Best things about the trip
Very friendly people
Interesting and very walkable city, nighttime was great for walking
Worst things about the trip
Weather got a little cold and rainy.
Working a trade show brought us to Amsterdam – ESCRS (European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery). The exhibits were for five days, so why not take a little more time before and after to see the sights?
Hotel Amsterdam, near Dam Square. Roomy and overlooking a pedestrian street.
With a preference for warm weather, I wouldn’t have picked Amsterdam as a vacation destination – but it turned out that we enjoyed it a lot. The first night we walked to the Red Light district I was a bit wary due to the many cautions in guidebooks. And indeed a shady character standing on the bridge over the canal whispered his wares ‘viagra’. That was the most sinister event of the entire trip. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands and seeing the working girls displaying their wares in the red light windows is interesting. Seeing the gawkers and customers engage in transactions with the ladies is also highly entertaining. The red light district is in the oldest part of Amsterdam.
We loved the restaurant-cafe in de Waag, the bar had great wines and also had internet access while you enjoyed the ambiance. We kept coming back, and of course it was on the other side of the red light district from our hotel so we became quite comfortable with this area. Interesting that de Waag dining room is lit only by candles.
With a week before ESCRS we had plenty of time for the Ann Frank house, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, Rembrandt House Museum, Museum Amstelkring, canal tours, and many many self-guided walking tours. One of the walking tours took us through the historic area (guess where – yep the Red Light District) and interesting places like the Hidden Church in an Attic.
Amsterdam is famous for Koffieshops – businesses where you can buy cannabis products from a “smokers menu”. Many have internet access which we found very handy.
Food was fantastic in Amsterdam! We ate at the same restaurant many times – Cafe Luxembourg – always in the covered outdoor tables right on the busy sidewalk; Fabulous blue cheese fondue at de Prins; Special dinner at de Waag; Bagels and Beans was just right in the morning;
Lots of entertainment options in Amsterdam – we caught the latest Brad Pitt movie “Snatch” at the free outdoor film venue in Nieuwmarkt square (that’s where de Waag is); Wandered into lively Leidseplein square with street performers, jugglers, fire-eaters and fire-twirlers; Strolled to the Reguliersgracht canal to catch some of the entertainment of the Seven Bridges Jazz Festival.
We were lucky with the weather up to the last couple of days. When it rained it was usually over quickly. The evenings were great for strolling and glimpsing the lives of the natives. It’s the custom in Amsterdam to leave the windows unabashedly uncovered.