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About Me


Getting YOU to come to our Am★dam Saturday Meetup!



A CS-Zone?
This account represents the one and only CS-Zone Am★dam: Talia. A CS-Zone is a meeting place where couchsurfers get together on a regular basis. Although there are several places in Am★dam where CS-ers meet every week, there is only one where members are welcome to the degree that they are at Talia.

There are official CS-Zones all over the world. Yet no CS-Zones account is maintained as extensively and consequently as this one. The account follows the venue that is most commonly visited by members (rather than the other way around). This online CS-Zones account guides you the way into our local CS-community, by keeping itself updated on regular CS-events and active CS-people. To your convenience, it also offers comprehensive off-track city-info as a bonus, gathered by locals.

This profile and its accompanying Google Map are fully created and maintained by Ramón Ster. Official CS-custodian is Menno MAB84. Approach me personally for inquiries and suggestions, as communication through the CS-Zone is not necessarily prompt.

Read more about the CS-Zones Project in the CS-Zones wiki or the CS-Zones Managers Group. Unfortunately no new applicants are allowed at this time, as the project is no longer under management.

What kind of CS-Zone is Talia?
Talia's core business for survival is preparing affordable organic authentic Italian products. Some delicacies are not found anywhere else in NL. A number of specialities are suitable for vegans.

Other than that, this little Italian deli is the center of our Am★dam CS-community. Much like how small shops used to be the heart of Italian village communities. CS-ers are welcome to hang out here at all times during opening hours.

Although Talia is not a non-profit venue and money needs be made to be able to survive, that does not prevent its owners from running the place as if it is a community center in disguise. Basic products are affordable, and you're not absolutely obliged to buy something while hanging out (although bringing your own drinks will not exactly be appreciated). Couchsurfers are not their cash-cow target consumers. Income from catering and general shop sale from passers-by help sustain the community center philosophy. Read about how other CS-ers value the Talia concept in the following thread from this post onwards.

The shop is run by CS-er Nicola Olivieri. It opened May 2010. It was promoted official CS-Zone Am★dam starting December 2010. Nicola's motive is to do something back for the community that has to great lengths helped him kickstart the first year of his life in this city.

There is no commercial interest or hidden agenda in specifically focusing on couchsurfers as frequenters here on CS. The initiative to advertise Talia as a meeting place for CS-ers did not come from its administrators; it was initiated by the local CS-Zone manager after CS-ers had discovered Talia as a CS-friendly hangout. Redaction of any CS-Meetup publicity material involving Talia is independent from Talia-staff. Free Talia events are never mixed with paid Talia events in any CS-publicity material. In fact, paid Talia events are never advertised on CS at all.

Where is CS-Zone Talia?
Talia is located at innercity Prinsenstraat 12, a stonecast from central station. Landline phone: +31 (0)20-32 020 31.
• Mon-Fri 09-20
• Sat 09-22 [20-22 couchsurfers only]
• Sun 09-21

Get yourself together at Talia after your journey. Leave them your baggage for the day, while you stroll around town waiting for your host to arrive home. Use a free computer or free WiFi, while enjoying ready made €1 Italian coffee on their couch. And just for the record, read here why you might prefer not leaving your bags in a locker at Schiphol airport.

Normally there's free activities for couchsurfers held several times per week. But during the summer of 2011 most of them are suspended. There will, however, be irregular performances taking place in summer. Two dates have been set:
• cellist/violinist Wes Swing, on Sun 7 Aug
• the CouchJam re-opening party, on Fri 26 Aug
From September onwards this link to the Talia site will again be replaced by the Talia monthly agenda (update 11July11).

From September the following activities will most likely take place again:
Alternating on Monday night: International Games NightAlternating on Friday night: living room jam sessions
One activity surely continues all through the summer:Every Saturday evening from 20-21:30 Talia is open exclusively to couchsurfers, for the Am★dam Saturday Pre-Meetup. Have a discounted meal and drink, while interacting with other CS-ers. Every edition differs. Sometimes there's a DJ-set, people are playing games, or there's open mike sessions. Arranged by fellow members.
Contact Talia [] if you're interested in participating in any way. If you're in a band, or know any other skill you'd like to share, then you're most welcome to come live up the Saturday evenings.

