Amsterdam is as lively–and enjoyably shocking–as ever. The old standbys (Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum) have reopened after closures for renovations, and there are some new joys for sightseers.
The area just east of the extremely central Central Station has a fixed-up, glassy high-rise feel. Anyone is welcome to venture into the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel and head up 11 floors to the rooftop Sky Lounge. Come here to enjoy a drink–and what is suddenly the best “high-wide” view over Amsterdam.
Amsterdam’s big three art museums gather at the Museumplein–its museum park. The park itself is a people-friendly delight. The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, understandably popular, are plagued by long lines. But the local favorite (and a great opportunity to just be in the modern art world) is all yours at the newly reopened Stedelijk Museum. London has its Tate Modern. Paris has the Pompidou. And Amsterdam offers an equally stimulating modern art museum. Like the others, it combines striking architecture (it’s nicknamed “the bath tub” because of its odd shape), 20th-century favorites (Dali, Picasso, Kandinsky), and crazy contemporary art. While I’m not a big fan of abstract art, I found the contemporary sections of the Stedelijk really fun. What are your favorite modern art museum experiences in Europe?
Amsterdam’s mayor is pushing an initiative to take the sleaze out of the sex and drug industries–businesses that the city famously tolerates. While fans of sex and drugs worry he’s rolling back the tolerance that is so endearing about Dutch society, I think he just wants to show that sex and drugs don’t need to be sleazy…and he’s doing a good job at it. The Red Light District is now a little more compact; windows promoting fashion and artists are now spliced in among all the windows with red lights and enticing women. And the streets remain the happy domain of regular people out having fun without the layer of shady characters making money in shady ways. I’d love to hear others’ feeling or stories about Amsterdam’s Red Light District.