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Handheld GPS for rent to tourists in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the first city worldwide where a GPS based handheld navigational device can be rented by tourists. The City Navigator is easy to use and filled with 500 selected points of interest; tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, entertainment, museums, cultural hotspots etc., as well as various interesting pedestrian routes. The City Navigator helps its users to find their way effortlessly through the beautiful Dutch capital with turn-by-turn directions in all European languages. Strolling through town the users can see on the map which special places are in their direct vicinity. The City Navigator is for rent at various hotels. Prices from 16Ä/day. Background:
Tourists often get lost. In the historical centre of Amsterdam they virtually stand on every street corner staring at a city map trying to figure out how to get to their next destination. The strength of navigation systems that use the Global Positioning System is that it always displays the exact position on an electronic map and that is where the fun starts. Using the City Navigator, visitors find their way without the endless discussions and quarrels how to get to there. Since it is programmed for pedestrian use,(it also works great on a bicycle!) it always takes the shortest possible route, usually taking you off the main roads and through the charming picturesque streets of Amsterdam. The location based service always gives information on the restaurants, bars, museums, shops, picturesque places near their current location. Amsterdam is relatively small compared to other capitals like Paris and London. Tourists still often get lost because they have no feeling for the scale of the City. With the City Navigator visitors can feel free to roam the town without having to worry how to get back to the hotel, and always have all interesting places at hand. The Citynavigator is the perfect addition for printed media (travel guides, etc.) as one can find any address in greater Amsterdam with one touch of a button. More info:

Posted by on Sunday, October 16 @ 08:28:29 UTC (4640 reads)
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Top 100 Things People Like About the Netherlands

There are so many wonderful things about the Netherlands we'd thought we'd ask our readers to share their favorites. Please go to our Amsterdam Forum to add yours! And just to keep things in perspective we also have a thread of the 100 Things You Dislike about the Netherlands. I recommend all Dutch people have a look at that, and see how many of those things you're willing to acknowledge about your own country.

Posted by on Thursday, November 27 @ 03:23:59 UTC (23000 reads)
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New Mobile Phone Law

As of March 30, 2002 using a hand-held mobile phone while driving a car, motorcycle or moped is illegal in Holland. They're really trying to discourage this with fines ranging from 136 to 2000 Euros. This should make driving safer for everyone, but watch out for bicycles! The law doesn't apply to them, and they're scary when they're on the phone!

Posted by on Monday, April 01 @ 16:18:07 UTC (14983 reads)
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How to Use A Strippenkaart

The best way to pay for public transport in the Netherlands is to purchase a strippenkaart, available in most tobacco shops, post offices or any railway ticket office. These multiuse tickets allow travel on any city bus, tram or metro in Holland. You must have these strips stamped when you board, either by using a yellow machine, or by the conductor in front or back of a tram or a bus conductor. To use the machine you fold over the kaart to the line you want stamped, and insert it into the horizontal slot until you hear the "ding." The penalty for not having a valid ticket with stamp is around 30 Euros. And they do check when you least expect it! The most difficult part of the strippenkaart is figuring out the proper way to stamp it. As you can see in the sample at left, there are 15 spaces for stamps (A 45 space kaart is also available). If you are staying in the same zone, you need to have it stamped two lines down from the last stamp. Note the first row is in red, indicating that would not be valid stamp. Two lines is the minimum. Now if your trip takes you out of your zone into the next one, you must stamp it 3 lines down. Likewise a trip involving 3 zones would require a stamp four lines down. If you're not sure how many zones you're going, you can either look on a map which usually has the zones outlined. Or if you're getting on a tram or bus you can tell the conductor your destination, and they'll put the proper stamp. If you know how many zones your trip is, tell the conductor (one zone please) and they'll make the appropriate stamp. If you're staying in Amsterdam's Centrum, within the outer canal ring, it's all one zone, so you just need to stamp it two lines down. The stamp is good for one hour for one to three zones, longer if your trip takes you thru more zones. This info is on the back of the strippenkaart. So you could conceivably take a trip somewhere, do what you need to do, and return all with just one stamp! In addition the stamp includes any transfers even if you're getting on another form of transport like bus to metro or tram. So why bother with this? Well you'll save money and hassle because the strippenkaarts (6.20 Euros for 7 short trips) work out to less than 1 Euro per trip, as opposed to about $1.30 or 1.40 Euros if you pay for each trip separately. You can also pay for your companion(s) using the strippenkaart, just stamp it more times for each person. If you get to the end of your strippenkaart, and there's just one space left, you can still use that (as every Dutch person would), by stamping that one, plus one line on another strippenkaart. That would equal the required two lines for a one zone trip, so you wouldn't waste it! If you're a student or senior or get in on some discount plan, you can purchase monthly or yearly discounts, and you'll get a photo ID so you don't need to pay everytime, just flash your card. Discounted strippenkaarts available for those over 65 (with valid ID), students and children aged 4-11. These strippenkaarts have a red color. If you're still confused by all this (who isn't?), you can go to this website and read ALL about it...

