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21 June 2007 @ 05:07 pm
L O C A T I O N S   &   A T T R A C T I O N S  

¤ Amstel Botel

Where better to experience a city on the water than on a boat-hotel? The Amsted Botel is popular largely because of its location and rates, and because of that extra thrill added by sleeping on the water. This moored cruise-liner has 352 beds in cabins on four decks, connected by an elevator. The bright, modern rooms are no-nonsense but comfortable, the showers small. Be sure to ask for a room with a view on the water, to avoid the uninspiring quay. To get here, turn left out of Centraal Station, pass the bike rental, and you'll see it floating in front of you.

¤ Amstel Taveerne

One of the city's oldest and most traditional gay bars, this is the kind of place where about an hour after happy hour everyone starts singing popular songs. Although the songs are in Dutch, the crowd welcomes visitors from other countries, so don't be afraid to sing along.

¤ Beurs van Berlage

The former home of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange now hosts the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra under its roof. What was once the trading floor of the Exchange, built in 1903 by Amsterdam school architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage, has since 1988 been a concert venue with two halls -- the 665-seat Yakult Zaal and the 200-seat AGA Zaal. Holland's Concertzender classical radio station is based here.

¤ Café de Jaren

Contemporary and stylish, the chief attraction of the Café de Jaren is its waterfront terrace overlooking the Amstel River, in the heart of the city. It makes for a great place to chill out and sip a bottle of wine or enjoy a coffee along with sampling the small but varied and attractive menu. The fare ranges from soups and sandwiches to steaks and pastas. Most popular is the large-choice salad bar. The interior of the restaurant is spacious, light and airy and offers an international reading table equipped with free newspapers and magazines. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

¤ Dynasty

Amsterdam is well supplied with oriental restaurants particularly in its rejuvenated Chinatown district. One of the most popular institutions, serving a mix of Asian cuisine from Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese, to Malay and Filipino, is Dynasty. The themed interior is exceedingly colourful, the ceiling adorned with upturned paper umbrellas. A big attraction is the beautiful Canalhouse Garden, usually packed out for summer dining. Reservations essential. Closed Tuesdays.

¤ Erotic Museum

As its name suggests, this museum on five floors presents an allegedly artistic vision of eroticism; it focuses on prints and drawings, including some by John Lennon. There is a re-creation of a red-light alley and an extensively equipped S&M playroom, both of which are rather antiseptic and serious. The only humorous note is an X-rated cartoon depicting some of the things Snow White apparently got up to with the Seven Dwarfs that Walt never told us about.

¤ Evening Canal-Boat Tours

Even if you took the daytime canal-boat tour, come back for cocktails. Special candlelit wine-and-cheese cruises operate nightly year-round, except for December 31. Wine and cheese are served as you glide through the canal district, which is quiet and calm at night. It's a leisurely, convivial, and romantic way to spend an evening in Amsterdam.

¤ Grand Sofitel Demeure Amsterdam

In a courtly building that was a 15th-century convent, a 16th-century royal guesthouse, the 17th-century headquarters of the Dutch Admiralty, and the 19th-century Town Hall, the Grand is grand indeed. To reach the lobby, you walk through a courtyard with a fountain, then pass through a brass-and-wood revolving door. Tea is served in the afternoon in the lounge area, where you also find Art Deco and stained-glass windows. The black-and-white marble floors are covered with Oriental rugs. All this, and only a vigorous stone's throw from the Red Light District. The individually styled and furnished rooms are designed to reflect the different phases of the building's past and are about the last word in plush (though some take a refreshingly simple slant on this). Most have couches and armchairs. The views are on 17th-century canals, the hotel garden, or the courtyard. You can have a tolerably priced lunch or dinner at the Art Deco-inspired, jacket-and-tie, modern French brasserie Café Roux, run by star chef Albert Roux, which contains an abstract expressionist mural, Inquisitive Children (1949), by Cobra movement artist Karel Appel.

¤ Holland Casino Amsterdam

It is said to be the only legal casino in town -- though there's no sign of any official action against those that presumably are illegal. This is European gambling, with emphasis on the quiet games of roulette, baccarat, punto banco, blackjack, and others, though there are abundant one-armed bandits, which the Dutch call "fruit machines," and blackjack, poker, and bingo machines (start saving your gil!). You need correct attire to get in (jacket and tie or turtleneck for men). The minimum age is 18.

¤ Kalverstraat

This is the busiest stretch of pedestrian shopping in the city. At one end is the Dam with its department stores; at the other end, the Muntplein traffic hub, also with its department store. In between, Kalverstraat is a hodgepodge of shopping possibilities. Punk-tinged boutiques for the young and athletic-shoe emporiums are side-by-side with stores selling dowdy raincoats and conservative business suits, bookstores, fur salons, maternity and baby stores, and record stores, plus everything in the way of fast food, from frites to poffertjes. Something big and brash on Kalverstraat is the Kalvertoren Shopping Center, a multistory mall with 45 stores, cafes, and restaurants.

¤ Red Light District (De Wallen)

The atmosphere can be chaotic with throngs of tourists jostling for space city slickers, pimps and drug dealers. The prostitutes of De Wallen are part of alegal and regulated industry that includes compulsory health checks and taxable income [This is where Midnight Silk Pavillion is located].

Prostitution is by no means the only attraction of the area. The district'sarchitecture comprises a scenic mix that dates back to the Middle Ages. Areas to explore include Waterlooplein, Zeedijk and Nieuwmarkt Square. Waterlooplein is the location of the modern City Hall and Muziek Theatre. The square was created in 1880 from two canals that were filled and then allocated to Jewish traders who used to ply their wares on its pavements.

Nieuwmarkt Square was also once home to a thriving Jewish community, mainly Portuguese Jews who had fled from persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. The cultural diversity of this area extends to Zeedijk Street, which is often referred to as Chinatown.

¤ Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art

The museum closely traces the development in art of the second half of the 20th century, showcasing the most impressive collections of modern art in Amsterdam.

The permanent exhibition focuses on De Stijl, Cobra, Nouveau Realisme, Pop Art, Colorfield Painting, Zero and Minimalist Art while temporary exhibitions on design and applied art are housed in the new wing.

¤ Waterland Neeltje Jans

Enjoy a whole day with marine animals, experience fantastic attractions and see and learn about the world famous Delta Works at this spectacular water park. Attractions include the storm surge barrier, Delta Expo, a waterslide and water playground, whale world exhibition and a hurricane simulator.

¤ Wynand Fockink

Don't waste your breath -- regulars here know all about the little English pronunciation bomb hidden in the Dutch name. This popular proeflokaal dates from 1679. Aficionados of the 50 varieties of Dutch jenever and 70 traditional liqueurs on display often have to maneuver for elbowroom to raise their glasses. One of the attractions here that wows visitors is the collection of liqueur bottles on which are painted portraits of every mayor of Amsterdam since 1591. That ought to set your pulse racing. Open daily from 3 to 9pm. The attached lunchlokaal is, as its name implies, open for lunch.