NataliePace.com Home Page Article
12 Amsterdam Travel Tips.
by Natalie Pace.
your good times. Minimize rip-offs, goof-ups and getting lost with these tips
offered by the Amsterdam locals.
(Forgive me if any of
these "tips" offend you. I'm just a reporter. Not necessarily a consumer of
all that I report on...)
Just Say No to Currency
Exchange Booths. Don't take cash in your own currency. Call your bank
before you leave, let them know you're going to The Netherlands, be sure that
you have a 4-digit PIN code (longer PIN codes don't work in Europe) and then
pull the cash you'll need out of the local ATM. (You will get euros.) Why?
the Currency Exchange booths give outlandishly horrible exchange rates, coming
and going! You could be losing as much or more than 1/3 of your dough (seriously!)
at this rip-off counters. The ATM machine is going to be right next to the
Currency Exchange booth at the airport, making this method as convenient as
the booth. Most restaurants, hotels, markets, et al. will accept your credit
card as payment, so don't overload on euros (which you'll have to sell back
at the Currency Exchange booth for 70% of its value). The ATMs and credit
card companies calculate at the current exchange rate, saving your money and
Gogh's painting "Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette"
The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Buy a Bus Pass. You
can walk almost anywhere in Amsterdam, if you and the weather are up to it,
but it is also very easy to get anywhere you desire by bus, tram or train.
So, at the airport, spring for a card. $20 euro/person should cover you for
a week, if you plan on walking a lot.
- Take the Train or
the Bus into Amsterdam. The local information booth can help you determine
the exact train or bus to take to your hotel. The cost of the train/bus from
the airport to Amsterdam is about $2 euro and is as comfortable as a taxi.
The taxi could be 40-50 euro or more. Of course, if you have several bags,
you have no choice but to take the taxi!
- Bikes. Everyone
rides a bike in Amsterdam, however, I wouldn't recommend it for a first-time
tourist. The roads and markings are difficult to understand and motor scooters
share the bike lane with you. Also, bike theft is pervasive, so you run the
risk of being liable for an expensive bike, if you have the unfortunate luck
of having it stolen or mutilated. If you do rent, definitely buy the insurance
because although the bikes look like cheap, old rickety things, they are $500
or more. Don't be tempted to buy a bike off of anyone who tries to sell you
one for $25 euro. It's illegal and you'll get a very expensive ticket (or
- Just Say No to the
Breakfast Buffet (unless it's free). There are delis, bakeries and pancake
houses on almost every corner in Amsterdam, where you can get very tasty breakfast
items, far more fresh and yummy, than most buffets, for a fraction of the
price! There are plenty of tea and espresso shops, too.
- "Coffee Houses"...
aren't really coffee houses, though you can get beer and other
drinks there. At the Coffee Houses, you buy weed downstairs and sit
at the tables outside to enjoy it with a beer. If your desire is just a great
cappuccino or bambino (espresso with wicked good chocolate), then stick with
the Coffee Company franchise or Starbucks. For mushrooms and edibles, you
need a "smart shop," which most locals (or Google) can probably point you
to. (Sorry: I don't have any tips on which shops are best. :)
- Museums and Houses.
It's one thing to visit an impressive museum where a large collection
of world paintings are housed, and quite another to walk in the footsteps
of Rembrandt and Anne Frank. Be sure to visit the Anne Frank and Rembrandt
Houses, in addition to the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum!
- Keys and Payments.
Don't be offended if the hotel asks you to drop off your key when you leave,
or if the coffee shop wants you to pay for your beer before you smoke your
spliff. The hotel doesn't want you to accidentally lose your key, and there
is always someone there to hand it to you at the front desk. The restaurant
is relieving you of the burden of remembering to pay before you walk off to
your next adventure (while you're high).
- Languages. Most
of the Dutch are bi-lingual in English and Dutch, so there is rarely any problem
communicating with anyone on the street -- unless you only speak French. And
if that is the case, you can probably expect to get a little attitude from
some of the local proprietors. (Not sure what the grudge is all about, but
definitely saw this a lot...)
- Live and Let Live.
The Dutch "live and let live" approach to drugs and prostitution ends
rather harshly if you commit a crime. Crimes include smoking in the wrong
place and littering, so don't assume that you can get high and be a dirt bag
without paying a heavy price.
- Red Light. Green
Light. In the Red Light District, understand that you must negotiate your
service and the price before you get the green light and the curtains drawn.
Everyone in the street sees the negotiation portion of your encounter, so
have your plan and execute it quickly and efficiently to avoid embarrassment.
As one college student put it, "You think you're just going in for a great
time, and you get hit first with the sharp negotiating skills of a Russian
- Red Light. Green
Light. Blue Light. If you see a blue light anywhere in the window (sometimes
just a blue haze near the red light), be forewarned that your lady of choice,
though he may be beautiful, is not a lady.
Now, with all of these
tips, you might think that Amsterdam is just a sin city, and that is far from
what I found and fell in love with during my stay. So, if you're an art lover,
a peacenik, a history buff, a gourmand or a romantic interested in exploring
the Venice of the North, then please read my article, "High
on Amsterdam," from this ezine.
If you want to frequent
the Red Light District and the coffee shops, where you can find most vices you
might desire, then you're on your own. Good luck! Be safe. Take precautions
with your money, your sanity and your life (i.e. wear a condom, watch for pickpockets
and don't ride a bike while on mushrooms).
About Natalie Pace:
Natalie Pace is the author of You
Vs. Wall Street. and Put
Your Money Where Your Heart Is, and the founder and CEO of the Women’s
Investment Network, LLC. She is a blogger on HuffingtonPost.com,
and a repeat guest on national television and radio shows such as Good Morning
America, Fox News, CNBC, ABC-TV, Forbes.com, NPR and more. As a strong believer
in giving back, she has been instrumental in raising multi-millions for public
schools, financial literacy, the arts and underserved women and girls worldwide.
Follow her on Facebook.com/NWPace.
For more information
please visit NataliePace.com.
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