Saturday, May 24, 2014

Where to stay in Amsterdam

There are so many hotels in Amsterdam, I research the web and found the best values for you.

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam ( 5 stars)

The Waldorf decor is inspired by Dutch history and designs, yet you will find thoroughly modern features such as large bathrooms, wireless networks, and satellite TV.  It's rooms share beautiful views, facing the canal or the courtyard. Be sure to specify your preference when you reserve.

In addition to the top tier rooms you see on the right, the Waldorf has a reputation for "Culinary level" dishes and an exquisite wine cellar in its restaurant, De Librije (Michelin 3 stars). You may also enjoy the refined atmosphere in the Vault Bar and Peacock Alley. Or if you are yearning for a relaxing vacation, you are sure to enjoy the luxurious "Guerlain" spa, where you will have access to the indoor swimming pool, sauna, fitness center and three treatment rooms for relaxing and massages.

As for sites to visit, you will find the Hermitage Museum, only a 1/3 of a mile (600 meters) from the hotel, while the Museum Quarter is less than a mile (1.5 KM) away. Within a short 15 minute walk, you will find the shopping area "P.C. Hooftstraat", and the famous "Flower Market."

Address: Herengracht 542-556, Amsterdam City Center, 1017 CG Amsterdam
Phone: 31-20-7106090
Price starts at $475 dollars per night 



Ambassade Hotel (4 stars) 

Situated in the heart of Amsterdam, the Ambassade Hotel has been expanded to include the facades of 10 original 17th-century canal-side mansions along the Herengracht and Singel, in a quiet part of the Amsterdam Canal Belt. A lovely sight at night.

The decor is in French, Louis XV style. Each room provides  free WI-Fi, air-conditioning, satellite TV, a sitting area and a work desk. For relaxing, guests receive a discount on the " Koan Float" flotation tank and the massages that are offered at Ambassade Hotel. 

For your enjoyment, you will also find two lovely lounges, a cozy bar and a large breakfast room overlooking the canal. An extensive breakfast buffet including pastries, scrambled or fried eggs, and smoked salmon is available for an additional charge. The hotel features a collection of artworks including works from the famous CoBrA movement. When it is time to relax, nothing beats sitting down with a good book and the Ambassade is the place to find one that interests you. They have a library with more than 3000 books, all signed by authors during their stay at Ambassade Hotel.

If you are ready to do some sightseeing, you will find the English Reformed Church, Begijnhof, and Amsterdam Museum within walking distance and the "Flower Market" close by. Dam Square, featuring the Royal Palace, is less than half a mile (.80 KM) from the hotel. The Kalverstraat shopping area is a 5 minute walk and the Anne Frank House is a 10-minute walk away.

Address: Herengracht 341 Amsterdam, 1016 AZ, Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 555 0222
Price starts at $229 per night


Eden Hotel Amsterdam (3 stars)

The comfortable three-star Eden Hotel Amsterdam is located in the bustling center of the capital of the Netherlands, right next to the famous Rembrandt Square and all major tourist attractions. It is only a 10 minute walk from the central station. The renovated hotel offers 218 rooms, with individual air-conditioning, a safe, flat screen TVs with (for an additional charge) movies on demand and a high speed Internet connection. All rooms are non-smoking accommodations.

Eden Hotel Amsterdam offers a complete and varied breakfast buffet every morning at €19,50 ($27) per person. The bar has a range of options for a quick lunch and during the evening you are welcome for dinner in Brasserie Flo. Trip Adviser shows an average rating of 4 stars, with a few complaints such as, the restaurant wasn't open on time or the service was bad. Be sure to check ahead of time to avoid staffing problems which could impact your meal. 

Address: Amstel 144 Amsterdam 1017 AE Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 530 7878
Price stars at $144 per night


Reasonable accommodations

Quentin England Hotel 

Located in the famous "United Europe" buildings, the Quentin England creates a unique experience for the budget traveler. The "United Europe" facility is a collection of seven houses where every house is an example of a typical building style from seven European countries (England, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy and Holland). The rooms are simple, and well equipped with modern facilities to make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible.

It is in a great location, lovely old street and walking distance to great selection of restaurants and pubs. However, it is a little further out from the center of town.
Because it is a little closer to the Schiphol Airport the taxi ride is a little less pricey (15 minutes @ $60). You can also get there with a bus/walk combination (38 min @ $3).

Address: Roemer Visscherstraat 30, Amsterdam, Netherlands 1054 EZ
Phone: + 31 20 689 2323
Price stars at $67 per night



Monday, May 12, 2014

Wishing all of you Happy Mother's Day

Wish so much I could have been with my Mother today...
Wish I could have hugged her, kissed her, tell her how much I love her...
Take her out for a nice lunch...
Give her beautiful flowers...
Give her a beautiful present...
And thank her for everything she did
for me and my sister...
Thank her for the person I am today...
And thank her for all the sacrifices she did for us...
But lost my Mom for cancer.

So, if you still have your Mom...
Do everything you can for her because she did everything she could for you all her life.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Places to go in The Netherlands

As I mention before, I went to Amsterdam 3 times and always had a good time. There is so much to see and do - restaurants, great food, friendly people and beautiful tulips everywhere.

Located below the sea level in North-West Europe, the Netherlands has gained its popularity for being the country of wonderful canals, picturesque windmills, colorful flower fields, traditional wooden shoes, great cheese, zillions of bicycles and rich in art and culture. Amsterdam, the largest and prettiest city in the country, lies in the province of North Holland. It is a picturesque cluster of canals around the Amstel River. Vibrant, cosmopolitan and steeped in culture, Amsterdam is one of my favorite places in Europe.

So, I will post some of the main places to visit while you are there. Have a great time!

1. Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is a "must visit" on your trip. As the name implies, there you can trace the art and life of Vincent Van Gogh while witnessing the largest collection of works by one of Holland's most famous artists. You also can enjoy his own personal collection of Japanese woodcuts to gain an insight into what he felt was collectible. The Van Gogh Museum  is housed in a modern building on Museumplein. The museum has many activities suitable for both adults and children. Be sure to check out the schedule at and select your language in the upper left of the page.

2. Tour Amsterdam by the canals

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the 165 canals in Amsterdam intimately connects the city to the water. Gently cruising along those waterways is a beautiful, serene way to become acquainted with the city. A number of companies operate tours of the city ranging from a 45 minute round trip, longer excursions by canal boat, lunch and dinner cruises, a hop on hop off canal bus service, and personal rentals. You have a wide range of picks based on your  interests; for example, dinner cruises range from "Pizza on the Canal", a favorite with the kids, to romantic, multi-course meals. However if you chose to do it, a canal cruise will give you a historic perspective on the city and an experience that is unique to the Netherlands!

3. Anne Frank House
Is located on the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam, was the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during the World War II. Located behind a swing-out bookshelf, Anne Frank, a small girl, lived with her family and another family to evade the Nazi death camps. Just a few empty rooms in the hidden annex to the house will make an unforgettable impression if you realize, that two families lived in these small quarters for more than 2 years as they hid from the Nazis. The original of the diary is on display, as a part of the Anne Frank House's permanent exhibition. This is a must see!

4. Flower Market
Since I love flowers you must visit the flower market. I do know that lots of cities have flower markets, but Amsterdam's is uniquely different and is a "must see" for your trip. Since the middle of the 19th century, this city of canals has boasted a floating flower market. It is located on the Singel Canal, one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam, this unusual flower market is the most famous in Holland.

When the market was first established in 1862, the plants and flowers sold there were brought to Amsterdam on barges via canals from various parts of the city. It was easier to organize the market on the water than transport all the plants to land and the flowers stood out better on the water. I expect the natural evaporation also helped keep them to be fresher. Today, fresh flowers still arrive daily; but, now they're delivered by land to a barge that is anchored in place.
It is great that the Amsterdam's floating flower market is open all year long, except on Sunday's, so locals and visitors can take advantage of a wide array of colorful plants no matter what the season. Tulips are a popular item here and at Christmas time, the barges are covered with evergreens of all shapes, sizes, and hues.

Today, plants are imported from various other places, so don't be surprised when you find tropical and other non-native plants on the barges at any given time.

Prices are quite reasonable and many tourists enjoy taking home a few tulip bulbs they can plant in their garden when they return from their trip to Amsterdam. The barges also display a large selection of Dutch souvenirs.

5.The Royal Palace
Famed 17th century Dutch architect Jacob Van Campen, designed and supervised the construction of this building. It was opened in 1655 and was originally the City Hall.

Over the centuries the structure gain fame not only for its external beauty; but, also for the priceless beauty brought to it by the famous sculptors and painters who created masterpieces to be exhibited there. Inside you can find paintings by Rembrandt and other greats of the Netherlands.

The City Hall first reverted to a Royal Palace when Napoleon's brother was appointed King of Holland in the early 1800's. He converted the building into his palace and decorated it in Empire style. Many of his furnishings can still be viewed today. When Napoleon Bonaparte fell in 1813, the structure was returned to the city. However, King William I took the structure for his personal residence. The building continued to be used by Royalty until 1936, when it again became a public building. Currently, the building is at the Queen's disposal for state functions. When not in use for royal functions, tourists can visit several rooms inside the palace on a guided tour where they are treated to stories of history and Dutch Royalty.

6. Hortus Botanicus Garden
The botanical gardens offer a tranquil haven from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. It contains over 6,000 different indigenous and non-native trees and plants. Visitors will find a ‘hothouse’ that emulates three different tropical environments, outdoor gardens and hundreds of majestic butterflies that flit around, inside the Butterfly Greenhouse.

If you look closely, you will also find some history inside. For example, a 154 year old lily, Victoria Lilly, is a giant water lily that opens its flower every night around dusk when in bloom. You may also find the centuries-old agave cactus that dates back to the Roman era. 

Because of the extensive nature of these exhibits, you may also enjoy the lovely cafe and coffee house where you can relax and simply enjoy your surroundings.

7. Rijks Museum

This is the largest museum of art and history in the Netherlands. With nearly 1 million objects in its permanent collection, this immense museum attracts thousands upon thousands of visitors each year, making it one of the city's most popular cultural attractions. The Night Watch, an imposing masterpiece of Rembrandt's is on permanent display here.

The Rijks Museum is open daily from 9 to 5 PM and can be very busy; so, you should plan ahead if possible.  The busiest times are Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 11:00 and 15:00, on bank holidays and during the holiday period. As you arrive,  you may have to stand in line to get inside. These lines are for all visitors – except for benefactors or people with reservations for a guided tour or workshop. Once inside, Museumkaart and e-ticket holders do not have to go to the ticket counter. Check online or with your hotel for Museumkaart.

Admission is € 15: adults aged 19 and over.  Children 18 and younger are free.

8.Coffee shops
Since drugs are not a crime in Amsterdam and you want to "really" relax, you can go to several coffee shops in the city and buy pot or hashish and smoke it right there.
Marijuana and hashish are openly sold and consumed.
In the Netherlands, the term "coffee shops" is reserved for cannabis    cafes, and bars often masquerade as "cafes." This can make it a little confusing for visitors. But the Netherlands, the world's winner in coffee consumption (about three cups a day), does have some  excellent coffee spots with Amsterdam leading the way.