Subject: Amsterdam accommodations+Brouwer
Hello Fran, Janet's suggestion of the Brouwer hotel seems worth while looking into. I can't vouch for the hotel itself (but Janet's return visit speaks for itself). I do know the location very well, since every time I go to Amsterdam I use my brother's pied-a-terre on the other side of het Singel canal (lucky me). The address is very convenient, a 10-20 minutes walk from the railway station (depending on the weight of your luggage) and everything else walkable, certainly the Dam, the city's center. I even walk to the museums, half an hour or more, but in Amsterdam the distances fly by; there's so much to see.

The canals in Amsterdam are laid out as horseshoes, starting and returning from the harbor. The Singel is the innermost and oldest canal in Amsterdam. The next one is the Herengracht (Gentleman's canal), followed by the Keizersgracht (Emperor's canal)and the Prinsengracht (Prince's canal). The order tells you something about the priorities in the old Amsterdam civic sense. Amsterdam is probably the oldest city where burghers were in charge, rather than an emperor or prince. In the Middle Ages, the aristocracy had to beg entrance into the city.

The Singel is a lively and stately canal with canal houses converted to apartments, offices and here and there red-lit windows for the oldest profession, as everywhere in Amsterdam. Closer to the station and in streets behind, you will find many coffeeshops, the tolerated places where one can buy and smoke a joint. Mainly catering to the tourists, the Dutch are not interested. All this is part of Amsterdam.

The Herengracht is more sedate, with impressive canal houses. The most picturesque canal, imo, is the Brouwersgracht, in between the Singel and the Herengracht, especially at night with the bridges lit.

A good site to find your way about Amsterdam, or any other European town, is http://www.mappy.com

Frieda