Amsterdam Pub Guide – The Best Amsterdam Cafes

A bistro in Amsterdam is the place to go for a bit of people watching while you enjoy a drink or two.

There are several different kinds of cafes, so you should make sure you know your terminology before looking for a place to visit. Most importantly, a coffee shop is not the same as a cafe where marijuana is sold. A cafe in Amsterdam is what you might call a pub elsewhere, and they serve beer and liquor along with the usual coffee, soft drinks, snacks and sometimes light meals.

Most cafes open in the afternoon (unless they serve breakfast), and stay open until at least midnight. On the weekends, many will keep their doors open until 3am.

basically speaking, there are three kinds of cafes in Amsterdam: the brown cafes, designer cafes and grand cafes. Here are a few of the best ones of all three types.

Brown Cafes

Casual and comfortable, brown cafes get their name from the typical dark wood buildings. Locals sometimes sit at a brown bistro for hours, like it was a room in their own house. Many of them are quite historic.

cafe De Sluyswacht – Jodenbreestraat 1
This little coffee shop was originally a lock-keeper’s house in 1695, and is a popular bistro even though the building noticeably leans to the side. Don’t worry, the building is perfectly safe.

bistro De Prins – Prinsengracht 124
Near the well known home of Anne Frank, this cafe is particularly popular with scholars. They have great food, and a terrace on the water.

Lokaal ‘t Loosje – Nieuwmarkt 32-34
A cafe for anyone exploring the Red Light District, on Nieuwmarkt square. it is a two hundred year old tram depot, and they have a large numbe of beers to choose from.

De Bekeerde Suster – Kloveniersburgwal 6-8
A 16th century monastery gets a new life as a busy cafe. Plenty of artwork inside, not to mention a varied menu.

Designer Cafes

Unlike the dark down-to-earth style of a brown cafe, designer cafes are slick, modern. For a hipper crowd.

Dylan – Keizersgracht 384
This bistro is in the lobby of the Dylan hotel, and is quite trendy. Guests for the restaurant are seated first so you may have a bit of a wait to get inside if its busy.

cafe Diep – Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 256
You can find just about any kind of person at the cafe Diep, from artists to businessmen. The couches are comfortable and the DJ plays a mix of music styles.

Finch – Noordermarkt 5
retro and funky, the Finch coffee shop is near the popular organic food market in Noordermarkt. it’s where the hip people come to relax.

Lime – Zeedijk 104
it’s near the He Hua temple and the Red Light District, and a popular cafe to visit before hitting the dance clubs.

Grand Cafes

The last type of Amsterdam cafe is the grand cafe. they are high profile, spacious and traditional. The menus are more diverse, and you can sometimes find open space to just sit and read.

cafe De Jaren – Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20
You can find one of the loveliest terraces in Amsterdam at the cafe De Jaren. it’s right on the Amstel river. Has a good reading tally, too.

cafe Dante – Spuistraat 320
An art deco coffee shop that comes alive after the work day is finished. there is seating for a quiet drink, or for more rowdy conversation. An art gallery takes up the second floor.

cafe Luxembourg – Spui 24
Their brunch menu is well-known, and the interior of the cafe Luxembourg is conventional and stylish. You can find a number of great Belgian beers to enjoy as well as your meal.

bistro Dantzig – Zwanenbrugwal 15
Behind the Waterlooplein market, the cafe Dantzig has a large terrace over the river. Many politicians favor this cafe since it is near the city administration offices.


The Father of Neo-Plasticism – Piet Mondrian

Pieter Cornelis (Piet) Mondriaan or Piet Mondriaan or Piet Mondrian (March 07, 1872-February 01, 1944), was a Dutch painter, known to the world as the “Father of Geometric Abstraction.” Mondrian revolutionized the world of art with his De Stijl art movement in the early 20th century thereby paving the way for the future artists to understand art with a rather different viewpoint.

