Author Topic: amsterdam  (Read 3528 times)

shaolin

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amsterdam
« on: June 13, 2008, 10:06:23 PM »
I am moving to Amsterdam!  I got a sweet-ass job.  It is a good state of affairs when my greatest sadness is having to leave Edinburgh for Amsterdam.  I suspect lagatta, and maybe others, will have hot tips.  Job assignment #1 is heading to Turkey for a grassroots sustainable living/environmental gathering.  Hurrah!

Toedancer

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2008, 10:40:49 PM »
Congrats shoalin! Sounds like it suits you to a T, can't wait to hear more about the sustainable Turkey thing. Details.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

skdadl

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2008, 08:29:16 AM »
Congratulations, shaolin! What a wonderful time you will have -- gosh, I would love to go with you, both places. You pick the best places, gril.   :applause:

I haven't been in Amsterdam since 1978, so I'm not much help. Do go to the Anne Frank House and see the actual annex they lived in -- it's an eye-opener. And you'll be eating lots of wonderful Indonesian food, too, although these days I imagine you'll have even wider choices.

I was sorry that I never had a chance to get out of the city and visit the countryside. I rode on the train down to Paris next to a sweetheart of a young farm boy who was obviously pleased at the chance to practise his English -- which was very good if careful and exceptionally polite -- the Dutch are mostly like that, often conservative but charmingly open to new things at the same time. He spent quite a lot of time convincing me to see the real country beyond the cities -- very affecting fellow, still remember him.

lagatta

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2008, 06:55:05 PM »
Oh, this is lovely. I'm sad to say I've never been to Edinburgh (PMs will follow on that) but it is not as if you are moving to the other end of the earth and can't get back there to see friends and ... high elevations. You will find Amsterdam disturbingly flat, with nothing looming over anything else - but mild. The weather is not so very different from London - it never used to get very hot, and rarely bitterly cold. I changed the first "never" to "never used to" as I experienced a weird global warming heatwave there two summers back that was also experienced in London and Berlin - though Scotland escaped the strange searing heat.

Environmentalist quandry - of course the cheapest way between Amsterdam and Edinburgh is those horrid low-cost airlines. This is a shame and even more so now with the energy crisis, but the problem is mostly in Britain, as indeed between Amsterdam and France there is a lovely fast train and you know how to get bargain fares by reserving well ahead etc. It is criminal that there isn't better rail service in Britain. If there were good rail service in Britain, that journey would probably not take more than ten hours - ten useful hours when you can read, work on your laptop, doze, have a drink at the barcar, walk around, look at the changing scenery...

The Indonesian food is wonderful, but there are lots of other places now. Are you a vegan? (I forget, remember that you are a vegetarian). There are lots of vegetarian options in Amsterdam, and it is not a difficult city for vegans, though that means you can't indulge in the cheese. There are a couple of organic farmers' markets - it is great as everywhere to meet the producers of your food.

I agree with skdadl's farmboy friend that there is much to see outside Amsterdam, not only in the countryside - SO accessible by bicycle - but in the smaller cities and towns. The StayOkay chain of hostels has good, clean, friendly places to stay in many places in the Netherlands, and it is such a small, compact - and flat - country that it is easy to get round.

What part of Amsterdam will you be living in? Of course you are welcome to send me PMs, but I'd prefer that anything non-private be posted here on the public board as we need more content in terms of travel and adventures (on the cheap and semi-cheap).