Every Saturday night from 21:30 an Am★dam Saturday Meetup is held at Café de Vergulde Gaper, Prinsenstraat 28-30 [corner Prinsengracht/Prinsenstraat]. CS-ers enjoy 10% discount: beer & soda is €2. With some 70-130 members visiting every edition, it is the most well-attended regular meeting in this country.

Full details of Meetups are published in the Events section (found under the "Community"-tab). Login to CS and subscribe to those so-called Meeting Displays of events you consider joining. It is to your advantage. Read why that is in § "SIGN UP TO ATTEND!" (below).

Who's behind this Saturday Meetup?
A handful of locals take rotating turns in organising the nights: Angelika Hillebrand, Constantijn Plomp, Emma Atkins, Eric Kalter, Hesterr, Kyle, Peter Bisschop, Peter Hildering, Stefan Hiemstra & me [update 6June11].

Separating interests
Saturday Meetup organisers acknowledge that there's a fine line between the commercial interest of establishments where CS-ers meet, and the demand for meeting up. Choosing a venue that fits the community has therefore on several occasions been a topic of heavy debate. The Am★dam Meetup Team's choices of where to gather are never influenced by any third party's commercial interest.

Saturday Meetup organisers do something extra every edition. They:
• offer typical Dutch snacks
• hand out bubble-containers to live up your night
• give away kegs of beer
• decorate the venue during particular celebrations
• and organise theme nights during holidays.
They would not be able to do that without your generous donations. You have their word that every euro gets reinvested. Meetup organisers do not bother the owner or staff of a venue with requests for favours. This to not encourage a mix of interests. Besides, you already enjoy a 10% discount on beer & soda.

How long has this been going on?
CS-ers have been getting together on a weekly basis this way since October 2007, whereas it used to only be monthly (since 21Apr06). Starting at De Bekeerde Suster the first few weeks, followed by DuLac for a memorable nine months (Feb-Oct08). Then two mistake-months at Batavia Bar 1920, and deviating from it to Skek, before moving to d'Oude Herbergh (Feb09 till Dec10). Over time, many members revolving around the active old group of regulars have vanished from its core. Yet other people took their place, and the heart of the community remains.

Weekly AmsterDutchClasseS for those living in Am★dam who are keen to learn Dutch. Classes of these free 10-week courses take place on Tue + Wed. Brought to you by the AmsterDutch Teaching Team, active since October 2008. Contact organiser Robbert Middendorp to join a course or become a teacher.

Weekly language exchange practicing sessions, called Speakers Corner [update 7Jan11] (most recent Group thread) [update 28Apr11]. They take place on Thursday nights from 19:00, at the top floor restaurant of OBA Public Library. The sessions are loosely attended by a varying crowd of natives and foreign residents. There's always a Dutch and an English group, and usually a Spanish Group. Other languages depend on offer and demand. Approach Barry for more details. Be on time, or you may have a hard time finding members, since there's usually all kinds of groups working together in the restaurant. Barry publishes announcements on the Amsterdam Group as well as the Amsterdam Tandem/Language Exchange Group.
If you're hungry during the session, the restaurant starts selling leftover food for €1 at 20:00. Meeting Displays cover a period of a month+, so you'll never know exactly how many will be attending. But be sure that it's 15+. After nine it's drinking time, at a pub at nearby Nieuwmarkt square (10-15min walk). They've been going to corner bar Stevens lately, after Café Del Mondo got too crowded in winter [update12March11]. I get the impression the drinks afterwards sometimes are more popular than the language session itself, since there's heaps of members joining if for that only.

