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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is situated in Western Europe, bordering Belgium to the south and Germany to the east, to its north and west in the North Sea. Although the Netherlands is the country's official name, people popularly call it Holland. The provinces of North Holland and South Holland form only part of the Netherlands.Amsterdam is one of Europe's most popular destinations and one of the greatest small cities in the world. From its canals to world-famous museums and historical sights, Amsterdam is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in Europe. Amsterdam is a city of tolerance and diversity. Although it is small, it has all the advantages of a big city such as culture,entertainment, international restaurants and good transportation. Amsterdam is referred to as the COOL capital of Holland because of its famous art, unusual architecture, great shopping and trendy restaurants. Amsterdam is home to Rembrandt's Night Watch and Van Gogh's Sunflowers. There are more museums in Amsterdam per square meter than in any other country in the world! All this and more makes Amsterdam a very exciting place to visit!Amsterdam’s Bridges and CanalsAmsterdam is a liberal and vibrant city that covers an area of 207 square kilometres (80 square miles) and has a population of approximately 1,730,000. Known as the 'Venice of the North', Amsterdam is built on 90 islands linked by 400 stone bridges across 100 kilometres (62 miles) of canals. The city of Amsterdam is relatively quiet with little traffic.Amsterdam WeatherAmsterdam has a temperate maritime climate with cool winters and mild summers. The mildest weather is April through October. For those who are interested in seeing the famous tulips, come to Amsterdam in April and May. Winters are usually wet and coldThe Bulb FieldsThe VVV Tourist Office in Noordwijk issues a cycling route, called "The Spring Cycling Tour along the Bulbfields". From Noordwijk, you will cycle along the most wonderful bulbfields and visit the village of Noordwijkerhout, which is home to a beautifully restored medieval white church. During the tour, you will be able to visit Keukenhof Gardens. On your way back to Noordwijk, you will pass by Voorhout. There, you can make a stop at the world's largest flower panorama "Panorama Tulipland" and watch landscape painter Leo Van den Ende, as he works on a life-size painting. Leo van den Ende works six days a week at this painting, which is expected to be finished in 2012.Amsterdam’s Top AttractionsAs you make your way around the city, there are some places you just must make time to see. First you will want to see the Van Gogh Museum, which has the largest collection of paintings and drawings of Van Gogh’s. Visitors sometimes spend hours marveling at all his works. Take an afternoon and see this special museum. You will also want to see the Nieuwmarkt, which is a gathering place for people to enjoy an afternoon or evening. Vondelpark will provide you with some relaxing moments and wonderful scenery. You will want to visit the Anne Frank Museum also. This is where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding for two years beginning on July 6, 1942.· Van Gogh Museum is open 10am - 6pm daily and has the world’s largest collection of paintings, drawings and letters of Van Gogh’s. It also houses paintings from Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec.· Nieuwmarkt - the square that the castle was built on and it was the holding place for Jews arrested during WWII. Now it is a gathering place where many go to eat and enjoy an afternoon or evening. It is also a wonderful place to take a walk along the canals.· Vondelpark - one of the most visited places in the city providing four terraces where visitors may sit and have a cup of coffee. It was named after the poet Joost van den Vondel.· Anne Frankhuis - open hours: Sep-Mar: 9am-7pm daily; Apr-Aug: 9am-9pm daily; May 4: 9am-7pm; Dec 25, Jan 1: noon-7pm; closed on Yom Kippur and you can call +31 20 556 71 00 if you need to contact them. This is where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding for two years beginning on July 6, 1942.· Westerkerk - Open Hours: Apr-Sep: 11am-5pm Mon-Fri Phone: +31 20 624 77 66. This is the Netherlands most famous church and a place where many musicians were inspired. The church served as a lookout and when the clock sounded it was Anne Frank’s hope during World War II.· Nemo - Open Hours: 10am-5pm Tue-Sun; Dec 25, Jan 1, Apr 30 closed Phone: +31 900 919 11 00. This is the place where you will discover all kinds of new technological advances in biomedicine and scientific developments. It also a great view of the city from the top of the building’s rooftop terrace.· The Rembrandthuis - Open Hours: 10am-5pm daily Phone: +31 20 520 04 00 and it houses 250 of the 300 etchings that Rembrandt created. Inside this museum you will also find paintings by Rembrandt’s teacher Pieter Lastman and some of Rembrandt's apprentices. You will spend hours admiring all this museum has to offer.· Oude Kerk - Open Hours: 11am-5pm Mon-Sat; 1pm-5pm Sun; closed 25th Dec & 1st Jan Phone: +31 20 624 91 83 Located in the center of the red-light district. It has a medieval appearance and cobblestones surround this church.The Artis - Open Hours: Winter: 9am-5pm daily; Summer: 9am-6pm daily Phone: +31 20 523 3400 This is a fantastic zoo with over 8,000 animals. It has two museums and a planetarium inside. There is so much to see at this zoo and you can also take courses in astrology and drawing.Shopping In AmsterdamWith 10,334 shops, 141 galleries, 165 antique shops and 26 markets, Amsterdam is by far the most important city for shopping in Holland. The flea market stalls at Waterloo Square (plein) sell anything from African bedspreads to Indonesian jewelry, Balinese woodcarvings, second hand and army-surplus clothing. The Flower Market, on the Singel canal, west of Muntplein, is the last of the city's floating flower markets. The displays of fragrant seasonal flowers and bright spring plants are a joy to look at and to smell! Go shopping for antiques in the Spiegelkwartier antique area or visit the P.C. Hooftstraat or Kalvertoren on the Kalverstraat with its exclusive shops.Dining In AmsterdamWhen it comes to good restaurants, Amsterdam has an overwhelming choice! The following is a list of some of the best places to enjoy a memorable lunch or dinner.