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Amsterdam

PONDER’S AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam is the city of such legendary artists as Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeer. And that is entirely apt, because the pictures that this beautiful city will paint in your mind are quite likely to stay with you forever.
Amsterdam is line after line of brownstone houses that flank the spider’s web of canals that form the arteries of the old city. Take a canal boat along the waterways, and watch cyclists passing by on the cobbled streets, as pools of light shimmer on the ink black Amstel. Try some of the local cheese with a glass of the fiery local genever as you pass. It’s a great introduction to this teeming, friendly city.
Enjoy strolling under the stunning natural canvas of outstretched branches in the broad, leafy Vondelpark, which gives Amsterdam a much needed verdant green lung. Or take one of the beetling yellow trams that speed along to Dam Square, with its outdoor bars and cafes ringed by looming, overly fussed Gothic buildings that reflect Holland’s former role as one of the great European colonial powers. The intricacy of the delft tiles is quite amazing.
The museums are world class here, too. Allow at least three hours for the recently reopened Stedilijk, with its emphasis on twentieth century art and crafts, and at least as long again for the cake rich confections that adorn the world famous Rijksmuseum, with its conga lines of stunning old masters from Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
Amsterdam is a city just perfect for strolling, clean and lined with avenues of stately plane trees that suddenly part to reveal such sights as the fabulous Oude Kerk. The city’s oldest church, this was consecrated as far back as 1303. It is as unchanged today as in the days when a young Rembrandt had each of his children christened here.
Of course, mention of Amsterdam inevitably brings to mind the poignant, claustrophobic bolt hole of the Anne Frank House. The house, now a museum, is open every day. This is where the teenage Anne wrote her world famous diary, before the family was deported to Auschwitz by the Nazis. The very intimacy of the place is quite uniquely harrowing.
And for an unforgettable view of all the old world spires and towers of Amsterdam, check out the roof top bar and cafĂ© of the Doubletree Hilton, quite near to the main railway station. It’s a truly amazing panorama.
Getting around: Most cruise ships dock at the main cruise terminal, right in the city centre. This is very near the main railway station, and the city centre is easily walkable from here.

 

 

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