Dam Square, Amsterdam
My sister and I, both in our 40's, spent two weeks in Amsterdam and surrounding countries last summer. We did not intend to be out late but always found ourselves out after the trams closed and had to walk back to the apartment by Vondelpark. I quess we were lucky as no one bothered us..we did stay on the largest streets, etc; however, it was dark and lonely sometimes. We just walked confidently and acted like we knew what we were doing and others just went on there merry way. My sister, from Florida, tried to freak a few times but finally adjusted to the different cultures and all.
We were all over the city at various times of the day and night. The only time anyone approached us was at the Van Gogh museum during the day. We were at the tram stop looking at the posted map and a guy offered to help us with the map for some small change. We said "no thanks, we can read a map" and he politely walked away. Of course, we were teased many times at local coffeeshops and markets for our "American" ways but it was in jest!
We probabily had more people hassle us in Paris than anywhere in the Netherlands. Seem to be a great bunch of peoples!!
Hope to see them again this summer.....
Just be street smart...I hate to say it but, more than likely, you would be in more danger waling the streets of my country!!
There was a street performer that was all silver, I was going to take his picture & he yelled "Stop, you are American, Saddam will kill you & your family", I was so embarressed & shocked, Dam Square was packed with people, I just walked away and he kept yelling till I was about 300 yards away! So I suggest if you see that you pass on taking a picture of him. He sure put a damper on my afternoon. I took a picture of a differant one before that and it was fine! See pic.It's also polite to tip them!
When planning a future trip to this remarkable city, we would probably choose another area for lodging (but possibly not), partly due to already having done that, so to speak. The Leidseplein area looked to be a good choice, still with plenty of people and activities much like Dam Square, but with a little more upscale look and feel about it. Also possibly the Museum District near the Rijksmuseum.
Fact is though, we enjoyed our particular apartment at the Kras so much, and felt it was such a great deal as to price compared to most of the other nicer hotel rooms, we just might stay here again.
As far as general street safety goes, it took us awhile before noticing it for some reason, but there appeared to be a distinct lack of police personnel in uniform anywhere we went. Kinda odd considering the large numbers of people about and our home base being in such a central area. I had read that Amsterdam uses a lot of plain-clothes police officers on the streets, and perhaps that's the case.
If someone were to ask me about staying at the Krasnapolsky hotel, one of their apartments, or other hotels in the Dam Square area, and looking for the absolute safest area of the city for lodging and as far away from scummy types as possible, I would probably tell them look elsewhere. Having said that, my wife and I felt pretty darn safe in our apartment, largely due to the building security arrangement with its door key for access combined with our unit being one level above the street and not having the windows easily accessible. We did keep our wits about us, of course, especially when coming and going from the building after dark.
Keep in mind that Dam Square is a central hub area of the city, drawing lots of visitors, and is the first large gathering and sight-seeing area for incoming tourists and those looking for possible lodging not previously arranged. It's the first main area you'd hit when coming in by train at the Central Station and walking or tramming into the heart of the city, just a short distance down the Damrak. It's just where I'd go, after Central Station, if I were a purse-snatcher or pickpocket.
Also, the Dam is just down the street from the edge of the Red Light District, from everything I've read not a high-crime area as some might think. It stands to reason, though, that if selling drugs or up to other mischief, this would be an area yielding more customers than a conservative or residential area of the city. We did see (and hear from our apartment a time or two) a couple of guys who might have been selling wares other than the usual souvenirs on the street just outside our unit and later at night. If taking a left turn when exiting our building from the back side, rather than walking down an alleyway leading to the main hotel building, the street was not as well-lit at night as most and headed past some coffeeshops into the Red Light District. Did we stroll here at night? Of course not.
My first night of a 14 night stay in Europe began in Amsterdam. I was walking through the Red Light District, just fine, but then I was walking through Dam Square and this guy comes running up to me introducing himself. Then I tried to ignore him, but he got more agressive, and then he threatened me, saying he had a gun, he was desperate, so give him 20€. I attempted to give him some change, but he persisted, so I had to look in my wallet, hoping all I had was a 5, but there it was, 20€. This was not in a dark alley. This was in the middle of a square where people were ice skating for Christmas fun. Amsterdam is not my favorite city by far. Watch out!
Amsterdam's a city with loads of pigeons. That means you should be careful and watch out, ... in Centraal Station square i took this curious photo - it is very dark, ... :-( - that shows that pigeons do get everywhere. This pigeons where eating inside some small fast food restaurant. Curious thing was that owner/employee didn't seem to bother at all.
Lots of things are going on around Dam Square, especially on the weekends. Make sure you don't get caught up in all the activity and forget that you must not be a target.
Be aware of your money, camera and any other personal possessions including spouses. Remember there are people there specifically to rob someone, don't be that someone.
Don't get too distracted.
When we stood on the Dam tinkling bells sounded and mantra singing came closer.
It was the Krishna people crossing over .... great to see the mime player looking at them....and on the back of the sac one of the Krishna folks is wearing it reads: no fuzz, makes the difference.
Be careful when feeding the pigeons so you don't end up like this poor boy :)
This was a performance for the tourists, of course.
The Amsterdam pigeons are quiet impudent. The moment you leave your food unattented count for a pigeon attack.
they r just everywhere! aaargh! don t let them come to close for it seems they can make you dangerously sick!
Wander away from the Dam area and visit the streets that ly behind it.Click on the picture to get a better view.