PLACES

PYRAMID OF AUSTERLITZ

A true Dutch hidden secret, the Pyramid of Austerlitz is a monument at the highest point of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug about 17 km east of Utrecht. Built in 1804 by the French during their occupation of Holland between 1795 and 1813, the pyramid stands 36 meters high and its obelisk rises another 13 meters. Although reachable by train, bus and bike, the easiest way to get there is by car. At the entrance step into the visitor's center where you can learn about its history; have lunch in their full restaurant; or treat the kids to a few of their kiddie rides.

www.pyramidevanausterlitz.nl
www.defransetijd.nl   

HOW TO COOK TRAVEL MEALS IN 5 MINUTES

With more people staying in AirBnBs during their vacations, cooking one's own meals in apartment or house rentals is becoming more popular. But cooking utensils can be limited and not all meals can be prepared like they are at home. Vicky Hampton, the Amsterdam Foodie and one of our food experts wrote a cookbook, "Vicky Hampton's Working Lunch" , which is filled with recipes for quick and easy dishes that you can make in your office at work. But these recipes can also be used to make meals while you're on vacation or anywhere else where you have limited time and equipment. What a great idea for both workers and travelers!  In this video, Vicky shows you how to make Couscous Kedgeree. Yum. 

Amsterdam Foodie Website: www.amsterdamfoodie.nl
To order "Vicky Hampton's Working Lunch" book: cookbook order & info

DUTCH CASTLES & COUNTRYSIDE BY BIKE

It's great fun exploring the Netherlands by bike. And it's easy too. There is a whole network system of bicycle paths with corresponding junction points plotted out on Dutch bicycle maps. There are even phone apps, like Route.nl, that suggest routes based on area and distance.You can also take your bike on the train for an additional fee. For the video, we chose a route through and around the Utrechtse Heuvelrug forest because of the diverse landscapes: wooded hills, sand dunes, green farmlands, dikes, river waterways & pink heather meadows. And also for the beautiful castles, landgoed estates and four-legged friends you pass along the way. The forest was a couple of train stops east of Utrecht. We chose Maarn as our stop and end point because it had a train station on the route. The route was just under 58km. (39 miles) and with exploring and eating, took us about 7 hours to complete. Check out the Route.nl phone app to help you plan your Dutch bike trips.

FLOWER MARKET ON THE AMSTELVELD

Every Monday morning, the Amstelveld square comes alive with vendors selling flowers, plants, bulbs, fruit & vegetables, cheese, chocolates, chicken and more. This is a great kept secret as it's mostly locals who come here and the fair prices reflect that. It's not that large, but they make up for it in quality. This is certainly better than the floating flower market on the Singel, which really doesn't sell many flowers anymore. Just bulbs and souvenirs. The Amstelveld lies south of the Rembrandtplein and the 7 bridges and the north of the Frederiksplein. The Utrechtsestraat is one block east. There are several cafes nearby, so it's nice to make a morning or afternoon of it. From Centraal Station, take tram 4 and get off at the Prinsengracht stop.

AMSTERDAM TOP 10 SHOPPING AREAS

We kept our choices pretty much in the center or just a bit outside the center and all are easily accessible by walking or by tram. 

10. Zuid (South)- Beethovenstraat- The South is the most affluent area of the city, so here you'll find more upscale shopping. The biggest group of shops is on the Beethovenstraat. Both trams 5 and 24 from Centraal Station will get you there. College Hotel and the Hilton are also in this area.
9. P.C. Hooftstraat- The long street where many well-known designers have their flagship stores. Between the Leidseplein and the Museum Quarter. Trams 2 and 5 will get you here. Hotel Conservatorium, the Marriott  andAmerican Hotel are nearby.
8. City Center- The Bijenkorf department store on Dam Square is the biggest and best in the country. Magna Plaza is a 3 story indoor shopping mall behind Dam Square. Running south from Dam Square is the Kalverstraat with lots of brand-name chain stores. And the Leidsestraat runs between the Kalverstraat and Leidseplein with many more upscale designer shops. Swiss Hotel, the W Hotel, Krasnapolsky and INK Hotel are in the area.
7. Spiegelkwartier- Runs between Rembrandtplein and the Rijksmuseum. Mostly art galleries and antique stores, but has some nice modern art and clothing stores too. The Waldorf Astoria, Banks Mansion and NH Carlton hotels are all in the area.
6. Red Light District- Walk east from Dam Square and you'll find a surprising variety of wonderful, quirky shops from fantasy gifts and Asian imports to handmade hats and rock and roll clothes. Hotels Krasnapolsky, Hotel V (Nes) and Grand Hotel are nearby.
5. Utrechtsestraat- plenty of variety here with fashion, furniture, coffee cafes and bakeries. Tram 4 from Centraal Station, and between Rembrandtplein and Fredericksplein. Hotel Schiller, Waldorf Astoria and Hotel V (Fredericksplein) are close.
4. De Pijp. This is a bit south of the city center. The Heineken Brewery and Albert Cuyp Street Market are also here. Lots of great concept stores and women's fashion. Trams 4 or 24 from Centraal Station. Many shops are centered around and near Gerard Douplein. Hotel Sir Albert, NH Museum Quarter and Hotel Okura are here too.
3. Haarlemmerstraat/Haarlemmerdijk- These two joined streets run west along the city center's northern border. Lots of great vintage stores, home furnishings, great delis and cafes. Close to the Bank, Sebastian & Art'otel hotels.
2. 9 Streets (Negen straatjes) 3 lines of streets cross over 3 canals, creating a hash-tag area of 9 small streets between the city center and the Jordaan.  Bridges over tree-lined canals and beautiful, old-time store fronts makes for a wonderful shopping experience. The Pulitzer, Dylan, Andaz and Hoxton hotels are all home here.
1. Jordaan- this area lying on the west side of the city center is known for its artists and their studios and galleries. But it's also home to many concept, home furnishings and vintage clothing stores too. There are 4 main shopping streets. On the southern border is the Elandsgracht; going north, next is the wide Rozengracht; then Westerstraat and then the Lindengracht. But the real fun is getting lost in the maze of smaller, quieter streets and finding more unique shops. Weichmann, Toren, Mr. Jordaan and Pulitzer hotels are in the area.

NEW SYMBOLICA RIDE @ EFTELING THEME PARK

The Efteling is one of the great theme parks in the world. Mostly because it focuses on story, imagination and wonder and  many of its attractions are one of a kind that you can't find anywhere else. Just like the Disney parks, there are thrills, but the emphasis is on fantasy. The park started out as one big fairytale forest with figures and scenes from classic children's stories that were drawn by famous Dutch artist Anton Pieck. It's now a full-sized theme park, but it keeps to the fairytale themes. It feels big and grand but also smallish, because it keeps true to its humble beginnings without overdoing things. To celebrate their 65th anniversary, Efteling opens a wonderful dark ride, called Symbolica. Housed in a beautifully built castle, the ride whisks riders along in 6 passenger carriages that are remote controlled but not on a track. This allows the car to move in all directions and spin to give you multiple views and puts you in the middle of the action. You can choose one of three routes, where at about 2/3 of the way through, the different paths start and all finish together again in the king's banquet hall. The special effects are spectacular and you'll want to ride it multiple times to experience the other routes and to catch what you missed on your first journey. The Efteling is in the southern province of North Brabant between Den Bosch and Tilburg. From Amsterdam Centraal station, take an intercity train to Den Bosch which takes about an hour. From there, there are 3 different bus lines that stop at Efteling in about 40 minutes time. At NS.nl or from the Efteling website you can link to buy a train and bus combi ticket. www.efteling.com

VROLIK & FUNERAL TOT ZOVER MUSEUMS

Museum Vrolik is a collection of animal and body parts used for scientific study. It is now housed in the University of Amsterdam's medical center, the AMC, in Amsterdam Zuidoost, which is in the south east part of Amsterdam. From Centraal Station, take Metro 54 towards Gein and exit at the Holendrecht Station. It's a 5 min. walk to the AMC and once there, you can follow the signs to the museum or get directions from reception. Vrolik website Funeral Museum Tot Zover demostrates how the Dutch celebrate death through funerals, ceremonies and other forms of bereavement. It is located in the East part of the city on the grounds of the Nieuwe Ooster Cemetery. From Centraal Station take Tram 9 toward Diemen and exit at the Kruislaan stop. From there it is a 5 min. walk to the museum. www.totzover.nl

WINDMILLS OF ZAANSE SCHANS

The Zaanse Schans is an area north of Amsterdam that is famous for its cluster of working windmills. It's a nice half-day trip by train and besides the windmills there a few museums and a village with old houses, workshops with clothing, wooden shoe and metal making demonstrations and restaurants which serve traditional food and Dutch pancakes. To go by train, take the line headed to Uitgeest and get out at the Zaanse Schans station. From there it's about a 10-15 min. walk. Just follow the signs. https://www.dezaanseschans.nl/en/

PAMPUS ISLAND- FORT & FOOD FESTIVAL

Pampus Island sits off the coast of Amsterdam East and Muiden in the shallow waters of the Ijsselmeer. The island and a fort were built in the late 1800s as part of the Amsterdam line of defense- a "U" shaped ring of 45 forts around the city covering over 135 kilometers. The fort never saw wartime action and the Nazis stripped the fort of all its metal and guns during the German occupation in WWII. After the war anything of worth such as wood was looted. Except for some students living there in the 1960s the fort and island were left empty and neglected. But in the 1990s a concerned group started renovations to make the island a place where visitors could come and learn about the history. The fort is a museum with interactive exhibits and plenty of stairs and tunnels to walk through. Ferries leave from Ijburg harbor, which is at the end of Tramline 26 and from Muiden, next to castle Muiderslot. The tram ride to Ijburg takes about 15 minutes from Centraal Station and the ferry ride itself takes about 45 minutes. This year the island organized the Proef Pampus Picnic (Tasty Pampus Picnic) food festival over a summer weekend. You could eat delicious local food like pig, mussels and burgers; drink craft beers and learn how to make rum; explore the fort and enjoy the island's natural beauty.. A great day out. Even without the festival, the fort and the island alone are worth the fun trip over. 

www.pampus.nl
www.pampus.nl/proef

BIKING ALONG THE AMSTEL

Most bike tour companies tour the Waterland area to the north of Amsterdam. But venturing south is also nice. And it's an easy 18 km. route roundtrip. Start around Amstel Station, On either side of the river is a bike path. Just follow it south. Start on the west side and return on the east side or visa-versa. If you start on the west side, after you pass under the A-10 overpass, you will see Amstelpark on the right. It's a huge, green park with lots of nature areas, ponds, gardens and things for kids to play on. Just south of the park is an old windmill. Next you will run into the Klein Kalfje Cafe. On the right side of the road is the restaurant, but on the left they have a covered terrace right on the river. There are even places to sit outside and places to moor your boat. All along the way are little green areas on the riverbanks where you can lay out and even get into the river for a nice swim. Further down the road, notice the nice big, cottage looking houses. The Wester-Amstel is a nice old house converted into an art gallery and public gardens. Soon you will be in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. Discover some of its older houses, wooden bridges and two churches. It also has a historical museum and the oldest Jewish cemetery in the country. The village is also a hotspot for the well-to-do to pull up in their boats and have a meal at one of the upscale restaurants like Loetje and Ron's Gastrobar. There are other nice eating options too, also with terraces on the water. When you travel back on the east side, notice the De Zwaan windmill and little park-like areas that you can walk through. Tip: There are 4 points along the way where you can cross over the river to the other side. Going south from Amstel Station there is the Rijnstraat bridge; the A-10 overpass; a pont/ferry near the windmill by Amstelpark (it closes around 17:00 or 17:30); and a bridge in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.

Wester-Amstel: www.westeramstel.com

WINDMILLS, CHEESE & WOODEN SHOES

It sounds a little touristy, but these are the images and things in which the Dutch are famous for. You can find all of them in the Waterland area to the north of Amsterdam. Tour company, Experience Waterland puts together a nice tour which is very non-touristy with enthusiastic, knowledgable guides and small groups. So you will learn a lot about the these traditions from locals. The tour lasts 4-5 hours and begins in Amsterdam North at Cafe de Pont. You just take the free ferry from behind Centraal Station in the direction of Buiksloterweg and you're across the Ij in front of the cafe in 3 minutes. From there you board mini-vans and you're off! First is the Zaanse Schans which is a nice village centered around a group of working windmills. Besides seeing them up close, you can go inside some of them and even look out from the upstairs balconies. In the village, there are museums, craft demonstrations and a pancake restaurant. Next you visit a farm, where the demonstrate how cheese and wooden shoes are made. Of course you will be able to taste and buy some cheese and try on and buy some wooden shoes. Next the tour takes you to either Markum or Volendam. We went to Volendam, which is a traditional fishing village, where you can walk among, the small houses, stroll around the harbor and eat the catches of eel, kibbling and herring. On the return trip you pass through picturesque Waterland villages and finish up with a drink on top of the dike overlooking the sea. This is a wonderful half day trip to experience more of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. 

