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Her Go-Alone Amsterdam...


Evelyn Hannon

Amsterdam is high on my list of female-friendly cities. I've happily revisited this destination many times, most of them on my own and always in relative safety and comfort. Invariably, I've had a "real good" time.

The district I recommend, for journey women travelling solo, is the museum quarter in the Oud-Zuid sector. Happily, the pesky types who tend to prey on female travelers in city centers are just about absent here.

In this area, I like the Jan Luyken Hotel, a four star "gem" owned and managed by a mother and her two daughters. Rooms are quiet, spacious and decorated with a woman's touch. Look for the "girl stuff" package in every washroom--cotton balls, nail file, face cloth, make-up remover, detergent and clothes pins. Complimentary afternoon tea is served in the lounge and your location is prime--minutes away from major museums, shopping and the concert hall. Tel: 020 5 730 730.

Alternatively, if you're on a tighter budget, you might want to check on the Hotel Smit located just around the corner. The Smit is a no frills, three star, family-run hotel located on P.C. Hooftstraat, the shopping street catering to the whims of the wealthy. Rooms are very small, unadorned but spotless. Each has TV, phone and private bath or shower. If you don't expect the Hilton, this hotel's friendly service and quiet neighbourhood locale (within walking distance of the major museums) make it a real find. I've stayed there often. For latest rates, fax: 020 0 629 161 or tel: 020 6 714 785.

In Amsterdam it's easy to have fun on your own.
Here are some of my tried and true go-alone activities.....

If art museums are your pleasure, a seven minute walk from either of the above hotels brings you to a triad of visual treasures. At Holland's national museum, the Rijksmuseum (Stadhouderskade 42) you can contemplate the major Dutch masters. Look out for Vermeer's "The Kitchen Maid" and, of course, Rembrandt's large scale imposing canvas of the "Night Watch." The Van Gogh Museum at Potterstraat 7, is considered one of the best in the Netherlands. Take your time visiting with such lovely creations as "The Sunflowers" and "The Potato Eaters." And, close by, at Potterstraat 13, the Stedelijk houses a modern collection which includes work by Matisse, Monet, Chagall and Cezanne. Just wonderful! Buy some postcards to remember your pleasure!
Visit Anne Frank's Home ( Prinsengracht 263) and pay homage to a young woman with an indomitable spirit. Anne was one of 100,000 Dutch Jews exterminated by the Nazis during World War Two. This visit will probably hurt your heart but it will definitely be a learning experience!
Take a mid-day break. Walk in Vondelpark or, if you're feeling frisky, join the joggers who work-out in this centrally located green space.
There's also culture to be found in this park. Movie buffs can seek out retro screenings as well as other film buffs at the Netherlands Film Museum (housed in a turn-of-the-century building). Take the time to sift through their collection of cinema books and cine-memorabilia. It's considered the most complete in Holland!
Browse Xantippe, the prime women's bookstore (Prinsengracht 290). Ask for their complimentary listing of "women's places." Expect excellent resource material and, their female-friendly postcards are great fun!
If antiquing makes your collector's heart go pitter-pat, head for the Spiegelkwartier where a cluster of over one hundred quality shops awaits your scrutiny. Ask shopkeeper Peter Korf de Gidts to show you his famous white delftware, the pottery used by the privileged in the eighteenth century. It's extraordinary! (Nieuwe Speigelstraat 28)
At Srikandi , a charming neighborhood restaurant, order rijsttafel for one. This Indonesian-Dutch specialty is a delightful mix and match eating experience. Enjoy small dishes of curry, chicken, shrimp, coconut, veggies and a variety of hot sauces all served over mounds of white rice. Wonderful! (Stadhouderskade 31)
Catch a concert of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw with it's world class acoustics (Concertgebouwplein 2-6). Don't worry excessively about dress code. The audience is a genial mix of young and old who appear to be less concerned with dressing up and much more interested in the quality of music they are enjoying. And, don't fret about getting back to your hotel after dark, either. There's a taxi stand right outside the Hall.
Shop up a storm on fashionable P.C. Hooftstraat. Choose Dutch delftware at Fooke and Metzer or original Dutch fashions at Oilily. Stop in at Hugo Boss - the shop with the most female-friendly view in Amsterdam. Do your own browsing while all around you beautiful Dutch men are choosing suits, ties and jeans. A perfectly lovely sight!
Finally, if at any time you feel that you'd like some company or some exercise, remember the name Yellow Bike. I'm told that these folks offer guided walking tours as well as interesting bicycle tours of the city. You can contact them at: Tel: 620 6940.
Need more information?

ClickFor anything from tulips to cheese to windmills, where to stay and where to go, be sure to check out the Netherlands Board of Tourism website:

The Netherlands nationwide tourist info bureau is called the VVV. In Amsterdam, they have four locations--

    (1) inside Centraal Station,
    (2) outside Centraal Station,
    (3) on the corner of Leidsestraat and Leidseplein
    (4) as well as one office at Stadionplein.

The staff is friendly, courteous and oh-so-willing to help. They will assist with everything from booking accommodation, to finding a fun restaurant, to providing maps of the city. Main telephone number: 06 340 34066







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