Born in Amersfoot, Netherlands, the painter was exposed to the nuances of art at a rather young age. In 1892, he joined the Academy for Fine Art in Amsterdam, as a teacher. He kept his artistic interests alive by largely painting landscapes. The Hagues Geemente Museum has a collection of these early works of Piet. Notable amongst them are ‘The Red Mill (1910-11),’ ‘Trees in Moonlight,’ and ‘Avond (evening, 1908).’ These paintings were unique, as he used only primary colors in them. over the course of many years, a gradual change in Mondrian’s style of painting was observed. Up to 1908, his work was more Naturalistic and Impressionistic, which graduated in 1909-10 to Pointillism and Fauvism, moving finally to Cubism in 1911. His painting titled “Still Life with Ginger Pot” reflects the transition.

Mondrian moved to Paris in 1912 and then to Netherlands in 1914. It was during this period that World War 1 began. In this phase, he met artists such as Bart van der Leck and Theo Van Doesburg, who inspired Mondrian to develop his own style of painting. He named this style as “Neo-Plasticism,” which was based on a harmonious coexistence of straight lines and pure colors. The artist also published his essays on abstract art in the De Stijl periodical. He published “De Nieuwe Beelding in de Schilder Kunst” in twelve installments.

After the war, the painter returned to France in 1919 and remained there until 1938. During this time, Piet’s grid based paintings, beginning with slim, gray rectangular forms filled with primary hues, evolved eventually to forms with thick black lines. Further changes were seen in Mondrian’s ‘Lozenge’ paintings. Notable of these were “Composition with Blue and Composition in White and Blue (1926),” which is considered to be an extreme in minimalistic painting. In 1933, the artist experimented with colored lines as was seen in his paintings ‘Lozenge Composition with Four Yellow Lines,’ “Composition (1938),” and “Place de la Concorde (1943).” In 1940, Piet Mondrian moved to New York and his project in 1942 was titled ‘New York City,’ which is a lattice of red, blue, and yellow lines. In 1942-43, he painted the shimmering ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie.’ He also held his first solo show at the Valentine Dudensing Gallery in 1942. From 1942-44, Mondrian worked on ‘Victory Boogie Woogie,’ which unfortunately remained unfinished. The painter died on February 01, 1944, of Pneumonia, at Brooklyn, New York. All of Mondrian’s paintings are influenced by a confluence of his belief in Theosophy and his two dimensional interpretation of nature.


Cruising the Rivers of Europe

If you’re thinking about a European cruise vacation but have already sailed the Mediterranean and the Baltic, another option awaits you: a river cruise.

A river cruise offers a relaxing, scenic way to visit Prague, Vienna, Cologne, Budapest and many more centers of European history, art and culture. Between the cities, you’ll find charming villages and idyllic countryside.


River cruise ships are different from their ocean-going counterparts. On these smaller, lower-profile ships, you’re not likely to find amenities such as swimming pools or casinos. However, you will find comfortable cabins and public spaces, which sometimes have expansive windows and wide-open decks for viewing the ever-changing scenery. The boat’s flat bottoms provide a smooth ride, minimizing any worries about motion sickness.

The smaller size of river cruise ships also means they can go places that their larger, ocean-going cousins cannot.  River cruise ships can literally sail into the heart of each destination, docking close to city centers. There will be something new to do and see on shore each day, and most shore excursions are part of the base price of a river cruise.


The most popular river cruises in Europe may be those that float down the Rhine or the Danube, but cruise ships also travel on the Main, the Seine and many others. For example, in the Low Countries of The Netherlands and Belgium, cruise ships sail the Nieuw Maas, Waal and Schelde Rivers to call on Amsterdam, Antwerp and Rotterdam. Spring is a wonderful time to cruise there, as the windmill-dotted landscape comes alive with colorful tulips.

Many river cruise guests enjoy spending a few extra days in the cities – such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris or Lucerne – where their cruises begin or end, taking time to get to know a city that can’t be reached by an ocean cruise.


The NYC Society

What exactly is “NYC society”? Is it the hyper-wealthy who live in lavish townhouses in mid-town Manhattan who live a life full of costly parties, nights out attending the Broadway theatre being driven in chauffeured limousines, dining at restaurants where dinner for two can run into the low four-figures, and spending more on a suit or a dress than most people earn in six months? Or is NYC society something else?

