Local traditions and culture in Amsterdam

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Amsterdam

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    Schapenburgerpad

    by pieter_jan_v Written Apr 2, 2014

    The Schapenburgerpad is a remarkable path in the Museum city quarter. It's the last thing you would expect next to the posch PC Hooftstraat shopping street.

    The path along a polder ditch was written about as early as 1734. The path became a joined ownership path of the Vossiusstraat resident and the City of Amsterdam. Ever since the path is inherited and the City appoints commissionaires. The path is under thread of illegal building activities at the rear by the PC Hooftstraat shops.

    Officially this is a private walkway (mud path), forbidden for the average visitor, but you should try to explore this rare piece of Amsterdam

    Schapenburgerpad - Amsterdam Schapenburgerpad - Amsterdam Schapenburgerpad - Amsterdam
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    Wereldkerstcircus - Rewarded acts.

    by Jerelis Written Jan 15, 2014

    The show took about 3 hours providing us great acts like Willer Nicolodi, a ventriloquist. Not that his act was innovative, but he mastered it so excellent that it is very enjoyable. Another great act was Wolfgang Lauenberger and his dogs. We could see the love of his act all over. Oscar Carré built his circus palace next to the river Amstel 125 years ago on its reputation to provide great horse shows. Following this tradition the Spaniard Alex Giona had 8 horses led inside the arena by a single word and a single gesture.

    We also were amazed by the Giang Brothers. They reach a peak in their performance as one of two descends a staircase while the other is upside down with his head on the other. In a lodge above the slopes a large portrait of Oscar Carré looks down on the entire show. It sometimes looks if he is overseeing the performance with a smile. This is the magic of the old, yet always renewing circus.

    Address: Amstel 115 / 125, 1018 EM Amsterdam.
    Directions: Located in the historical city center facing the river Amstel.

    Great Russian act, flying all around! This was quite amazing! Amazed by the Giang Brothers. Well deserved applause. Oh my god!
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    Wereldkerstcircus - Internationally renowned.

    by Jerelis Written Jan 15, 2014

    In the season of 2013 – 2014 the internationally renowned Wereldkerstcircus (Winter Christmas Circus) took place from 19th of December 2013 until the 5th of January 2014. It was already the 29th time this took place in the magnificent Koninklijk Theater Carré. Internationally awarded acts from the circus world made their appearance. We were told that it was a show not te be missed and let me tell you why this was very much true!

    First of all the world famous clown Bello was present. He was named ‘the best and hardest working clown in America’ by Time Magazine. The infectious look of the clown is a great start for a program that offered a parade of artists who won a bronze, silver and golden Clown, the Oscar of the circus world. I am not much of a circus fan, but this show was definitely amazing and a must visit! So, it was time to shut the light down, put the spotlight on and have the artist do their amazing performances.

    Address: Amstel 115 / 125, 1018 EM Amsterdam.
    Directions: Located in the historical city center facing the river Amstel.

    Wolfgang Lauenberger and his dogs. He made a great show of it. I will never dare! Sister act. Spaniard Alex Giona had his 8 horses.
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    Wereldkerstcircus – Koninklijk Theater Carré.

    by Jerelis Written Jan 15, 2014

    The annual venue called “Wereldkerstcircus” takes place in the The Koninklijk Theater Carré. This is a beautiful Neo-Renaissance theatre right in the city center of Amsterdam, located near the river Amstel. When the theatre was founded in 1887, it was originally meant as a permanent circus building. Currently, it is mainly used for musicals, cabaret performances and pop concerts. I used to live nearby Amsterdam and I have visited the city of Amsterdam many times. During those visits I did pass by the beautiful building of the Koninklijk Theater Carré (Royal Theatre Carré) just as many times I guess. But it took until January 2014 before I actually did visit the building itself and had visited a show inside. This, of course, provided a first and great look inside this magnificent building.

    The occasion for my first visit ever was the Winter Christmas Circus performance, which was just a great show! To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in myself that I never visited this magical theatre earlier. It felt quite magical to walk through the Netherlands’ most famous theatre indeed.

    Address: Amstel 115 / 125, 1018 EM Amsterdam.
    Directions: Located in the historical city center facing the river Amstel.

    The front facade of Carr�� showing the circus. It is getting crowded at Carr��. Where the orchestra is sitauted at Carr��. A nice act with dogs. All the way up indeed!
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    Street organs

    by pieter_jan_v Written Dec 30, 2013

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    No visit to Amsterdam is complete without an encounter with a street organ.
    These organ used to be powered by hand, but nowadays most of them are powered by a small motor. Surprinsingly even the latest hit songs will be played as of course the traditional Amsterdam evergreens like Flowers from Amsterdam.

