|Subject: Re: Cosmos Italy - Amsterdam|
Amsterdam is close to many interesting towns and cities. It depends on whether you would prefer to explore nearby or go a little further away.
We stayed in Haarlem last year. It is an easy and inexpensive trip from Amsterdam. Haarlem is a smaller city, compact with traditional pointy roofed buildings and not overly touristy with a lovely main square.
Frans Hals Museum - the museum of the Dutch Golden Age, housed in a 17th century home for old men. There were not many paintings by Hals himself but recently I had read a novel about Hals in which he describes painting some of the group paintings. Also an interesting Bruegel the Younger painting illustrating proverbs.
Teylors Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands (opened in 1784). Originally there was a research department (lab) so on display was scientific equipment from the 18 and 19th century, including a group of 25 Leiden jars, each about 1 metre high made of glass with metal lining to store static electricity. The museum building itself is lovely with original showcases displaying fossils, rocks and other objects and in another room, art! Something for everyone. There was a very good audio guide (included in the price).
There is even a little red light district!
Wonderful food at De Componist, Korte Veerstraat 1, (http://www.componist.nl), but alas, it looks like it closed in April 2003.
Cheap and cheerful: Vroom-Dreesman department store which provided a great view and a moderately-priced meal.
There are many other possible destinations - we stopped at Antwerp on our way to Bruges. Antwerp highlights - wonderful Markt, guild houses with golden symbols (St. George and the dragon for the crossbowmen). Lovely low key lunch at a studenty cafe, Did's Bistro - omelets with a huge salad. Antwerp is a congenial city that looks like it would repay a longer visit.
Here are some notes on other places we considered but didn't see (tough choices!):
Delft Part of the Hague's urban network. tram journeys take 20 and 15 minutes. Also train connections. Markt. A walk along the Oude DELFT CANAL, lined with elegant patrician mansions. Oude Kerk (Mon-Sat 9-6, free). Restaurant - Le Vieux Jean, Heilige Geestkerkhof 3. De Prinsenkelder, Schoolstraat 11 (moderate) in the cellar of the Prinsenhof cloisters.
Leiden 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam's Centraal Station. Every 15-20 minutes. All main tourist sites are within easy walking distance of the centre and rail station. Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology), Steenstraat 1. Tues-Fri 10-5, Satu and Sun 2-5. Adm charge.
Gouda Known for its cheese, has a thriving crafts industry.
And, of course, Brussels, Bruges (wonderful), Ghent, etc.
Frances Toronto, Canada http://homepage.mac.com/richardw3/triplog2002/index.html