In truth, NYC society is that which is described in the above paragraph – at the very least in part. But to narrow one’s definition of NYC society to that is to do this city an injustice.

From its earliest days – and even before its recorded history – NYC society has been hugely diverse, and given its location where a major river meets the Atlantic Ocean in a relatively sheltered port, this should not be surprising.

The first members of NYC society – long before the area was called “New York” – were the Lenape People, an Indian nation whose Algonquian language was related to those of lots of other Indian peoples from the Atlantic coast to present-day Northern California. These early members of pre- NYC society were unusual for Native American peoples in that they practiced agriculture to supplement their hunting and gathering. Even before the arrival of the first European to arrive in New York Harbor in 1524, the area that would one day become NYC was densely populated – home to perhaps as many as 15,000 at a time when London was barely ten times that – the size of a modestly-sized American city of today.

Despite this early contact, it was another 90 years before the founding of “Nieuw Amsterdam” when Pieter Minuit purchased the Island of Manhattan for the sum of 60 Dutch guilders (which contrary to the popular legend, is in fact equivalent to about $1200 U.S. dollars at today’s value).

New York City changed hands at least two more times over the subsequent 180 years, and NYC society changed as well. many people forget that New York City was briefly the capitol of the U.S. and might have remained so; how different would NYC society be today were this still the case?

New York City has the dubious distinction of being the first American city to have been subject to martial law and occupied by the U.S. military; this was a result of the Draft Riots of 1863, brought on in part by a law that allowed the wealthy elite of NYC society to buy their way out of conscription for $300 during th American Civil War; most ordinary working people, poor by today’s standards, would have found it difficult, if not impossible to raise that much.

NYC society has changed a brilliant deal since those days and the decades that followed. It continues to be shaped however by its location and its status as an international port and cultural and economic hub.


The Guide to Amsterdam

During the last decades, Netherlands sometimes called Holland has become the symbol of freedom due to its legalization of light drugs, euthanasia and marriages between gays and lesbians. Amsterdam, its capital, is the most visited city in the country but besides the access to the above-discussed liberties visitors have a great chance to see very stunning city with a lot of cultural attractions.

The government of Amsterdam now is trying to make the city one the world leading business centers and their efforts have a success – now Amsterdam hosts a substantial number of international fairs, business appointments and conferences. Many of the influential multinational corporations have their headquarters in Amsterdam.

Netherlands’ capital is a mix of the new and old – ancient houses of the XVII century border with the up-do-date office buildings.

Amsterdam received its name in the honor of the river Amstel crossing the city. It was founded in XII century as a small fishing village. Now Amsterdam status has some paradox – although it is a capital of the country, the capital of its province is Harlem and the country’s government is situated in Hague.

Amsterdam has rich, glorious history. It reached it highest peak in the XVII century the most of the historical attractions belong to that time. In XVII the widely known Amsterdam channel net was created. beacuse of the huge number of channels Amsterdam has become a city of bridges. Now there are about 1200 bridges of different styles, sizes and beauty. a lot of Amsterdam’s canals were filled at the start of the 20th century because of the sanitary reasons.

The city has a copious amount of the museums, some them are world-well known. The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum are the most renowned, but the full listing counts about 50 names.

The centre and the heart of the city is Dam Square, a place with historical significance, still boasting beautiful buildings, one of which is Royal Palace. Koninklijk Paleis – The Royal Palace dates back to 1648. Another Dam square’s attraction is Nieuwe Kirk dating back to the 15th century.

Although Amsterdam is trying to escape the reputation of the world’s drug capital coffee shops belong to the things Amsterdam is widely known for. There are few hundreds of coffee shops in Amsterdam. Popular ones are the commercial and franchised Bulldog and the Grasshopper.

Coffee shops in the country are allowed to sell only little amounts of cannabis. Furthermore, coffee shops must not sell to anybody under 18 and they must not sell more than 5g to any business colleague. Hard drugs are strictly prohibited.

Another thing Amsterdam is famous for is Red Lights district. It occupies the significant included in the historical centre of Amsterdam.