Experience Waterland: www.experiencewaterland.nl

RED LIGHT DISTRICT SHOPPING DISTRICT

We find yet another reason to explore this unique part of the city other than to gawk at the women in the windows. If you start at Dam Square and walk east on the Damstraat you will be on a line of 4 streets that have clusters of fun, different stores nestled in between the Nutella and cheese shops. The Damstraat is the most touristy and crowded but it has two wonderful shops one over the other. Downstairs is Fantasyshop Chimera. It's literally like walking into the Efteling amusement park as it sells everything fantasy related: dragon jewelry, gnome figurines, Victorian dresses and punk corsets. Don't be afraid to go upstairs as it's a whole other shop. Asian Spirit sells Asian and Asian inspired gifts and clothes. As you venture further east, you'll notice the Smallest House in Amsterdam on the Oude Hoogstraat, which we featured in a video a little while back. Continue on you'll eventually to get to the Nieuwe Hoogstraat and you'll notice that the crowds have thinned out and it will remind you of the streets in the Jordaan or the shops on the Haarlemmerstraat. Candy Freaks not only sells vegan gummy bears, but also makes cool headdresses out of candy and chocolate. About Now sells novelty, gag gifts as well as sophisticated office wares. Time Machine is sells affordable vintage and second-hand clothes. De Hoed van Tijn has one of a kind, elegant hats. Diabolo is your one stop shop for all your rock & roll, punk & fetish clothing needs. Also don't miss the kite shop, the vaping accessories shop and Burger Zaken that makes really good burgers.

fantasyshopchimera.com                                                             facebook.com/aboutnowamsterdam
asianspirit.nl                                                                                facebook.com/burgerzaken.net
candyfreaks.com                                                                          dehoedvantijn.nl
facebook.com/timemachinevintage                                             diabolo-shop.nl

ART DECO AMSTERDAM: THE ROAD TO DE BAZEL

The road starts at Centraal Station. A little known hidden gem is the 1e Klas Grand Cafe Restaurant located upstairs inside, off of platforms 1 and 2. Although not Art Deco per se, architect Pierre Cuypers influenced the work of later Art Deco architects. Nevertheless the restaurant's interior will give you that retro- nostalgic feeling as if you were dining over 100 years ago. After, head south on the Damrak and on the lefthand side you will see the massive, red bricked  Beurs van Berlage. HP Berlage built this as the home for the Dutch Stock Exchange. Now it is used for big public events. Check out the Grand Cafe which still has its original Art Deco interior, including 3 wall murals by famous Dutch artist, Jan Toorop. As you travel further south and pass Dam Square, the street changes names to the Rokin and on the right hand side you will find our third stop, PGC Hajenius Tobacco and Cigar Shop, the oldest of its kind in the city. Check out their beautiful old wood display cases, lighting fixtures and walls of marble. Not to mention their 2 level smoking room and wide assortment of cigars. Finally as you pass Munt Tower, the street becomes Vijzelstraat and you cannot miss the fortress-like De Bazel building on the right hand side. Originally built for the Dutch Trading Society, it was once home to ABN AMRO Bank and it now houses the city archives, the biggest city archives in the world. Named for its architect Karel de Bazel, the building's interior is a mix of renovated and original styles. Tours are available every Saturday and Sunday and you really get to see the Art Deco details up close: furnished offices, stained glass windows, long arched hallways. Don't forget to go downstairs to check out the old safe-vaults which are now used for displays and exhibitions. On the ground level, the city archives puts on many exhibits and photo shows, so it's worth checking those out too.

Amsterdam City Archives- http://www.amsterdam.nl/stadsarchief
1e Klas Grand Cafe- http://www.restaurant1eklas.nl/en
Beurs van Berlage- http://www.beursvanberlage.com
PGC Hajenius- http://www.hajenius.com/en
 

SOAR OVER DUTCH TULIP FIELDS

Besides the popular tulip field area around the Keukenhof Gardens, there is another area which is actually the biggest tulip field area in the Netherlands. It's called the Noordoostpolder (Northeast polder) area in the Flevoland province and its a one hour drive north of Amsterdam. Every year from mid-April to the beginning of May, they put on a tulip festival with many activities along their 100 km of tulip field routes. This year they created a field to resemble a Mondrian painting in honor of 100 years of the artist's work. We filmed in 5 different areas with a Phantom drone to catch all the color and to give you the feeling of being a bird soaring over the fields. http://www.stepnop.nl/tulpenfestival

HIDDEN HOFJES & SECRET COURTYARDS

Hofjes, or little courtyards are all around Amsterdam. Houses were originally built around them hundreds of years ago for religious or single women, the poor and the elderly.  These hofjes still exist today and are fun to visit. The biggest and most known is the Begijnhof, off the Spui. But there are  over 30 other smaller hofjes, with many concentrated in the Jordaan area of the city. Most are quaint and pretty and some are grand with fountains and chapels. Most are hidden behind walls, doors and gates and it's good fun to find them. Join Sander as he spends this sunny day walking through the neighborhood streets of the Jordaan in search of these special places. It's a great way to explore the city, but remember to keep quiet and be respectful as these are people's homes. Most hofjes are open Monday through Friday and some are open on Saturdays. On a normally closed day you can get lucky and get invited in by one of the residents.

Hofjes: http://www.hofjesinamsterdam.nl/index.html
Map to Hofjes and more info: http://www.awesomeamsterdam.com/jordaan-hofjes

Hofjes:
In the Introduction:
Sint Andrieshofje- Egelantiersgracht 107-141C
Constantiahofje- Willemstraat 149-165

Raepenhofje and Bossche Hofje- Palmgracht 20-38
Karthuizerhof- Karthuizersstraat 87-171
Claes Claesz Hofje- Egelantiersstraat 18-54
Hofje de Zeven Keurvorsten- Tuinstraat 199-225
Hofje van Brienen- Prinsengracht 89-133
Zon's Hofje- Prinsengracht 159-171

TEA BRUNCH IN THE SMALLEST HOUSE

In wandering around the Red Light District, you would walk past this place a thousand times and not know it's there. But the building at Oude Hoogstraat 22 is known as the smallest house in Amsterdam and it's listed as such in guide books, etc.. Owner Niels has transformed the house into a tea shop with a tearoom upstairs. So Gessell and Anne from Anne Travel Foodie blog checked it out for a lovely tea brunch. Niels and his wife serve tea from their shop, lux sandwiches and homemade scones, Dutch apple pie, butter cake and brownies. It's a great little find and another reason to explore the Red Light District besides the usual adult attractions. Check out Anne's blog at www.annetravelfoodie.com and learn more about the Smallest House in Amsterdam here: www.hetkleinstehuis.nl

MONDRIAN IN THE HAGUE

The Netherlands is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the De Stijl art movement, Piet Mondrian and other De Stijl artists with special exhibits and events all over the country. The Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag (The Municipal Museum of The Hague) holds the largest collection of Mondrian art. So it's no surprise that a few De Stijl and Mondrian exhibits are on this year. We took a day trip by train to have a look. First, from Amsterdam you take a train to Den Haag Centraal. From there it's a 15 minute bus ride with Bus 24...one way is about an hour. The museum's Art Deco building was designed by famous Amsterdam School of Design architect, H.P. Berlage who also designed the Amsterdam Beurs and lots of apartment houses in Amsterdam East and South. Besides the De Stijl exhibits, the museum has huge collections of other modern art, Delft pottery and ceramics and wacky rooms called Wonderama Rooms, which are perfect for kids.
Check out all the info on their website: www.gemeentemuseum.nl

FUN HOUSES & STREET SURPRISES

There are lots of hidden areas and cool, unexpected finds around town if you know where to look. With the help of I Amsterdam's lists, we uncovered a few for you:
     
     House of the Hobgoblins- Ceintuurbaan 251, de Pijp. Just a little past the west side of the Amstel River. Look up the
                                                front of this chalet style building and see two wood-carved hobgoblins sitting on the roof.
     Houses of Seven Countries- Roemer Visscherstraat 20-30a. Just a bit north of Vondelpark. Built in 1894 to reflect the
                                                 romantic feel of the period, these seven houses represent the styles of different European
                                                 countries: England, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Spain, France and Germany.
     Little Saw Man- a bronzed statue of a man with a saw sits atop the lower branch of a tree in the Leidsebosje, a small
                               park, southwest of the American Hotel in the Leidseplein area. It was placed there in 1989 and the
                               artist is unknown.
     Wooden House- Zeedijk 1, Red Light District. One of two completely wooden houses left in Amsterdam. The other
                               is in the Begijnhof, off of the Kalvertstraat and the Spui. This house was built in 1550 and is home to
                               the bar in t' Aepen..(In the monkeys) In the olden days, the owner asked a sailor to bring back a
                               monkey from his time at sea which would pay off his drinking debt. Later many sailors also brought
                               monkeys to the bar. The monkeys also brought lice with them. This gave birth to the Dutch saying, 
                               "In de aap gelogeerd zijn" which literally means "slept over in the monkey", but which means
                               you are in trouble.
      Houses in the middle of the Victoria Hotel- Victoria Hotel, across the street from Central Station- If you look at the
                               hotel from a bit of a distance, you can see two structures that don't look like the rest. That's because                                    these are two houses which date back to 1602, much older than the 19th century hotel. As the hotel                                      was being built, the developers bought out all of the existing houses to make way for the hotel. Except
                               the owner of these two houses refused to sell. So they built the hotel around them.
      House with the Noses- Singel 116, city center. Look up to the gable and you will find the faces of three men with
                              large noses. Paid for by a neighbor who insisted that the decorations had to bear the resemblance of
                              the owner and his two sons. The owner agreed and since 1752, still stand today.

We compiled our list from listings on I Amsterdam. For these and more hidden places, check out their website at
Iamsterdam.com

GRAND HOTEL AMRATH- SHIPPING HOUSE

This huge building dominates the south side of Prins Hendrikkade opposite Centraal Station. Built from 1913-1928, both the interior and exterior are a mix of Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Amsterdam School. In fact it is considered to be the prime example of Amsterdam School architecture in Amsterdam. The interior features two marble staircases, a painted glass ceiling, intricate iron works, a stately boardroom and a couple of executive suites with Amsterdam School furniture. Today the building is home to the Grand Hotel Amrath and tours are given every Sunday morning by Museum Het Schip which is dedicated to the Amsterdam School of Architecture. 
Grand Hotel Amrath: www.amrathamsterdam.com
Museum Het Schip: www.hetschip.nl

ART DECO AMSTERDAM- THEATER TUSCHINSKI

This ornate Art Deco movie palace is the ultimate example of the lavish style and elegance that typified the period. Built in 1921 by Abraham Tuschinski, it also reflects Art Nouveau and Amsterdam School styles. Host Sander takes you on a tour through the lush, golden and brown hued lobby with its peacock wallpaper, Gothic ironwork lamps, and plush furniture; into the main hall with it's high vaulted ceiling with a geometric, peacock tail lamp, steep balconies and golden curtain; through the dimly lit side hallways with velvety nooks, colorful stained glass and glowing geometric spheres; and lastly backstage into the VIP room with wonderfully painted murals on gold panels. The theater is now part of the Pathe movie cinema chain and first-run movies still play in the main hall. You can find the theater in the city center, between Rembrandtplein and Munt Tower. Audio tours are offered every morning before the first film.
http://www.pathe.nl/artikel/36

WINTER WONDERLAND

Winter is wonderful time to visit Amsterdam. Sinterklaas arrives by boat in a flotilla and by horse with a parade. For Christmas little markets sell seasonal products, oliebollen & gluwein; ice skating rinks are set up; and twinkling lights are adorned above streets everywhere. And the Bijenkorf department store starts the season with the spectacular "Turn on the Lights" show which ends with fireworks and the lighting up of their building. It's also the time for the Amsterdam Light Festival and the Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival,  feature incredible works of light and ice that add glow and sparkle. You can pick your own tulips in Dam Square and dance with lions in Chinatown during Chinese New Year. A little snow is sure to fall, covering everything in bright white. And if we're really lucky, canals, rivers and ponds will freeze over so we can skate on natural ice! 

3 WARM PLACES WITH FIREPLACES

The Netherlands gets very cold in the Winter, so when you're out shopping or biking, sometimes you need to find refuge in a cozy cafe or lounge to warm up with a tea, hot chocolate or maybe a wine or cocktail. And some places in the city have a nice fireplace that gives a little extra warmth and atmosphere. There are probably about 2 or 3 dozen places in the city with fireplaces, but we concentrated in the city center and the places that were open and not too crowded on a Sunday afternoon. First up was Mr. Porter at the top of the W Hotel. Very, chic, classy and wonderful service. The drinks are a bit pricey but the view is incredible and there was even a live DJ. On Sunday afternoon, we had the whole place to ourselves. Be warned, this is a popular night spot, so expect large, lively crowds in the evening. Next door is the W Lounge, which also has a fireplace. It was more crowded and loud..check out both and see which you like better. www.mrportersteakhouse.com. Next we hit up the Pressroom at the INK Hotel, about halfway between the W and Centraal Station. Their fireplace is smaller and not the center of attention. But it adds to the warm atmosphere as the rooms look like your private home library. The Pressroom also has a full restaurant with nice food. www.pressroom.amsterdam Lastly is 5 & 33 at the Art'otel across the street from Centraal Station. Very clubby, loungy feel, with big comfortable chairs and an attention grabbing fireplace in the back. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon if you don't want to handle the weekend evening partyers. They have a full restaurant as well and an art gallery with cool exhibits.www.5and33.nl

MUSIC IN ICE- DUTCH ICE SCULPTURE FESTIVAL

This is a really unique event and we're lucky that it moved to Amsterdam starting this year. The theme is Music Inspires and the ice artists carved huge, stunning works that depict popular music styles and famous musicians. Over 100 figures decorate 26 different exhibits. The hall is over 3000 square meters and is kept at a cold -10 C degrees. There is also a large dining/lobby area where you can sip hot drinks like hot chocolate afterwards and a little play area for kids. On New Years Day there was a special drawing for big vacation packages, but participants first had to walk through the entire exhibit in only their swimsuit or underwear. The event takes place in Amsterdam Zuidoost next to the Amsterdam Arena. It's an easy 15 minute ride with metro 54. Ends March 5th. Please dress very warmly.  www.ijsbeelden.nl/en

INVASION! AMSTERDAM LIGHT FESTIVAL 2016-2017

The ALF is one of our favorite events of the year. With so many art works over two routes, your senses are overwhelmed and you're left awestruck every time. Artists come from all over the world to participate. You can enjoy the Water Colors route by boat that runs along the Ij, the canal that runs alongside the Hortus Botanical Garden and the Hermitage Museum and finally along the Herengracht canal. You can also walk to see the works by yourself. The Illuminade tour features works throughout the streets of the East near Hortus. It's a party-like atmosphere as you walk from work to work with a crowd, stopping at various places along the way to rest and enjoy warm wine and hot chocolate. We were inspired to make a sci-fi themed film of many of the light works, called "Invasion". The festival runs until January 22, 2017 (The Illuminade Tour has already closed). www.amsterdamlightfestival.com

3 GREAT MUSEUMS IN THE CANAL RING

Sander takes you to 3 museums that are very close to each other in the canal ring, so it's easy to make a day of it and hop to all 3. First in Het Grachtenhuis, or Canal Museum. Here you will find great interactive exhibits that explain the history and development of the Amsterdam canals. It is also housed in an old-style canal house which are always fun to explore around. Don't forget to also check out their spacious garden in the back. www.hetgrachtenhuis.nl Next, climb aboard the Houseboat Museum and see what's like to live aboard one. The museum is an actual boat, a 100 year old work boat that was converted into a houseboat and later a a houseboat museum. www.houseboatmuseum.nl Lastly, modern photography meets old world style at the Huis Marseille Photography Museum. Wonderful photo exhibits are displayed throughout two adjoining canal houses. www.huismarseille.nl

SINTERKLAAS ARRIVES IN AMSTERDAM

Every year Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands mid- November to visit and give presents to all the good boys and girls. In Amsterdam, he arrives by boat, floating up the Amstel and then cruises along some canals to the Ij harbor and the Maritime Museum. There he gets on his horse, Amerigo and parades through town with hundreds of his helpers, the Black or Sooty Petes. There are a flotilla of boats, marching bands and floats and people line the river, the canals and streets to catch the specatacle. www.iamsterdam.com/sinterklaas

