buy DVD

Amsterdam top

Across the Channel, other cities are calling. It’s been hundreds of years since rural folk drawn to fresh opportunity poured into Europe’s urban world. By the late 19th century, artists and poets were trying to lure people back to the simplicity of the countryside. But to no avail, the giant cities grew like crazy.

And one of the craziest is Amsterdam. The village named for ‘the dam in the Amstel River’ 800 years ago thrives today amidst busy canals, 400 bridges, and hordes of people. It’s a major port, an international financial hub, and one of Europe’s top tourism magnets. The city built up over soggy land sits in a county called Holland in a country called The Netherlands, and the national language is Dutch. Confusing? Relax. It’s a welcoming metropolis.


You can find the Official Amsterdam Site at www.visitamsterdam.nl. If you're interests also lie outside of Amsterdam, visit www.visitholland.com.


Getting Around Town... top

A quick take on Amsterdam—canals, bicycles, an open door attitude. Exactly. But none of it came easily. To get a sense of this city’s legacy of tolerance and its passion for arts, we have a full day ahead. And I promise you , it will end with an international culinary flair—Indonesian Rijisttafel.

Grab a free bicycle and take a spin. You’ll quickly get a sense of the maze of canals, and the ethnic diversity bearing out the country’s hospitality. Foreigners have always been a familiar sight here. As early as 1602, Dutch merchants traded around the world, and religious refugees have long made a beeline for the Netherlands. Despite off-the scale population density, the Dutch insist on a people-friendly, high standard of living.


For information about Amsterdam's "White Bike" system, visit www.depo.nl and www.tve.org. For information about Amsterdam's public transportation system, check out www.gvb.nl.


The Van Gogh Museum top

The Van Gogh Museum houses the world’s largest collection of the Dutch artist’s work. Vincent Van Gogh lived mostly in France, and only in his final ten years--1880 to 1890--did he take up drawing and painting. He moved from urban Paris to rural France, from rich, heavy colors to vibrant light, and from Impressionism to his famous linear style. Plagued by turmoil much of his life, Van Gogh killed himself at age 33. His grief-stricken brother brought hundreds of his paintings and drawings back home to Amsterdam. Today, Van Gogh’s art is the most recognized in the world.


For more information about the Van Gogh Museum, visit www.vangoghmuseum.nl.


The Rijksmuseum top

But for pure Dutch, if you see nothing else in Amsterdam, you must visit the Rijksmuseum. In the city’s long-lived passion for art, the country’s eclectic past and culture unfold in vivid, detailed images.

Lucky for us, Amsterdam’s 17th century boom meant work--a livelihood for artists. Commissioned by the rich to immortalize their prestige, the painters focused on landscapes, faces, costume—whatever portraits depicted ownership and the good life. Johannes Vermeer lit magically the most ordinary daily routine. Frans Hals created with attitude—he captured the moment—often with vitality and humor.

But...Rembrandt ruled! Known as the greatest master of the Dutch school, Rembrandt reigns as genius artist historian.

VO At all hours, crowds gather around The Shooting Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq completed in 1642. Well-known as the Night Watch, Rembrandt’s piece caused an uproar. He had not posed the soldiers in a dignified lineup, but made them ‘men on the move,’ expressive and in perpetual motion. Rembrandt’s universal appeal lies in his profound mastery of the richness of human character.


For more information about the Rijksmuseum, visit www.rijksmuseum.nl.


Indonesian Rijsttafel top

We promised a sublime finale in Amsterdam. As Dutch as windmills and canals, a feast of Indonesian dishes or Rijsttafel will cap our day. Ranging from mild to highly spiced Indonesian food, the ‘rice table’ includes fish, meat, vegetables, rice, and a spicy sauce called sambel. Today, the Indonesian Rijstafel is a full-grown feature of Dutch cuisine.


For more information about Puri Mas Indonesian Restaurant, visit www.purimas.nl.


Interested in planning your vacation to Amsterdam?
Start your trip at
Expedia.com/Central Europe