The whole Holland is known for its love for flowers. Vondelpark is considered to be one of the most beautiful parks on Earth. Its style reminds of the most ultimate examples of the English style of the XIX century. a lot of lakes, meadows, walking routes present the excellent opportunity to spend your free time.


Trekking Through Amsterdam 2

Shopping in Amsterdam must be a favorite pastime because in most places we found street vendors and traffic free squares where temporary imprints open shop under tents. Cuypmarkt a place like a white elephant sale and Waterlooplein flea market are popular with the residents. In the prices of anything, cafes, restaurants, beauty shops, and even taxies, (BTW) taxes and a standard 15% service charge are included. Still the waiters expected tips, even a small one, when they waited on us. I don’t blame them at all, since Amsterdam is not a cheap city to live in, particularly if you keep losing your goods to pickpockets.

If you are in a hurry and need to pick up a bite in Amsterdam, there are Febo stores, a Dutch type of McDonalds, so to speak. They have a self-service where you put in the money and get fries, burgers, sandwiches, or whatever. Here we got fries with mayonnaise instead of ketchup. This was, surely, a new one for me.

A favorite fast food for the Dutch are the croquettes, deep fried mashed potatoes and gravy, tasty enough but I wouldn’t go for it again.

Amsterdam is full of pavement cafes, despite its sudden rains. As soon as the sun comes out, tables and chairs appear as if from nowhere and are filled with people in a few minutes. There are also bars that serve beer, wine, and simple snacks any time of the day.

Beer is the usual Dutch drink since Heineken and Amstel are located here. it is occassionally served with a huge frothy head in tiny iced or wet glasses with handles. Most of the Dutch dishes “Neerlands Dis” are made with meat, cheese and vegetables. Sausages, ham pea soup, bisque soups, herring are some favorite Dutch tastes.

Once we went in a restaurant with a hawker, a person in front of a restaurant hired to invite and actually goad passers-by inside. The food was awful. No wonder, if they necessary a hawker the food had to be bad. Stupid us!

the best place we ate was the cafe Van Gogh with brilliant sandwiches and goat cheese salads. For me, Amsterdam was not the best place for eating, although they had quite a selection of fish prepared in different ways that I enjoyed. In general even their light snacks are not light for they often are tostjes–grilled cheese and ham sandwiches–or doughnuts and pancakes.

On the streets of old Amsterdam all the way into suburbs, we were quite taken with ice-cream vendors, who were mostly Italians. Most sell their rather fresh ice-cream in vending carts with umbrellas or awnings on top of them, as the outlets of nearby ice-cream factories. One funny vendor made his sales in Dutch but cursed in Italian. When I understood and laughed, he offered me extra ice-cream.

Amsterdam houses are alternative in the way that they have been preserved for at least two to five centuries. Some have paintings on them, some have coat of arms that can be of wood. The houses are sometimes built from dark red bricks and their large windows are white and the doors are different colors. Most doorways are detailed and old warehouses have wooden hatches. The façades of the houses are pretty narrow. They were built like that on purpose because in the olden times the owners had to pay taxes according to their houses’ widths facing the street. Courtyards called hofjes hide between the houses and are sometimes filled with flowers to the brim.

In the old included in Amsterdam, there are numerous colorful plaques set in the walls of the buildings as advertisements and some of them display some adorable artwork in scenes and figures. We were told that most have the family name of the inhabitants or original owners of the buildings. For example, as advertisement, a baker had a fresco-like representation of an oven with a person feeding the fire and a few other figures around him with the words “de gloyende oven” meaning “the glowing oven” written in the bottom of the frame. These plaques also sometimes show the year when the building was completed.

One place I didn’t (couldn’t) enter was the Anne Frank House in the middle of Amsterdam. First there were too long lines at the face of it, second I was afraid I’d cry and make everyone miserable. The house is a regular (i guess) four story house with three windows at each floor after the first floor, an attic room window, and a red-tiled roof, one could pass on the street and not even take notice. Close to the house, a statue of Anne Frank stands. We heard later that the museum was renovated again a few years after we were there.