TURN ON THE LIGHTS 2016

To start the beginning of their holiday season, the Bijenkorf on Dam Square turns on the lights that adorn their huge block-long building. It's a big celebration filled with aerial performers, singers, lights and fireworks.
www.debijenkorf.nl

AUTUMN ON THE CANALS

We filmed everything in the canal ring in the city center, mostly along the canals. There are a couple of shots around the Amstel River and in small park behind the Hermitage Museum. We also filmed in Vondelpark. We especially would like to thank Those Dam Boat Guys who were nice enough to let us tag along on one of their small boat canal tours and let us film. If you're looking for a great intimate time out on the canals with a fun tour guide, please check them out. It's like having your own private party on the water. (www.thosedamboatguys.com)

ROTTERDAM CITY CENTER

For our 2nd Rotterdam episode, we stuck more to the center of town. The city has a huge outdoor shopping area with blocks of street shops, malls and the Market Hall (Markthal) which is a huge indoor market and food hall. This massive round roofed building even has apartments around the perimeter of its upside down  "U" shape. This is the perfect place for lunch as so many different style of foods are available here. Don't forget to look up and enjoy the huge painted mural on the ceiling. (www.markthal.nl) Just across the plaza from the Markthal are the yellow Cube Houses. Walking around and underneath them is quite fun. You can pay 3 Euros to go inside one of the apartments. Very 1970s mod. Right behind is the Oude Haven and the Wittehuis, which was the tallest building in Holland when it was built. Next up is Museumpark which is a cluster of 5 fantastic museums in a park-like setting. Check out the Kunsthal for contemporary art; the Natural History Museum; The New Institute for architecture; the Chabot Museum for the art works of Dutch artist Hendrik Chabot; and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen which features old and modern art from masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Mondrian, Monet & Dali. (www.boijmans.nl). Just down the street from the museums is the Witte de Withstraat- one long street with lively bars, cafes and art galleries. We chose to have a beer at De Witte Aap (White Monkey) which was voted best bar in the world by Lonely Planet. (www.dewitteaap.nl)

NEW FOOD @ the FOODHALLEN

The Foodhallen is a food hall in Oud West with a collection of upscale food stalls. Since its opening in 2014 this has been a popular place with locals for lunch and dinner. What makes it work as it's a combination of delicious, gourmet food served in a street market style. Even some established restaurants like The Butcher and Petit Gateau have a stall here. Since we haven't made an episode about it before, we jumped at the chance to attend and film  the press opening of 7 new stalls and showcase the whole hall as well. In short, the opening stalls are: Gunther's Flammkuchen (www.gunthersflammkuchen.com); Padron for vegetarian cuisine (www.facebook.com/padronstreetfood); Taqueria Lima West for Mexican and Peruvian snacks (www.facebook.com/taquerialimawest); Fento for assorted local fare (www.thefento.com); Dim Sum Thing for Asian Dim Sum (www.facebook.com/dimsumthing); Renato's for pizzas and Italian food (www.renatospizzeria.nl); and Monsieur Baba for French/Arabic fusion cuisine. (www.monsieurbaba.nl)

Foodhallen: www.foodhallen.nl

DANCING WATERS @ VONDELPARK

As you know by now there are surprises around every corner of this city. Everyone Vondelpark is a pretty city park with cafes, open spaces and bike paths. But there is also quite a bit of pretty, natural spots as well..And one of these places is a pond that normally has two rock fountains that loudly babble as the water cascades down their slate surfaces. But at certain times of the day, big jets behind the rock fountains come alive and spray huge amounts of water skyward. And at different time intervals and heights so it gives the impression that the water fountains are dancing. Hint: the pond is across from the rose garden. See if you can find it.

3 GREAT HEALTHY CAFES 

Eating healthy has become so popular and the dishes have become so inventive and exciting. There are no shortage of options so we limited our choices to the Oud West (Old West) area. It's a girls who do lunch afternoon with Jessica Cutrufello from the travel blog A Wanderlust for Life (www.AWanderlustforLife.com); Jessica Lipowski, author of the book "Flavors of Life" (www.JessicaLipowski.com) and Adriana Pope from the food & travel vlog/blog Triprr.com (www.triprr.com). Our first stop is the Meatless District and as its name implies, lots of good vegan and vegetarian options. Their specialty is their Chicken Caesar Salad which is made with fried tofu, which tastes exactly like chicken. We also tasted their homemade falafel and their tofu burger. All were yummy! (www.meatlessdistrict.com) Across the street is Sugarless, who specializes in substituting refined sugar with a variety of natural sugars. We opted to try some of their desserts: two paleo (no gluten, no dairy) pies and a cheesecake. Just as delicious without the processed sugars. They also have a wide assortment of teas, including their homemade Chai tea. (www.sugarless.nl). Finally we stopped into Pluk, which is in the 9 streets area (a chic shopping area between the Jordaan and the city center). Besides an array of fresh squeezed juices, sandwiches and desserts, they also sell pretty accessories for your home. We chose their Acai Bowl of fresh fruit and orange juice; a fresh squeezed Veggie & Fruity  juice of apple, kiwi, pineapple, mango, cilantro and spinach; and a goat cheese and chicory sandwich. The Acai Bowl was the winner, hands down. (www.pluk-amsterdam.com)

CAFE CATS OF AMSTERDAM

Amsterdammers love things "gezellig" or cozy. Nothing is cozier than having pets around. Amsterdammers love their pets and don't mind taking them with or having them hanging out in public places, even in cafes, bars and restaurants. So it's not unusual to feel a cat rubbing up against your leg while your sipping a coffee or drinking a beer. The cats also serve a useful purpose- they keep the mice away. Many of the cafe cats around the city have become well known and as popular as the places they live in. So Elysia and Hjalti, who are cat people themselves, enthusiastically take you on a tour to meet these famous felines.  We begin at a cafe that's specifically designed for you to lounge and snack amongnst their 8 cats; and in the middle of our trip, we visit de Poezenboot (catboat) which is the only floating animal shelter in the world.

Kattencafe Kopjes: http://www.kattencafekopjes.nl
Hond & Felix at Gollem Overtoom/Raamsteeg http://www.gollem.nl
Doetzen Kroes at Cafe Bouwman http://www.cafebouwman.nl
Fipie at Cafe Hegeraad https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hegeraad/206698142695556
Prikkiedik at Bar Prik http://www.prikamsterdam.nl
De Poezenboot (Catboat) http://www.depoezenboot.nl
Arie at Cafe Krom https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Krom/131109410299563
Moes at Cafe Fonteyn http://www.cafefonteyn.nl
Elvis at Getto http://www.getto.nl

ROTTERDAM- HARBOR EDITION

There are so many worthwhile sights to see in Rotterdam, we couldn't fit them into one episode. So in our first edition, we concentrated on the harbor areas. First, getting to Rotterdam by train is fairly easy. It's only about an hour ride from Amsterdam. You'll arrive at Rotterdam Centraal Station, which is an architectural marvel in itself. Take a moment to look around the lobby hall and take in its stunning triangular exterior. (www.rotterdam.info) Getting around is fast and easy with their efficient tram and metro systems. Delfshaven is a charming, quaint area with old style buildings. It is one of the few areas of the city that wasn't bombed in World War II. It's very picturesque with old boats lining the main channel. Notice Pilgrim Father's church. This is the place where the Pilgrims first left for the New World. Please go inside to see the models of the ships " Speedwell" and the " Mayflower". Next to the church is Pelgrim's Brewery, Rotterdam's oldest beer brewery. Stop in and have a beer.You can also see the house of famous Dutch explorer Peter Heijn. Walk a few blocks south from Centraal Station and catch one of the west bound metros to Delfshaven station. The ships in Leuvehaven are part of the Maritime Musuem. There are a mix of new and old and you can board and explore a few. It is 2 metro stops on the south bound line from the station. From Leuvehaven you can walk across the Erasmus Bridge or take the metro another 2 stops for the Wilhelmenia Pier area. Here you will find Hotel New York which was renovated from the old Holland America Line headquarters; the Dutch National Photo Museum and the New Luxor Theater. From the east side of Hotel New York walk over the low steel bridge to Katendrecht- a once rundown area that is slowly being converted into a hipper spot with shops and restaurants. The Fenix Food Factory is a big food hall with gourmet street food options and the Kaapse Beer Brewery and Tasting Room. It's the place to eat and hang out on the weekends.. very crowded. Also discover the Pinball Museum and the SS Rotterdam, an old luxury liner turned into a hotel and restaurant. You can get around quickly and easily with the small and fast water taxis. You can either catch one on of the regular routes. (between Leuvehaven and Hotel New York, for example) or you can call one to pick you up from one of fifty pick up points. On the weekends it's very busy and the service is sometimes not organized. We were there on a Saturday and there was lots of confusion between people wanting rides on a designated route and people who ordered taxi's privately. (www.watertaxirotterdam.nl)

AMSTERDAM TOP 10

1. City center. This includes Dam Square in the heart of the city with the Royal Palace, the New Church, Bijenkorf Department Store and Madame Trussaud's. Visit the Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) to see the bronze figures from the "Nightwatch" painting and to hang out in the many surrounding cafe's and restaurants. At night visit fun clubs like Cocos Bar and Club Nasty and dance the night away at Club Air or Escape. The Leidseplein (Leidese Square) is another
entertainment area with tons of cafes and restaurants; music venues like Melkweg, Paradiso and Sugar Factory; and clubs Chicago Social Club, Club Up and Jimmy Woo. 

2. Take a trip on the canals, either in a one hour boat cruise or rent your own private boat for a few hours. Traveling around on the water gives you a totally different city perspective. The canals and bridges are very picturesque, so be sure to spend some time either on them or along side and over them.

3. Anne Frank House. Experience the Frank family's life in hiding during the Nazi occupation and see Anne's actual diary on display here. Very moving and inspiring. Lines can be very long, so book ahead of time online. Booking online is now mandatory for entrance times before 3:30pm. www.annefrank.org

4. Rijksmuseum- Filled with masterpieces from the Dutch Masters including Rembrandt's "The Nightwatch". The building's renovated interior is architectually stunning. On Museumplein or Museumsquare. www.rijksmuseum.nl

5. Van Gogh Museum- Home of most of the the artist's best works. Exhibits of other artists are also on display. Check out their website for what's on. www.vangoghmuseum.nl

6. Red Light District- Nestled in between pretty canals and churches, find women working in the famous red light windows and plenty of coffeeshops where you can smoke and chill. Or do as most do,  and just walk around and people watch. Besides sex shows, strip shows and peep shows, there are tons of bars keeping the booze and alcohol flowing. Surprisingly this area has become fashionable again with the locals with hidden restaurants, bars, breweries and other shops not catering to tourists. Please check out our Secrets of the Red Light District videos where we show you where to go.

7. Albert Cuyp Market- Europe's biggest street market is located in the De Pijp area... just south of the center ring, a little below the Heinekin Brewery. Here you can try Dutch street food like herring, stroowafels and poffertjes.

8. Jordaan and 9 Streets- The Jordaan lies on the west side of the city center and is home to lots of artists who transformed a once run down neighborhood into a patchwork of aritst studios. In between you'll find vintage shops, fine dining &great cafes. It's wonderful just to stroll around and get lost in the tiny streets. The 9 Streets area is between the Jordaan and Leidseplein. Here the shopping is a bit more upscale but still a great place to find one of a kind vintage stores and delicious food. 

9. Vondelpark- The biggest and most popular park in city. This is where people go to bike ride, walk their dog, have a bbq or just chill out on a blanket and sunbathe. It's also very beautiful with Lots of trees, grass, ponds, fountains and a rose garden. Check out their 4 indoor/outdoor cafes for refreshments: Vondelpark 3, Groot Melkhuis, Blauwe Theehuis and Vondeltuin. Vondelpark traverses southwest from Leidseplein.

10. Amsterdam North & NDSM- Fueled by inexpensive rents, many entrepreneurs and artists opted to DIY and fix-up their own places, studios and lofts, collectively turning a dilapidated area of polluted and decaying shipping warehouses into a thriving community. Access is easy with the free ferries from behind Centraal Station. Catch the shortest ferry marked " Buiksloterweg" for the area immediately across from Centraal Station. Go up the new A'DAM Lookout Tower for the best views in the city. Or catch a film at the Eye Film Institute. Or catch a concert or have a drink on a terrace at the Tolhuistuin or view the world's first 3D Printed Canal House being built. Bike or take a bus a bit further north to the PEK street market (3 days a week) or to the  de Ceuvel Cafe- which is nestled in the center of an experimental environmental community. Take the ferry to the Ijplein for places on the eastern side, such as Oedipus Brewery, Stork Cafe or Hotel Goudfazant Restaurant. And finally the NDSM Werf (Wharf), which is a 15 min ferry ride to the west. Here you will find Pllek Cafe with its sandy beach; de Bistro Noord Cafe, Ij Kantine, Ploux, the Faralda Crane Tower Hotel, Noordelicht Cafe, the Ijhallen Flea Market (one or two weekends a month) and tons of street art. It's also very popular for festivals, such as ADE & Valtifest.