Note: Learn the secret of this mysterious card and save money on public transportation in Amsterdam!

Posted by on Monday, March 11 @ 05:28:56 UTC (48091 reads)
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: Internet Access in Amsterdam

How do you get online in Amsterdam? Thankfully, there's so many Internet Cafes it's hard to keep track of them. The largest by far is EasyInternetCafe, just renamed from EasyEverything. They have two locations, each with hundreds of computers see our review. The one on the Damrak is convenient to Centraal Station with several stories of computers and a coffeebar. Their second location is near the Rembrandtplein. You can also find several smaller Internet Cafes in the area including the CyberCafe on the Nieuwendyke and The Internet Cafe on Martelaarsgracht 11. Many more computers with Internet access can be found in Coffeeshops scattered around the Centrum. Some charge for access, some don't. If you're going to be living in Amsterdam for some time, you'll want to check out establishing an Internet account with one of the local service providers (ISPs). You'll have quite a choice with KPN, the Dutch phone company, offering ISDN and DSL options. Wanadoo, a French company offers FREE dialup access, as well as a paid DSL service in Amsterdam. But the biggest high speed provider is UPC, which offers high speed cable Internet along with cable and digital TV and phone service, all over one cable via the Chello service out of England. UPC has been the source of much scorn and has earned the ire of everyone who has used their service at one time or another. But today their service is much improved and the speed of their network (when it's running right) is unsurpassed by any. If you factor in the TV service (lots of English channels including CNN, BBC1+2, TCM, MTV, Discovery, and more), the nearly free phone lines (you get two automatically!), and the fastest Internet access, at a GREAT Price, it's hard to beat. Residential service for all the above runs about 60 Euros a month! But be warned, their Internet service can go down for days at a time (TV & phone are unaffected)! Although this is becoming more rare. The Dutch have been on the cutting edge of the Internet, and Dutch websites tend to be very well done, with plenty of style, and lots of good information. You can now find many official websites with English versions, including the City of Amsterdam and other national information sites with official documents translated into English.

Note: Find out how to get online cheaply in Amsterdam.

Posted by on Wednesday, March 06 @ 03:30:30 UTC (8969 reads)
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Renting a Car in Holland

If your visit to Holland won't go beyond the city of Amsterdam, then you don't need a car. In fact it's inadvisable because parking is very difficult to find, and very expensive. The city is not designed for autos and few people bother to bring them into the city, when there are so many superior forms of transport available. However if you wish to explore other parts of Holland or plan to travel to neighboring countries then you'll need to rent a car. Fortunately there are several excellent deals available. The best deal by far, especially if you only want to rent for a few days, is EasyCar, located right across from Amstel Station (behind the Renault dealer). They rent Mercedes A class cars that can seat up to five and has more storage than a normal sedan. The further in advance you reserve, the better deal you'll get, as the prices vary with demand. You MUST reserve online for EasyCar (formerly known as Easy Rent-A-Car). Note: They don't allow walk-ins! Also they keep changing their pricing policies, and now charge a 16 Euro cleaning fee! So beware, this isn't such a good deal anymore, unless you're renting for more than a couple of days. I also had an incident where I was charged 240 Euros for a small crack in the windshield, their standard fee, no matter how much damage was done to it! If you need a car for a longer period then Budget-Rent-A-Car is ideal with special deals on weekly rentals, and lots of very reasonably priced models from which to choose. There are several rental offices in Amsterdam, and you'll save money if you don't rent it at Schipol airport, although if you're just arriving that would be most convenient and worth the extra charge. You can make a reservation or check prices online with Budget. Other major rental companies include Avis, Hertz and Europcar, but none of these offer the same kind of deal as those we've mentioned. Please note that Budget allows you to drop off your car at another location, whereas, with Easy Rent-A-Car you must return it back to the same place. Rental company policies vary. Often there are only certain countries you can drive to. Usually Eastern Europe is out of the question and some don't allow travel to Italy (lots of car theft there). If you are taking the rental car out of Holland, be sure to check if your itinerary is allowed.

