When walking around admiring the buildings you may see some unusual wall tablets.
This was how Amsterdam identified their houses before street numbers were introduced, usually they depicted something about the profession, origin or religion of the resident.
In the attached photo taken in the Jordaan district the inhabitant would once have been a writer of sorts.
A wall tablet displaying a mail wago at Singel 74 commemorates the start of the postal system in Amsterdam in 1660. Further down the street there is a tablet with Eve tempting Adam with the apple - this was when that part of the street operated as a fruit market.
Tulip a gift from Turkey
The tulip, introduced to Europe in the middle of the 16th century, experienced a strong growth in popularity in Netherlands boosted by competition between members of the upper classes for possession of the rarest tulips. Competition escalated until prices reached unsustainable levels.Tulip cultivation in the Netherlands is thought to have started in 1593, when Charles de L'Ecluse first bred tulips sent to him from Turkey by Ogier de Busbecq. The flower rapidly became a luxury item and a status symbol. Special breeds were given exotic names or named after Dutch naval admirals. In 1623, a single bulb of a famous tulip variety could cost as much as a thousand Dutch florins (the average yearly income at the time was 150 florins). Tulips were also exchanged for land, valuable livestock, and houses. Allegedly, a good trader could earn sixty thousand florins a month.By 1635, a sale of 40 bulbs for 100,000 florins was recorded. By way of comparison, a ton of butter cost around 100 florins and "eight fat swine" 240 florins. A record was the sale of the most famous bulb, the Semper Augustus, for 6,000 florins in Haarlem.
In England in 1800, it was common to pay fifteen guineas for a single tulip bulb. This sum would have kept a labourer and his family in food, clothes and lodging for six months.
The Sultan Gallery - Amsterdam
The Sultan Art Gallery
1013 HE Amsterdam
The Sultan Art Gallery specialises in nude and erotic art of all styles and flavours. Please take your time to visit their website and discover what The Sultan has to offer. Only part of their collection - which changes almost weekly - can be found here. So when you have the opportunity, please visit the gallery at Brouwersgracht 224 in Amsterdam. Almost weekly The Sultan?s collection expands with the work of new artists.
Opening Hours: Saturday and Sunday - 2:00pm-8:00pm
Contact the Gallery for a list of Artists represented and/or shown
- Gay and Lesbian
Living like luggage
Amsterdam used to be full of warehouses where the goods of the VOC ships were stored until sold. Now-a-days the centre is much to expensive for this and the warehouses have been turned into housing for the Amsterdam locals. The appartments can be simple, but there are also numerous very expensive penthouses within former storehouses. The typical things stay that staircases are narrow and furniture is being towed up and inside through the windows (mark the crane lifts at the top of almost all the facades). The newest building projects actually immitate this way of living. New blocks are simulating the old warehouses that are now dressed up as appartments. This way even the newer parts of Amsterdam still have something of long time ago.
Amsterdam is a busy city, especial centercity and the Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein and the Red Light District.
At times things can be really noisy, like stag parties coming by or football fans celebrating their victory.
Queensday and New Years Eve are also two special days with more noise than normal.Related to:
- Gay and Lesbian
Poffertjes: Mini pancakes with a personality
You can find them in pancake places or in shoping mall cafes or in certain eetcafes.
They're not just mini pancakes - they're stylish and absolutely delicious small bites. The best time to have some poffertjes would be early in the afternoon, however they taste great at all times, even with your morning coffee.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Amsterdammertjes are three-foot iron poles that are installed to mark more or less the sidewalk areas - instead of a curb.
They are basically there to keep motorists from chasing pedestrians onto sidewalks, but their mystical power also works on bicyclists. As long as you stay between the Amsterdammertjes and the buildings or the canal, you are safe from being run over.
I did read in a travelguide, though, that the city is thinking of removing them again, because they need the fines from cars parking in the wrong area.... hmmmmm!
Wrapped up Buildings!
Amsterdam was the only place I have been to that makes an attempt to disguise any building works that are in progress (and there is a LOT of renovation going on!")
This was one example of a creative way of making a messy building site look pleasing to onlookers – and more to the point, the suffering neighbours!
Other examples I saw were huge advertising pictures spanning the whole front of a building top to bottom, one was of a beautiful beach scene (promoting Turkey!), a bright pink mesh cover, and even a cheerful bright yellow covered front of a building!Related to:
- Family Travel
Shopping? BYB - Bring your own bag
The rule of thumb for shopping is 'self serve' & bring your own bag!
Shops & markets that cater to tourists will wrap and bag items. If you go to a regular grocery store, it's do it yourself. No carry out, no baggers, and they are more than happy to sell you a bag if you didn't bring one.