My husband went inside the Anne Frank House with my cousin’s husband while my cousin and I waited for them outside. When they came out, my husband said it was too crowded inside but he got to see a piece of her diary on display. He also said he was glad I didn’t go in, for the annex was tragic.

Afterwards we went to the Dam Square to feed the pigeons and disperse some of the sadness we felt. Dam square is a cobbled square with pigeons and out of work people selling pigeon feed.

There was a man there who said he was a school teacher by day and he was selling pigeon feed after hours. in fact, his eight year old daughter was selling the grains and doing everything else. He just sat there watching her. I don’t know the rules in Netherlands about making the youngsters work, but this young one -for better or worse- was doing all of the work. My cousin said the man was probably a refugee or an immigrant and his being a teacher was probably not true.

There are several immigrants from other third world countries in Amsterdam. Some of them, like most of the pizza store owners, work very hard; others are here because of the so-called freedom and the lax laws this country offers.

Some of the immigrants are vendors of some thing or other and start their work with stalls in open markets on market days. Many citizens of Amsterdam do their food shopping in these markets because the prices are a bit lower and the produce is fresher. lots of used or antique books also are on sale in these markets.

One thing positive about Amsterdam is its public transportation. A person living in this city might never need to own a car. They have a circle tram line that connects to all the touristic sights and if a five day ticket is bought, the sightseeing tour becomes very cheap. Also the trams are a sight to watch with their strange shapes and colors. My favorite way of transportation was the “Museum Boat,” a shuttle service that went to all the museums and other attractions. Also the canal cruises provide wonderful experiences for people who like to be on water and watch the antique buildings on the sides of the canals.

Once, my cousins took us to a casino by a canal after making us dress up (since the casino was considered a high class place), i think it was called the Holland Casino. Of course, we were urged to gamble but I never do and my husband hates to fail any money unnecessarily, so we waited for our hosts to fail all their money inside and join us by the cafe near the canal. i suppose we had more entertaining watching the canal traffic than they did losing money inside.

Canals have houseboats on them where some men and women live and work. Some of those houseboats serve as tourist inns and hostels. They told us that sometimes in winter the canals freeze and the people cross them on ice skates.

Like most cities, Amsterdam is overcrowded and housing is a major problem. In the recent decades, the city built modern apartment houses with several units wherever empty space was found. it is now possible to see huge apartment buildings among centuries old houses and this bothers many Amsterdam dwellers who are bound to tradition.

The city’s largest park is Vondelpark and it familiar with be where the hippies of the seventies hung out. Still it has its share of bohemian free spirits frequenting it. Also, it is very close to the museum of modern art, but we didn’t go to that museum. Those who went said they didn’t like it as much as the Van Gogh Museum. We went to the Rembrandt House and the Historical Museum just before leaving Amsterdam.

Rembrandt House is the place where Rembrandt lived for 20 years, until he went bankrupt and had to vacate the house. The reason for the bankruptcy was that he painted “The night Watch” on commission and the people who ordered it didn’t like the results. night Watch now hangs in the Rijk Museum. Here, a lot of Rembrandt memorabilia are on display as well as his etchings and artwork.

I was surprised to see a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in this city. It seems, wherever we go there is a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. In Amsterdam it occupied a major corner of the most well known Dam square to where important streets and avenues open.

Dam square is occassionally crowded not only with pigeons but also with business people, street artists, ice-cream vendors, preachers, musicians, shoppers, and tourists. The Royal Palace dominates the square where they told me that the Queen is sometimes present for official receptions.

Next to the palace is the gothic Nieuwe Kierk (New Church), except it’s not so new, since it is from the fourteenth century and it has a tower that people never got around to completing. It made me feel good that there were more efficient procrastinators on Earth than those I have come to know. I don’t know what is with these churches. In several different cities of different countries and continents, we came across a few incomplete antique churches.

the best thing about Amsterdam, when we visited it, was being with family members and being taken care of in a very tricky city. They showed us whatever they could show us and what we were willing to see and were wonderful hosts. Since then, they have moved to other places and like us when we said good-bye to Amsterdam that summer, they too have said, “Tot ziens!” to a unique city they loved to complain about.