Note: Find the best car & deal for your travel needs in Amsterdam or Europe.

Posted by on Tuesday, March 05 @ 04:28:26 UTC (9347 reads)
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Amstel Station

Amstel Station Office Towers & the Amstel RiverAmstel Station is a huge hub, south of Amsterdam's city center, on the Amstel River, that provides transportation links further outside the city and to the rest of Europe. Besides the Metro and Trains there are city buses and trams (no. 12), and Eurolines (international buses) has a hub here. One block away is EasyRentaCar. The station is currently under major renovation and the surrounding area will be completely redesigned in the coming years, turning the station into an even bigger transportation hub. The station already has fresh coat of paint and a major clean-up. New tilework, escalators and elevators are in place and running. New shops have opened including several sandwich shops, a Pizza Hut, a ticket outlet for major entertainment events, a small Albert Hein market for snacks and groceries, and more is planned.

Beautiful Mural in Amstel StationThe buildings from left to right, Amsterdam High School, the Rembrandt Tower (tallest building in Amsterdam), the Phillips tower and the Mondriaan Tower provide much more office space in what is becoming a choice location for multi-national business. So if you're planning any trips elsewhere in Holland or Europe, you might go through Amstel Station. There's also a nice bike path south along the Amstel River that goes to Diemen, Duivendrecht and Abcoude.

Note: Amstel Station is a huge hub on the east side with connections to destinations all over Europe.

Posted by on Saturday, July 21 @ 03:51:46 UTC (32273 reads)
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The White Bicycles

The White Bicycles (Witfiets) can be found at various locations in Amsterdam. They represent a revival of a concept that was tried in Amsterdam in the 1960s. Back then, Luud Schimmelpennink an environmentalist, along with an activist group dreamed up a plan to put free bicycles on the streets of Amsterdam. They figured if there were enough bicycles people could just grab one wherever they were and leave it at their destination for someone else to use. So a number of bright white bicycles were set out for the public.

Unfortunately the bikes were quickly stolen, and the program was cancelled. Yet the idea caught on and many other cities, especially in America have experimented with similar systems with mixed success. A battery powered vehicle program called the WitKar was tried in 1986, but there were so many problems with the vehicles, that unique experiement was quickly abandoned.

Then in 1998, this idealistic vision was once again revived by Luud Schimmelpennink, and with the help of new technology and corporate sponsors, the white bike is back! Electronic locks and hidden microchips in the bicycles help ensure they don't get stolen.

There are now 19 depots around town, with 26 more planned for a total of 450 bicycles. Some of the places you'll find them are: The Waterlooplein, Kerkstraat, the Artis, Nieuwmarkt, Westermarkt and Korte Prinsengracht.

It seems they've avoided the most touristed places, as the system is geared more to locals than visitors, especially since the Depo system requires you use a smart card or "chipper" to get a bicycle. The way it works (as far as I can figure) is that you insert a card, enter your pin number, then a bicycle is released to you. You then have a half an hour to get to your next destination. You may have it out longer, but if you keep it out too long, you'll risk being denied the use of the bicycle next time! Update: As of now (March, 2002), I no longer see any of these bicycles at their stations. There goes another great idea, down the tubes!

Note: An environmentally friendly solution to urban traffic and bike theft!

Posted by on Sunday, July 15 @ 13:18:14 UTC (19651 reads)
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Cannabis Smoking Tips