OEDIPUS INT'L BEER FESTIVAL

Oedipus Brewing is one of the most popular craft beer brewers in Amsterdam. So it's no surprise that the turnout was huge for their 1st annual beer festival, where they hosted close to 20 brewers from around the world who inspire them. From the established DuPont and Boon from Belgium and Stone from the USA and Germany to their newer friends at Pohjala from Estonia and Omnipollo from Sweden. Rich from Holland Photography Tours joins host Sander in tasting great beers, eating delicious food and meeting great people. Joining the fun in our vid at the Oedipus Brewery in Amsterdam North are: Buddelship from Germany, Oersoep from Netherlands, Upright from USA, 't Verzet from Belgium, The Commons from USA, Stone from USA, Pohjala from Estonia and Omnipollo from Sweden who makes beer ice cream! www.oedipus.com/festival Rich @ Holland Photography Tours: www.hollandphotographytours.com

PURE MARKT @AMSTELPARK

Pure is a great street-like market, taking place in different parks around the city on different Sundays. We visited when it was at Amstelpark. The market features lots of great food made with pure, organic ingredients and other cool products made locally from all natural materials. We visited Mount Green, who sends baby Sequoia trees as gifts through the mail in 3D printed pots (www.mountgreen.nl); Zjoko Kuzz Giant Chocolate Kisses (www.zjokokuzz.nl); and Tostissimo Grilled Sandwiches. (www.tostissimo.nl). In addition Amstelpark is very beautiful with manicured gardens, wildflower areas, a miniature train ride for kids, miniature golf, a petting zoo, and a couple of restuarants to get a full meal. 
www.puremarkt.nl

't NIEUWE DIEP JENEVER TERRACE

Hidden away in the back of Flevopark in Amsterdam Oost (Amsterdam East) you will find an old water pumping station that has been converted into a jenever distillery and tasting room. But the best part of this place is its terrace which overlooks a beautiful pond under shady trees. They feature a different variety of spirits including jenevers, bitters, port wines, beer & wine and some nice nibbles to go along with them. This place is mostly frequented by locals and they would prefer it stay that way. Not that they don't like tourists, but they really don't want a lot of news abou tthis perfect hidden spot getting out. It's only open from 3pm to 8pm so get there early to secure a spot. www.nwediep.nl

A'DAM LOOKOUT TOWER

After 7 years of renovation, the old Shell Tower is now the A'DAM Lookout Tower, courtesy of its owners, the EDM music and event producers at ID &T. The lookout area is inside on the 20th floor, with tall glass windows on all sides, giving you 360 degree views of the city. There is also MA'DAM restaurant and bar where you can enjoy lunch, dinner or just a drink. You can also go up to the rooftop observation area for even better views. Included in the experience is a chance to take a souvenir photo and a cool light show during the elevator ride to and from the lookout. The tower is also a business and entertainment complex with: MOON, an elegant fine dining restaurant that revolves once every 90 minutes; a hotel; offices; a private club and a basement nightclub. www.adamlookout.com

SAUNA DECO

This is another hidden Amsterdam find. Right in the heart of the city is this luxury day spa which is decorated in the 1930s Art Deco style. Enjoy their 2 saunas, steam room, cool down pool and 3 relaxation lounges. They also have a wellness center with massages, facials and a tanning bed. There is even have a small dining area where you can take a break for a drink or light lunch. www.saunadeco.nl Also visit Gessell's website: www.gessellandlee.com

RED LIGHT DISTRICT PARTY TOUR

The Red Light District area in Amsterdam is world famous for the prostitutes in red-lighted windows, pot selling coffee shops and beer pubs. It's no wonder people from Europe and all over the world come here to engage in certain activities that they could not normally do back home. Naturally this is a favorite area for bachelor, stag & hen parties. You can just walk around and take it all in or you can partake in one or all the area has to offer. There are certain rules and protocols and and if you're a bit unsure of navigating by yourself or you would like the company of a big group, you can take an RLD tour. We tagged along with Oranje Umbrella Tours (www.oranjeumbrella.com). The tour lasts about 2 hours and you get to see some historical sites as well as the alleyways, windows, brothels, beer pubs & coffee shops. Please don't be put off by all of this. The area is actually very picturesque, set along pretty canals and old churches. It's also relatively safe as there are always lots of people around. Just beware of pickpockets and people selling drugs/pot on the street...just use common sense just like you would do anywhere else in the world... and have fun!

AMSTERDAM KOOKT- KANGAROO STEAKS

Food festivals are very popular in Amsterdam. Amsterdam Kookt is one of the newest and has several different incarnations throughout the year. In June it takes place in Oosterpark and in July it heads over the Ij to NDSM in Amsterdam Noord. Here, food trucks serve everything a variety of delicious foods: Surinam Bara, cheese& champagne, burgers, pulled pork, macaroons, fries, Lebanese lamb, grilled cheese. Vleeswolf, a popular truck at all the festivals serves kangaroo steaks and burgers. Local bands entertain from the bandstand gazebo. Entrance is free. A perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon in the sun. 
Jessica @ A Wanderlust For Life travel blog: www.AWanderlustForLife.com
Amsterdam Kookt: www.amsterdamkookt.nl

WETLANDS SAFARI CANOE TOUR

This is the perfect thing to do if you're looking for things traditionally Dutch, such as windmills, cows, quaint villages and endless waterways through farmland and to do it in a totally unique way... which is paddling your own canoe! It's also very easy to do. You meet at Amsterdam Central Station and take a short 10-15 minute bus ride to the starting point. 
You can choose a day tour which takes 5 hours from pick up to drop off or a shorter 4 hour trip in the evening. (still full light...not in the dark). The canoes hold two to 3 people and it's surprisingly easy to do. The waterways aren't too deep, but life vests are provided upon request. A delicious wine and cheese picnic is provided at the halfway point on a small island with lots of cows. Guide/owner Majel is very fun and gives you nice info and stories about the area along the way. This is a perfect 1/2 day trip if you're looking to get outside the city. 
Wetlands Safari: www.wetlandssafari.nl
Jessica and A Wanderlust For Life: www.awanderlustforlife.com 

3 GREAT BURGER PLACES IN AMSTERDAM

Until recently, most places in Holland served burgers with pre-made, frozen, meat patties which just didn't have the right consistency. Many places, such as grand cafes and bars still do. But fortunately, making juicy hamburgers with fresh meat and ingredients is hot in the Amsterdam food scene. There are about 10-20 places that make great burgers, but we concentrated our efforts again in the De Pijp area since many of these places are close to each other. Our first stop is the Thrill Grill, owned by Dutch celebrity chef, Robert Kranenborg. They cook their meat on a charcoal grill, letting the natural flavors of the meat do the talking. They also have a location in Oud West and also in Haarlem. (www.thrillgrill.nl) Next is Geflipt (Flipped in English). Their signature burger has a fried egg and it's delicious. (www.gefliptburgers.nl) Next is the Butcher. They have over 10 varieties of burgers and they too cook them on a charcoal grill. After 8pm, they open their speakeasy-type bar which is a secret room behind their kitchen and a great place to get a cocktail to go with your burger. They also have multiple locations, including one in the Food Halen in Oud West.(www.the-butcher.com) Sarah Kim writes a food and travel vlog called Tales from a Fork
(www.talesfromafork.com). And Jessica Lipowski just published " Flavors of Life"  a book of life stories about 62 international restaurant owners in Amsterdam (www.jessicalipowski.com)

TIPS FOR THE BEST 24 HOURS IN AMSTERDAM

In the morning, start in front of Centraal Station with a one-hour canal boat cruise. You get a whole different perspective of the city and learn quite a few facts as well. Then stroll along the canals and bridges. This is Amsterdam at its most beautiful. The canals are only a few minutes walk from Centraal Station. In the afternoon, head over to the Museum Quarter (Museumplein) for some art and culture. Here you'll find 3 great museums in one place: The Rijksmuseum which holds masterpieces by Rembrandt and other Dutch Masters; Van Gogh Museum; and the Stedelijk which features modern art. After a few hours here, head on over to the Albert Cuyp Street Market for some delicious Dutch street food, such as herring, mini-pancakes and stroopwafels. Finally as evening falls, head back to the center and walk around the famous Red Light District. Getting around is easy with a 24 Hour transport card that allows you access to trams, buses and metros. From Centraal Station, take trams 5, 16 or 24 to Museumplein. From there to the street market, take trams 16 or 24 to Albert Cuypstraat. And to get back to the Red Light District, take trams 16, 24 or 4 to the Dam. 
Detail visit planning: www.iamsterdam.com 
Public Transport info: en.gvb.nl

BLOEMENCORSO FLOWER PARADE

Much like the Rose Parade in California, but more gezellig (cozy), the stars are the flower covered floats. The parade is always mid to end of April and starts in Noordwijk, passes by the Keukenhof Flower Gardens in Lisse and ends in Haarlem. The parade lasts for about an hour and draws over one million spectators along its route. Tip: many people like to combine seeing the parade with visiting the Keukenhof. Therefore the busses, especially the one from Schiphol to Lisse is exceptionally crowded. We suggest taking the train to Haarlem or Leiden and then take the Keukenhof bus from there. If you're visiting the Keukenhof also, you can buy a combi ticket which includes the bus and entrance to the park. 
Or you can take a stoptrain between Schiphol and Leiden or between Haarlem and Leiden and get off at a stop in which the parade passes. For example, we got off the train in Sassenheim, a picturesque village which was a wonderful backdrop for the parade. For more info and route info:  www.bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl

TULIP FIELDS BIKE TOUR

In April and May, the tulip fields come alive with color and it's a spectacular sight not to be missed. You can get a taste of them on the way to and from the Keukenhof Flower Gardens. But it's really a treat to actually get into the fields themselves and be a part of the waves of gorgeous colors. We took a bike tour operated through Verita's Visit. During these months Vera puts together several tours which offer different combinations of distances and sights including the Keukenhof. On our tour, besides the fields, we stopped at a flower bulb farm, the Black Tulip Museum and the Keukenhof Castle. The area is about 20-30 minutes southwest of Amsterdam. You can take the train to Leiden or Haarlem and from there you can rent a bike or pick up an OV bike. Or you can take the Keukenhof bus from these stations or Schiphol Airport to Lisse. There are tulip field route maps at the tourist offices in these cities. The routes stretch from Haarlem in the north to Leiden further south and Lisse in center. But it's best to take the guided tour through Vera's Visit. She can arrange the bike rentals for you as well.

Verita's Visit: www.veritasvisit.nl
Tulperij Bulb Farm: www.detulperij.nl
Black Tulip Museum : www.museumdezwartetulp.nl
Keukenhof Castle: www.kasteelkeukenhof.nl

TULIP FESTIVAL AMSTERDAM

In April the city plants over 500,000 tulips all over the city: in open public areas, outside of museums, in hotel courtyards and around churches and monuments. We caught the early blooms in front of the Eye Film Museum, de Waag in the Nieuwmarkt, Dam Square, the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, Westerkerk, Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum Gardens and around the Museumplein pond. Grab a map at one of the designated spots and discover the color! www.tulpfestival.com

IJSMANSCHAP- 1ST POPSICLE BAR IN AMSTERDAM

Owner Martijn Doets brings his love for gelato in the form of these tasty popsicle treats in his new shop in the West part of town. These popsicles are handcrafted from scratch with fresh, natural ingredients. Flavors run from simple banana and strawberry to champagne with raspberries. And they also have limited edition flavors, like figs with Marsala wine.
You can also get a sorbet based popsicle in two flavors, mixed berry and strawberry. You can have them dipped in chocolate and covered with fresh roasted nuts. They also serve great coffee from Lot Sixty One, tea and fresh juices.
www.ijsmanschap.nl

WORLD'S FIRST VR CINEMA

&Samhoud Media produced Europe's first VR film and brings the whole VR experience together in their 1st ever VR cinema with the latest Samsung goggles, Sennheiser headphones and swivel chairs that allow full 360 vision. Located east of Central Station near the Doubletree Hilton Hotel and Public Library. The film presentation is 35 minutes long and there is an animation package for kids. www.thevrcinema.com

24 HOURS AMSTERDAM WEST

I amsterdam and Uit in Amsterdam produce 4 to 5 weekend events a year, each highlighting a particular neighborhood. This time 70 events took place in Amsterdam West which included open houses, tours, concerts, tastings, exhibitions and more. It was difficult to choose which to feature in our video as there were so many good choices this time around. We started at Museum Het Schip (The Ship) which is dedicated to the Amsterdam School style of architecture. Het Schip is actually a block long apartment complex built in this style but also features a renovated school and an old post office, which is now home to the museum.(www.hetschip.nl) Happy Happy Joy Joy is a popular restaurant with its iconic red umbrella ceiling. For the event they had a Make Your Own Bao Bar under the supervision of chef Julius Jaspers. (www.happyhappyjoyjoy.asia). Street Art Museum Amsterdam is not really a museum with a building but a collection of wall art which are all produced through it's founder Anna Stolyarova and city initiatives.  She gives tours on a regular basis and for the event, we went on a special bike tour to look at these immense masterworks. (www.streetartmusumamsterdam.com) Met Mik in West sponsored a beer tasting event with Brand Beer along with Moma & Co workspace at the Wilde Westen Bar. Different groups of drinkers were formed to discuss the beer flavors and to meet new people. (Met Mik in West:  http://inamsterdamwest.metmik.nl/) (Moma & Co: www.moma-co.nl) (Wilde Westen: www.wilde-westen.nl). Finally we ended up at The Student Hotel West for their DIY to the Max Make Your Own Cardboard Monster event. You can see the results in our video. (www.thestudenthotel.com)

3 GREAT BREAKFAST PLACES IN DE PIJP

The De Pijp is a cool neighborhood in the southeastern part of the city center. The Heineken Brewery and the Albert Cuyp Market are both there. Breakfast is now a popular meal to go out for and there are many good places to grab grub in the A.M. We hit up 3 great ones. We started at Yay Health Cafe for some organic, raw and vegan Choco Banana Pancakes (www.yayamsterdam.nl/en ). Next, we headed to the sophisticated and crowded Scandinavian Embassy for some porridge and yoghurt. (www.scandinavianembassy.nl). And finally, we hit up the homey and friendly Omelegg for 2 great fulfilling omelettes. (www.omelegg.com). Both co-hosts have their own travel vlogs where they travel and vlog with their partners. Jessica from A Wanderlust For Life (www.AWanderlustForLife.com) and Jodi from Steve and Jodi's Vlog (www.youtube.com/SJSTravels)

STORYTELLING @ MEZRAB CAFE

Mezrab Cafe is one of those grassroots places that offers you a more real & human entertainment experience. Folk dancing, live music & comedy in an intimate setting. One of their most popular nights are Storytelling. Sometimes people tell about real life experiences and sometimes they cast wondrous yarns of delight. The entrance is free and there is a small bar that serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Don't forget to grab one of their giant bowls of soup with bread on the side. In the Eastern Docklands part of the city. Tram 26 from Centraal Station. www.mezrab.nl

CHINATOWN DURING CHINESE NEW YEAR

Yes, Amsterdam does have a Chinatown. Although it's relatively small than those in other major cities, you can still find plenty of great restaurants, shops and unusual stores. It centers around the Zeedijk, which is between the Red Light District and Nieuwmarkt areas. We started at the Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple, which is the largest Buddhist temple in Europe. You can look around the main hall for free and tours are given on Saturdays.(www.ibps.nl/home-2/) Next up is the Toko Dun Yong, a huge, multilevel Asian supermarket. Not only can you buy Asian food, but also gifts & housewares. Upstairs is a restaurant and school for learning Asian cooking. (www.dunyong.com). We took a break from the parade and snuck into Sugar and Spice, a wonderful little cafe that sells fresh baked goods, healthy lunches and great coffee. (www.sugarspiceamsterdam.com). You must try the bubble tea at YoYo which is a combination iced-tea and iced coffee with pudding or jello pieces that pop when you chew them. Very cool. (www.yoyotea.nl). Tasty chinese cuisine can be found at New King. Always packed, but always tasty and reasonably priced. (www.newking.nl) Lastly we stopped at Hofje van Wijs Cafe at the north end of the Zeedijk. It's interior is rustic country home and they have a cute enclosed outdoor patio. (www.hofjevanwijs.nl) Please check out Philippine's link at Yelp Amsterdam: www.flippie.yelp.nl and Emil's link:  www.englishbreakfast.nl

CHOCOA CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL

An annual event held in February in the Beurs van Berlage Hall between the Amsterdam Beurs and Bijenkorf department store. Lots of great chocolates were on hand to sample and the emphasis is on fresh and natural products. Special thanks to the lovely guests and hostesses who helped us sample some of the best. www.chocoa.nl

SMALL MUSEUM SURPRISES

The Dutch Resistance Museum brings to life the stories of the Dutch people who lived under Nazi occupation during World War 2. The attention to detail makes this a fascinating and moving experience. (www.verzetsmuseum.org)
The Bibles Museum is a collection of ancient testaments and models that depict life during Biblical times. (www.bijbelsmuseum.nl) The museum is housed in the Cromhout House, an elegant 17th century canal house filled with treasures of this once influential Amsterdam family. (www.cromhouthuis.nl). A wonderous place of yesteryear, the Pianola Museum has a great collection of player pianos. Host Kasper Janse is very informative and enthusiastic. He gives demonstrations and plays a few pieces on the pianos and even lets you play one yourself. There is also a quaint little bar. Open on Sunday's only. (www.pianola.nl)

DEEPER SECRETS OF THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT

We love showing you places in the RLD that are hidden and not frequented by tourists but are very popular with locals. Local RLD resident and Yelp Amsterdam Manager Philippine Wouters takes you and Amsterdam blogger Jessica Cutrufello to some of her favorite places in the area. They stop at Koko Coffee & Design for some Belgian roasted java and a quick peek at the latest arrivals; pick up some old fashioned licorice at Jacob Hooy which is a 18th century drug store/candy shop; look at some art with the boys from Schatjes Gallery; shop for a birthday gift at Sakelicous Asian liquor shop; and finish off the night at Porem, a hidden cocktail speakeasy.