    Please leave some small change at the organ player; they will rattle the beat with it.

    Amsterdam street organ
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    XXX

    by pieter_jan_v Written Dec 16, 2013

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    XXX is not always a bad sign. At Amsterdam it is part of the city coat of arms.

    The origin is not clear. It could point at 3 shallow places of the river Amstel, where people could get across walking. Another explanation point to three plagues that hit the city: water, fire and pestilence.

    Explore the city and you will see the XXX everywhere.

    Amsterdammertje with XXX Supporting beam of the Centraal Station
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    Talko to someone who knows ...

    by Jerelis Written Nov 26, 2013

    I guess we all agree on this on; there is nothing more exciting than going travelling - exploring another country, experiencing a different culture, travelling around in new ways, sampling the local cuisine and chatting to the local people for a different perspective on life.

    However during our travels we learned that there is one certain thing that you should be aware of and prepared for to make sure that the trip is as easy and enjoyable as possible. We always try to see everything once we're there, but this is not always an act of responsible travelling. We always talk to the locals and we know that they have the information about just the right spots to visit and how to undertake them. It will not only enhance your experiences but also avoid any unnecessary hassles.

    For me the travel tips I have written down in this section made the most of mine travel experience and I came home in the same happy, healthy state that I left.

    Beautiful Amsterdam.
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    Small "Cars"

    by pieter_jan_v Written Sep 29, 2013

    A new way of transportation is the so-called "brommobiel", a covered moped.
    It looks like a small cars, but legally is considered a moped, what opens a whole range of possibilities for creative parking and accessibility.
    When the vehicle is smaller than 1.10 meters free parking at the walkways is allowed, so don't be surprised to see some pedestrian areas cluttered with these "cars".

    It's small; it's a ...?
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    Gable End Hoists

    by johngayton Written Sep 22, 2013

    When wandering the city you can't help but notice how narrow the houses are. This is due to the fact that as the city became a prosperous port in the 17th and 18th centuries the city council decided to tax new properties according to the width of their frontages. The income from this tax was used to develop the canal network.

    Thus the houses were built tall, with minimal frontages. Internal staircases were necessarily steep and narrow (as anyone who has stayed in a cheap central hotel will attest) and so the only way to get furnishing and other goods onto the upper floors was by hoisting them up through the windows. This pic, from a side street just off Spui, illustrates this perfectly.

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    Uitsmijter

    by leics Updated Apr 6, 2013

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    I didn't have this Dutch staple on my first visit in 2010. But, having seen it served to a friend in Leiden, I decided to try it. It was absolutely delicious and I ended up eating it on two occasions...and I'm very tempted to try making my own version now I'm home.

    'Uitsmijter' , it's said, used to be served to cafe (i.e. bar) patrons just before closing time (uitsmijter means 'bouncer'). It's still a popular dish for breakfast or lunch, although it's served at any time of day in cafe/bars.

    There are different versions, of course, according to where you are eating. but the basic ingredients are fried eggs, ham or bacon, cheese and bread. My first version was fried eggs on ham on bread, my second ((cooked to order in the really excellent 'Dutch Pantry' in Schiphol airport) involved the eggs being fried, turned over, slices of cheese laid on them, then the ham ..forming a sort of omelette which was placed on the bread.

    Both versions were absolutely delicious although I found that the second, with its egg yolks fully-cooked and being much more solid, benefited from the addition of some tomato ketchup.

    Uitsmijter may not be particularly healthy but comes very highly recommended as real comfort food, excellent in cold weather, easily available and very reasonably-priced indeed.

    Dutch Pantry uitsmijter Cafe d'Oude Wester uitsmijter
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    Mirrors by windows.

    by leics Updated Apr 6, 2013

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    Thanks to Swanet, I started to notice these....and to know what they are for.

    Amsterdammers mostly live in apartments/flats. So they often have a small mirror near the window, angled so that they can see who is knocking at the door or ringing the bell. It saves going all the way downstairs only to find that the person at the door does not want you.

    It also lets them know exactly what is going on in the street without making it too obvious!

    Look up to spot the mirrors!
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    Bevrijdingsdag In Amsterdam

    by appaloosy Updated Feb 28, 2013

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    MAY 5: BEVRIJDINGSDAG (Liberation Day)

    The Netherlands has its own way of commemorating the Second World War and sets aside two days in May to remember and celebrate the country's liberation from five years of occupation. The first day: May 4th, is a day of solemn commemoration (rememberance). After a day of looking back at the past, the nation turns its hopes to the future.

