Not that Amsterdam is particularly dangerous for women, it's just that the kind of place you would prefer not to be on a leash.
If you're going there to fulfill your kinkiest fantasies, smoke weed, and have a blast in general, Amsterdam is the place for you.
If you're a culture vulture, honestly - go elsewhere...
Amsterdam is only beautiful if you're not used to the sight of canals and narrow brick houses. Living in Belgium (similar but better
) , I'll admit I'm jaded by seeing pretty much the same architecture here on a daily basis, but if you're into canals, Brugge and of course Venice put Amsterdam to shame.
Amsterdam is in fact not a very ancient town, most places of historic interest are only from the 17th century, the golden age of the city. The Royal Palace is an eyesore and almost all churches are dull and uninspired (not to mention empty
). However, be sure to check out the Oude Kerk, if only for the hell of taking a picture with a brothel and a church in the same frame.
Distance between the two: circa 20 feet.
The world-famous Rijkmuseum is being renovated till 2010 and only a handful of rooms are open at any time. If queuing for an hour to see 10 paintings sounds like fun, go for it.
The Van Gogh museum is a rip-off and the crowds will drive you nuts; ditto Anna Frank Huis; ditto the Museum of Torture Instruments (dusty, cramped and cheesy to boot). The Sex Museum will give you a chuckle though, and the flower market is interesting if not really unforgettable.
The Vondelpark, once the rallying point of all the world's hippies, is now a rather sad and empty place, often occupied by beggars and drug addicts.
Safety is OK
if you refrain from walking under the canal bridges at night and avoid dark alleys and the docks area (duh...). Stick to the crowds but beware of pickpockets.
Everybody in Amsterdam speaks English, and I mean everybody
, so don't ask the people if they do or you'll get some indignant stares
The Netherlands is certainly one of the best places in the world to live and the people are phenomenally tolerant, worldly and educated. Amsterdam, however... wouldn't make it to my top 100 favorite cities. Not my kind of place...
Wherever you stay there, at all costs avoid the youth hostel on the Barndesteeg just off the Niewmarkt. It's run by American missionaries and markets itself as an oasis of virtue in Sin City, but it has the charm and atmosphere of a monastery.
[Edited 2007-09-11 00:00:30]
[Edited 2007-09-11 00:01:55]