Koko Coffee & Design www.ilovekoko.com
Jacob Hooy www.jacob-hooy.nl
Schatjes Gallery www.schatjesamsterdam.com
Sakelicious www.sakelicious.com
Porem www.poremamsterdam.com

NATIONAL TULIP DAY

Mid January is the beginning of tulip season in The Netherlands and to celebrate, a pop up garden with 200,000 tulips is set up in the middle of Dam Square in Amsterdam. The public is invited to go inside and take a bunch home with them for free. People stand in line for hours to get the chance and once inside everyone is in a good mood taking home a piece of Spring with them during the cold Winter. www.facebook.com/tulpendag/

GUSTAFSON POP-UP HOTEL

Housed in a gorgeous brick building in the Westergasfabriek area of Westerpark, this hotel wants to inspire creative minds through design & culture. The bar and restaurant opened up last September and their 5 hotel rooms will open this February 2016. All will be open until September 2016. The main design theme of the hotel is colorful fabrics but each of the hotel rooms will have their own unique look from lower end hostel type rooms: a camping room complete with indoor tent and Japanese style pods; a studio room for artists and a rebel room with a sunken bed; to a speakeasy type luxury suite with its own entrance to Westerpark. This hotel is perfect for people who are going to events at the Westergasfabriek, which has bars, clubs, restaurants, festivals and a movie theater. www.gustafson.amsterdam

AMSTERDAM LIGHT FESTIVAL: FRIENDSHIP

Enjoy one of the biggest festivals of the Winter season that has become a city tradition already in its short 5 year life.
Artists from all over the world create wonderful works of art, using light in one form or another. This year's theme is friendship and there are two ways to tour the installations: via the Water Colors Route with a canal boat tour along the Amstel River, Herengracht canal and the Ij harbor. Book an evening cruise from one of the usual canal boat tour operators. Runs through Jan. 17, 2016. The second way is to walk the streets for the Illuminade Tour which takes you to the east side of the city around and through the Hortus Botanical Gardens. The installations along this route close on Jan. 3rd. www.amsterdamlightfestival.com

DUTCH ICE SCULPTURE FESTIVAL

The Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival is a wonderful wintertime event. Artists from all over the world create huge, beautiful ice sculptures which are beautifully displayed with colorful lighting designs. This year's theme is Journey to a Frozen World, so all the art works represent different world lands and cultures. The event takes place inside a huge refrigerated warehouse to preserve the ice (so bring a heavy jacket!). There is also a huge lobby with kiddy carnival rides and winter snacks and drinks, such as hot chocolate. In the town of Zwolle which is an hour train ride from Amsterdam. The exhibit is next to the train station, so access is very quick and easy. www.ijsbeelden.nl/en

POP UP AMSTERDAM: BANH MI GIRLS VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

Pop-up restaurants, bars, shops & even hotels are very popular now in Amsterdam. Not only does a short run give the owner more freedom and control, it gives customers newer and fresher choices. In the first of our PopUp Amsterdam series, we take you to a Vietnamese Restaurant called Banh Mi Girls. The venue is Bar Bra which hosts pop-ups in the evening on a regular basis. Look up them up from the links here to see if they will be cooking when you go out next
Banh Mi Girls: www.facebook.com/banhmigirls   Bar Bra: www.bar-bra.nl

HIDDEN HORSES OF AMSTERDAM

De Hollandsche Manege or Dutch Horse School Museum is one the city's best kept secrets. Mostly a horse riding school, the facility also has a small museum with equestrian related articles and memorabilia. And every few weeks, trained riders perform the carousel, where they perform complicated maneuvers in period costumes from atop their beautiful horses. And the public is invited. While there, you can visit back in the stables; have a drink in their ornate upstairs; watch the show from the upstairs balcony and even ride the horses after the show. A truly unique Amsterdam experience. Located right next to Vondelpark and the Overtoom. www.dehollandschemanege.nl

24 HOURS IN AMSTERDAM NORTH

24 Hours is a series of events which takes place over a weekend in one particular part of the city. It happens 4 times a year, once in the West, once in East where we filmed 24 Hours in East , once in South and this time in the North. This particular area is hip, up and coming and includes the NDSM Werf which we also visited a few episodes ago. This is Amstedam's wild, innovative, creative and raw side. We visited the Coptic Church and learned that there are millions of Arab Christians who originated in Alexandria Egypt. We got a sneak peek at the robots who are going to build the world's first #D Printed metal bridge at MX3D and we visited PIPS:LAB where they invent their own technological devices for their theatre performances. The Church and Pips lab are accessible with the ferry to Buiksloterweg and a few minutes bike ride north. The MX3D Lab is in the NDSM Werf area and can be reached with the ferry in that direction.
24 Hours North www.iamsterdam/24Hours
MX3D Lab www.mx3D.com
Pips Lab www.pipslab.org
Coptic Church www.koptischekerk.nl

TOURISTS TRY DUTCH HERRING

We interviewed people in the heart of the city. We started where the Spui meets the Kalverstraat shopping street at Jonk Volendammer herring stand. Then we hung out mostly on the Koningsplein opposite the Flower Market in front of Jens Haringhandel stand. You can find similar stands all over the city. You can eat the herring raw or in pieces and you can have it with onions and/or pickles. Making it into a sandwich is also popular.

AMSTERDAM HALLOWEEN PARADE & PARTY

Surprisingly, Halloween is becoming very popular here. As the Dutch have no problem speaking English and like to emulate American culture, this is one American-style holiday they can get into. And boy do they. Thousands of people create wonderful, imaginative costumes and make-up and gather in the center of town to walk together to the site of the annual Halloween party at the Western Unie in Westerpark. The starting point is on the Rokin and the route goes through the Dam, down Haarlemmerstraat, Haarlemmerdijk and goes through the whole length of Westerpark. Still very homespun with occassional home-made floats and decorated vehicles. Let's hope it stays this way and avoids becoming big, commercial & corporate. www.amsterdamhalloween.nl Visit Elysia's pages: Young in Amsterdam www.facebook.com/younginamsterdam and Thrilllist www.thrilllist.com/amsterdam


WORLD OF FOOD

A unique collection of food stalls in a converted parking garage makes this the biggest food hall in Amsterdam. Reflecting the diverse cultures of it's Zuidoost (south-east) residents, the food on offer is ethnic: African, Indonesian, Turkish, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Armenian, Surinamese. Add in pastry kitchens, BBQ and a place where kids can learn how to cook simple, healthy meals and a bar that serves beer and wine. The stalls are flanked by larger restuarants: a doner place & Flavor Town. This is an initiative started by the city to give local chefs a place to cook for a wider public. The food is tasty and totally authentic and worth the extra minutes transport time if you are coming from the city center. By auto take the " D-buurt" exit off the Gooiseweg. Pubic transport, take Metro 54 or train to Bijlmer-Arena Station. From there take Bus 44 to the Develstein stop. Jessica's blog: www.awanderlustforlife.com
World of Food: www.worldoffoodamsterdam.nl


NDSM WERF: IJHALLEN & STREET ART

NDSM Werf (Wharf) is an area of converted shipping warehouses and dockyards. Because land & rents were inexpensive, artists and project leaders moved in and started to renovate and work inside abandoned spaces. Soon the area grew and became a magnet for festivals and parties. Next restaurants and a few hotels popped up. Today NDSM is an artistic, alternative entertainment area. Although many businesses have moved in, it still maintains its rustic, urban edge. Take the free ferry from behind Centraal Station labeled NDSM. It's a 15 minute ride and you get great views of the harbor. As you enter the port, you'll notice the floating Botel boat hotel and an old submarine. If you turn left you will discover the old pirate radio boat, the Veronica and full restaurant, Ij Kantine. Dominating the views is the Faralda Crane Hotel, complete with 3 hotel room suites, an outdoor jaccuzi at the top and a bungee jumping platform. Next to the crane is Pllek, a waterside cafe with its own beach. The restaurant keeps to the shipping theme from being built out of shipping containers and serves organic food. Walking further in, you will see a series of big warehouses. Inside one is a big collection of art studios. This warehouse plus the one adjacent is home to the monthly flea market called Ij-hallen (Ij is the name of the big water channel and Hallen means halls. It's billed as Europe's biggest flea market and it surely doesn't disappoint. Check their website for dates. Further still is a group of abandoned buildings and empty water gullies next to the big crane. Here, street artists have painted their cool murals on lots of exposed concrete. Further still is another cafe, Noorderlicht (Northern Light) which serves healthy food and it's hilly knoll is popular for the hipster crowd to enjoy views of the water. A great day out of exploring and discovering!  Thank you to hosts Ashley from Amsterdam Blog (www.amsterdamblog.co.uk) and Rich Theemling from Holland Photography (www.hollandphotographytours.com)

NDSM www.ndsm.nl
IJ-Hallen www.ijhallen.nl
Faralda Crane Hotel www.faralda.com
Pllek Cafe www.pllek.nl
Noorderlicht Cafe www.noorderlichtcafe.nl

 

MICROPIA

Micropia is the first museum in the world dedicated to the science of microorganisms. Although the topic might sound dull, it is anything but. Their interactive and high tech exhibits make learning about these fascinating creatures very entertaining. Fun things like a microbe body scanner and a kiss-o-meter; sessions with their lab-techs and course being able to see the microbes thru high powered microscopes. Micropia is located next to the Artis Zoo and you can make it a fun day out and see both. Thank you to Shoshannah from Awesome Amsterdam (www.awesomeamsterdam.com)
Micropia: www.micropia.nl

HORTUS BOTANICAL GARDEN

This is a perfect spot just to get away from it all, with it's sprawling outdoor gardens and outdoor cafe. It's also great if you are a flower and plant lover as they have wide varieties of both. They also have a 3 climate greenhouse, a palm greenhouse, a butterfly greenhouse and beekeeping boxes where bees make honey. The honey is sold in their gift shop along with plant & flower books and fair-trade products such as coffee, tea and chocolate. The gardens are located just on the East side of town in the Plantagebuurt near Artis Zoo. www.dehortus.nl

FRUIT GARDEN VAN WEST

Or Fruittuin van West, in Dutch is a great little find on the west end of town. It's a little bit of a farm, with lots of tree and plant orchards of different fruits and berries. But what's unique is that the public is invited to pick their own fruit.
In addition, you can pick freshly laid eggs from the farm's chickens, you can buy organic foods from their small shop and enjoy a healthy lunch in their new cafe. The central building of the farm is being renovated so there is still some work going on as they put the finishing touches on their shop & cafe. Check their website for which fruits are ripe for picking during the different seasons. The farm is easiest to access by car but it is possible to get there via bus from Centraal Station and then another 15 minute walk from the bus stop. www.fruittuinvanwest.nl Valerie's website: www.valeriesgreencuisine.com 

MORNING GLORYVILLE AMSTERDAM

Morning Gloryville is a sober, morning dance event with unique ways to get your blood pumping and body moving before work and the start of your day. Music, dancing, yoga and massage are all standards and more activities are planned based on the theme and event location. The idea is to start your day in a healthy and happy way. This was the Summer edition so the events included a silent disco, hula-hooping, rollerskating, circus workshops and was held at Pllek Cafe (www.pllek.nl) which has a waterside, white sand beach and serves healthy, organic food. Morning Gloryville started in London and holds events now in cities all over the world. 