Trekking Through Amsterdam 1

Where on Earth can an opera house have the bronze sculpture of a violinist sinking into the floor? Not a clue? Well, a clog is a hint. I mean the wooden clogs people wear; not that they do anymore. The answer is of course Amsterdam.

I suspect the violinist was sinking because the city is below water level. there is a water column in the city hall featuring how far under the water the city would be if they hadn’t built the dikes and canals and hadn’t taken other measures.

Yet, water makes this city. Amsterdam consists of 90 islands connected by more than a 1000 bridges. Alongside with water come the greenery and a myriad of flowers. Don’t think tulips only but all the flowers, due to the rather mild climate though somewhat unpredictable.

At the time I was there the whole country was going crazy over sunflowers. The flowers were everywhere, in markets, in parks, and around the elegantly gabled houses leaning over the water as if to catch their own glimpses.

Buildings, hundreds of years old, have been wonderfully restored and preserved in Amsterdam. Their lean and narrow structures lean at odd angles against each other, making their view even more picturesque. Inside, they have low ceilings and steep winding staircases.

Westelijke Elianden (Western Islands), a part of Amsterdam, has the most wondrous waterside views with some inimitable façades of buildings, wooden bridges, canals, marinas, boats that take you on trips along the canals and water taxis.

Our trip to Amsterdam was simple. We got on the plane in Kennedy and got off in Schiphol airport, Amsterdam. As a city, however, Amsterdam is everything but simple. Having two cousins living there also helped us greatly.

Today, I would like to walk about in Amsterdam again, in memories though it may be, because I feel I’ll be peeking into a Pandora’s box again, for the picturesque Amsterdam shocks, arouses interest, and in unexpected ways, opens one’s eyes.

With Amsterdam, we broke with our routine of staying away from museums to visit several of them. I loved the Van Gogh Museum, maybe because I have a special bias toward crazy painters. Having opened to public view during the seventies, the museum is very new. It has hundreds of Van Goghs, several Lautrecs, a few Gauguins, Monets, and also Van Gogh’s collection of Japanese prints. excellent is the word here for those prints.

The Rijksmuseum was the spectacular one. Rembrandt’s evening Watch was its star painting with a throne room of its own; although, I felt many of the other Rembrandts in the museum carried a higher artistic quality. The other Dutch Masters, Hals, Steen, Ruysdael, Vermeer were also magnificent. I can’t possibly recall all the painters represented because the museum is so vast. If I go there again, I’m putting aside three full days for this museum only.

The reason Rijksmuseum—its Gothic façade, two towers, and those entrance doors—seems familiar to a New Yorker is because it resembles the Grand Central Station. The reason is both places were designed by the same architect, Cuypers, during the nineteenth century. maybe because of that, most of the exhibits in the museum are from the nineteenth century, although every age from medieval to modern times is represented to some extent.

Paintings and drawings aside, the most amusing was the doll house collections. Despite reminding me of Ibsen’s “Nora, a Doll’s House,” this collection became a treat. particularly, a seventeenth century doll-house with every minute detail was a delight to watch. It made a grown woman resort to little girl dreams.

After the dollhouses, the scales of model ships enchanted us. They dated from the seventeenth century when Netherlands was a naval force in our time, and this collection made the grown man walking around with me turn into a small dude.

very close to the Rijksmuseum, is the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, a proud street featuring off the city’s antique trade. Walking along this street immediatly after coming out of the Rijksmuseum felt like I had opened yet another museum. in fact, some pieces were just as much if not more interesting than those of the museum pieces. The problem was, we weren’t allowed in the shops. Their ritual necessary ringing the door bell and then getting the guided tour, only if we were interested in a buy. Nevertheless, we had some fun peeking through the windows.

Rain always caught us somewhere in Amsterdam and it came down abruptly, but rain was not the only wet stuff that took us by surprise. My first shock came when I saw the public urinals in the streets where men used them in open view. Can you believe it!