Juliane Matz' professionally run Free German beginners classes are on hold for at least the summer. They took place once per week during the first half of 2011. She's not sure if she will continue thereafter, as she gained enough experience after obtaining her teaching diploma to be able to teach students personally now, and make a living out of it. Maybe if you write her personally she will consider taking you in, you never know. I can imagine she might charge for individual sessions now, though.

Over a dozen CS-ers attend yoga classes at Delight. Find an updated list of participants here. Approach people individually and leave a reply on any of these threads to find people to go with.

Professional musician and composer Rafael Fraga teaches weekly free guitar lessons for anyone interested. It's on Tuesdays from 20:00-21:30 at CS-Zone Talia. Sign up to the Meeting Display.

Some professional singers and conductors are starting up a choir. Sign up to the Meeting Display to attend.

The Meet&Eat! homedinner-Group intends to bring people together for intimate dinners at individual members' homes. It has been very successful during several periods. Summer of 2010 there was a homedinner taking place every other day, for instance. Unfortunately members have proven to at itself be willing to join other people's initiatives, but barely take up initiative themselves. While it is relatively easy to set something up. The infrastructure of the Group is still there, so if you would like to play any kind of role in reviving its spirit, then by all means. You're free to organise and promote a Meet&Eat! at your home within the Group, and then publish it on the Am★dam Group to gain attendees. If you lack a suitable space but do have cooking skills, I'd like to encourage you to propose cooking at someone else's house.

Please log in to CS and subscribe to Meeting Displays of events that interest you. That is not just a token of courtesy towards the organiser. These are its advantages:
Events often have a maximum number of attendees. You require to demonstrate your attendance on time to be in on it.Meeting Displays often need to be signed up to before a certain date, because the organiser needs to arrange or reserve things for youOften the organiser chooses to not openly publish the location. After signing up you actually receive the address, and otherwise you simply don't know where it is.You will be able to receive updates about the event, such as reminders, and practicalities that will get you properly preparedMembers who require/offer a couch or anything else can contact eachother before the eventFor the Saturday Meetup also goes that organisers bring couch offer and demand together by printing the Meeting Display-overviews. This way folks can determine by individuals' Meeting Settings whose couch is available and who's still in a bind.After the event you will be able to more easily reconnect with people you talked to and vice versa. Unless you sign up, a Meeting Display falls off the agenda once the date on which the event took place has passed. When that happens, non-registrees will not be able to find it anymore.Signing up will enable you to receive exit-Meeting Invitations with pictures made at the event
Make sure to turn on your Event Notices after having signed up to a Meeting Display. If you've indicated earlier that you prefer to not receive invites for certain categories of CS-events, then unfortunately a glitch in the system will also make you miss out on any practical updates (so-called Meeting Invitations) that an organiser sends you as a meeting attendee. You might well miss out on essential meeting info to be able to attend.

Although we cannot offer a real Couch Guarantee, attending Meetups often proves to be a good way to score last-minute accommodation. To get the message across unobtrusively while you're interacting with local hosts, dress for success by wearing a sticker saying: 'I need a couch'. Do read this post for comprehensive couch obtaining strategies. It will help avoid uncomfortable situations of having to beg for a couch at a meeting.

The Leadership Team does not allow CS-Zones to accept Friend Requests or to write References, but you're most invited to leave our CS-Zone a Reference yourself. Think of it as a guestbook entry. I'll regard it as a token of courtesy to the effort I put into informing you. Thank you very much, I greatly appreciate your gratitude.
If you mean to keep this account handy, then there's two things you can do:
Add this page to your contact list:
Click the 'Add to my friends'-button on this profile;Fill in all boxes, and choose "no" to the question 'Add to your list of friends';Then save.Following this procedure, the member in question will not receive a notification of your actions.
Now view this account:Hover over your utter most left tab. Look up subheader '► My Friends' in its pulldown menu;Choose 'My Other Connections'.Note: should you ever remove any profiles from My Other Connections, then a glitch in the system does send a 'You were removed as a friend'-notification to the user in question.Add page to Bookmarks from your utter most left pulldown menu.
If you wanna touch base with what's on, then pls become a member of the Amsterdam CS-Group. Many of our initiatives and other people's plans and infos are discussed within this section. Groups residing under the main Places tree of CS-Groups act as gateways to a country/city and its local CS-community. Always read the Group Details, Group Guidelines, and Flagged Posts of CS-Groups you are a member of. They often contain valuable information, provided by its most active members.

