Amsterdam at Christmas

december
a week end
quite cheap
a lot to see

When i used to live in Italy, Christmas holidays with my family were so common that i felt like doing something different…going to Amsterdam, for example! I would never have thought I now pay a lot to sit at that table! :D

On december 24th, 2008, we left Rome at 6.50 am with a Swiss Air Line flight, stopping 4 hours in Zurich and landing at Schipol airport around 2.15 pm. Swiss Air Line provides swiss chocolates aboard *_*

There’s a train connecting the airport to the central station in the city centre, but i don’t remember the name and how much we paid…sorry :( Overnight we stayed in a floating boat b&b, Amstel Botel: 4 nights + returning flight, we paid 340€ each…not bad!

Amsterdam’s river is called Amstel (like one of my favourite beers :D ). Its many canals split it into groups of islands, then joined by hundreds of bridges, giving it the nickname of “Venice of the North”. I don’t agree with this definition: Venice has its own charm, not comparable to other beautiful cities.

We found out that Christmas in Amsterdam is not celebrated on december 25th, as we used to, but a few weeks before: although ice rinks and stalls selling hot drinks and sweets were still open , christmas trees were switched off and without decorations at all.

Talking about sweets, we ‘ve been tempted by poffertjes : tipical dutch sweets similar to tiny pancakes, topped with melted chocolate and powdered sugar, bought hot from the stalls along the streets: delicious!

The Dam is the main square: a huge square made of stones and haunted by pigeons, horse coaches and tourists. Here we can find Madame Tussauds wax museum, the royal palace, the new church and the national monument dedicated to the victims of World War II.

Anne Frank museum is a must! It’s a permanent exhibition recording Anne’s short life: you can enter in the house through the secret passage hidden by the library, walk the rooms where she lived, see the collected newspaper clippings on the wall , the famous diary in a glass case. Touching. It’s 7.50€, you can get there by tram 13, 14, 17 and 20 from the central station. Opening hours: 9 am-7/9 pm depending on the seasons. Oh, and it’s not permitted to take pictures inside the house.

Other interesting or nice things to see:

  • marihuana museum, 9€ ticket, opening times mon-sun 10 am-10 pm (web sites http://www.hashmuseum.com );
  • take a ride on the barge just to see the capital from the canals point of view, 11€ ticket with lovers company (web site www. lovers.nl );
  • Van Gogh museum, 12.50€ ticket;
  • Extracold, a nice bar thoroughly made of ice: 15€ admission + a drink (you can borrow gloves and antifreeze jacket);

  • Vondelpark, the biggest city park (1.500 mt long!)…in december was freeeeeeeeeezing, but i’m pretty sure in spring it must be gorgeous: it holds 10 million visitors every year!
  • In Museum Quarter square there are another great ice rink and the slogan I amsterdam, city’s icon and most wanted photo set

Lastly, some tips:

  1. bikes are almost more important than pedestrians, so avoid walking or stopping on the cycle paths: they nearly hitted me twice ’cause i was distracted by watching the typical crooked-shaped houses :)
  2. drinking alcohol on the street is forbidden;
  3. it’s also forbidden to pee on the streets: if you need, there’s plenty of urinals in the city;
  4. put on really hot clothes ’cause Amsterdam in december is freezing!!! Temperatures were around 0°C, every day was colder than the previous one and when we left the b&b the receptionist said that in a couple of days canals would be frozen…what a pity,i would have seen them :D
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