Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam, Holland

Friday June 11, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 5 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

RED

 Keizersgracht 594
1017 EN Amsterda

MAYUR

Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 203
1017 RB Amsterdam

Hard Rock Café Amsterdam
Max Euweplein 57-61
1017 MA AMSTERDAM
020-5237625
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.

www.grachtenfestival.nl

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

http://n8.nl/

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

Best Things to See and Do in Honolulu, Hawaii

Friday June 4, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 6 Comments

View of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, photo by Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown

View of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the North Shore, so they can see that there is more to the island than just Waikiki. Locals call the North Shore “the country.”

When I crave local cuisine, I turn to Side Street Inn. The misoyaki chicken is tender and moist, the kim chee fried rice offers the perfect balance of salt and spice, and the fried pound cake with ice cream is dangerously delicious.

To escape work I hit up happy hour in Chinatown. Indigo, Bambu 2.0, thirtyninehotel and Bar 35  all have great drink specials and a hip, urban ambiance.

For complete quiet, I can hide away at The Kahala Resort. It’s only 10 minutes outside of Waikiki yet feels a world away. Afternoon tea or just a cocktail by the beach is the perfect place to unwind.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at Town, get the organic chicken. It’s brined 24 hours then pan roasted with pancetta, grapes and croutons, then tossed with tatsoi from Ma’o Farms.

Honolulu is my one stop shop for everything vintage! Check out Aloha De Nime  for vintage aloha shirts and denim, Muumuu Heaven for sundresses made of out of recycled muumuu, or Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts for classically vintage aloha shirts.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to Rainbow Drive In for the Mix Plate.  At only $7.25 you get BBQ beef, breaded mahimahi, boneless chicken, two scoops of rice, and a choice of macaroni salad or cole slaw. The plate is large enough to share between two people.

For a huge splurge, I go to Chef Mavro Restaurant. Chef Mavro, a James Beard Award winning chef, was one of the “founding fathers” of Hawaii Regional Cuisine. He is committed to working with local farmers to get the freshest ingredients possible. He’s still on top of his game, as the restaurant just received a Five-Diamond rating from AAA and was named top Gayot’s list of Top 40 restaurants in the U.S.

Luau, hula, auana women, polynesian cultural center, Luxury Travel Writer nancy D. Brown

Things to See and Do in Honolulu include a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center

Photo ops on Oahu include the seven villages of Polynesia at Polynesian Cultural Center, Byodo-In Temple, Halona Blowhole, the white sand Lanikai Beach, or any beach as the sun sets.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Mt. Leahi (Diamond Head), Makapuu Lighthouse, Nuuanu Pali Lookout, or Mt. Tantalus.

The most random thing about Oahu is the Waikiki Spam Jam.

On Oahu, an active day outdoors involves swimming or stand-up paddle boarding at the beach, hiking or horseback riding along one of the island’s many trails, or power shopping at Ala Moana Center – the world’s largest outdoor mall.

My favorite walking route is around Ala Moana Beach Park.

Oahu’s best museum is the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

For a night of dancing, go to Pearl Ultralounge.

Liliha Bakery is the spot for late night dining.

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

You can tell a lot about Oahu’s history by visiting Iolani Palace or the USS Arizona Memorial.

In the spring you should attend Lantern Floating Hawaii.

In the summer you should attend Prince Lot Hula Festival.

In the fall you should attend the Aloha Festivals.

In the winter you should go to Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

A hidden gem in Honolulu is Doris Duke’s 1937 estate, Shangri La.

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Diamond Head Marketand Grill on Monsarrat Avenue, just outside of Waikiki. Their blueberry cream cheese scones are to die for. I also love to visit the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market on Saturdays for breakfast. Fried green tomatoes, North Shore Cattle cheeseburgers, Ohana Seafood’s salmon fried rice, and Neapolitan Pizza are among my favorites.

Just outside of Honolulu you can visit Kailua and enjoy gourmet sandwiches and daily deli selections at the Kalapawai Deli. Then you can hit Kailua Beach, and if you’re feeling adventurous, kayak to the Mokulua Islands. Rentals are available through Twogood Kayaks or Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks.

Experience the Dolphin Encounter Program at Sea Life Adventure Park in Honolulu, Hawaii

Experience the Dolphin Interactive Program at Sea Life Park Hawaii in Honolulu

The best way to see Honolulu is to rent a car, and plan day trips to each neighborhood — from Kailua to Chinatown.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss: Bishop Museum. The Science Adventure Center is especially popular with kids. If you are looking to swim with the dolphins, make a reservation at Sea Life Park Hawaii.

What are your favorite things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii?

Mahalo to Rebecca Pang, North America PR Manager for the Oahu Visitors Bureau for assistance with this post.

Related Posts: Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa

Horseback Riding at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii

Things to See and Do in Brussels, Belgium

Friday May 28, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 1 Comment

Brussels Flower Market

Visit the flower market in Brussels, Belgium

Are you visiting Brussels for the first time? Perhaps my overview of this grand destination will help make your travels easier. There are so many things to see and do in Brussels, Belgium. The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the Grand Place.

When I crave Brussels cuisine, I turn to ‘t Kelderke. Did you know that Brussels is known for mussels, French fries and fine Belgium chocolate?

If you are looking to escape the crowds,  go to the Halles St. Gery.

Chez Leon mussels

When in Brussels, Belgium, eat mussels and French fries

If you come to Brussels, get your picture taken at the Atomium.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at Restaurant Chez Leon, get the mussels +French fries + a beer. If you don’t like beer, try the kierk, a light and fruity cherry or raspberry flavored beer.

Brussels is my one stop shop for chocolates and beer.

When I’m feeling cash strapped I go to Arcadia.

For a huge splurge I go to Comme Chez Soi.

Photo opportunities in Brussels include the Grand Place, Manneken Pis and Kunstberg/Mont des Arts.

The best vantage points are taken from the top of the Basilica of Koekelberg.

The most random thing about Brussels is the Ommegang.

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

Tintin Comic Strip Mural

Tintin Comic Strip Mural, Brussels, Belgium

My favorite walking route is the Green Belt, a new route around Brussels. If you have children in tow, follow the comic strip walk and see if you can spot the Tintin mural.

Brussels’ best museum is the Museum of Modern and Ancient Art. Purchase the Brussels card if you plan to visit several museums.

For a night of dancing, go to the Fuse or the Martini Bar.

The Pitta Street is the spot for late night dining.

To find out what’s going on at night or on weekends, read Zone 02.

In the spring you should visit the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken.

In the summer you should visit Brussels Bath.

In the winter you should go to the ice skating rink and the Christmas market.

A hidden gem in Brussels is the quiet Egmontpark in the city center.

Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown discovers the best Belgian Waffles in Brussels, Belgium

Taste Belgian Waffles in Brussels

 Just outside of Brussels you can visit the Forest of Soignes, a huge nature park.

The best way to see Brussels is to walk or take a hop on – hop off bus.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Natural Science or the Musical Instruments Museum, MIM for short.

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Pain Quotidien.

What are your favorite things to do in Brussels, Belgium?

Related Posts:

Things to See and Do in Bruges, Belgium

Things to See and Do in Ghent, Belgium

Thanks to Liliane Opsomer and Visit Flanders for assistance with this post.

Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown