Entries in ‘Amsterdam’ Journal

Movie Review: Maidentrip

Friday January 17, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 3 Comments

laura dekker, movieMaidentrip is a true story of 14 year-old Laura Dekker setting out to be the youngest person to sail around the world solo. While Laura accomplishes her objective, the experience is not so much about setting a speed record as it is about enjoying the journey, while testing herself and her sailing abilities along the way.

As a parent of two young adults, I remember the turmoil her decision sparked in the media and with the Dutch authorities. While I didn’t doubt her sailing skills, I questioned if it was safe for a female teenager to sail solo on the open sea.

Solo travel

As I watched the movie, seeing Laura land alone in the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Australia and Africa, I felt protective of the fiercely independent young woman and hoped no one took advantage of her during her solo travel. Fortunately for Laura her travel experiences, both on land and at sea, proved uneventful.

On that note, the feature documentary movie, Maidentrip, directed by independent filmmaker Jillian Schlesinger, might be too low-key for some movie-goers used to being spoon-fed constant thrill-a-minute, on the edge of your seat action and adventure.

Laura wears a sail harness at all times during her maiden sailing voyage. The only thing that goes overboard during her travels is a pancake she sacrifices to Neptune god of the sea, when she crosses the equator in a long-standing line crossing ceremony tradition.



Laura Dekker, south africaGet up and go travel

The one hour and 22 minute unrated movie is an award winner, capturing the audience award at 2013 SXSW Film Festival. I watched this movie with my husband. As an introvert who never gets enough alone time in the woods, he could relate to Laura’s joy spending 47 days alone at sea. As a journalist, I could relate to the writer on board, peppering Laura with questions about her travels while her boat, Guppy, was docked at port.

“Freedom is when you are not attached to anything,” says sailor and world traveler Laura Dekker.

The movie Maidentrip features beautiful photography and will inspire the adventurer to get up from your seat and go travel.

Where to See: Maidentrip

Movie review by Nancy D. Brown. First Run Features supplied me with this DVD for review purposes, as well as photos. All opinions are my own.

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Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam, Holland

Friday June 11, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 7 Comments

Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown, Wester Church, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Anne Frank

The Wester Church – a photo opportunity in Amsterdam, Holland

Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the Anne Frank House.

When I crave Dutch cuisine, I turn to “Patat met majonaise” (French Fries with mayo) , “broodje kroket” with mustard (meat-croquette); or Indonesian Rijsttafel! The staple Dutch meal is meat, potato and vegetable, in winter combined to a “stamppot,” mixture of mashed potatoes, vegetable with meats on the side.

To escape work I go to Vondelpark in summer; or the coast for a walk in the dunes.

For complete quiet, I can hide away at the Begijnhof.


If you come to Amsterdam, get your picture taken on a Skinny Bridge with canal houses in the background.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at Restaurant Tempo Doeloe, get the rijsttafel.

Amsterdam is my one stop shop for a good dose of culture!

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to a FEBO or a brown café.  They may not the best, but for sure are inexpensive!

At FEBO snack bars, after inserting some change, you can get your treat right out of the wall. Brown cafés and pubs normally serve up great sampling plates with bitterballen (mini meat-croquettes), or cubed Dutch cheese and liverwurst served with a strong mustard. All are best complimented with a pint of Dutch beer.

For a huge splurge, I go to La Rive at the Amstel Hotel for classic French or Restaurant Vinkeles at the Dylan Hotel.

Anne Frank statue, amsterdam, holland, luxury travel writer nancy d. brown

When you visit Amsterdam, visit the Anne Frank statue and Anne Frank Museum

Photo ops in Amsterdam include;  Skinny Bridge, Westerkerk (Westerchurch)

–         Homo Monument

–         Anne Frank Statue

–         Floating Flower Market

–         Museum Square with Rijksmuseum in the background

–         Near or in a boat or canal bike on a gracht (canal)

–         On any bridge over a canal

–         Dam Square

The best vantage points are taken by climbing the Westerchurch tower or visit the Okura Hotel’s Ciel Bleu, their Michelin star French restaurant on the top floor.

The most random thing in Amsterdam is the Grachten Festival. The Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival) is an annual music festival based on classical music performances. Each performance is set amongst venues characterised by extraordinary or monumental architecture boasting culturally historical value. Inspired by the annual theme, renowned soloists and ensembles quite often compose concert programs especially for the festival. However, the festival also features advance performances and foretastes of programs that will be performed at venues elsewhere in the Netherlands later in the season.

Amsterdam bicycling, luxury travel writer Nancy d. Brown

An active day in Amsterdam involves cycling

In Amsterdam, an active day outdoors involves walking and cycling.

My favorite walking route is strolling through the Jordaan district.

Some of Amsterdam’ s best museums are the Rijksmuseum, van Gogh museum, Amsterdam Historical Museum, Jewish Historical Museum and Hermitage.

There are so many entertainment options for a night of dancing in Amsterdam. Depending on your age group try:

Jimmy Woo
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 18
1017 RC Amsterdam

Jimmy Woo is a hot club where ancient Hong-Kong mixes with modern design. Black is the dominant color here, with a large lounge area with black leather sofa’s and a black bar, and of course the opium table isn’t missing. The dance floor is downstairs, with impressive 12,000 light bulbs ceiling. Famous for its selective door policy; either you’re on the guest list, or you join the endless queue.

Club Roses

Rozengracht 133
1016 LV A Rozengracht 133

One of the most trendy hot spots in Amsterdam is Club Roses. An award winning interior totally in style with today’s developments in architecture completes the success of the club. Roses is the place to be with a large variety of music styles on the different days of the week. The biggest names in the DJ world have worked the decks at Roses and many more will follow.

Most restaurants close their kitchen at 11p. There are some late night restaurants which serve dinner until 12:30a. Selection:


Hermitage Amsterdam

Hermitage Amsterdam Museum


 Keizersgracht 594
1017 EN Amsterda


Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 203
1017 RB Amsterdam

Hard Rock Café Amsterdam
Max Euweplein 57-61
Opened on Friday and Saturday untill 00.30h for dinner. Rest of the week until 23.30h.

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends use the on-line what’s on wizard and/or Time Out Amsterdam.

In the spring you should attend Queens Day (nationwide): one big party in Amsterdam as well on April 30 and the April Flower Parade.

In the summer you should attend Canal Parade – Gay Pride, August 7, 2010

Highlight of Amsterdam Gay Pride (1/8 – 8/8) is the Canal Parade with hundred thousands of participants and visitors. The boat parade starts at 2 PM at the end of the Prinsengracht, turns left onto the Amstel and continues towards Oosterdok, passing City Hall and the Music theatre (Stopera).

The Canal Festival also puts an emphasis on giving young musicians an ideal opportunity to showcase their talents, with performances in lively busy public locations.

The event also includes a Children’s Canal Festival, featuring productions specially intended for children of all ages, from babies and infants up to teenagers.

Many of the concerts are accessible free of charge or at a low entrance fee.


In the fall you should visit: Museumnacht, the First Saturday in November.


One night a year 42 museums in Amsterdam open their doors from 7 pm to 2 am and organize special events: workshops, concerts, special tours, performances, with tasty food & drinks. This is your chance to see Amsterdam’s museums in a completely new light – after dark!

In the winter you should go to the ice skating rinks in the city.

Dutch holiday traditions and events from late November into early January (e.g. special exhibits and museums; arrival of Sinterklaas – St. Nicolas)

A hidden gem in Amsterdam is The Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassenmuseum Hendrikje)

Museum Our Lord in the Attic

Apple tart and espresso at Cafe Papeneiland, Amsterdam, Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown

Apple tart and espresso at Cafe Papeneiland, Amsterdam

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to Le Pain Quotidien, Cornelis Troostplein 4,1072 JK Amsterdam

Cafe Americain (brunch)Leidsekade 97, Amsterdam

Wintertuin (bfast, brunch)

Hotel Krasnapolsky
Dam 9, Amsterdam

Just outside of Amsterdam you can visit the Open Air museum The Zaansche Schans, have lunch at the pancake restaurant.