Morning Gloryville- www.morninggloryville.com
Morning Gloryville Amsterdam- www.morninggloryvilleamsterdam.com
                                                      www.facebook.com/morninggloryvilleamsterdam
 

VONDELPARK

Just a little west of Leidseplein lies the city's most popular stretch of green. Not just for travelers visiting Amsterdam; It's truly where the locals go to escape the bustle of the city, soak up a little sun or do a bit of physical activity like biking & jogging. In the mornings  it's not unusual to see groups doing yoga, extreme workouts or letting their dogs run & play in the huge doggy area. In between the open green areas are big lakes with fountains, small streams and ponds and a nice-sized rose garden. There is an open air theater with performances during the summer and 3 cafe/restaurants that are open year round: Blauwe Theehuis (Blue Teahouse).www.blauwetheehuis.nl; Groot Melkhuis (Big Milkhouse) www.grootmelkhuis.nl; and Vondelpark 3
www.vondelpark3.nl . There is also a fourth, Vondeltuin (Vondel Garden) which lies at the southwestern entrance at the park, but it's hours of operation are hit and miss, especially in the colder months. www.vondeltuin.nl; There is no official website for the park, but for more info check here: www.amsterdam.nl 

SUNFLOWERS COME ALIVE @ VAN GOGH MUSEUM

Behind the new entrance of the Van Gogh Museum, a big labyrinth of sunflowers was erected to promote the opening.
Not only could visitors go inside the maze, but they could climb an observation tower to view the maze from above and after the exhibit closed, they could take some flowers home with them. You can still see sunflowers, but only in Van Gogh's painting at the museum. www.vangoghmuseum.nl

WATER BATTLE AMSTERDAM

Organizations Water Battle Amsterdam and One World held the 1st annual Water Battle Amsterdam fight in Vondelpark in August. The purpose was to raise awareness about water conservation and the fact that it takes thousands of litres of water just to make one t-shirt. Therefore they were asking that people refrain from buying any new clothes for a month. During the fight, no tap water was used. Everyone filled up their guns in the park pond. www.oneworld.nl www.facebook.com/waterbattleamsterdam

SAIL 2015- AMSTERDAM TALL SHIPS

The event is held once every 5 years and takes place around Ij harbor. The main center and where most of the boats are moored is the Eastern Docklands area, KNSM Island and Java Island. Ship travel from all over including: Germany, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Russia, Chile, France, Portugal, The Netherlands and more. Many sail and nautical events are held as well as waterfront concerts, a few carnival rides and nighttime fireworks. We went aboard the Sagres III sailing ship from Portugal. www.sail.nl

ARTZUID- OUTDOOR SCULPTURES

ARTZUID gets its name from "Art" and "Zuid" which means South. It's also a play on the name of the area in which it takes place, Oud Zuid, (Old South). 65 sculptures from over 20 international artists are on display in the open green spaces and street medians. It's free to view them on your own or  you can pay for a guided walking tour (many are in English). The event is held from June through the end of September and is held every two years. www.artzuid.nl

AMSTERDAM MORNINGS

We filmed in 4 different areas of the city center: Rembrandtplein, the Amstel , the canals nearby and the morning flower market that takes place on Amstelplein every Monday; the canals of the Jordaan; Vondelpark and the Ij Harbor behind Centraal Station and from the shores of Amsterdam North by Eye Film Museum, A'DAM Tower and Tolhuistuin.

MADURODAM

Madurodam is a great attraction park in The Hague where famous buildings and structures in Holland are recreated in miniature. It's an easy half or full day trip by train from Amsterdam (about an hour). The attention to detail really makes it a feast for the eyes and the interactive exhibits make it a fun playground, both for adults and kids. Well known landmarks such as Rijksmuseum, Dam Square, Dom Tower, Erasmus Tower, Swan Bridge are all there plus moving trains, planes and automobiles. Great way to learn about The Netherlands through these fascinating models. From Amsterdam Centraal Station, the intercity train to Den Haag HS station takes about 30-40 minutes. Then it's a 10-15 min. tram ride (tram 9) which drops you off right in front of the park. www.madurodam.nl

GUACAMOLE BATTLE- BENCHES COLLECTIVE

The Benches Collective Day happens the first Sunday of every month from April through October. Locals set up a bench in front of their houses and neighbors and all visitors are welcome. Our friend Shoshannah from Awesome Amsterdam (from Los Angeles) and her friend Alvaro (from Mexico) hosted a Guacamole & Margaritas bench, where they both made guacamole and let the visitors taste test and decide who made it better. Gessell was there also to judge and helped pour the drinks and take lots of photos in the Mexican photo booth. Benches Collective www.benchescollective.com
Awesome Amsterdam www.awesomeamsterdam.com

HIDDEN GARDENS- OPEN GARDEN DAYS

Many canal houses have beautiful gardens behind them. Some are behind museums and hotels and are accessible year round. But some are privately owned are usually closed to the public. But on Open Garden Days, which happens over 3 days during June, most of these gardens are open for the public to tour. And what a treat. The styles vary from traditional English to French, Italian & Japanese. One garden even converted their old WW2 bunker into a bar! For this special weekends some gardens exhibit art and have musical concerts. Most of the open gardens are centered around the Herengracht and Keizergracht, so it makes it very easy to garden hop. www.opengardendays.nl 
Ashley's link to Amsterdam Blog www.amsterdamblog.co.uk
 

ARCHITECTURE DAYS- A'DAM TOWER

This year's theme is the Ij harbor, so the focus is on the modern buildings all around the North, West & East sides. We start off with a boat tour through the main channel and NDSM wharf. Next we take a walking tour in the Eastern Docklands which was converted to a residential neighborhood featuring very unique housing concepts; Finally we get a rare glimpse inside the A'DAM Toren (Tower) which is being renovated by dance club & music entrepeneurs to house a hotel, club, restaurant, bar & observation deck. Get the best views of the city from up top. To be completed in 2016. 
Architecture Days www.dagvandearchitectuuramsterdam.nl
Architours (conducted the Eastern Docklands tour) www.architour.nl
A'dam Toren www.adamtoren.nl 
Ashley's blog Amsterdamblog www.amsterdamblog.co.uk 

MUIDERSLOT CASTLE

A wonderful, medeival experience. This castle is about a half hour car trip outside of Amsterdam in the port of Muiden. You can also get there via train & bus. But the most fun way is via the ferry that leaves from Ijburg, east of Amsterdam. It takes a bit longer, but you get to sail the Ijsselmeer, stop at Pampus Island and get to make a grand entrance through Muiden harbor. Muiderslot http://www.muiderslot.nl Ferry http://www.veerdienstamsterdam.nl

BENCHES COLLECTIVE

This monthly event brings neighbors together by encouraging them to set up benches outside their houses to create a mini-street gathering. Most hosts serve some food & drinks and some create a theme and an activity. You can post your event on the website's map, so visitors can see who is participating that particular month. The event happens the first Sunday of every month and mostly during good weather-Spring & Summer. Check out their website here: www.bankjescollective.nl
or www.benchescollective.com  Some of the participants during our visits were Pop Up Church www.popupkerk.nl and Placemakers www.placemakers.nl  You can find Shoshannah from Awesome Amsterdam at www.awesomeamsterdam.com

WORLD BUBBLE DAY

Focal Local is a non-profit organization that promotes happiness & positivity through events that unites people worldwide.  On June 13 in many cities around the world, including Amsterdam, they hold International Give a Bubble Day, where people come together to blow bubbles! In Amsterdam it takes place in Dam Square for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Lots of fun and even the adults feel like kids again!  Amster-Bubbles! Facebook page. Focal Local website

 

ELECTRIC TRAM LINE MUSEUM

The museum is housed in the old Haarlemmermeer Station, which is located in the southwest part of the city, between Vondel Park and the Olympic Stadium. From the outside it looks like a cool Art-Deco building. On the inside, most of the station is preserved as it was 100 years ago. The lobby has an old ticket booth, old lobby seats and a television plays vintage footage of the old trams. The old restaurant is used as a lounge for the conductors, but you can stick your head in or walk around yourself. Lastly, there is the museum itself, which is more of a gift shop with books and old tram memorabilia. Walk outside to the back part of the station and you'll find the trams themselves. They run an old route from here to Bovenkerk stop in Amstelveen. Each way is 7kms. and the roundtrip takes over an hour. Keep in mind the museum and tram line is only open on Sundays between April and October. Please visit their website for more details
www.museumtramlijn.org

MORE, MORE RED LIGHT SECRETS

All centered within a 100 meters or so from the Old Church, these hidden gems are waiting for you to discover. Start first with the easiest to spot: The Oude Kerk, (Old Church). Once a 17th century place of worship, it is now an exhibition space. Just next to it and hidden behind a small wall is the Koffie Schenkerij Cafe where you can enjoy a nice dessert with tea & coffee in a beautiful small garden courtyard. (www.oudekerk.nl) On the north side of the Oude Kerk square is Red Light Radio, an internet radio station, broadcasting from behind an old prostitution window and parlor. It's fun to peer into their window and watch the DJs doing their thing.(www.redlightradio.net)  Just off the opposite side, the southern end of the square are the Hangover Information Center where they give out info on ways to prevent a hangover and sell a product that helps prevents one (www.hangover-information.com); and the Ton Ton Club arcade where you can play old school, such as pinball and basketball throw or play more modernized computer games.(www.tontonclub.nl)
For more of what is going on in Amsterdam, please check out Elysia's: Young in Amsterdam Facebook Page and her Amsterdam listings on Thrillist
 

WYNAND FOCKINK DISTILLERY & TASTING ROOM

A 17th century jenever & liqueur distillery, tasting room & shop nestled in between the adult attractions in the Red Light District. The tasting room and shop are only open from 3:00pm until 9:00pm each day and the distillery is open various days and times. The bartenders are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the spirits they serve and they make it a very fun & enjoyable experience. Check out their website for more info www.wynand-fockink.nl For more of what is going on in Amsterdam, please check out Elysia's:  Young in Amsterdam Facebook Page and her Amsterdam listings on Thrillist
 

ROLLENDE KEUKENS- FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL

The Rolling Kitchens is one of the biggest festivals on the Amsterdam calendar. For 5 days, 200 cooks serve up delicious street food from their vintage/retro trailers. Everything is on hand from traditional favorites like BBQ, dim-sum, gourmet burgers & crepes to the unusual like insects on a stick and bacon flavored ice cream. The festival takes place every year over the Ascension/Hemelvaart weekend mid-May at the Westerfabriek Terrain area of Westerpark. Live music, alcoholic beverages, games for the kids and no entrance fee all add to the circus-like fun on hand. Shoshannah from Awesome Amsterdam and Vicky, the Amsterdam Foodie host this episode. For great suggestions on what to do in Amsterdam, check out Awesome Amsterdam at www.awesomeamsterdam.com. And for honest reviews of Amsterdam restaurants, read Amsterdam Foodie's blog at www.amsterdamfoodie.nl.

AMSTERDAM STREET ART

Amsterdam has a great alternative culture and that includes street artists who create big wall murals & small personal works all over the city. A big part of this is from the squatter lifestyle that until recently, managed to coexist very well and start a whole new cultural movement. If you don't know where to find the works or if you want to know about the history behind the works and the artists, we recommend that you take a street art tour from Alltournative Amsterdam.
(www.alltournative-amsterdam.com). It takes about 2.5 hours and their local guides are street art enthusiasts themselves and really know their stuff. If you're into urban art, this is a great way to see another side of Amsterdam. The 2nd biggest area to find street art is in the NDSM Wharf area of Amsterdam North, in which some of the closed shipping warehouses have been turned into art galleries and studios. Big wall murals are also abound in the west part of Amsterdam. AllTourNative can arrange tours to these parts as well. For more info about Amsterdam street art. also check out a cool article at Awesome Amsterdam: here

KEUKENHOF TULIP GARDENS

One of the most famous parks in all of The Netherlands and certainly known all over the world, the Dutch tulips are the star among beautiful flowers that bloom under tall trees, waterways, lakes and in indoor pavilions. The park is only open for two months in the Spring, mainly between mid-March and mid-May. Each year has particular exhibits that highlight a certain theme and there are playgrounds for kids and boat rides through the tulip fields. The park is in Lisse which is about 30 minutes southwest of Amsterdam...between Leiden and Haarlem. Shuttle buses are available from Schiphol Airport, Leiden Central Station and Haarlem Central Station. www.keukenhof.nl/en

KING'S DAY

The biggest party of the year in all of The Netherlands and Amsterdam is no exception. In honor of King Willem-Alexander's birthday on April 27th, everyone dons silly clothes in the royal color of orange and takes to the streets to party, drink & dance; or to the canals in boats. It's also the only day of the year when it's legally allowed to sell stuff in the streets and many people set up blankets and tables on the sidewalks to sell their used items. Different areas of the city celebrate in different ways. In the Jordaan, there are many street parties in the narrow streets with singing of old, traditional songs; in the entertainment areas, bars have special celebrations; in the East an old-fashioned kids carnival is set up around the Hogeweg and in Vondelpark & Westerpark families sell their wares and enjoy the many activities for kids. (Note: In Dutch King's Day is Koningsdag.. Before 2014 it used to be Queen's Day (Koninginnedag in Dutch) in honor of Queen Beatrix's birthday on April 30th.)

ARTIS ZOO

The Artis Royal Zoo is a great day out. Not only do they have a great collection of animals in many renovated areas that recreate the animal's natural habitats, but you can take peaceful strolls in their beautiful gardens and inspect a few of their big buildings that still stand from when they were built in the 1800's. Highlights include a walk-through indoor jungle with monkeys, iguanas and bats; an African savannah  with zebras, gazelles & giraffes; a butterfly pavilion and an aquarium. There are also 3 restaurants, kids playgrounds, a gift shop and planetarium. In the Artis Plaza you can find Micropia, an exploration into the body's micro-organisms and the Cafe Plantage Restaurant. www.artis.nl

AMSTERDAM TOWERS - OPEN TOWER DAY

Open Tower Day happens usually one day in April, where 20 of the city's towers offer free entrance to climb up and look down on the city below. Many are old church towers, but some are also modern hotels and office buildings. Some are even a little out of the city center. But most of the towers are also open almost every day during the Spring and Summer and it's really a fun way to get an inside look into how the towers were built and a great way to see the city from up high. The last 3 towers were shot by aerial photographers, Flying Mikes www.flyingmikes.com 

Open Tower Day- (Open Toren Dag, in Dutch): www.opentorendag.nl Here, there are links to all of the towers shown 

Oude Kerk Tower www.oudekerk.nl 
De Waag www.indewaag.nl
Beurs van Berlage www.beursvanberlage.nl
Posthoornkerk www.posthoornkerk.nl
Westerkerk Tower www.westerkerk.nl  

WORLD PILLOW FIGHT DAY

Hundreds of cities take part in World Pillow Fight Day, including Amsterdam. Every year on the same Saturday in April all over the world, people partake in the fun sport of Pillow Fighting... just because it's fun! In Amsterdam the event takes place in the city center on the Dam Square. www.facebook.com https://www.facebook.com/events/613878548687961/

EATING AMSTERDAM FOOD TOUR

Gessell and Valerie take a delicious food tour which criss-crosses through the colorful and vibrant Jordaan neighborhood and stopping at local restaurants, food shops & delis, each offering up a unique Dutch delicacy. In just 4 hours, you will sample 12 courses!  This is a perfect way to discover the city and its authentic dishes. 
Eating Amsterdam Food Tours: www.eatingamsterdamtours.com 
Valerie is a food blogger who covers Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussells, Paris & beyond. www.vallielagiraffe.com   

AMSTERDAM BEER BARS

Beer culture is very popular in Amsterdam and many new beer cafes and micro-breweries are springing up. Shoshannah from Awesome Amsterdam (www.awesomeamsterdam.com) organizes beer tasting tours with Amsterdam Craft Beer Tours
(www.amsterdamcraftbeertours.com). If you're a beer lover this is a perfect way to sample Amsterdam's best beer & beer cafes for a perfect night out. In our vid, these were the stops for the evening: 