There are, however, in existence public toilets called WC or toiletten. there’s a person who sits at the entrance of a WC near a billing that has a saucer or a cup collecting entry payments. there is no set amount for this and a few coins will do. Once, I put a nickel among the other coins by mistake instead of their currency and I got really bad looks. Since I don’t know Dutch well but just some broken German, I used all of the German words I knew to say, “Sorry, I made a mistake,” which wasn’t much help at all.

The bathrooms in some of the houses are poles apart from what we call a bathroom. The toilet is separate from the bath and in a very tiny room with very poor ventilation. They also have a unusual toilet design with a platform to hold the waste to be clearly seen and examined before flushing it away. All of these things make the WCs stink, I’m sorry to say.

People in Amsterdam have a different understanding of things compared to the rest of us, such as a rather wide acceptance of some drugs and paid sex.

Two other museums in Amsterdam felt odd to me. One is the Museum of Cannabis and Hemp; the other, the Sex Museum. We opened neither, but according to my cousin they house some historical details of thousands of years about their individual subjects.

The drugs are officially illegal but they are not illegal if people carry a certain tiny amount on them for personal use or smoke the stuff in coffee shops. Yes, you read it right. Coffee shops are for smoking dope, but they are also for coffee and some space-cakes with questionable ingredients. some people claim to have gotten high from just eating those cakes. For that reason alone, I hesitated to eat or drink anything on the street. It was a good thing a couple of family members were nearby and someone accompanied us while we went sightseeing.

What I also came to learn in time was that the green triangle sign at the face of the coffee shops means that they serve both weed and liquor inside.

Everything is taxed in Netherlands, even the prostitution industry in Amsterdam where prostitution is legal. Yes, prostitution is considered an industry. The prostitutes undergo regular medical checkups and pay taxes. The red light street of the city with scantily clad ladies is called Walletjes. it is okay to stroll down this street but not okay to take photos. I heard that some men and women, by taking photos, got in trouble with the police for “causing disruption to the working class.”

Is Amsterdam a safe city? There are two opposing sides of thought to this issue. To us, it wasn’t unsafe because we had its residents taking us to where we required to go and alerted us to possible dangers, but I can see how it can be a dangerous place for other tourists who go there expecting the best. Even with the tolerant attitude to drugs and sex, there are still pushers of both things on the streets. Amsterdam residents claim that most of the crime comes from outside. they may be right, but surely Amsterdam provides fertile ground for such behavior to take root.

In Amsterdam, in contrast to other wild cities, I don’t think any person is in danger of losing his life or getting raped; however, there’s a very good chance that most anyone, if he is not careful, can lose his goods, money, or papers, for this is a city where pickpockets–zakkenrollers–abound and flourish. There are even signs in strategic places warning against pickpockets. “Let op zakkenrollers!” the sign meaning “Beware of Pickpockets” is sometimes written in several languages.

Some of the goods and luggage are stolen at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport or on the train and in subway stations. My husband never put his wallet, money, or credit cards in his back pockets; I wore a light safari jacket with four front zipped pockets just for the sake of being safe and carried my purse next to my body to the front of me with one hand placed on it. There are lots of people on bikes and occassionally a speeding bike can serve as a pick-and-go vehicle, depriving an unsuspecting victim of his bag or other belongings. Most of the time, thieves work in groups of three or four and make a commotion; then they make use of the distraction to run away with whatever they can.

Once, we were in the train and a man was sitting with his laptop on his knees opposite us. several people talking loudly stood in front of us and all exited suddenly at the stop. They had made it out with the man’s netbook. I didn’t even notice what had happened.

Being on guard all the time is the most desireble advice to keep in mind when visiting Amsterdam. They say straying out of the center of the city (centruum) and going out alone after dark or too early in the morning to iffy places may invite thieves, muggings and such. Though the Amsterdam police are very strict in keeping the public harmony by not tolerating vandalism, noise, or any other visible public nuisance, it is said that they are slow looking after individual complaints. Yet, the law-abiding residents of Amsterdam are wonderful people, and if approached with politeness, they are truly good Samaritans.

To continue…