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Old 08-02-2007, 12:01 PM
 
Location: pittsburgh
325 posts, read 998,468 times
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It has always been my life long dream to travel to Amsterdam. All of the pictures I have seen have looked so beautiful. Has anyone actually been there? What is it like? What kind of things are there to do? Appropriate for a family vacation? Possibly any pictures? Thanks in advance for any info!!!
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Old 08-02-2007, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Jersey City
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Amsterdam is wonderful. If you go at the right time (not August) it can be quite affordable too. I stayed in a simple hotel (equivalent of probably a 1980s comfort inn) for less than 100 Euros a night, and it was a quick 10 minute tram ride to Centraal Station.

Family friendly? I'd say yes, but I think many parents would be uncomfortable having their children see the Red Light District or the "coffeehouses." Don't go to Amsterdam expecting to see traditionally dressed dutch boys and girls skipping around windmills and picking tulips. It's a city. Expect to see bicycling commuters (they have the only parking deck exclusively for bicycles that I've ever seen!), beautiful buildings, street cafes, canals, and Van Gogh. But also expect to detect a whiff of marijuana here and there. If that doesn't bother you, you'll have a great time!

You must hit all the tourist spots: the Anne Frank house, Van Gogh Museum, Heineken factory, walk along the canals, eat at the cafes, take a side-trip out to Den Haag or Bruxelles if you have time.

If you're not good with foreign languages, like me, you'll be glad to know that Amsterdam is an almost entirely English-speaking city. Signs are in Dutch, but EVERYBODY speaks English as well (the languages aren't too different). And I encountered tons of outgoing, friendly people. You'll get into great conversations with people on the trams, picnicking by the canals, etc. I loved it and would love to go back.
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Old 08-02-2007, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Ohio, but moving to El Paso, TX August/September
431 posts, read 1,554,201 times
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I go to Holland 1-4 times a year (my husband is Dutch and 99.9% of his family still lives there).

I'm not a big fan of Amsterdam. For me, it's fine for a day trip here or there, but I find it somewhat depressing. I wouldn't take my kids there. The only part of Amsterdam they've seen has been the airport.

My favorite Dutch city is Eindhoven. It has a very laid back vibe, beautiful shopping areas (nice wide, brick pedestrian only streets), some great restaurants, it's possible to get tickets to PSV games (at least easier than getting Ajax tickets), nice cafes where you can lounge around, and to me, the friendliest people in Holland.

When I go there, I spend most of my time in Zeeland. There are a lot of great, small towns there that are great for day trips. Zieriekzee, Goes, and Rennesse (sp?) are among the more popular one for German and Belgian tourists. The English are starting to discover them too. Those towns are great because they are relatively safe, close to the North Sea, and really have that old world charm to them.

I agree with the previous poster on the fluency in English there. Even the clerks in the drugstores speak English. Last time I was there, I was there 4 weeks and the only people that I ever had trouble talking to was one of hubby's aunts and his grandmother. I swear, everyone else there speaks English but those two. And they love speaking it because they hear it so much on a daily basis (on TV and on the radio) but it gives them an opportunity to use it. I went to a McDonalds there and the clerk talked my ear off because he was so excited to be able to use a language he had studied so long. Just as an aside, if you go to McDonalds, get a groente burger. It's delish and I wish they had them in the US.
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:44 AM
 
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I am not an Amsterdam fan. It's ok and there is a lot to see; and English is fluent almost everywhere; but it's just not my favorite destination city. There is a little bit of everything there (good and bad). I've only been once but I don't care to go back. Now, the countryside outside of Amsterdam, I loved it!
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:48 AM
 
Location: Journey's End
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I haven't been to Amsterdam for quite awhile but I lived there, had a family there and loved it. It is a beautiful city, canals, small streets, plump trees, good food, wonderful park, terrific public transportation and can be family-friendly--it was for me.

I miss it after years away, and would live there again if chance provided.
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:53 AM
 
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While I love Amsterdam, my personal favorite dutch city is Utrecht! A'dam is definitely worth seeing but there's SO much more to Holland! We also visited Madurodam, which is an awesome theme park that has models of Holland's landmarks in about 1:24th scale. You can walk down walkways and see everything from Schipol Airport to The Hague in miniture. Awesome! Madurodam by light
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Old 08-04-2007, 03:31 PM
 
Location: on an island
13,383 posts, read 41,325,243 times
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Other than Schiphol (I was there in '06) I haven't been to Amsterdam in years, but I loved the canals, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and seeing the Anne Frank house was important, as well.
Everyone was friendly and yes, everyone spoke English.
I love dairy (especially cheese) so the food was great for me.
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:44 AM
 
Location: pittsburgh
325 posts, read 998,468 times
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Thank you to everyone who has given their insight both good and bad. It seems that most ppl have enjoyed Amsterdam and I am seriously considering planning my next big vacation there.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Roanoke VA
2,031 posts, read 6,225,533 times
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Amsterdam is not Paris!! The people are unfriendly, maybe its because they are all so high from drugs they could care less. A single male would find this place to be paradise, compared to the strict laws of the U.S. Anything goes there. The City is a series of concentric circles, try to navigate by bicycle.
I didn't feel safe anywhere in the City as a single traveler. I think its a nice place to see for a day but I wouldn't spend much time there, go on to Paris!!
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Old 08-07-2007, 05:35 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 22,304,060 times
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I really liked the rest of the Netherlands but was very underwhelmed by Amsterdam. Yes it is a lovely city visually but I found it so over-hyped. It seemed very "fake" full of "trendies" and people watcher, as a disabled person I spent over 10 days looking for the famed so called tolerance and kindness of the people and had a terribly hard time. Cyclists had a real attitude problem, and due to very odd bicycles with no brakes seem to stumble to stop. The food was really pretty bad except for an exceptionally good meal at the Grand hotel and I really did not enjoy it. Half of the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum were closed but they charged us the full price. I so much preferd other town which had far more character, friendly people everywhere and better food. In my opinion Amsterdam is grossly over-hyped and a tourist trap. I was very impressed with the fluency in English of all the younger population though. Canal houses are beautiful but after a few hundred you start blanking them out...
Not a city for me anyway.
I loved Leiden, Alkmaar, Gouda, Edam Delft and the bit just north of Amsterdam though.
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