1. There are many reasons to smoke hashish and marijuana, such as to have a good time or to release your creative energies or for meditation.† But donít expect a joint to solve any problems for you. 2. If you smoke hashish or marijuana everyday, try to skip a couple of days now and then.† Itís not only healthier to take a break, but it lowers your tolerance so you can again get high on just a few hits. 3. Smoking hashish or marijuana affects your ability to concentrate, so donít smoke them at school, at work or when you are driving a car.† 4. Some kinds of hashish or marijuana are stronger than others; they have a higher THC level.† An experienced smoker senses when he has had enough.† He knows it is time to stop.† But if you are a new smoker, you donít know when to stop.† So it is important to get some reliable information first about what youíre are buying. 5. If you arenít experienced, it is not a good idea to combine smoking with drinking any kind of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can also suppress some of the more subtle effects of cannabis and turn a high into a downer. 6. When you have space cake, it is difficult to know how much cannabis you are eating.† Before you know it, you will have too much.† So start with a small piece.† It can take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half before you feel anything.† Wait for it to take effect before you have another piece, otherwise you are sure to overdo it. 7. Sometimes smoking hashish or marijuana might not agree with you.† It can lead to nausea or anxiety.† Find a quiet place to relax, and eat or drink something sweet.† Do not panic.† In an hour, the worst of it will be over.† Taking a megadose of B complex vitamins can help you come down faster. 8. If you are taking any kind of mediation, consult a doctor before you smoke hashish or marijuana.† Never smoke them if you are pregnant.† If you are feeling ill you should not smoke. 9. When you smoke hashish or marijuana, substances (tar and carbon monoxide) are released that are harmful to your health.† Using a water pipe or bong greatly reduces the tar content of smoke. 10. Be aware that if you smoke cannabis mixed with tobacco, you are also smoking tobacco.† Nicotine is addictive. If you are handed a joint, always ask if it contains tobacco before smoking it.† To avoid catching a cold or other infection, itís always a good idea to smoke your own joint or pipe.† Passing a joint seems cool, but might be unwise. 11. Do not buy hashish or marijuana on the street.† Look for a good coffeeshop. 12. Do not take any hashish or marijuana with you when you go abroad. 13. Respect the herb, itís a gift to mankind.† Respect yourself and donít overdo it! Thanks to Henk de Vries, the original author.
Added tips (in purple) by Primo.

Note: These tips can make your cannabis experience a safe and enjoyable one.

Posted by on Monday, July 09 @ 08:20:41 UTC (84529 reads)
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Changing Money

There are many ways and places to change money in Amsterdam. Here's some tips to get the most from your foreign currency.

The best exchange rate is going to come via your ATM card. You'll probably be charged a couple of dollars (or whatever your equivalent) by YOUR bank in your country for the transaction. Usually you're limited to about 300 Euros per day (you can ask your bank to increase your ATM limit before you go or even while you're here!). But the good news is that is the only charge (the Dutch banks don't add a charge) and you will get the best exchange rate (although they may now be giving you slightly less than before). Getting money this way cost you less than one percent.

Another way to get this top exchange rate is to use credit cards for your purchases which will be calculated at the market rate. With credit cards, you also have less cash to carry and possibly lose. This used to cost you ZERO in terms of exchange fees, but they may be changing this and giving you a slightly lower rate now.

The next best exchange rate is from traveler's checks, and if you have American Express, you can get a good rate at their offices or any bank or currency exchange. This rate is higher (for some reason) than real money.

If you have real currency to exchange you should be very careful because the rate can vary several percent depending upon where you go. Banks are not the best because they'll charge you a commission of about 2 1/2 percent in addition to a flat fee (like 3 Euros or so). This can add up to a lot if you have a lot to change. But of course they calculate this based upon the official rate of exchange. But let's say you change $100, you'd pay $2.50 plus 3 Euros to the bank for the transaction, which would work out to about 5%!

Many money changers work the same way, charging you two fees for one transaction. They also use some deception to make you think you're getting a good deal. But their rates are never anywhere near the "official rate", so you're getting a lousy deal all around.

Thus far we have found only one change place we can recommend, and that is Lorentz change. They charge no commision or fees, so you get exactly the rate posted, which is usually a few cents below the "official rate". That's it. Sure makes it easy to figure out, AND it happens to be the best deal in town, just as their signs claim. The second best place is probably Pott Change. Avoid the Thomas Cook as these seem to be the worst and surprisingly the busiest! Notice: As of Jan. 28, 2002 the Guilder is no longer legal tender in Holland! The conversion rate for Guilders to Euros is 2.203 guilders per Euro. For current exchange rates check out the Universal Currency Converter.

Note: There are many ways and places to change money in Amsterdam. Here's some tips to get the most from your foreign currency.

Posted by on Friday, July 06 @ 09:03:38 UTC (20341 reads)
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