In de Wildeman www.indewildeman.nl; Cafe Arendsnest www.arendsnest.nl;
Cafe Gollem www.cafegollem.nl; Craft & Draft www.craftanddraft.com

Amsterdam Homebrew School www.tunnel37.com
Amsterdam Bar Meet-up www.meetup.com/beerup    

GIRL GONE INTERNATIONAL AMSTERDAM

This is a special episode. We don't take you to a place or event, but a meet up of an organization that we think you would find interesting, especially since our audience likes to travel. Girl Gone International is a worldwide organization of women who love to travel, live abroad and are interested in places other than their own hometowns. With over 20,000 members in over 35 city- hubs, GGI keeps their members informed and connected through their website, forums, social media sites, GGI magazine and meet-ups. Give them a looksie.  www.girlgoneinternational.com

24 HOURS IN EAST AMSTERDAM

24 Hours are a series of 4 annual events, each focusing on a specific part of the city. For this edition, Elysia from Young in Amsterdam (www.facebook.com/younginamsterdam) and Thrillist (www.thrillist.com/amsterdam) takes Gessell to 4 different events around the east part of Amsterdam. They tour the Transvaalbuurt using the Junaio augmented reality phone app, which makes the experience more interactive. (www.junaio.com); They learn how soap is made at a small studio factory which specializes in making organic soap (www.facebook.com/deamsterdamschezeepfabriek); attend a clay workshop and work with colored clays from different areas of the city (www.maukstudio.nl); they sample and sniff chocolate at East 57 Restaurant (www.east57.nl); and take a sunset tour of De Nieuwe Ooster  Cemetery which is also a nature conservatory. (www.denieuweooster.nl)
Please check out Elysia's links to know more about what is going on in Amsterdam and check out Iamsterdam for the other editions of 24 Hours in Amsterdam. East is in February; West is in March; South in September and North in October. (www.iamsterdam.com/24h)

SPIEGELKWARTIER

The Spiegelkwartier area centers around the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat which starts just north of the Rijksmuseum and runs north to the Herengracht. This street, along with its side streets, have wonderful modern & ancient art galleries, tea & chocolate shops, vintage and upscale clothing stores and a few chic restaurants and delis. Most people use this street as a through-way to the big museums, but don't take the time to appreciate what is on offer here. Please afford yourself some time to explore this wonderful and unique area.
www.spiegelkwartier.nl

European Makers Gallery www.europeanmakers.nl
Four Leaves Tea Salon www.fourleaves.nl
Van Roselen Chocolates www.vanrolselenchocolates.nl
Archea Gallery www.archea.nl
Robert Schreuder Antiquair www.robertschreuder.nl
 

CARNAVAL

Carnaval is an annual celebration held in February. It is the Dutch version of Carnival/Mardi Gras and is a very big celebration in the southern part of The Netherlands, which is predominantly Catholic. The two main cities that have the biggest celebrations are Maastricht in Limburg and Den Bosch in North Brabant. Both cities are an easy day trip from Amsterdam by train. Maastricht is the farthest..about 2 hours each way. Den Bosch is closer...only an hour away from Amsterdam. We went to Den Bosch not knowing much about it,  but after a little online research and just following the crowd it's very easy to catch all the pageantry of the day. The parade starts at the train station and the Carnaval Prince is sworn in. A huge crowd gathers to watch at the station including out of towners who arrive by train. The parade starts at 11:11am and ends in the town square. Around 3pm the Prince climbs in the sky bucket, flies over the crowd and unveils the statue of the farmer. This is the official start of the 3 day party where people head to the bars and parties in the streets.
(Our excuses if we didn't get the story totally accurate..this is based on what locals were telling us).

FOOD PARADE

The Food Parade is a wonderful gathering of street food vendors and pop-up chefs who created an assortment of different food that you can choose. You can also choose between street food stalls or sitting down to a fine dining experience. There are also places to buy beer & wine and an array of unique entertainment is scheduled- from fire jugglers, djs, dancers and even disco bingo! Although the Food Parade is an annual event, the point is that events like these happen every week around the city and it's great to experience an event that mostly locals attend. Please check these sites of blogger's who specialize in Amsterdam places and events:

Awesome Amsterdam www.awesomeamsterdam.com
Amsterdam Curated www.amsterdamcurated.com
Amsterdam Blog www.amsterdamblog.co.uk
Vallie La Giraffe www.vallielagiraffe.com
Your Little Black Book www.yourlittleblackbook.me

Food Parade links:

Essen http://www.essen.nu
Het Hoofdgerecht http://www.facebook.com/hethoofdgerecht
Edel http://www.edelamsterdam.nl

 

AMSTERDAM FASHION WEEK

Twice a year over 10 days the Westerfabriek becomes the center of all things fashion with the hottest Dutch designs walking down 2 runway stages and fashion events are held all across the city. Gessell teams up with Susanne from Bag At You blog (www.bagatyou.com) to attend popup boutiques at the Volkshotel (www.volkshotel.nl), including a Roller Disco by The Next Closet (www.thenextcloset.com); interviews Menswear designer Mirte van Wijngaarden (www.mirtevanwijngaarden.com); and attend Mirte's and Bas Kosters'runway shows.(www.baskosters.com). Fashion Week takes place in January & July and is based in the Gashouder/Transformhuis/Westergasterrace Restaurant of Westerpark.(www.fashionweeknederland.nl)

HAARLEMMERSTRAAT

Haarlemmerstraat & Haarlemmerdijk are two long streets connected to each other starting at the Singel just west of Centraal Station and running west to Haarlemmerplein almost to Westerpark. Along the streets are some of the best clothing stores, cafes, delis & gift shops with a few coffeeshops thrown in between. The streets don't have an official website, but there is a small website for the area. www.haarlemmerbuurt-amsterdam.nl and www.shoppingsmall.nl
Noni May does a fine job reporting on new shops and cafes in Amsterdam. www.amsterdamcurated.nl
Stores & Cafes featured in the clip:

&Klevering Centraal http://www.klevering.nl
Six and Sons http://sixandsons.com
Petit Gateau Pastry http://www.petitgateau.nl
Red Carpet Queen Beauty http://www.redcarpetqueen.com
Daskas http://www.daskas.nl
BNK Women's Clothing http://www.opdedijk.nl/bnk.html
Ibericus Meats https://www.facebook.com/IbericusAmsterdam
Restored http://www.restored.nl
Store Without A Home http://www.storewithoutahome.nl
Vinnie's Deli http://www.vinnieshomepage.com

AMSTERDAM ART WEEKEND

During the Amsterdam Art Weekend in November, galleries, museums, institutions and art academies hold special events, exhibitions, lectures and performances that focus on young talent in contemporary art. The works of international artists are also highlighted. The event is citywide and touring routes are organized by area and interests. Here, Gessell spends the afternoon in the Jordaan area. Please don't forget that most of these galleries exhibit year-round, so even after the festival some of these and new pieces will be on display.Amsterdam Art Weekend: http://www.amsterdamart.com

Intro:
"Reading the Landscape" by Olaf Otto Becker- Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen http://www.woutervanleeuwen.com
"A Sign of Prosperity to the Dreamers" by Janis Rafa at Martin van Zomeren Gallery http://www.gmvz.com
"The Mirror Stage" by Cornel Brudascu & Alin Bozbiciu, curated by Maria Rus Bojan at Le Plafond Gallery
"Sinthome Score" by Dora Garcia at Ellen de Bruijne Projects. http://www.edbprojects.com

"Forbidden Rooms" by Alicia Framis at Annet Gelink Gallery http://www.annetgelink.com
"Amalia Pica" by Amalia Pica at Stigter van Doesburg Gallery http://www.stigtervandoesburg.com
"Hype Cycle" by David Jablonowski at Galerie Fons Welters http://www.fonswelters.nl
"Dust" by Nadav Kander at Torch Gallery http://www.torchgallery.com
"Love in Amsterdam" by Duncan Hannah at Ornis A. Gallery http://www.ornisagallery.com

SMALL MUSEUMS TOO

We show you 4 more unique, smaller museums. The first two are on the same street in the Red Light District. The Red Light Secrets Museum gives you a behind the scenes look at what it'slike for the city's working girls to work in the famous windows. More informative than meets the eye. www.redlightsecrets.com .  Down the street is the Hash Marijuana & Hemp museum offering history of and insight into the uses of the controversial plant. www.hashmuseum.com The Amsterdam Pipe Museum is a collection of pipes dating from B.C. times to present day and kept in a beautiful 19th century canal house. There is a pipe shop below to purchase pipes, accessories and tobacco. www.pipemuseum.nl Nestled awayin the Jordaan, you'll find Nick Paladino & his wife giving tours and demonstrations in their collection & art of passion, the Electric Ladyland Museum- The First Museum of Flourescent Art. It's small in size, but big on fascination & heart. Nick is very knowledgeable and eager to inform...you can tell he really loves what he does and it shows. www.electric-lady-land.comGuest host Shoshannah Hausmann runs the Awesome Amsterdam blog which has everything you need to know about the city. www.awesomeamsterdam.com

RESTAURANT DAY AMSTERDAM

Restaurant day happens in Amsterdam and across the world on the same date 4x a year. We filmed during the event on November 15, 2014. Aspiring chefs, foodies and anyone who wants to know what it's like to own a restaurant can open the doors to their homes and cook for the public. Stores also do collaborations with caterers to create an instant intimate party. We visited 4 places in Amsterdam which were easy to travel from one to another. Most were in retail shops and one was in a kitchen studio. First was a coffee tasting from The Coffee Vine at the Charlie + Mary clothing shop in the De Pijp area. They were also serving cake and cookies to go along with their coffee. www.thecoffeevine.com
www.charliemary.com. The second stop was at The Emporium of Wonders vintage clothing and furniture store, where the Beer Bros. paired up 3 small dishes with appropriate beers.www.facebook.com/BeerBrosAmsterdam. Unfortunately the Emporium of Wonders is a pop-up shop and will be closing end of 2014. Next is a wonderful gift shop, A Piece of Finland which served up traditional Finnish Christmas dishes from their small kitchen area in the back of their store. They are located on the Haarlemmerdijk shopping street between Centraal Station and the Jordaan. www.apieceoffinland.nl The last stop was at the kitchen studio of Dikke Lepel (Fat Spoon) Catering, where she and James of James'Brews did a cake and beer pairing. www.dikkelepel.nl www.untappd.com/jamesbrews Restaurant Day info: www.restaurantday.org

AMSTERDAM LIGHT FESTIVAL

One of the highlights of the year. Every holiday season from November thru January about 40 light works are erected all over the city...from neon sculptures to projections on buildings...all the art is made from some form of light. The Water Colors tour takes you by boat to see the works that are installed along the waterways. The Illuminade is the free walking tour where you explore the streets to find the different pieces along the specified route. Each tour is unique and should be explored individually. Most boat tours are offered through the regular canal boat tour companies and guided walking tours are also available. www.amsterdamlightfestival.nl

CHRISTMAS IN AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam is a wonderful city to be in during the holidays. The season is kicked off with the "Turning on the Lights" ceremony in front of the Bijenkorf Department Store on Dam Square. (See our Turn on the Lights video). The Christmas Palace is a year-round Christmas store and is located on the Singel on the famous flower market strip. www.christmas-palace.com. At the Leidseplein there is a small but charming ice skating rink with a few stalls for holiday treats. www.ijsbaanamsterdam.nl (this is featured in the introduction portion of the video). At the Remebrandtplein a scaled-down Christmas market (called Winterland) has been set up, but it still has everything you could want: holiday food: olieballen, poffertjes, bratwurst, waffels, fudge & gluhwein; andclothing & jewelry stalls that sell surprisingly high quality items from all over Europe. The big pond in front of the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein has been frozen over to make a wonderful, large ice skating rink. Complete with a replica of the skinny bridge that spans over the rink. You can rent skates and relax in their indoor cafe which serves snacks and drinks. www.iceamsterdam.nl

NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM

The National Maritime Museum or Het Scheepvaartmuseum (in Dutch) is sometimes overlooked and overshadowed by the big 4 or 5 Amsterdam museums. Which is a shame because there is plenty of interesting things to see even if you aren't a naval buff. A large painting gallery, ship models and mast heads, antique navigation instruments and photographs are all beautifully presented within the building, which is a converted naval arsenal. As part of the renovation a glass ceiling was installed with twinkling lights that are visible in the evening. Perhaps the highlight is exploring the replica of a 1749 Dutch sailing ship. And if that isn't enough their theatrical/visual "Voyage at Sea" presentation is very impressive. www.hetscheepvaartmuseum.nl Shoshannah from the blog Awesome Amsterdam blog visited with us. Please check out her blog for her article on the museum and for all other great things to see and do in the city. www.awesomeamsterdam.com

AMSTERDAM NORTH (East Side)

Amsterdam North is very hot...and there are two parts...the NDSM side on the West (which we will explore later) and the eastern side, which we explore here. You can take different free ferries across the Ij. One that heads to Buiksloterwegweer to PEK, Blom & Blom & de Ceuvel and the other to Ijplein, which is closest for restaurant Hotel Goudfazant. But everything is relatively close and easily accessible by bike. PEK is a nice, long market along van der Pekstraat and focuses on selling eco-friendly food & products. It happens 3x per week on Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays. www.pekmarkt.nl. Blom & Blom is a studio/showroomthat refurbishes old lamps from abandoned factories in East Germany. www.blomandblom.com De Ceuvel is an experimental community project which explores self sustenance, recycling, low energy solutions and regeneration through nature. Old houseboats have been retrofitted and remodeled into offices and studios and specially planted shrubs help depollute the soil. They have a cafe which serves bar food and drinks and a large waterside outdoor seating area. www.deceuvel.nl .  Restaurant Hotel Goudfazant is a unique dining experience. It sits in a huge old dockside warehouse/parking garage which gives it a very urban, industiral feel. Huge art pieces, such as old cars, motorcycles, glass lamps, original wall art and a pool table are placed throughout. The food is incredibly good and reasonably priced. Well worth the out of the way trip!  www.hoteldegoudfazant.nl

TURN ON THE LIGHTS

Every year a ceremony is held on Dam Square to turn on the holiday lights of the Bijenkorf Department Store. It's breathtakingly spectacular with larger-than-life puppets, acrobats, singers and fireworks.
http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/Ndtrc/Turn%20on%20the%20Lights