Also visit the Zuiderzee museum in Enkhuizen, a wonderful Open Air museum in a traditional fishing village on the Ijsselmeer.  One hour by train from Amsterdam.

The best way to see Amsterdam is to walk and take a canal boat tour, especially by night.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss:

Jewish Historical Museum –  The Children’s Museum has matzo that raps and the brick wall that talks!

What are your favorite things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands?

Thanks to Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita and Visit Holland for assistance with this post. I was a guest of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions.

Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown

Budget Friendly, Green European Travel Options

Monday October 20, 2008 at 2:02 AM | 3 Comments

Budget Friendly, Green European Travel Options


Budget-friendly bicycles for rent in Seville, Spain

“Are you looking for budget friendly ways to travel in Europe without harming the environment? I wrote this post for the Uptake blog and outlined some alternative forms of transportation.  While Americans like to travel by automobile, in some parts of the world, cars are a luxury and in other places they are a nuisance.

“Bicycles are sacred in Amsterdam,” said Michiel Laterveer, director of sales and marketing at the Amsterdam Renaissance Hotel.  “Like cows are to India.”

On a recent trip to Europe, I was struck by the green transportation efficiencies that were created out of necessity.

“You don’t want a car in Amsterdam,” added Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita of the Netherlands Board of Tourism.  “Everyone rides a bicycle.”

In fact, I spotted several business men and women talking on their cell phones as they peddled to work.  The Amsterdam train station had a three level parking garage specifically designed for bicycles.  With its cobblestone streets and numerous canals, Amsterdam is a city to be enjoyed on foot.

Scooters in Cadiz, Spain

Scooters and motorcycles are popular transportation in the narrow streets of Cadiz, Spain

Scooters and Motorcycles Preferred in Spain and Portugal

Scooters were the preferred mode of transportation in the narrow streets of Madrid and Seville, Spain, as well as Lisbon, Portugal.  While there isn’t a helmet law, most riders sported helmets in the heavily congested city of Madrid.  The upscale city also offers an easily accessible underground and affordable subway system.  The Sunday that I visited Madrid, thousands of bicyclists swarmed the Paseo de la Castellana that had been closed to cars for the event.  I watched from my club room at the Intercontinental as the bicyclists demonstrated their solidarity in demanding bike lanes for riders.  Unfortunately, there is not much room to expand for bicycle lanes in downtown Madrid.

"Eurail Train"

Budget friendly, green European travel by train with Eurail

Eurail Offers Transportation From Train to Boat

For the green traveler looking to cover a lot of Europe, Eurail offers many alternatives from train to boat.  I selected the 10 day, first class Global Pass, which is valid within a two month period.  For Lisbon, Portugal I took a day trip to the charming city of Sintra.  After several days in Lisbon, I boarded the overnight train, #385, to Seville, staying at NH Plaza de Armas.  The hotel was a 10 minute cab ride from the train station.  For a lovely day excursion, I recommend a train ride to the waterfront town of Cadiz.

"horse & carriage"

Horse and carriage in Seville, Spain

Smart Car – Smart Mode of Transportation

Finally, a common mode of transportation spotted throughout my 10 day tour of Europe was the adorable Smart Car.  Squeezed between bicycles and barges in Amsterdam or cozied up next to horsedrawn carriages in Seville, the Smart Car is slowly making its debut in the United States.

While I drive the fuel-efficient and sporty BMW Mini Cooper, I would happily convert to a Smart Car if I didn’t have to contend with SUV’s, Humvee’s and tanker trucks sharing California’s highways.  Our gas guzzling USA would benefit greatly if we were to implement many of the green transportation alternatives offered in Europe.

Is green travel important to you?  Do you find that you travel differently abroad than when traveling in the United States?  For more information on this topic check out the Go Green Travel Green blog.  I look forward to hearing about your travels.

Seville bicycle photo, Cadiz scooters, Eurail train and horse and carriage photos by Nancy D. Brown

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