The aim of this weekend would be to give a first impression of the city in its most distinctive form. It would also make you want to come back for a longer stay....
After arrival at the hotel, it is advisable to take a boat trip and/or a walk in the red light district. Might as well start with the serious stuff, right? A boat trip gives you a first overall impression of the city. You can take a boat on the Damrak, the street in front of the station, or at many places throughout the city. Ask at the reception desk of your hotel. Depending on the length of the boat trip, organise your dinner (remember that Dutch kitchens close early, around 10.30 pm). You can easily find an Indonesian, Chinese or Thai restaurant near the red zone.After the boat trip, go for a walk in the red zone, be careful with pickpockets of course. A word of advice: leave the area when there are only men left. You can have a drink at Engelbewaarder (Kloveniersburgwal 59), a very friendly literary café where you can have a well-deserved snack.
If you have some energy left, you can take a walk around the very touristic Leidseplein to have a last drink and even go out if you wish.
The day will ideally start early with a visit to the maison d'Anne Frank (Prinsengracht 263). It is advisable to go there before the opening (9am) so as not to spend hours in the longest queue in Amsterdam (sic). After Anne Frank's house, continue your walk along the Prinsengracht and turn left at the Noorderkerk (Northern Church). Every Saturday on the church square, the organic market displays its goods and it is very popular. Admire the beautiful products and then enjoy the famous Winkelcafé apple pie at the corner of Westerstraat and Noordermarkt. Continue your walk in the district of theJordaan, once the prolo district of the city now one of the most fashionable districts of the capital. Return to Anne Frank's house by following another channel, the Keizersgracht for example. Go to the Place du Spui where the entrance to the beguinage is located (take the alley on the left when you are in front of the Caffé Esprit and turn left again). Breathe, you're out of time! If you wish, it is possible to visit the Amsterdam Museum or at least go through the Civic Guards Gallery (it is free). In the evening, you can go to Melkweg or Paradiso, two musical temples in Amsterdam (check the Internet schedules in advance). For jazz lovers, a visit to Muziekgebouw aan't-IJ is a must. This complex houses various jazz venues (Bimhuis and Ijsbreker). Classical music lovers will find their happiness at the Concertgebouw, renowned for its remarkable acoustics and exceptional orchestra. Otherwise, you always have the possibility to push the door of one of the many brown coffees in the city, renowned for their authenticity.
This last day will be cultural, it is advisable to make only one large museum (Van Gogh or the Rijksmuseum for example) to avoid indigestion and to choose it according to the additional temporary exhibitions (consult the programmes on the Internet). Anyway, all the museums are located in the same area. After the visit, go to the Vondelpark, the city's large park named after a famous poet. Treat yourself to tapas at the Eetcafé Vondeltuin, enjoy a cold beer at the T'Blauwetheehuis. If the weather is really good, take a moment to relax in the park. And if the weather is bad or if you want to do more cultural activities, take the path that leads to the Jewish quarter and visit the Portuguese synagogue (Mr. Visserplein 3) open until 4pm. This synagogue is the largest in the world and was built in 1675. To finish off beautifully, why not a candlelit dinner at Vijff Vlieghen's restaurant, one of Amsterdam's most famous restaurants?
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette