Ahoy Rotterdam (Ahoy-weg 10, Rotterdam) — This is one of the biggest indoor event halls in the Netherlands. World-famous musicians have been playing to packed halls here for decades, but Ahoy also hosts major sporting events and trade fairs, such as the “ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament” (a.k.a. Rotterdam Open) tennis tournament.
Bar Tender (Coolsingel 83A, Rotterdam) — Go to Bar Tender for drinks before you dive into the nightlife. It’s the first shooter bar in Rotterdam and offers a range of 200 different shots. During the day Bar Tender serves coffee, cake and sandwiches. Bar Tender has a modern interior with colorful paintings and a luminous bar. The bar can also be reserved for groups up to 100 people.
‘t Blaauwhooft (Hendrik Jonkerplein 1, Amsterdam) — A plain neighborhood brown cafe in the gentrified Westelijke Eilanden (Western Islands) district has been transformed into a great Dutch eetcafé by the simple expedient of adding a kitchen and a menu. It partakes of the villagey setting on these tranquil islands — which feel isolated despite a location just west of Centraal Station — and brings its own cozy atmosphere to the party. The clientele is drawn mainly from locals who can afford to occupy one of the bijou apartments in transformed old warehouses, yet who don’t want to look like it or to lose touch with their roots. There’s a nice sidewalk terrace on the square, though with an uninspiring view of trains coming and going into Centraal Station on the adjacent elevated rail line. The kitchen finds its comfort zone in Dutch standbys like Zeeland mussels, but runs to ostrich steak and some adventurous salads.
Alexandrium (Watermanweg, Rotterdam) — Shopping mall Alexandrium includes a Shopping Center, Megastores and a Woonmall. With 136 stores Alexandrium Shopping Center is one of the largest shopping malls in the Netherlands. Alexandrium Megastores is a shopping boulevard with 16 mega retail stores. At Alexandrium Woonmall you can find everything in interior design: from furniture to floors, from kitchen to bath rooms and designer gadgets. In this shopping mall with over 44,000 km2 and a wide selection of stores from living, electrics to fashion, you can really shop til you drop.
Amsterdam Museum (formerly known as “Amsterdams Historisch Museum”, Amsterdam Historical Museum)(Kalvertstraat 92) — Located in the very center of Amsterdam, this museum is crucial for understanding Amsterdam rich history. Apart from its permanent art treasures, Amsterdam Museum presents interesting temporary shows – not only about Amsterdam recent history, but also about its people, arts, fashion and crafts. The history of this Dutch metropolis is presented chronologically, on three floors of the museum with a huge respect for the tradition (remarkable paintings). This rich presentation has been made with an eye for different social aspects of the city life, its religions as well as urban folklore and diverse subcultures, including entertainment, prostitution and Ajax football fanaticism. Additionally, a small interactive exhibit in the museum attic allows you to listen to all Amsterdam carillons. Each year the museum presents an interesting temporary exhibit.
More info at www.amsterdammuseum.nl Admission: €15 (adult), €12 (student card), free for children (0-17 years). Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (daily)
Even though scholars note the history of the Netherlands (a.k.a. Holland) as far back as the days of the Roman Empire (when that country was a far-flung northern outpost), from a visitor’s point of view, the real history of the country started during its
Golden Age (17th century). At that time, the Netherlands was a center of innovation and international trade. The city of Amsterdam (the country’s capital) was the leading center for finance and diamonds in northern Europe. Ships sailed from there to the Baltic Sea, North America, and Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam’s merchants had the largest share in both the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company. These companies acquired overseas possessions that later became Dutch colonies.
Along with the colonies that the Dutch established in places as diverse as Indonesia (Southeast Asia), the Dutch Antilles (the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao), Suriname (South America), and for a time South Africa (Cape Province), the Dutch also established an unique settlement in North America called “New Amsterdam” in 1624. Dutchman Peter Minuit reputedly bought the island of Manhattan from local natives for just $24 in trinkets. New Amsterdam grew to include what is today New York City, as well as parts of Long Island, New Jersey & Connecticut. New Amsterdam officially became New York in 1664 when the British took it over from the Dutch.
Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands earned their long-standing reputation for religious & ethnic tolerance to The Dutch Golden Age. By that period, Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Huguenots from France, prosperous merchants and printers from nearby Flanders (Belgium), and economic and religious refugees from the Spanish-controlled parts of the Low Countries found refuge in Amsterdam. The influx of Flemish printers and the city’s intellectual tolerance made Amsterdam a center for the European free press.
When the 20th century came along, its first half was marked by the Netherlands staying neutral during World War I, and being invaded by Nazi Germany during World War II (1940). The Dutch endured that occupation until the end of that war. Afterwards, the Dutch recovered, and became among the more prosperous countries in Western Europe – complete with membership to NATO, and later into the European Union (EU).
In terms of the country’s now-diverse population, a large wave of Indonesians migrated to Amsterdam and other parts of Holland (like Rotterdam) during the 1940s & 1950s (just after the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia, was granted independence). Guest workers from Turkey, Morocco, Italy and Spain migrated to the country during the 1960s. After the South American Dutch colony of Suriname was granted independence in 1975, a wave of Surinamese immigrated settled in Amsterdam as well. Such immigrant populations help explain the diverse cuisine options that visitors often find in present-day Holland. With 176 different nationalities, the Netherlands is home to one of the widest varieties of nationalities of any country in the world. The immigrant share of the population in Amsterdam now counts about 50%.
First-time visitors to Holland will likely fly into Amsterdam – the most tourist-friendly part of the country. Its main attractions include its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, Amsterdam Museum, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops. With tourism being a small part of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) – just 5.4%, the country received 17 million international visitors in 2017 (mainly from neighboring countries like Germany, Belgium and the UK, along with Americans – since English is widely spoken in Holland).