Why I’m on Couchsurfing


Duh! I Participate in CS by showing you the action in Am★dam. Like on and around Dam Square in real time through this fidgety surveillance cam:


AM★DAM NUMBER TRIVIA (update May 2011)

• Water surface percentage: 25%
• Amount of bridges: 1700
• Tram network: 213 kilometers (132 miles), amoung the most extensive ones, for what's one of Europe's smallest capitals
• Length of sewage: 3500 kilometers, of which 25kms is replaced annually (2174 miles/15,5 mls)

• Number of inhabitants: ±767.773 (Jan 2011)
• Number of nationalities: 178
• Dutch nationality: 88%
• Non-Dutch background: 50%
• Number of residents who were actually born in Am★dam: 20.000 (2009. Many people move to suburbs where living is cheaper.)
• Age-category with the largest representation: 20-34 (26,8%)
• Female residents: 50,7%
• Households: 419.002
• Single households (Meaning people maintaining a financial household by themselves. EG: housemates in a communal home also each run a single household): 225.629 (2009)
• Singles: ±50% of residents (by far the largest percentage in country)
• Babies born: 11.008 (2009)
• Birth rate: 1,4 per woman (2010. This figure is rising: 1996 = 1,0. Quite on the contrary to how indigenous caucasian residents experience it themselves, the city is actually turning 'whiter'. That is because indigenous (white) females are having more babies, while the birthrate of resident women with a non-Westerner background is decreasing. [Source: DRO])
• People died: 5.286 (2009)
• Females die at an average age of: 80,6 years
• Males die at an average age of: 76 years

• Average annual (net disposable household) income per labour force resident:
- €20.200 (2007)
- €23.985 (2008). This is 2,5% below national average. Quite surprisingly maybe, people in most of our biggest cities have an income below average.
• Employed: 373.100
• Unemployed: 43.361
• Unemployment rate: 4,3% of the labor force (lowest of the Eurozone [average 10%, 9,6% over the full European Union]). (December 2010)
• On UWV welfare (unemployed/disabled): 55.000,
of which on WW-unemployment dole: 15.000
• On DWI welfare ('bijstandsuitkering'): 34.170
• Number of mimimum income households: 69.067,
- Meaning 16,5% of all 419.002 Am★dam households
- This 16,5% is 18,2% of the total Am★dam population (of the 767.773 Aug 2010 number).
• Of all Moroccan residents, 35,9% has a minimum income.
• Number of minors (below 18) growing up in a minimum income household: 28%
• For your reference's sake, the minimum income (which just for the record is not the same as the minimum wage) for a single person household is €652,19. It is the absolute minimum amount that *may* still keep you alive in this country.
• Minimum gross wage per month for a 23yo: €1424,40
• Average commuting time from home to work: 31,5 minutes. This is the longest average commuting time of all European cities.

• Students attending a University Master programme: 49.315
• Students attending a University for Professional education (HBO) bachelor: 43.407
• Pupils attending a vocational education and training programme (MBO): 28.490

• Amount: 550.000
• Percentage of residents cycling to work/Uni: 23%
• Total distance cycled per day by city residents only: 2 million kilometers (1.242.742,5 miles)
• Amount parked in immediate vicinity of central station on weekdays at noon: 9.000
• Reported* stolen daily: 120 (44.000 annually)
• Daily 'illegally parked' cut-aways by council organisation AFAC: 175
• Reported* stolen nationwide annually: 1.000.000 (2009)
*=the actual number is significantly higher, but unknown

