GO amsterdam HistoryAmsterdam was originally established as a fishing village at the mouth of the Amstel River during the 13th century. The city prospered over the years, with its wealth and power peaking during the 17th century's Golden Age. Today the restored fašades of buildings representing all periods in Amsterdam's history await your visit.
When you first arrive, you are stunned by its well preserved beauty. Be it sunny, cloudy or rainy: in any weather the city can hypnotize you with a sense of timelessness, but the summer is perfect for walking around and exploring this fine city.
Amsterdam's canals were laid out in concentric rings as the city grew. You can walk for miles and miles along these grachts, or better yet, rent a bike and explore Amsterdam the Dutch way. The Damrak, once the site of the Amstel river, is now a busy tourist street lined with cafes, shops, currency exchanges and tourist information centers. It ends at the Dam square where the Amstel dam was located, Amsterdam's original namesake. The square is used for official events, festivals, concerts, and an occasional market. The Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, De Bijenkorf (a department store), all face the square.
In the center of the Dam is a monument to Holland's World War II dead. Central Station, where you can get the metro or tram around town or a train to Paris or Berlin, is located here as well.
Amsterdam is a cultural center with a diverse range of events all year round. The city plays host to several world famous museums including the Van Gogh, the Rijksmuseum containing the National Art Collection, and the Stedelijk museum of modern art. All three museums are easy to find, as they're located on the same street! The world renowned Concertgebouw offers classical concerts year- round, and free Wednesday lunch concerts.
Amsterdam's fine parks are popular places on sunny days. The Vondelpark hosts the National Film Museum, the Vertigo cafe, and an outdoor music venue for free concerts in the summer. Bring your skates! (the weather in Amsterdam is usually cool with several inches of rain every month, so bring a rain jacket as well.)
The Leidseplein is one of several centers for nightlife. With hundreds of restaurants, clubs and cinemas the Leidseplein is very busy in the summer. Street musicians, jugglers and other performers make the square a lively place until the early hours. Another popular area for dining and dancing is the Rembrandtplein. Amsterdam's brown pubs are cozy places to soak up the relaxed atmosphere and some great brew in the country of Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch.
Amsterdam fashions are a bit eclectic. Check out the unusual shoes, a must for the rave crowd! Also popular are plaid jackets, anything in orange (the national color), and wild hairdos with women favoring unique braided styles. In general anything goes!
Offbeat shopping can be found in the Jordaan district where small antique shops, art galleries and bric-a-brac stores abound. The Jordaan is also home to a thriving art community and many interesting cafes and restaurants await the curious.
This is the Cyber Cafe, a great place to explore cyberspace with 3 Pentium pc's, 3 macs and a 64k connection to the internet. Three guilders ($1.80) gets you 20 minutes online: Netscape and AOL are both available. Decorated with very nice furnishings and interesting art works, the cafe serves fresh OJ, and has beer on tap. This is not a coffeeshop, but two other Internet Cafes are; across from the Cyber Cafe is the Cafe Freeworld, with 2 macs and 2 pcs, and the Tops Cafe also has 2 macs and 2 pc's along with a fine hash menu. So get WIRED!
Amsterdam is Cannabis Central: Baba's, a comfortable retreat in the middle of the Red Light district becons the more adventurous. Along with their fine selection of beer on tap, the ubiquitous hash menu make this a cozy place to hang out.