I like finding places or stores that have vintage things that are either great fun to experience or realtively easy on the pocket book. A New York Times blog pointed me to a fantastic looking little bicycle shop in Paris that is run by “two childhood friends who decided to open a totally awesome vintage bike shop.”
I’d love to check out their store in the 18th arrondissement next time I’m in Paris and maybe “test drive all or any of our [Velo Vintage’s] old school bikes.”
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!
I’m often asked to recommend a “gay” hotel in Amsterdam — my usual response is to suggest booking any hotel you like; all hotels in Amsterdam are entirely gay friendly. A gay hotel here (and there are more than a few) has always seemed a bit unnecessary — unless one requires the specialized atmosphere and bondage-equipped rooms of the Black Tulip Hotel.
Though there a number of specialized gay hotels in Amsterdam, they — regretfully — mostly offer a lesser standard of comfort and style than many of the charming Canal House hotels that are merely “gay friendly.”
While my favorite hotels fall in this category — particularly the Ambassade and the smaller Seven Bridges — there is now a self-identified “straight-friendly” gay-owned and -run hotel that is equal in style and amenities to the best of the city’s mid-priced hotels. The Hotel New Amsterdam, located in one of the prettiest spots in the city center — the intersection of the Herengracht and Brouwersgracht — comprises three historic canal houses. Completely renovated by the new gay owners before opening last year, the hotel offers stylish rooms, modern baths, Rituals bath amenities, complimentary breakfast, canal views (from many rooms) and the unbeatable location. It’s not just picturesque, it is also quiet — and yet a short walk to Central Station and in fact any spot in the city.
Virtually next door is the romantic gay-owned restaurant De Belhamel, as well as the friendly Frederic Rent-a-Bike. Replacing and expanding the former gay hotel New York, the New Amsterdam is a worthy match for its “gay friendly” competition.
Amsterdam has finally joined the ranks of cities like London and New York in offering an half-price ticket service. Now you can buy available seats for a wide variety of events — classical music, pop concerts, theater, dance, jazz and even movies at the film museum — on the day of the performance for half price. It’s a great deal for visitors, who may not have made plans in advance, as well as for anyone with a free evening. The tickets are for sale in the Amsterdam Uitburo Ticket office (noon to 5:30 p.m.) on the Leidseplien — where you can also purchase advance tickets (at full price) for events anywhere in the city. You can see what is available each day online at www.lastminuteticketshop.nl, but you must purchase the tickets in person.