The home of the world's best chocolate
The city which got the name after the river Amsel (or the beer, who'd know?) has been built on 90 islands connected with 1,281 bridges. So, a canal cruise is the best way to see historic buildings some 400 years old that once belonged to wealthy merchants. And there are plenty of them: there are thousands of buildings protected as monuments, from big warehouses to small but elegant houses lined along the city canals. Take a boat and in no time you will be back in the days of great sail boats that came from Far East with all kinds of spices.
You can also wander around on foot through old narrow streets, and on that walk you should not miss Jordaan district where you will find the home of the famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn. In that district you can find the best "brown cafes" that got that nickname because their walls are brown after years of smoking. One of the most famous is Cafe Chris opened in the middle of the 17th century. Step in and drink a fantastic Quadrupel beer like old sailors did many years ago.
Wherever you go it seems that every road leads to the Dam Square. That large square is near the Centraal Station and at the crossing of all main streets. On and around the square you can see some of the most important city landmarks. On the west side there is Royal Palace, beside it there is the New Church built in the 15th century, and opposite to them there's the National Monument, a statue made of white stone, and high-end hotels. No wonder that the Dam Square is the main tourist destination in the city.
On that square you will see why Amsterdam is people friendly city. You may just stand there watching street performers but if you want to make a photo leave them a tip. From the Dam Square you can take a slow walk down the Damrak street which is The Netherlands' Wall Street but also the street full of restaurants, cafes and shops that are just calling you to buy something. Pay attention to antique things: this city is a great source of affordable antiquities.
While we are at shopping, diamonds are the best souvenir you can bring home. Visit Coster Diamonds at Paulus Potterstraat and take a look at masters who must spent 15 years to become experts in diamond cutting. No matter how big stone you choose, you may be sure that it is cheaper than anywhere else. Beside diamonds, what's the second best you can give to your lady? A chocolate, of course. Well, you are at the right place. Amsterdam is the home of the world's best chocolate factories and one of them is Puccini Bomboni called the Chocolate Euphoria. Just step in and you'll know where the name came from.
If you have no money for all day shopping, don't despair: there are a lot of museums where you can see some of the best masterpieces in the world and entrance fees are symbolic. Now, we'll show you just three and you will find the rest easily. The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in The Netherlands, situated in a fascinating Neo-Gothic building. Rembrandt and Vermeer are here. Enough said. Van Gogh is the name big enough to have its own Museum but it's also the home for the works of Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec.
After a day full of new sights and sounds, you can rest listening some music. One of the best places for that is The Paradiso, a former church divided in the big hall and the small hall. While big is the host for the biggest music stars in the world, in the small one you can enjoy some classic music or local jazz band. Just a few minutes to the north there's Cafe Nielsen, the locals call it the place of the best sandwiches in town. Nielsen is situated in Nine Little Streets, one of the city's best shopping areas, and if you didn't buy anything until now, well, now you will. ■