Saturday, August 26, 2006

So You Want To Visit Holland


Some random, idiosyncratic suggestions from someone who has only been here for three months. But hey, that's longer than you've been here.



  • Take the overnight flight, but do not sleep. Stay up all day, and then crash around 9pm. Otherwise you'll have jet lag for a week.
  • From the airport, you just pay 3.60 euros and take the train to Amsterdam Centraal. Out front you can pick up a tram to your hotel. They take cash, but you can save some money by buying a strippenkaart at the AKO, a newspaper shop on your left as you walk out.
  • You have to prepare for any kind of weather here, from 50 to 95 degrees. Dutch meteorology is an oxymoron. In English, the Dutch word for weather translates as "pack of lies."
  • For the museums, I would prioritize the Van Gogh Museum, the Torture Museum, and the surprisingly good Amsterdam Historical Museum. In my opinion, Rembrandthuis is just a boring house with a few sketches at the end, and too expensive. I'll go even further on a limb and say that the Anne Frank House is not worth standing in line for more than half an hour. Take my word for it: The rooms are small and dark.
  • I did not see the Rijksmuseum, because you can see the Dutch masters and impressionists elsewhere. I'm sure it's excellent. If you like beer, people love the Heineken Brewery tour for the free beer at the end. I heard the Dutch Resistance Museum is good, even if there wasn't much, um, Dutch resistance. It's in the Plantage, near the the ridiculously overpriced zoo.
  • Two actual Dutch people insisted that I take a canal tour, but I can't see spending 30 euros to ride on a boat with 80 of somebody else's grandparents.
  • For souvenirs, there's an incredibly cool little shop on Prisengracht just a few meters from Westerkerk, on the left. Really fun. The other souvenir shops pretty much have the same stuff, although prices can be surprisingly variable.
  • Don't let anyone sucker you into buying wooden shoes, Delftware, dolls or prostitutes. Unless your mother asks.
  • The Dutch are not internationally renowned for their food. Like Russian food, it's really for peasants, with a lot of potatoes and other carb-rich filler (e.g, stamppot). Dutch people themselves are big on Surinamese food, Indonesian food, and Argentinian food, and I'd suggest you eat at those places. You certainly aren't going to find them in America, although I wasn't a huge fan of any of the three.
  • If you do want Dutch food, go for a pancake house, like the Cafe d'Oude Westerkerk (Rozengracht & Prinsengracht). Have one savory pancake, like the spinach, bacon & cheese, and one sweet pancake, like ones with blackberry compote or vanilla ice cream. Yum. The pancakes are like crepes, but a little meatier.
  • You can save a lot of money by avoiding restaurants and picking up cheap groceries at one of the 87 Albert Heijns in Amsterdam. You could easily spend 100 bucks eating three meals a day in restaurants. Remember that a nice glass of wine or beer is often cheaper than a Diet Coke or even water.
  • Credit cards are generally useless, except for your plane ticket and hotel. Expect to pay cash, and you'll save money. Most credit cards charge at least 2% in conversion charges, so buy your ticket & hotel at a U.S. website. Instead of credit, withdraw cash with your ATM card. My credit union doesn't charge any fees and uses the daily conversion rate, as high as it is. Sadly, the dollar has been in freefall against the euro since 2000, thanks to our country's excellent financial choices.
  • Try to pick a hotel outside of Dam Square, and for goodness sake, outside of the Red Light District. Rembrandtplein would be a good choice, or the southern half of the Jordaan. I heard good things about the Hotel Ambassade on Herengracht.
  • By consensus, the best day trip is to Bruges, which I never did. I liked Leiden an awful lot though.

10 Comments:

At 1:09 AM, Blogger slskenyon said...

I just had to import a large box of bisquick for the purposes of making real pancakes out here in the UK. The English miss out on the "meatier" element that is real pancakes--most of the time for them, it is crepes, but they refuse to use the French name for them based on principle.

 
At 3:00 AM, Anonymous ChloeandSam'smom said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3:44 AM, Anonymous Figgenum said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:58 AM, Anonymous Brazton Hiz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3:14 AM, Anonymous Shoeless Jack said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:45 AM, Anonymous Legendary Bush Pilot said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:32 AM, Anonymous Drede Wrehe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:35 AM, Anonymous blar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5:00 AM, Anonymous NoCHilAS said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:39 AM, Anonymous I love my baby Girls said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home