• Average property price: €3864 per m²
• Property price ranking up to: €5500 per m²
• The mark residents value their living environment with: 6,7 on a scale of 1-10 (where ten would be best)
• Amount of (permanently inhabited) houseboats: 2500
• Average number of years a resident lives on the same address: 8 years
• This country attaches great value to social housing. In 2010, 195.500 houses in the capital were owned by social housing corporations (9% less compared to 2009), offering affordable housing to those with an income of under €33.614 (2010-2011). All rents in this country are measured according to a fixed points-system. Even private landlords are bound by that, and anyone who feels his rent is too high can apply for a recalculation at limited costs at your local 'Huurteam'.
• In 2010 a historically lowest amount of the above 195.500 corporation houses came available to rent out again: only 8809 households moved out (4,9%). This is 8% less compared to 2009. Conclusion: the corporation rental market is stuck.
• Estimated percentage of illegally subletted housing: 15%. It causes huge mobility problems, clogging up the capital's housing market.
• The overall so-called 'moval rate' in this city (rented + bought property) is equally historically low: 4,6% (2010), to a 9% 'normal' rate. This is expected to even decrease in 2011. Meaning the whole housing market is completely stuck: people with higher incomes cannot find suitable housing. Moving out of a corporation house to buy a house is unaffordable for a lot of people. And so they're occupying cheap housing that is better suited for those with a lower income.
• Of all Am★dam residents who seek to rent, 56% are looking within a price range of €500-€1000. There is, however, only a very small percentage of housing available in this category. For households with a combined net disposable income between €33.614 - €43.000 per year there is hardly any housing available to rent or buy (bcs of strict new mortgage rules after the subprime mortgage crisis in the US). With an income above €33.614 you are not eligible for social housing, while it's also too low to buy a house here (e.g.: €38.000 results in a max €177.000 mortgage, which does not buy anything here).
• Renting on the free market (Vrije Sector) is not much of an option for most people either, as these rents generally start at €900 per month ex utilities.
• The number of new homes built: 4000 (2010. Was 5000 in 2009.). Needless to say this does not meet the demand.
• Social housing corporations are stimulated to sell parts of their houses to overcome the above described housing shortage (1585 in 2010), but there's no beating the 'slantwise living' as we call it.
• People find themselves unable to move to more suitable housing, and give up searching. In 2009, 85.000 households were thinking of moving. In 2007 that was still 95.000.
Result of all of the above: a constant number of 10.000 people looking for housing in the capital.

The canals
• Amount of pleasure yachts/boats moored: 15.000
• Houseboats with sewage systems: ±30%
• All canals fully flushed clean: at least 3x per week
• Annual weight of floating trash picked out by Waternet: 956.000 kilos (of which 600.000 kilos burnable plastic bags & bottles, 80.000 kilos wood, 75.000 kilos of other plastics such as surfboards & buckets & disposable toilets, 5000 kilos of car tires, 500 kilos of chemical waste)
• Annual amount of bikes dredged out: 12.000, of which most around central station and the going out areas of Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein.
• Annual amount of human and animal cadavers dredged out: 2300
• Annual amount of supermarket trolleys dredged out: 700
• Annual amount of cars dredged out: 0-3
• Amount of visitors transported by canal boat companies per year: 3 million. This makes it the second most visited attraction in NL (#1 is themepark De Efteling)

• Total daily city-wide garbage production: 300.000 kilos
• Total annual garbage production per resident: 462 kilos
• Average amount of trash left at parks per day: 3.000 kilos (by far most in summer)

• Hotels: 343 (350 with a few hotel-like hostels included)
• Visitors having stayed overnight at ho(s)tels: 4.627.800 (2009, source). This makes Am★dam the fourth most visited city in Europe.
• Number of nights a ho(s)telbed was occupied: 8.561.200 (2009, source). This is 27% of all nationwide ho(s)tel night stays in 2009. Eight out of ten Am★dam ho(s)tel guests are from abroad.
• Additional visitors coming over for a mere day visit only: ±16mln per year, mainly Dutch folks (source)
• Ocean ships mooring: 96 (2010). In 2011, a record of 123 ocean cruisers will bring in a whopping 250.000 tourists from overseas. The Passenger Terminal harbour is therewith at its maximum capacity. Contribution of this quarter million to the local economy: €55mln. Largest ship arriving five times per year: Costa Magica (2718 passengers).
• Number of river cruise ships mooring in 2011: 1250, also a record; bringing in >150.000 passengers (2010= 1159 ships). These ships mainly sail down the river Rhine.
• Number of coaches arriving per day: 300.

