|Subject: Re: Amsterdam - 12 hours|
You can do/see/eat a lot in Amsterdam in 12 hours. I agree w/ the previous post about storing your luggage at the airport - especially if you plan to to the Anne Frank museum! The stairs in the secret annex are very, very steep - practically a ladder. I had trouble going up with just a big purse.
I would say a canal boat ride is a must. There are a number of companies and locations. You can just walk around the city and stumble upon them. If you prefer reservations there is a tourist office outside the main train station, Centraal Station. Unlike other cities where the train station is on the edge of town, Amsterdam's will put right at in the center of the city. The city is shaped like a horse shoe (U) and Centraal Station is in the middle.
Food - pancoeken (pancakes) and frites (fries). Why Americans call them "french" fries, I don't know. They are actually Flemish fries. Regardless, they are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more local than herring! I have many Dutch friends who NEVER had herring until they met American tourists who wanted to taste it. Everyone eats the fries though. Many, many places all over the city and for the most part they are all good. Also get pancakes - these are not like sweet American breakfast food. They are more like French crepes only served flat rather than rolled. Most common is to get it with cheese. But pretty much anything one might put on a pizza or in an omelet, you can get on your pancake. Check out this site http://www.pancake.nl/
Don't know how famous they actually are, but they are good - and close to the Anne Frank museum. Also the Netherlands is a good place to try out "Belgian" waffles. You can find them at any pastry shop. Again, they don't much resemble the American breakfast food. They are more like a cake or donut. Best covered with chocolate... ok I am making myself hungry here :-)
There is more to Amsterdam than food. With just one day though I recommend canal boat tour, plus one museum, then spend the day wandering the city and enjoying the architecture and scenery.
I would be glad to provide more suggestions and specific details. Once you had a better idea of what you want to do with your time in Amsterdam I can give you specific addresses, tram stops, street names, etc.. Though Amsterdam is a small city and you cannot get too badly lost. It is so easy to get around that if you miss a street you can ask anyone, even another tourist, and they can probably give you directions :-)
Erina in Washington, DC (lived in Amsterdam 2000-2003)