Amsterdam A to Zed: B is for bicycle


You just have to ride a bicycle—it’s by far the quickest, easiest way around the city. It may look intimidating at first, but once on a bike you have the advantage as bicycles have the right-of-way. Rent one from Frederic Rent-a-Bike—their bikes don’t have any annoying logos that label you as a tourist. (Many shops that sell bikes also rent them—without the tourist identifying adverts—just ask.) Sadly, bike rentals are not the bargain they once were (now about 10 euros a day, with discounts for longer rentals) so when you rent one, do use it!

Frederic Bike Rentals
Brouwersgracht 78

Amsterdam A to Zed: A is for app



One of the things that makes Apple’s iPhone so addictive are the wide range of third party created “apps” (which do span the admittedly silly to the overly complicated) but also include many which are downright useful and easy to use.

Kudos to the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions for creating the elegantly designed Amsterdam Mobile Guide app. Download this to your iPhone (it’s available absolutely free from the iTunes App Store!) and you’ll have a combination city map/guidebook right on your phone. While far from comprehensive, the maps are great, and there’s good information on sights, museums, cafes, and restaurants. While it’s at its best while connected to the internet (where you can use it to pinpoint your exact location) it’s also quite useful offline (saving expensive connection charges) as most of the information is stored right in the app itself, providing useful descriptions of historical sights, museum opening hours, cafes, restaurants, shops and more.  And so far, the board of tourism seems to be committed to keeping it current with regular updates. One of the best travel apps I’ve come across, the Amsterdam app is simple to use, well designed, a great portable map—and much more.

iPhone image from The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions.

Cane Parking


On the Campo di Fiori in Rome we came across a concept we’d like to see catch on world wide: cane parking. Outside a shop on the square, there was a convenient hitching post to park your dog while you went inside to pick up some wine and cheese….