Museum visits
• Hermitage: 500.000 in only half a year after it opened in 2009 (source)
• Rijksmuseum, despite since 2003 only one wing being opened: ±875.000 (2009, source)
• Anne Frank Museum: ±900.000 (2009, source). There really always is a queue here.

Random trivia
• Ranking in list of the world's cities with best circumstances to live in: #13
• Pockets picked: 6.049 (2009, reported number only)
• Most common tree: The Elm (75.000). Mid March the city is all blossomy-pink. While in May it snows Elm tree seeds, like confetti.
• Estimated number of prostitutes: 2000, excluding the escort business and street prostitution. In other words, these are mostly women behind windows. Prostitution is a legitimate business here. Sex workers are entrepreneurs, who are by law obliged to be registered at the Tax Agency and the Chamber of Commerce. In the capital only 650 are. And those are mostly Eastern European, forced by their pimps to keep inspectors from investigating women trafficking.
• Registered number of dogs: 26.000 (tax-registering them is compulsory, but not everyone does it)
• Number of heroine addicts: ±3000 (20.000 nationwide, in 2011). Around 140 long-term heroine addicts in the capital are in a programme where the Municipal Health Office (GGD) provides them with medical heroine. It keeps them off the streets, reduces crime, and significantly improves their quality of life in half the cases.
• Number of coffeeshops serving not just coffee: 223 (650 nationwide). A 2010 law demands all coffeeshops in the country located at a 350 meter distance from a school to be closed. For the capital this would mean closing 187 shops. The law is a pretty crazy example of symbolic politics, as this will mean the sale will simply go underground.
• Parking costs in the center and the canal belts: €5 per hour
• Average monthly rent of shopping real-estate at Kalverstraat: €2100 per m² (highest rent in the country). Number of daily passers-by through this street: 55.000 (busiest shopping street in the country). From which follows: price per passer-by: €26! (source)
• Shopping street with most expensive brands: P.C. Hoofstraat. It has the largest density of expensive brands selling shops in the world.
• Number of Hotel/Restaurant/Café businesses: 52 per 10.000 inhabitants. This is the largest density per residents of the country. However, the largest number of cafes per city is in Maastricht (943 in 2009). Am★dam had 521 cafes in 2009. In recent years this number has been going down notably. This is due to rising real estate prices, increasing staff costs, and a decreasing number of customers bcs of the financial crisis. As a result, prices of eating and drinking out have increased greatly. Cafes are pricing themselves out of the market this way, kind of a vicious circle.
• Percentage of residents' Net Disposable Household Income spent at Hotel/Restaurant/Café businesses: 5%

Queen's Day, main national holiday (numbers & figures of 2011, a representative sunny edition)
Traditionally many party people make it to the capital for Queen's Day by train.
• Coming by train for Queen's Night (29Apr): 80.000
• Coming by train on Queen's Day itself: 250.000 (90.000 before noon)
• Total visitors capital: 800.000
• Audience at Museum Square's stage: 150.000 max at busiest, 300.000 total over full day
• Nationwide turnover at "free market" street sale: €175.000.000
• Average national turnover per street vendor (individuals and commercial traders): €87
• Most wanted items at "free market": books and toys, then come dainties.
• Beer consumption capital: 1000.000 liters (264.172 gallons)
• Total amount spent in capital: €50.000.000
• Spectators live broadcast of royal family's traditional visit to small towns in the province: 1.996.000 on average, peaking to 2,3 mln
• Police apprehensions capital: 198 (plus 89 on Queen's Night) (mostly public drunkenness, destruction of property, maltreatment, and public violence)
• Trash capital: 185.000 kilos, which is prolly around 80.000 garbage bags
• Visitors Utrecht: 300.000
• Visitors Eindhoven: 120.000

