Amsterdam

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

Welcome to Europe’s laid‐back centre… Must‐see sights, perfect places for two – plus love bites and love potions, for the most romantic wining and dining.

Welcome to Europe’s laid‐back centre

In a nutshell

The heart of uninhibited Europe, Amsterdam is most famous for its canals, its red light district, and its coffee‐and‐cannabis houses. Its laid‐back attitude means it is a youthful capital and a long‐time favourite stag venue for those wanting to indulge in a big way. There are plenty of clubs and bars, and plenty of history too: your debauched and indulgent behaviour will take place against an elegant backdrop of 17th‐century buildings that line the web of canals radiating out from the old centre.

Magnetic attractions

  • Van Gogh Museum This is Amsterdam’s most popular attraction and contains some of the artist’s best‐known works, including The Potato Eaters.
  • Sex Museum Not so much a museum as a place for a little titillation with your mates. Erotic pictures, examples of early pornographic films, and eye‐opening statues.
  • Red light district This area is filled with curious tourists, pimps, and bored‐looking prostitutes behind glass windows.
  • Anne Frank House The two‐roomed hidden annexe, occupied by the Frank family from 1942 to 1944, is just as it was when Ann Frank wrote her diary here.

Romantic rendezvous

  • Canal trip Take a slow‐moving ride in a glass‐topped boat for a lazy look at the city and its fine canal houses.
  • Flower markets Wander through the Bloemenmarkt in the sunshine for tulip bulbs in every shade. Don’t forget to buy a posy for your partner.

Love bites and love potions

Amsterdam is better‐known for its drinking establishments than its restaurants, but there is plenty of good and filling fast food to line the stomach or soak up beer. Chips are plentiful and usually served with salt and a huge dollop of mayonnaise. Sweet and savoury Dutch pancakes are on sale at stands around the city, as well as waffles doused in maple syrup. Dutch coffee is good and strong and perfect for the morning after. Beer is dirt cheap and usually Amstel, Grolsch or Heineken.

Propose here

If you haven’t got the energy to cycle through fields of tulips outside the city, pop the question on a canal trip in a picturesque part of the old town.

To get you in the mood

Albert Camus’s melancholy last novel, The Fall, is a compelling tale of guilt and remorse that takes place against the moody, misty backdrop of the city’s bars and canals. Look out too, for some of the many works of art reflecting on the tortured life story of the brilliant Vincent van Gogh, including the films Vincent and Theo, starring Gary Oldman, and Lust for Life, with Kirk Douglas. Not to mention Vincent, Don Maclean’s song from his classic album, American Pie.

Language of love

Gefeliciteerd = happy anniversary

Ik hou van jou = I love you

Proficiat = congratulations!

Wil je met mij trouwen = will you marry me?

Stags and hens

Take a trip to the Heineken brewery to the south of the city. It’s no longer operational, but you can study the old plant and its brewing process. The highlight, of course, comes at the end when you are given free drinks and snacks ‐‐ and stay on for a few more…

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