    The second day (May 5th) is a day of public rejoicing with the young at the center of attention. On this day, the liberation from the German occupation is celebrated. Usually, there is a flea market and ongoing festivities throughout Amsterdam (but on a much smaller scale compared to Koninginnedag).

    I don't think May 4th or 5th is an official holiday in the Netherlands (perhaps fellow VT member Piet can help me out here). In fact, it's business as usual in Amsterdam, and many stores are open for regular business hours (but I do believe they close early on these days).

    I was glad to be in Amsterdam on these two days, and got to observe first hand how the Dutch commemorate these events. The photo above was taken just after the ceremonies held in Dam Square (downtown Amsterdam). I am wearing a poppy on my shirt which is the Canadian symbol of wartime remembrance.

    BEVRIJDINGSDAG (Liberation Day) MAY 5 - Amsterdam

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    Herdenkingsdag In Amsterdam

    by appaloosy Updated Feb 28, 2013

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    MAY 4: HERDENKINGSDAG (Commemoration/Remembrance Day)

    I was particularly glad to be in Amsterdam on this day and was very moved to see and observe how the Dutch pay homage and respect to the fallen heros and victims of WW II. It is a very simple, but moving ceremony.

    Herdenkingsdag (Commemoration Day) is the Dutch version of "Remembrance Day" (Nov 11th in North America). Since the end of the Second World War, the Dutch have observed May 4th as a day of reflection, a day to honour the victims of war; and I was fortunate enough to be in Amsterdam on this day to observe this poignant little ceremony held in Dam Square.

    Herdenkingsdag (always observed on May 4th of every year) is not really an official holiday, but an official ceremony is held in Amsterdam with a memorial service in the historic Nieuwe Kerk, followed by a two-minute silence that is observed all over the country (at 8:00pm traffic comes to a halt, cafes stop their music, etc.). It is at this time the country unites in commemorating the civilians and members of the armed forces who lost their lives in the Second World War. And unlike most countries, Holland does not mark the occasion with large military parades.

    People all over the country gather at war memorials in their own communities, and at the stroke of eight the entire country observes a two-minute silence. Then comes the laying of wreaths at the foot of the national war memorial in Dam Square by Queen Beatrix, members of the Dutch Parliament, and people from more than 100 organisations representing the different groups in society who were affected by the war. The ceremony is broadcast live on national television so that millions of people all over the country can take part in the solemnities.

    Canadians have a long-standing bond with the Dutch, as it was the Canadian army that liberated the Netherlands, and it was to Canada that Queen Juliana sent her two daughters for safety and exile during the war.

    Herdenkingsdag - Dam Square
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    Grolsch -> Just like home sweet home! :)

    by Jerelis Written Nov 15, 2012

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    Let’s make no secret of it. We both like a nice cold glass of beer. Being at our travel pace is always a challenge to find a beer we like, which reflects our taste of having a beer. At Alkmaar (and this probably counts for our entire home country) it was rather difficult. We found out that there are a few local beers, only known in the particular area. But anyway nothing really special, which was a bit of a disappointment. Therefore we finally bought the same beer as we drink back home, Grolsch!

    Grolsch Brewery (Grolsche Bierbrouwerij) is a Dutch brewery founded in 1615 by Willem Neerfeldt in Groenlo (Grolle). The beer from Groenlo gradually became better known in the surroundings of Groenlo. Through the years the demand for Grolsch beer shifted from a local to national and eventually international level. It is a bit bitter and has a pale colour. You can taste the hop flavour, and has a alcohol content of 5 percent. You should try it!

    Grolsch
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    Laundries

    by goodfish Updated Sep 10, 2012

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    Packing light usually means doing some laundry on trips longer than a week. The nice folks at our hotel directed us to a self-serve launderette just a few blocks away and a nice trundle with our bag of grubbies across the famous skinny bridge. The attendant there didn't speak much for English but cheerfully sign-languaged us through the routine and we trudged back across the bridge a little over an hour later with clean togs for another week.

    This one had GREAT dryers: everything but the heaviest stuff was practically dry in one cycle.

    If you're staying at or near the Bridge Hotel, this is the place we used:

    Bejo Wasserette
    Kerkstraat 375
    1017 HW  AMSTERDAM
    tel.  020-6239375

    A list of other laundries, both self-serve and done-for-you, can be found here or ask at your hotel.

    http://www.allesinamsterdam.nl/item/10/1057/ia1057_nk.html

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Amsterdam Local Customs

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Queensday and Sinterklaas are typical Dutch events that locals celebrated and you are invited to join. A local Amsterdam event is the Gay Parade. And we ride bicycles, eat herring and speak Dutch...
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