Amsterdam : A Glimpse

Amsterdam - Canal

15th July 2011. Written by Xin Li.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Founded as a fishing village in the 13th century, Amsterdam only gained importance in the 15th century and eventually became a major trading port from 1585 – 1672 AD, also known as the Golden Age of Amsterdam. The canal cityscape that most of us are familiar today originated from this period.

Amsterdam - Prinsengracht

Despite French and English invasions during the late 17th and 18th centuries, Amsterdam continued to grow prosperous and was one of the main financial centers of Europe. Its prosperity could be seen today in elegant canal houses formed the iconic landscape of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam - Canal Houses

While it was hit by a recession during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Amsterdam managed to get back on its feet as a result of the Industrial Revolution and ushered in a New Golden Age which ended towards the start the WWII. The city of Amsterdam is a result of layers of layers of developments over the time, resulting in unique neighbourhoods around the city.

Amsterdam - Bridge

The city is well-connected to many major cities in Europe and Schiphol Airport is just 15 minutes away from the historic core and hi-speed trains such as Thalys and ICE could fetch you to Paris and Cologne within a day. For more information on rail connections, do consult the Man at Seat 61.

Amsterdam - Building with City Banner

Amsterdam reminded me a lot of Kyoto, the historic core is surprisingly well-preserved despite it being a major modern city and you don’t have to get far to remind be aware of as you could easily spot contemporary architecture standing side by side with an 18th century canal house or a 18th century canal house with a tasteful contemporary interiors.

Amsterdam - Canal House Windows

The city has a well-connected system of trams that could bring you to most of the major sights of the city itself. You could purchase a standard ticket from the driver on the tram or get a transportation pass for unlimited rides for a certain time frame. On the other hand, you could consider cycling too!

Amsterdam - Cycling

IAmsterdam Sightseeing Card
The IAmsterdam Card is widely publicized on their tourist offices. Each IAmsterdam Sightseeing Card consisted of a tram ticket that entitles you to unlimited rides for the duration of the pass, free entries to several museums and landmarks including the Oude Kerk, Nieuwe Kerk, Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum as well as discounts or goodies from participating restaurants and shops.

However, the time-frame of the pass (like the Paris Museum Pass) meant that you have to make do with a packed itinerary to make it worth purchasing. While it might be recommended for a tourist visiting Amsterdam for a one to two nights, I felt that it puts a pressure on where you could go if you want to make the card worthwhile. Furthermore, it is unlikely you would use most of the discounts though that are valid for a longer period of time.

Amsterdam - Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is very different from the Musee d’Lourve or the British Museum. It does not attempt to overwhelm you with their vast collection nor does it try to intimidate you with superfluous grandeur. The Rijksmuseum is much focused and the selection of displays makes it easy to explore and appreciate without too much distraction.

The museum does not allow photography (unfortunately) has a nice collection of Delft wares, Dutch silverware, colonial artifacts, the famed Nightwatch by Rembrandt as well as a collection of intriguing paintings by Dutch masters such as Jan Davidsz de Heem, Jan Jansz Treck, Willem Claeszoon Heda and Frans Hals. Entry to the Rijksmuseum is covered under the IAmsterdam Card. Otherwise it cost 12.50 EUR to enter. You can also book the tickets online.

Amsterdam - Spiegelgracht

Amsterdam - Spiegelgracht

Located in close proximity of the Rijksmuseum, the Spiegelgracht (and Nieuwe Spiegelgracht), a street lined with many antique and souvenir shops. Souvenir spoons cost about 4-6 euros and used Delft ware cost about 4-8 Euros.

Amsterdam - Singel Flower Market

Also reachable via tram is the Flower Market at Singel. As the name suggest, you could find Dutch tulips being sold here from plastic tulips to tulip seeds. The market was first held in 1862 and remained as one of the most well-known flower markets in Holland.

Amsterdam - Singel Flower Market

Amsterdam - Singel Flower Market

It is open from Mondays through Saturdays from 9 AM to 5.30 PM and Sundays from 11 AM to 5.30 PM. If flowers do not fancy you, there is an official Royal Delft shop selling beautiful Delft wares nearby.

Amsterdam - House near Museumbrug

Covered by the IAmsterdam Card, the Blue Boat Company offers a short sightseeing cruise covering the major landmarks of the Amsterdam. As it is free, do expect a huge crowd and it can get quite uncomfortable when it is packed.

Amsterdam - Prinsengracht

If you are daring enough go to the rear of the boat and climb up the engine compartment box to get a better view, unobstructed by the heads of your fellow passengers, little kids and the railings. Do take note that there is an element of risk in doing so.

Amsterdam - Leidsegracht

The cruise would cost 13.00 Euros without the IAmsterdam Card. Since, it was free, we decided to join the city canal cruise that brought us around some of the major sights of Amsterdam. You can find their booth near the Rijksmuseum near the Museumbrug.

Amsterdam - Hotel American

This is the canal side of the Hotel American, a hotel that was built in 1900 and featured Art Nouveau architecture.

Amsterdam - Prinsengracht

Relaxing cafe scenes can be see along the canals.

Amsterdam - Keizersgracht

Amsterdam - Overhoeks

The Overhoeks, a modern development taking place opposite the Amsterdam Centraal Station.

Amsterdam - Muziekgebouw and Cruise Liner

A cruise liner docks next to the Movenpick Hotel and the Muziekgebouw aant't IJ. On our way to the Rijksmuseum, we encountered this beautiful theatre called the Stadsschouwburg. The theatre is more than 400 years old, but the current building was constructed in 1894.

Amsterdam - Stadsschouwburg

If you are observant enough, you might spot a few outdoor latrines that are still in use. These are booths that form a spiral which you could enter and do your stuff. I didn’t expect to find them in a city like Amsterdam.

Amsterdam - Stadsschouwburg

While the stuff here might be pricey, I enjoyed Amsterdam quite a lot. I really love how the quaint canal setting in the historic core of Amsterdam.


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