  • animals
  • dogs
  • arts
  • culture
  • writing
  • books
  • theater
  • performing arts
  • festivals
  • film festivals
  • dancing
  • causes
  • education
  • environment
  • human rights
  • dining
  • cooking
  • breakfast
  • cheese
  • beer
  • coffee
  • yoga
  • running
  • partying
  • drinking
  • clubbing
  • pub crawls
  • gardening
  • boating
  • shopping
  • politics
  • news
  • trivia
  • movies
  • tv
  • cars
  • drawing
  • survival
  • music
  • live music
  • electronic music
  • guitar
  • world music
  • cycling
  • sailing
  • sports
  • boxing
  • track and field
  • business
  • cartography
  • communications
  • computer science
  • teaching
  • emergency services
  • languages
  • law
  • mathematics
  • science
  • tourism
  • language exchange
  • parks
  • last minute travel

Music, Movies, and Books

Without a doubt the 'best book in town'
Joe Pauker's Get Lost! The Cool Guide to Amsterdam. There's a 2008-edition out.
Other offtrack travel books
Pretentious trendy designed new "guidebook for people who hate guidebooks", Le Cool Amsterdam city guide, published May 2008. They used to also issue a free weekly cultural agenda using a network of locals. Unfortunately they stopped publishing their Am★dam edition [update Aug09]. The Destination In City guides by In Your Pocket may not yet have a free downloadable guide for Am★dam or NL on pdf yet, but since they're well on their way with other destinations, I reckon it won't take long. The Good & Green Guide Amsterdam (€19,95; issued Nov2009; review) offers some 500 listings that are "good for us and green for our environment". Including fair trade shops, farmers' markets, yoga studios, veggie restaurants, eco-fashion shops and more or less sustainable hotels.The Bent Guide is the most comprehensive guide about gay and lesbian Am★dam, issued by Pinkpoint, the official gay & lesbian info booth.
Online guidebooks
Spotted By Locals may not be a real book, this editorial listing does come a really long way in offering offtrack info on the town that most _locals_ won't even know about. WritingTravellers is a non profit foundation based in Am★dam, founded by fellow CS-er Bart van Slobbe. It offers freely available compilable guidebooks. For some reason nowadays they do require you to fill in your email address. All info on the website and in their books is made available under a Creative Commons license. amsterdam.unlike Describes itself as 'the definitive city guide for the mobile generation'. Their selection of places is up-to-date and not shy of showing out-of-the-ordinary locations. Allows you to save your preferred spots in so-called tours, share them with others, or view them online/offline tru an iPhone application or other mobile device. Without having to register. When out on the streets it pinpoints your location on a map, to show you all nearby selected spots of interest.VirtualTourist travel community offers worldwide user based content written by travelers and locals.
Best travelbook stores in town
Geografische boekhandel Pied à Terre, Overtoom 135-137, specialised in pelgrimages and hiking. This is Europe's biggest travelbook store, but let's not call it it's best. À la Carte, Utrechtsestraat 110-112
Books in general
Used bookmarket at Oudemanhuispoort, in the wonderful ancient passage of UvA university. Mon-Sat 12-18. The American Book Center, Spuistraat 12 is probably the largest store on the European continent for books in English. Athenaeum, Spui 14-16 has a good selection of recent foreign newspapers, plus a very good book store.Gay bookshop Vrolijk, Paleisstraat 135 [view Parool article 5Aug10 (Dutch)] is an understanding in this city since 1989. It has the biggest collection of gay, lesbian, bi and transgender-oriented books in the world.For over 25 years International Theatre & Film Books, Leidseplein 12A (inside the City Theater building), is the largest bookshop for performing arts in NL. They offer a wide range of media on not only theater and film, but also dance and opera. From theater texts to biographies, via books on film theory you can't find anywhere else, to encyclopedias. If these guys don't have it, then your only remaining resource would be the Filmmuseum library at Vondelpark.Architectura & Natura, Leliegracht 22, specializes in architecture, landscape architecture (incl. gardens) and natural history. One of Europe's best in their field for over 60yrs. If you're interested in Am★dam architecture, look at what this city offers you within this great picture site.
