Dutch Treat: I AMsterdam

“I AMsterdam” by the Amsterdam tourism promotion goes the way of social media with clever branding, Instagram moments and English speaking locals.

Looking to connect via social media, Amsterdam is capitalizing on the English language to get its message across via the slogan “I AMsterdam.” After all, Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency estimates that 91% of the Dutch can speak English well. That’s only part of the reason why Americans have long been fond of visiting the land of windmills, tulips and friendly people.

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Always Amicable Amsterdam

amsterdamAmsterdam’s hotels appeal to Western tastes. They include conference hotels like the Marriott, boutique 17th century canalside conversions like Starwood’s Luxury Collection Pulitzer, grand old dames of Dam Square such as the Krasnapolsky and Hotel de L’Europe on the Amstel River, pinged as perfect by Condé Nast readers.

Schiphol, the top-rated airport, provides quick access to Central Station, which is just as convenient as its name implies. In turn, that landmark is a walk to almost everywhere in this rather compact city of canals and bridges, one more picturesque than the one before.

Mind the bicyclists. Whether you’re headed to the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House, Rijksmuseum or the Red Light District, much of Amsterdam is best explored on foot. No worries, the locals are quite used to sorting out their lost visitors.

Re-opened in spring 2013 after a 10-year renovation costing nearly half a billion dollars, the Rijksmuseum is on everyone’s must-do list. There’s no such thing as missing Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” on your next visit, as the museum is open 365 days a year.

When it comes to food, there’s one word to know: Rijsttafel. Many first-time visitors are a bit surprised to learn that besides Gouda and Edam the most typically Dutch food isn’t Dutch at all. Just connect the dots and it makes perfect sense that the national dish of Holland is Indonesian. Sama Sebo has been the most famous Amsterdam restaurant serving this specialty for decades… and still is.

What’s new? Little Collins opened in 2012; go for a Bloody Mary and brunch. What’s good? It’s called Worst; they mean the aged wurst. Michelin stars? Yes, the Netherlands’ list grows longer every year. Aan de Poel and &samhoud places receive two stars while Ciel Bleu retains two stars; Bord’Eau receives one star; La Rive gets noticed in the InterContinental Hotel; Vermeer never seems to lose its shine; d’Vijff Vlieghen is just the kind of place that needs guidance. At the end of the day, there’s always the beer and jenever in the brown cafés!

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