BEST COCKTAIL BARS

Both Vesper and Door 74 are always on the top 5 or top 10 Best Cocktail Bars of Amsterdam lists. The Vesper is more on the west side of the city center... bordering the Jordaan and Haarlemerdijk. The bartenders take great pride in their skill and the staff provides the best service in town. Very friendly and welcoming and they love to make drinks tailor-made to your tastes. Just tell them what you like and they'll be happy to make it! Door 74 is near the Rembrandtplein in the city center. It's a hidden speak-easy with no outside signs of existence...no sign, lights, etc.. You need to make a reservation via their website or phone number, ring the bell and enter. The feel is more formal with an upscale interior and a host. The night we were there their cocktails in contrast had a more fun, retro/atomic twist.
Vesper Bar: www.vesperbar.nl  Door 74: www.door-74.nl

STRAWBERRY EARTH & TOLHUISTUIN

Amsterdam North is already the HOT area of Amsterdam. Just a free ferry ride across the Ij from Centraal Station, the Tolhuistuin is a new cultural center with a cafe/bar, a terrace with a beautiful view of the water, a backyard garden, exhibition space, bicycle rentals and a concert venue in partnership with Paradiso. Many events are held here and Strawberry Earth Fair was one. The event gathers vendors of goods and services that are environmentally conscious and have a positive impact on our world.
Tolhuistuin: www.tolhuistuin.nl
Strawberry Earth: www.strawberryearth.com

ROEST BAR

Roest Bar's raw, industrial look, but laid back feel makes it a very popular place with locals. Not only do they have a big bar with a lounge and a dance floor, they have an adjacent warehouse where they hold bigger events. It's located on the Eastern dockyards and in nice weather has extensive seating waterside. They even have a large sandy beach area to add to the summer feel.. www.amsterdamroest.nl

FREAK CIRCUS- BOOM CHICAGO

Boom Chicago is Amsterdam's biggest comedy club and it specializes in English speaking comedy. Started by American comedians from Chicago, the club produces it's own comedy shows with in-house troupe and invites big name,  stand-up comedians from all over the world. Seth Meyers and Key & Peele have worked here. Located in the Jordaan on the Rozengracht. Every Halloween they dish up scares instead of laughs with their intense walk thru haunted house, Freak Circus. Start with dinner at Mazzo or Nomads. www.boomchicago.nl

REMBRANDTPLEIN

The Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) is a popular square in the center of Amterdam with cafes, bars, coffee shops and clubs. It's a mix of trendy, hip, tourist and student hangouts with something for everyone. In our clip the girls go to four fun nightspots.....not necessarily trendy, but always packed with young, fun crowds...Remember, the bars and clubs don't get happening until after Midnight.

Cocos Outback- an Australian sportsbar with DJs and dancing..a young, studenty type crowd. www.cocosoutback.com

Club Cinema- a small, cozy bar with dance floor and outdoor seating a bit of an older crowd.  www.cinemacafe.nl

Club Nasty- a small, crowded bar with a 20s-30s crowd. www.playanasty.nl

Club Escape- one of the biggest clubs in The Netherlands. Big name acts, special guests, great light shows and a huge dance floor. www.escape.nl

 

THE JORDAAN

The Jordaan is a hip area of Amsterdam with vintage shops, modern restaurants and artist studios. It is also the home of many traditional Dutch/Amsterdam singers, ie. Johnny Jordaan who was named after the area itself. The Haarlemmerdijk borders the North and the street itself has great shopping and dining. The Rozengracht street borders the south and has wonderful furniture shops, Mazzo & Nomads restaurants, Cafe Struik and the comedy club, Boom Chicago. The Prinsengracht borders the East and Marnixstraat borders the West. An additional area just south of Rozengracht between the Prinsengracht & Marnixstraat is the Elandsgracht & Johnny Jordaanplein, which is a picturesque street with nice shops and cafes. 2 other major avenues are Westerstraat & Lindengracht. The Jordaan festival is held in September and features live performances of old-style Dutch music and surprisingly draws a fairly young, hip crowd especially in the evenings.
Jordaan Festival info www.jordaanfestival.nl

BOLLYWOOD AT THE PARK

In September, Bollywood in the Park magically appears in Oosterpark (Eastern Park). Cozy and compact, this small gathering attracts all kinds of Bollywood lovers with curry dishes, Indian dance lessons, impromptu performances and a screening of a Bollywood movie! Bollywood in the Park's Facebook Page:      www.facebook.com/bollywoodamsterdam
Another group, Bollywood Amsterdam organizes Bollywood dance events and workshops:
www.bollywoodamsterdam.com

MAGNEET FESTIVAL

Great music, food & fun in a setting that promotes creative ideas & participation. Located on the eastern part of Zeeburgereiland and takes place over two weekends end of August. www.magneetfestival.nl

SURFANA FESTIVAL

Located ten minutes west of Haarlem near the water, this is where the Dutch surf community camps & partys
www.surfanafestival.nl

CANAL FESTIVAL

Or in Dutch, Grachten Festival.. A variety of performances and concerts in, on and around the canals in the city center. This year it will take place August 15-24, 2014.
Website- http://grachtenfestival.nl/gf/start.vm?lang=en

GREEN AS GRASS MUSIC FESTIVAL

Or in Dutch, Groen Als Gras takes place in August in the Gaasperplas Nature Park about 10 miles/15 km. south east of the city center. It's one of the more smaller, intimate festivals which delivers an electro/hippy vibe from it's natural lakeside setting and homegrown booths (a hookah lounge, a teepee to relax, photos taken by the water). The main attraction is still the music and there are 3 areas that keep the music going. Produced through Chateau Techno and this year featured Steph Z's friend DJ Jeroen Rijskamp. This year the event will take place on Aug. 10, 2014
http://www.chateautechno.com
www.gaasperpleasure.nl
Jeroen Rijskamp- https://soundcloud.com/weekbreek/sets/jeroen

SPIEGEL CONCERT

The Spiegel Concert is a concert on a floating stage in the Keizergracht next to the Nieuw Spiegelstraat in the Spiegel Quarter art/antiques area of the city. The event is sponsored by Basta e Pasta Restaurant and many of the singers at their restaurant perform on stage along with familiar Dutch artists. During a warm summer evening pack a picnic and either pull up on a small boat or find a spot to sit, eat and watch along the canal.  This year in 2014 the concert will take place on June 21st from 5pm-9pm.
Spiegel Concert info
www.pastaebasta.nl/en

MORE SECRETS OF THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT

W139 is a huge art/gallery space with ever changing exhibits. On the Warmoestraat just off Dam Square.
www.w139.nl
Comapagnie Theater is a big theater on one of the main streets in the Red Light District
www.comagnietheater.nlIt is one of the host theaters of the Fringe Festival. www.amsterdamfringefestival.nl
This year the festival will take place Sept. 4th- 14th.
De Koude Kermis Theatre Company (Cold Fair- in English) presented "Florence Foster Jenkins" as part of the Fringe Festival last year. Hannah interviewed the founders Pamela Menzo and Anne van Dorp.
www.dekoudekermis.nl
Brewery de Prael is a local brewery in the heart of the Red Light. You can tour the brewery and taste many of their beers in their "proeflokaal" (tasting place). And every Sunday from 2-5pm there is Jazz on Sunday.
www.deprael.nl
Mata Hari Bar & Restaurant is a hip, popular place to have dinner or a just a drink. On a warm night it's lovely to sit at one of their canal-side tables. www.matahari-amsterdam.nl
Uncover Lab is the World's first tattoo laser shop. It began as a pop-up store in the Red Light District as you see in our episode. But luckily it lives on now at their permanent location in the Jordan on the Rozengracht.
www.uncoverlab.com

ONS LIEVE HEER OP SOLDER CHURCH

In English,  Our Sweet Lord in the Attic is a church that was built in the attic of a large canal house. In the 17th century in Protestant The Netherlands, Catholicism was banned and several hidden churches were built around the city in order for Catholics to worship out of public view. Nestled in the heart of the Red Light District, the museum is a true hidden treasure.... www.opsolder.nl

BOATING TO HANNEKE'S BOOM

Hanneke's Boom is a popular restaurant that sits on a small peninsula in the Ij Harbor. It's main attraction is it's outdoor seating area which has a large numbers of picnic tables under huge trees next to the water. They have good bar food and drinks and people love to pull up in their boats for a relaxing drink and a good time. 
www.hannekesboom.nl

CANAL BOAT CRUISING

Experiencing the city from aboard a boat is a must when you visit the city. The canals are pretty & romantic. Gaze upward at therows of canal houses, travel under storybrook bridges and pass by other boats of all sizes and shapes. You can travel on a boat tour and get an overall impression or rent your own boat and have your own floating picnic on the water!  You can find a sampling of boat rental companies here:
http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/experience/plan-your-trip/getting-around/rental/boat-hire

MUSEUM VAN LOON

If you ever wondered what the inside of a big Amsterdam canal house looks like, then head over to Museum van Loon!  Perfectly preserved along with its impressive private gardens and coach house. During the Grachten Festival in August the museum hosts a musical performance in its gardens.
www.museumvanloon.nl

BLIJBURG BEACH

A city beach in the Eastern docklands section of the city. An urban oasis of colorful shacks clustered on wide stretches of sand on the banks of the Ij Channel. It's a mix of hippy, hipster, arty all wrapped up in a laid back party atmosphere. A cafe serves light food, a bar serves drinks, a DJ spins and on some days there are different kinds of bands.. www.blijburg.nl

OPERA IN THE PARK

Iamsterdam sponsors Concerts in the Park,  where live music performances are streamed from an indoor venue, such as a concert hall to an open green area in a public park where people can bring a picnic dinner and watch the performance on a giant screen tv. In this episode the girls go to Flevo Park to watch a series of operettas. Iamsterdam.com

CANAL PRIDE PARADE

The first Saturday of every August is the hightlight of Gay Pride with the Canal Pride Parade. Crowds of people and boats line the Prinsengracht to watch 80 wildly decorated boats float through the canal and down the Amstel. The parade draws a diverse crowd who mainly come out to party in the streets, drink, celebrate and be free to be themselves. www.weareproud.nl  http://www.amsterdamgaypride.nl/canal_parade/

SHOPPING

We feature two main shopping areas. The 9 Streets (9 Straatjes in Dutch). This is a charming neighborhood with smaller, one-of-a-kind boutiques, vintage clothes and cafes. There are two websites to look at for more info http://www.de9straatjes.nl/uk/ and http://www.theninestreets.com/  and The Utrechtsestraat is a long street starting at the Rembrandtplein and running south. The shops & cafes are a bit more upscale but still have a retro, old-world kind of charm. http://www.utrechtsestraat.info/. Please visit Young Designers United. Mostly featuring womens' clothes designed by young, unknown designers at affordable prices. http://ydu.nl/home. Also Mobilia Woonstudio (Living Studio) for cool furniture designs. http://www.mobiliawoonstudio.nl/

BAR HOPPING

The girls start out at Wolvenstraat 23, which is the actual street address of the bar/restaurant. It's located in the hip/funky 9 streets area. Unfortunately they have no website, but you can google it as they are listed on other travel/food related websites. Cafe Lux is an extremely popular bar, and on the weekends it's very crowded.
it's near the Leidseplein area. www.weberlux.nl Cafe Brecht has more of a cozy living room feel and is also very popular. Located near the museums and Heineken Brewery. www.cafebrecht.nl

A DAY OUT AT THE EYE

The Eye Film Institute shows wonderful films, has cinematic exhibits and other film related events. But it also has a huge restaurant and terrace that overlooks the Ij harbor. So on a sunny day it's great fun to take the ferry and have a relaxing lunch. The gift shop has unique items that would amuse any film buff.
www.eyefilm.nl

SMALL MUSEUM CHALLENGE

Tulip Museum- learn the origin of tulips and how they are grown & sold. www.amsterdamtulipmuseum.com
Glasses Museum or Brilmuseum (in Dutch)- unique glasses and items from the 19th thru 21st century- also a charming shop to buy one of a kind glasses frames. www.brilmuseumamsterdam.nl
Amsterdam Cheese Museum- https://www.facebook.com/AmsterdamCheeseMuseum
Cat Cabinet or Katten Kabinet in Dutch- All art that has to do with cats- drawings, paintings, sculpture, magazine covers.. even a Picasso and a Rembrandt!  All housed in a beautiful, funky canal house. When we were there someone was getting a piano lesson. www.kattenkabinet.nl
Erotic Museum- everything erotic from John Lennon sketches, Picasso drawings, funky art and cartoons you have to see to believe! http://www.erotisch-museum.nl/
Handbag Museum or Tassenmuseum in Dutch- Every kind of handbag under the sun: functional, designer, art, old, new- there is more to see here then what you would think.. Plus explore a beautiful, elegant canal house and relax in the sun in their garden. www.tassenmuseum.nl

DRAG QUEEN OLYMPICS

A wild, wacky sporting event hosted by Jennifer Hopelezz. It takes place first Friday evening in August, one day before the Gay Canal Pride Parade. The events include the 100 meter High Heel Race, Handbag Throw, Pentathlon and Weightlifting. www.dragqueenolympics.nl
Facebook: Drag Queen Olympics
Jennifer Hopelezz- Facebook/ House of Hopelezz- Facebook
Club Church- Website/ Facebook

PITCH MUSIC FESTIVAL

A 2 day outdoor/indoor music festival with electronical music, live bands & big name acts. http://pitchfestival.nl/

CANVAS ON THE 7TH

Funky, underground-type bar & restaurant located on the 7th floor of an old newspaper building with a spacious rooftop terrace and great view of Amsterdam. (at the moment it is undergoing renovations and will be open again April 2014). http://www.canvas7.nl/en/canvas.html

PARADE- AMSTERDAM THEATRE CIRCUS

The Parade is a summer seasonal theatre festival that plays in 4 cities in The Netherlands, ending in Amsterdam sometime in August. A truly magical experience not to be missed. http://www.deparade.nl
Nineties Show: on Facebook

FOAM PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION OPENING

FOAM- Amsterdam's Photography Museum- www.foam.org
Cafe Dulac- Art Deco cafe which is at the end of the video is in the Haarlemermmertraat District
                    www.restaurantdulac.nl

ALBERT CUYP STREET MARKET

The Albert Cuypmarkt: http://www.albertcuypmarkt.nl/ac_english.html
Bazar Restaurant: http://bazaramsterdam.com/read/1441

INTROS

Main Intro-  the girls are enjoying drinks on the rooftop terrace of the Skylounge Bar atop the Double Tree Hilton Hotel.
Meet Steph Z.- Noordemarkt Flea Market is held every Monday next to the Noorderkerk (North Church) off                         the Prinsengracht. (http://www.noordermarkt-amsterdam.nl/en/)
                        For great apple pie, check out Winkel43 Cafe (www.winkel43.nl)
Meet Rosanne- Pasta e Basta Italian Restaurant (www.pastaebasta.nl)