

Why all the attention?

Feb. 2010: National Government critics Amsterdam for not enforcing the 2008 agreement of Local Councils of a 250 meter exclusion zone of Cannabis Coffeeshops near schools.

May 2011: National Government announces plans to introduce a ‘Weed Pass’ that would limit entrance to Cannabis Coffeeshops to residents of the Netherlands.

Oct. 2011: National Government says it will move to ban strong strains of Cannabis.

The political attention of Cannabis Coffeeshops has been led by the Christian Democrats (CDA).  The CDA is conservative political party that has been in power, as part of a coalition, at national level since 2001.

Today, the CDA has a strict policy on drugs. Since 2008 the CDA policy stance on drugs is that ‘the Dutch policy of tolerance towards drugs should be abolished and that all Coffeeshops should be closed’. It should be noted that it was the CDA that created the policy of drug tolerance in the early 1970s that eventually allowed Coffeeshops to become licensed businesses.

Simply put nothing has changed in Amsterdam over the last few years. Cannabis Coffeeshops that have closed have so because they have broken the strict rules of their license. 

If you are visiting Amsterdam you are free to visit a Coffeeshop as long as you have ID that stipulates you are over 18 years of age.

Enjoy the liberties Amsterdam has to offer but please don’t take it too far. Amsterdam cannabis is strong and many a visitor has over estimated its potency and this has detracted from their visit.

When in Amsterdam…enjoy!

Fun facts:

  • Dutch cultivated opium in their colonies for centuries ending in 1915. Opium production accounted for 10% of income from Dutch colonies. Most income came from selling slaves.
  • In 1900 Dutch open Cocaine producing factory. 14 000 kg of cocaine produced per year until WWI. During WWI 30 000 kg were produced per year. The Netherlands was the leading world producer of cocaine in the 1920s and 1930s.

What is a Coffeeshop?

A licensed business that sells small amounts of soft drugs: cannabis and hashish. They are called Coffeeshops because they do not possess an alcohol serving license and they do serve coffee.

Salt and Pepper: Amsterdam and bicycles (part 1. The 1800s)

Everyone who has visited Amsterdam has a story about bicycles. The city is synonymous with the two wheel, pedal powered machines. Every travel blog and travel website mentions bikes. Some are immediately enamoured others feel threatened, telling stories of the inability to safely negotiate Amsterdam’s streets. No photo album of the city is without a photo of a bike, some have more than 100 photos just of bikes! When you first enter the city by train, plane or automobile you are confronted with thousands of the two wheel transporters. This is a topic from which, When In Amsterdam can’t get away.

Instead of trying to compile a Top 5 list, compressing information into one posting. The approach to bicycles in Amsterdam is going to be gradual, leisurely and interactive.  We are going to start at the beginning and provide you time to digest and allow feedback.  If you have a bicycle experience or a story to do with the Dutch or Amsterdam join the conversation. Let us start the exploration of this phenomenon where not many do, at the beginning.

Early History of bicycles

Bikes burst onto the European stage in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Historians argue as to who should be credited with placing two wheels beneath a human being. Irregardless, the first bikes were made of wood with no pedals.  Such a machine was brought to the Paris exposition in 1818 by a German whom described his contraption as a running machine. Historians do agree that the first modern bicycle with pedals and a crank was patented in 1861 by Ernest Michaux, a Frenchman who owned a coach making company.

The design soon came to the United States through an employee of Michaux, Pierre Lallement. Pierre patented the model known as the ‘Boneshaker’ in the States. During the 1870s and 1880s metal work improved and models like the Penny Farthing became popular among the rich of Europe and the US.

Early bicycle history Amsterdam

In Amsterdam the first pioneer to establish a bike shop was J.T. Scholte who was also the agent for Timmer. Timmer set up the first bike rental company in Amsterdam and would conduct learn to ride activities. Scholte was a metal worker and sold a Boneshaker model through Timmer to another metal worker Henricus Burgers who started to make his own bikes. These men are celebrated as the pioneers of bicycles in the Netherlands.

In 1883, the General Dutch Cyclists Union (ANWB) was established. Today this is also the national automotive association. The ANWB is credited with positioning the bike within the national identity. During the late 1800s the Netherlands was struggling with industrialisation, the economy was slow. Mass emigration to the US was taking place and the population were creating its own pillars of support. Catholics, Protestants and Socialists are examples of groups that were looking after their own communities. The poor economy also meant that the rich, poor disparity was great.  

The ANWB through a country wide advertising campaign used cycling to unite the Dutch. Values of independence, discipline and consistency were identified as national characteristics. These values needed to be preserved during a period of uncertainty. In 1896 they launched the ‘Everyone on a bike’ campaign.
Bicycles were the answer to change and modernity. Touring the country was a way to reconnect with one’s country and reinforce the national identity. The car was about speed. The bike was about getting in touch with the landscape and its people. The bike was positioned as a symbol of the people for the people. See the pictures of Dutch and Amsterdam royalty on bikes.
Queen on a bike

Football King on a bike

Crown Prince and family on bikes

Entering the 1900s demand for bicycles was high. Farmers, postmen and even the army gave up their horses and jumped on bikes. The Dutch army had a battalion of bicycles that were mounted with machine guns.

The combination of a flat country, weak economy, diverging social identity and the industrial revolution meant that the Netherlands needed a symbol of unity. The answer was the bicycle.

Join the conversation. How have bicycles changed your life? Do you have any interesting stories of the Dutch, Amsterdam and bicycles?

Stay posted for Part 2 Salt and Pepper: Amsterdam and bikes: first half of the 20th Century

To see bike related pictures of the Dutch in the 1800s have a look at the following link:

Other useful links found were:
Cycling in Amsterdam: Policies and Development
Ebert, Anne-Katrin. Cycling Towards a Nation: the use of bicycle in Germany and the Netherlands 1880-1940.
Blog on History of Burgers
Wikipedia- Amsterdam
Global Rankings web site