SIGHTS in Amsterdam:
On vases, tiles or toilet seats - the focus is on sex here. The Sex Museum gives an overview of the most beautiful pastime in the world and its depiction. Exhibits range from phallus symbols in Antiquity to medieval morals, from the pin-up culture of the fifties to future visions on sex. In addition to paintings, sculptures and scriptures, you also see very bizarre objects, for instance a somewhat dingy toilet seat. But if you think that with what we have to do here is a tatty collection of adult magazines and perverted fantasies, you can't be more wrong. The three floors of the Sex Museum exhibit a sometimes serious, sometimes comic exploration of the topic that is usually not talked about so openly. This extraordinary museum offers a somewhat different perspective of sex, showing different developments in historical contexts.
Of course we do not want to recommend you to get stoned in Amstedam, but visiting one of the coffeeshops holds more in store than the legal consumption of cannabis. If you think that coffeeshops are run-down honky-tonks where only stoned guys and girls hang out you should convince yourself of the opposite and visit one. And even if you won't touch substances that are forbidden elsewhere you will be able to enjoy something here. Many coffeeshops do offer excellent pastries and milkshakes, namely, and they have a relaxed atmosphere, often at low prices. Take the Mellow Yellow, for example. It's one of the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam and still no tourist trap. If you are lucky you can sit on the terrace and enjoy the special ambience. Whatever you order, you should not miss out on visiting a coffeeshop in Amsterdam.
Who does not remember boring biology teachers, tricky physics tests or the headache following chemistry lessons? Forget about that right away and give natural sciences a second chance! The Nemo Science Centre communicates scientific topics of every-day life in an entertaining and fun way. Completely without tons of formulas and complicated technical terms you learn about scientific backgrounds. Giving simple and amusing explanations, the Netherlands' largest science centre devotes itself to knowledge that you can hear, taste and touch.
EAT in Amsterdam:
Yes, it is kitschy. But if you want to feel like an emperor in China, you should afford yourself dinner at the Sea Palace. While it is not cheap to dine here, the ambience will surprise you: The restaurant in the style of a pagoda is floating on the water. Here, they will serve you anything you know from the China restaurant but in first-class quality: Dim Sum, for instance, Peking duck or Sichuan dishes. A specialty of the house is the seafood Cantonese-style. If, after so many culinary experiments, so much kitsch and numerous glasses of plum wine you get into a romantic mood, you can order your Chinese-style wedding here. The Sea Palace organises unforgettable weddings, from the invitation to the last drink.
The building on stilts used to be the TV station of a Dutch private channel. Then it was transformed into a restaurant in the bay of Amsterdam: the REM Eiland. Since this summer, there are three kinds of oysters that end up on the table in REM Eiland located in the Houthaven (the wooden bay) - among other things. The three-course menus change daily - the offer includes sea fruit, meat, fish and a vegetarian dish. The steel construction in white and red served as an illegal broadcasting station for the Dutch TV channel TV Noordzee in the 1960s, and later became a governmental gaging station. In 2008 the entrepreneurs Nick von Loon and Hilly Engels developed in co-operation with architect's office Concrete a plan for transforming the building into a two-storey venue. The view from the rooftop terrace in a height of 22 metres goes from the bay, across the river IJ up to the modern Amsterdam district Spaarndammerhout.
The restaurant enjoys cult status in the gourmet world of Amsterdam thanks to its former patron Christophe Royers. Having earned himself a Michelin star, he has sold the restaurant in the meantime, but the legend is alive and the cuisine still lives up to Christophe's name. Today, Jean-Joel Bonsens is the master of the pots. He, too, has been awarded with stars, pampering his guests with frog legs, aubergine with cumin and herb salad, lobster with oranges, saffron and vanilla or crème brûlée with red pepper and lemon grass. While he can't deny his French background, he adds regional ingredients as well. The elegant and yet cosy atmosphere rounds off the culinary experience.
STAY in Amsterdam:
Do you know what the Japanese are good at? They do without plastic, use a lot of wood and create the kind of architecture that render any Yoga programme unnecessary in the first place. Add lots of comfort, perfect service, the eternal smile and out comes the sole European branch of the Japanese Okura noble chain, one of the leading hotels in the world. Not without reason the Japanese are known to be excellent business people. And the Okura accommodates the probably most expensive suite in town, which is also the largest in the Benelux States. The price per night goes beyond the 1,000 Euro limit. And if you run away screeching now, please do come back. There are cheaper rooms as well, attracting the target group of wealthy Japanologists. You can relax with Japanese soaps via satellite, before you treat yourself to dinner at Ciel Bleu. The hotel restaurant lies at 75 metres, breathtaking view included. The price for a night in a standard room starts from approx. 200 Euros.