Agree about the Anne Frank House but also see the Resistance Museum, Tropenmuseum, and many more.

deBeauxOs will tell you more about Turkey. I'll write more, but would rather wait for your posts and those from other board members.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

Toedancer

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2008, 07:53:41 PM »
Friends of mine just returned from Scandinavia. Wedding anniversary holiday of 4 weeks.
In Sweden while seeing the Seafaring Museums where Thot Hyerdahals Reed Rafts are displayed, HE had a kidney stone attack. By ambulance to H in Kongsberg, the treatment paid for by his insurance and reported excellent care. He was given drugs until he got home for treatment, then he went off to Heavy Water Plant that was bombed during WW2. I shall see all the pics next wknd. He loved Oslo and said Copenhagen was the Venice of the north. I shall have to ask after Amsterdam.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

lagatta

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2008, 08:22:07 PM »
Well, Copenhagen, Bruges and obviously Amsterdam can all lay claim to being the Amsterdam of the North. Even Petrograd/Leningrad/St Petersburg can make a good case.

A friend who was hospitalised d'urgence in Amsterdam remembers all the green plants at the hospital. Otherwise, similar experience to your friend's.

But there are attacks on public health there too.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

sparqui

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2008, 10:19:04 PM »
I'm so happy for you shaolin. It sounds like a great opportunity.

I've only been to Amsterdam once (January) for a few days but I was impressed. I will add that the famous pissing boy statue was underwhelming :-)
If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor. -- Gilles Duceppe

Catchfire

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2008, 04:02:56 AM »
That is very exciting, shaolin. "Oh, hi, I'm just moving from Edinburgh to Amsterdam, is all." It's also great to hear that the job is good as well, which will make the whole deal so much more enjoyable and comfortable.

Good luck!

lagatta

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2008, 07:24:27 AM »
sparqui .... no pissing boy in Amsterdam ... you are probably thinking of Brussels, which is very close by. Moreover the statue's name is in Dutch (or Flemish, which is basically the same language - slightly different accents and vocabularies, but that is just as true within Netherlands and Flanders
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manneken_Pis

Indeed it is unimpressive, and not seen as very rude any more - except in Florida, reading the story.

Brussels is a short train trip from Amsterdam.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

shaolin

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2008, 09:05:48 AM »
Thanks for the well wishes.  I am very excited!  The downside is my partner will remain in Edinburgh.  He is still working on his PhD and has just been offered a position as a temporary lecturer.

I have been to Amsterdam once, about eight years ago, but I must admit that a lot of it was a haze of neon lights and substances.  I did make it to the Van Gogh museum and Ann Frank's house though.  (And the Sex Museum, which wasn't nearly as good as a sex museum should be).  And I was almost robbed in broad daylight just off of one of the main canals.

I'm not sure where I'll be living yet.  The folks I'm working with are looking for a space in a squat.  I'll be staying with one of them until something gets sorted out.  The office is not far from Station Amsterdam Muiderpoort, which doesn't mean very much to me.  I need to spend some time with a map.

Before I got the job I already booked a trip to France for ten days in July.  By booking ahead and picking a ludicrously early channel crossing I managed to get the whole thing for £90.  This is a five hour train from Edinburgh to London and then the Eurostar to Paris.  The high speed train from Paris to Amsterdam takes about four hours, so it is possible to do the trip in about 11 hours!  Of course, I'll be spending the night in London in order to make the early Eurostar, but I have friends to visit so that's alright.

Still, it is much cheaper to fly.  I will not do this, but I can understand why many people do.  I have spent a lot of time campaigning against the expansion of short haul flights and there's no way I could live with myself if I started flying between Amsterdam and Edinburgh.  I will be returning fairly often, as I still have to be careful with my visa status and proving to the government that my 'marital relationship' is real.  So, I will probably be taking the route via Paris a fair bit.  Living in a squat should free up some money for that.  There is also a ferry direct from Amsterdam to Newcastle, but it takes close to a day and costs nearly £200.

Lagatta: I am a vegan, so I'll have to pass on the cheese.  Still, it seems like quite an easy city to stay vegan.  Paris on the other hand...  My friends in Paris are all meat eaters so I will have to start looking into my options ahead of time.  Lots of falafel, I think!

lagatta

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2008, 11:01:41 AM »
Congratulations to both of you on your jobs. Oh, you'll find ways of hooking up - yes, due to the rail configuration, Paris works out as a halfway point - though of course Amsterdam is well north of Paris. It is SO infuriating that shorthall air travel remains cheaper than rail travel - I was prepared to do the 18 hours from Amsterdam to Perugia, Italy, so as not to travel by air (and I don't mind being in the train as you can read, write, sketch and stretch your legs) but ironically the group I was "volunteer-working" for found a rock-bottom cheap flight.

In terms of eating out, Amsterdam is much more vegan-friendly than Paris, though the latter has better produce (a lot of Dutch produce is grown in greenhouses and is fairly tasteless), and you can find vegan stuff at many organic groceries and even supermarkets now, as well as in East and Southeast Asian shops, of course.

Muiderpoort is in a lively old East End neighbourhood, very multi-ethnic; many activist and community groups, a cheap public market (Dapperstraat). Near Dapperstraat on Eerste Van Swinden Straat you will find a natural foods shop where you can find many vegan foodstuffs. The International Institute of Social History is a short walk, as is a library/documentation of the women's movement. You are close to two big parks - Oosterpark and Flevopark.

The area is gentrifying a bit, but if the squat doesn't work out, rent should be cheaper there than in other parts of central Amsterdam.

There is an organic market in Zeeburg not far from there (more towards the docklands north of the station) but it is not every day. I haven't been to that market - it is fairly knew - I've only been to the organic market at Noordermarkt, the other side of town (old West).

The sex museum is a commercial, cheap-tourism trap. There was an excellent exhibition on the history of prostitution in Amsterdam at the Amsterdam Historical Museum, but that was a temporary show.

Amsterdam is a fairly safe city in terms of violent crime, but there is a lot of thievery from tourists. Hopefully as you blend in that will be less of a problem. Lots of bicycles are stolen, alas, although I know few people who have new ones (those that have new ones have models like Brompton folders, and take them inside everywhere).

By the way, you do remember that the famous "Anne Frank House" is not the Frank family home, but a place of business belonging to father Otto Frank where the family took refuge. The Frank family home was a light, spacious flat in a then-modern district in southern Amsterdam where many German Jews and others persecuted by Nazism took refuge. There is a statue of Anne down there at Merwedeplein , but the flat has residents so of course one can't visit the inside. Anne Frank monument on Merwedeplein
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

sparqui

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2008, 11:23:44 AM »
lagatta, you are correct -- I confused the two cities (although I've been to Brussels a few times).

Whenever I think of doing a long list of errands, I wish I lived in a pretty city.
If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor. -- Gilles Duceppe

shaolin

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2008, 06:32:31 AM »
Quote
I was prepared to do the 18 hours from Amsterdam to Perugia, Italy, so as not to travel by air (and I don't mind being in the train as you can read, write, sketch and stretch your legs) but ironically the group I was "volunteer-working" for found a rock-bottom cheap flight.

The organisation I'm working with will not reimburse flights.  At least anything within Europe.  I am going to be heading to Turkey overland...  I am not looking to any bus travel on that journey.  Long distances by train are pleasant for all the reasons you mention.  Long distances by bus are quite hellish.  I think there are many things that could be done to make bus journeys more attractive and comfortable (see Monbiot's Heat), but mainly these options don't exist.

skdadl

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2008, 06:52:39 AM »
Ah, the train to Turkey -- now, there is a classic journey -- the Orient Express!

lagatta

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Re: amsterdam
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2008, 07:01:54 AM »
Yes, there are things to be done to make bus travel less unpleasant - and safer, as that is an issue in many parts of the world - but I'd at least bring back rail and tram lines where they existed.

Engineers interested in the environment have novel ideas for long-haul travel as well - including a new and safer version of the dirigible or zeppelin. It would be slower than current planes, but could be made much more comfy in terms of space per person. But they only want that for cross-oceanic travel.

I've seen busloads from, say, Poland to Portugal. But they were much younger than I am. I'd enjoy a long rail journey like that, but not the frigging coach. Bumpadeebump.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

 

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