While this usually isn't a major problem, it can be an inconvenience. Like the day I went to the open market in Amsterdam and bought several cheeses. After I paid him, he handed me several chunks of loose cheese. Of course it wasn't going to fit in my purse, and I didn't wish to walk around town carrying a half dozen pieces of cheese... Several minutes later he was able to find someone who had a plastic bag.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Doe maar gewoon dan doe je al gek genoeg! Translates as Behave normally, you will behave crazy ennough then.
There is a very funny book about all our quirks an strange behaviour, "the undutchables", by Colin White & Laurie Boucke. A must read for all people who are staying here for a longer period.
The Dutch are so rude - NOT!
I had a preconceived idea of Dutch people being possibly a bit on the rude side when dealing with folks, since I had read that more than a little in various travelers' opinions while doing Internet research. Neither my wife nor myself found this to be the case, however there was a certain directness that at times felt different from average experiences with people in the U.S. at establishments like restaurants, public facilities, etc. Perhaps that's where some of those feelings others seemed to have come from. To me, one particular traveler's comments on a Website travel page described it perfectly, saying that the Dutch WERE very direct and to-the-point when dealing with people, without the fake and often over-friendliness of some U.S. folks in service businesses and other jobs dealing with the public.
Our first real encounter with a Dutch person was the fellow selling airport shuttle tickets just outside Schiphol Airport, and he was very friendly and courteous. We had a great conversation and he made two stressed-out travelers instantly relaxed. This continued with the guy that drove our shuttle, a very nice young man. All the staff we dealt with at the Krasnapolsky hotel were professionalism personified. Everyone we encountered anywhere we went seemed very nice people.
One funny anecdote though, and it got me thinking about the rude-people thing at the time, was during our first tram ride. Having been in Amsterdam only one night, still trying to get back to feeling normal after the trip there and having some apprehension at mastering the tram routes, we hopped on one at Dam Square heading for the Rijksmuseum. After making the several tram stops along the way, our driver quite suddenly announced to the passengers in English and a little on the loud side, "I will tell you this one time, and ONLY one time, the next stop is for the Rijksmuseum. I will not tell you this again!" You had to be there, it was hilarious. Perhaps one too many tourists had asked him that day which stop it was!
Out and about in public
One of our goals when planning our trip was to try to "fit in" as much as possible, both in demeanor and dress. The "dress" part I think we accomplished pretty well, having decided before going that we would make it a casual-dress stay, and packing accordingly and choosing to avoid fancy events and restaurants. On a future trip I would probably choose to do a more upscale thing or two while there.
Being there during the early Winter made upper-body clothing a bit inconsequential as far as appearance when outside walking around, since we were covered by mid-length coats anyway. For pants, we wore jeans most days due to their warmth and comfort, and probably 60% of others were also.
I personally seemed to perceive less numbers of what I would guess as being U.S. tourists, but of course you can't tell that from just looking at someone (sometimes, LOL), but basing it more on mannerisms, whether someone appeared to be wandering and looking or purposefully heading for a destination, dress, and snippets of overheard conversations. Perhaps due to it being Christmas week. We did hear a lot of German and British-accented English being spoken, a little Italian and French here and there, some middle-Eastern languages, some Asian, and more Dutch than I expected from a lot of folks who didn't look Dutch.
As to the "fitting in" aspect, I viewed traveling to another country as my being a guest in that country, and if nothing else a form of courtesy to "do as the Dutch", so to speak.
Overall, we saw and heard a lot of different cultures represented while in Amsterdam, and I would imagine this is even more the case during the main tourist season of Spring through Fall. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely and feeling quite at home, a big reason why we picked this place to begin with! My wife and I agreed that we both adjusted to being in a different World, quite literally, much faster than we would have expected, and to me that's a tribute to Amsterdam and the Dutch people in general.
My girlfriend and I asked everyone we met - espcially the dutch residents, where we could eat some traditional dutch food...turns out they hate there own food and that there really are not many Dutch restaurants.
In fact, most people quoted Indoneison as the food of choice in Amsterdam...
quite disppointing actually...
The Netherlands are a paradise for pastry's lovers ;-) My favourite one is the so-called "gevulde koeken" made with almonds. Echt lekker !! Now also available in Belgium (and elsewhere ?) in every Hema-shop ;-)
Thank God there are Amsterdammerkes (little Amsterdammers). Those little brown iron poles are a blessing for every pedestrian.
Amsterdammerkes are installed to keep a safe distance between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. As long as you stay between the Amsterdammertjes and the houses, you are safe from being run over.
Every Amsterdammerke has the symbol of Amsterdam XXX marked on its pole.
Little by little these poles are disappearing. Where sidewalks are being elevated to mark the border between the road and sidewalk, the Amsterdammerkes are disappearing.
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