Subject: Re: help on Amsterdam, Germany, France
Hi, Meg,

I am an American living in Amsterdam and I would be glad to answer any questions you have - or at least try. We are normally a chatty group, but like Amelia said, we recently had a discussion on Amsterdam which should be in the group archives on e-groups.

Amsterdam is small, compact city, but there is a lot to see and do. How long will you and your sons be visiting? Just a few of the major highlights include o Rijksmusuem (give it at least half a day, but you could easily spend several days there) o Van Gogh musuem (very nicely done - and this from someone who is not a Van Gogh fan. Small museum you could probably see it all in 2-3 hours) o Canal boat tour - there are hour long tours all day and evening long. No advance reservations required.

Personal favorites of mine o Vondelpark (Amsterdam's answer to Central Park. Great place to walk, roller blade, bike, and people watch at anytime of year, but most lovely in Spring &Summer when the mini-English garden is at its best. The park has an odd menagerie - lamas, horses, a variety of farm animals, crains and parrots. The parrots are wild - apparently some college students released a few into the park 40 years ago and they have been healtily breeding ever since!)

o Amsterdam Historical Museum on Spui (as the name says it all. It's not as widely visited as other musuems in Amsterdam, because it is relatively new but attention is growing. Well worth a trip! It is small and can easily be done in an afternoon. If you are not into art, I would recommend it over the Van Gogh museum.)

o Evening wine &cheese boat tour (the wine and cheese weren't really that good - not compared to what you can get at a restaurant or even a grocery store. However, the evening canal tour was much, much, much better than the normal canal tours. This tour is about 2-2.5 hours long and has a personal guide vs a recording. The tour I went on included a stop at a traditional brown cafe for Dutch gin).

hmmm... this ended being longer than I planned ;-P And there is still so much more I could say! There are many more places to visit and some great walking tours. Amsterdam is also a great city to explore on your own even without a map. There are several nice half day and a couple full day bus tours you could take to see the traditional country sights- cheese, wooden shoes, windmills, and tulips. I would also highly recommend a day trip to Den Haag (easily done without a guided tour) and Brugges in Belgium (gives you an impression of what Amsterdam might have been like in the late middle ages).

If you have any specific questions I'd be glad to help.

Erina Amsterdam, The Netherlands