Don't tell anyone else: The Jordaan quarter is one of the best in town. The former working-class district turned into a favourite hangout for artists and intellectuals. Today, dreamers will adore its old-fashioned charm, and shoppers will love the hip stores around. The hotel is right here, in the immediate vicinity of the Anne Frank House. And right here you should check in if you are a fan of the authentic. The 17th-century Gracht house has been renovated to accommodate eight rooms, all of them of pretty, albeit plain interior. Don't go on a search for details, you won't find any. Just content yourself with being able to sleep in such a charming historical ambience. And believe us: You won't need more than that. The price for a night in the double room starts from 139 Euros.
Victorieplein or Frederiksplein? It's the V that matters. They don't give a damn about dapper luxury there. The design, in fact, is all about creating a young and stylish hotel. Mission fulfilled: Aesthetes will enjoy themselves here. Small aesthetes even more so because - while the styling is wonderful - the rooms are anything but big. But Amsterdam is calling, anyway, and apart from a few hours of beauty sleep you should spend your holidays outside. Morning starts with a hearty breakfast, a rain shower and a tip from the friendly staff - in case you ask for it. If you are too tired to go out and too awake for bed you should treat yourself a drink at the lounge. There, the sofas are soft, the fireplace is open and the music is chilling.The price for one night in the double room starts from 109 Euros.
SHOPPING in Amsterdam:
Amsterdam is as famed for its markets as it is for its museums. Here's a good advice: If the money gets tight, forget about Van Gogh and devote yourself to the colours and aromas of the Flower Market or the Albert Cuyp Market or the Antiques Market or...Here's just a small selection: The famous Flee Market at Waterlooplein has been enriching the Jewish Quarter since the sixties. You get second-hand and new clothes, music, a lot of knickknack and even more flair (Mon-Sat/9:00-17:00). The Albert Cuyp Market is the largest market for specialties. All Amsterdam seems to buy herbs, fruits and spices here, especially on Saturdays. (Albert-Cuypstraat/Ferdinand Bolstraat, Mon-Fri/10:00-18:00, Sat/9:00-18:00). The Flower Market, while to be found in every travel guide, is still worth a visit. And you will encounter more bulbs than tourists there for sure. A highlight of the market it that it floats on the water. (Singel, between Rokin and Leidsetraat, daily 9:30-18:00.) The Noorder Market is popular for its second-hand clothes, jewellery and furniture - you'll find the one or other bargain there. (Stationsplein, Mon-Sat/9:00-15:00, in the summer until 16:00).
You've probably found out already: Sprmarkt is not the usual supermarket, although dropping in the fantastic Albert Heijn grocery shop would also be worth a tip. Here, however, we are confronted with a Sprmrkt without vowels and sausage counter that moved into a former grocery shop to attract people with fashion, art and design. Mission fulfilled! Soon Sprmrkt plus and Sprmrkt Sth followed. Both with a top-class selection of labels. The second shop, however, does not only attract with Diesel, Helmut Lang, Monique von Heist, Julius and Unconditional, but also with its unconventional design. The Doepel Strijkers Architects have developed a space installation of long panels of fabric which - wound, torn, tightened, illuminated or arranged with mannequins - boasts the most fantastic architecture.
Daryl van Wouw
You must not miss out on passing by Daryl van Wouw's. Not when you are interested in the Dutch fashion world, where Mr. Wouw is a big player. His success formula is blending street wear with high fashion. And, voilà, the result is wearable (and affordable), namely fashion with that certain something: a touch of urbanity and a dash of big-city style. Girls should rather focus on the dresses which are just as stylish as comfortable, with tight skirts and sophisticated wide tops. But men will also find something, a shirt with the famous headset print, for instance. And the real cool kids have their own small collection at hand: mini hoodies and shirts. But be careful with your clothes as Daryl is watching you! The not so humble designer has reserved some wall panels for his face, in between windmills and flowers watching clients with his direct gaze from the wall.