Cultural magazines
The Am★dam edition on paper of the renowned monthly Time Out Magazine is not as good as in other metropoles, but it's your only remaining English resource after they bought out fantastic free Amsterdam Weekly.The NL20 is okay, but in Dutch.
City-related information desks
The most obvious sources of information are the official national VVV tourist offices [landline phone# for capital: +31(0)20-201 8800, Mon-Fri 8-18]. This association has a couple of info desks in the city. The location right across from central station is the most designated one for a visit (view pics). Open all week 9-18, and Thu&Fri till 21:00. They offer a lot of verbal and written info. Do bear in mind that everything on stock is there to make as much money on you as possible. VVV collaborates with the municipality and commercial organisations that sponsor them for the info they give. So don't expect free maps or independent info on e.g. which the cheapest bikerental stations are. Do expect long queues.
You have probably heard of the I amsterdam Card before arriving here. Don't let the VVV sell it to you. None of my guests who ever went for it found it worthwhile. It will make you rush from one place to another, while its "25% off"-deals will only encourage you to spend more money at pricey establishments. Read Otts World for the best review ever. Instead, consider buying a Museum Year Card (elsewhere on this page) and sell it through to a host/traveler afterwards.All possible magazines and brochures about the mainstream cultural going-out life, plus tickets to all citywide shows are available at the Amsterdam UitBureau, located within the city theater Stadsschouwburg, Leidseplein 26, (open 12:00-19:30 except Sundays).
The Last Minute Ticket Shop is at the same office. This popular service offers half-price tickets (+€1 admin) for all kinds of cultural performances on the same day: live music, performing arts, theater & comedy (also Eng), even classical concerts are half-price. The site shows 'LNP' if language is no problem. New offers are published online daily at noon, but only sold at their desk. No reservations. The site is not real-time, but about half an hour behind on the actual number of tickets left: buy early afternoon, or risk the show of your preference to be sold out.
Ticket Service, a Ticket Master company is the only official online ticket sales organisation of NL. They sell tickets at regular price, plus a service charge of up to several euros per ticket, plus shipping costs. All other online ticket sales you will find are companies that operate above the law: do not purchase tickets there! They buy large quantities of tickets to popular shows from Ticket Master's Ticket Service, hoping the event sells out. Once it does, they double/triple/quadruple the price to their likings. Tickets ever so often are also offered through more private channels, like Marktplaats and Speurders (The Dutch versions of Craigslist). There's a lot of scams between those offers, where individuals are out to take your money without providing your purchase in return. Ticket Master's Ticket Service sends tickets anywhere as long as you pay for it, although they also send PDFs through email. Shipping duration to addresses within NL is two working days, at ±€2,25 total surcharge for regular mail. This unregistered mail service is generally considered trustworthy: your tickets are likely to arrive just fine. Online presale at Ticket Master's Ticket Service usually closes 10 days before the show, after which you depend on all of this country's official presale outlets for tickets. [Legend: "Postkantoren"= Post Offices, "VVV Kantoren"= The official VVV Tourist Offices, "Ticket Shops"= municipal locations & record stores, "Free Record Shop"= a branch of nation-wide record stores.] Once tickets are sold out at outlets and/or at the venue where an event takes place, Ticket Master's Ticket Service will no longer offer tickets either.The Pinkpoint is the official gay & lesbian info booth, next to the gay monument at Westermarkt.The Prostitution Information Center (PIC), Enge Kerksteeg 3, provides any kind of info & advice abt prostitution to anyone interested, including guided tours into the Red Light District (great blog entry!). Their Wallenwinkel is open Wed-Fri 18-20, Sat 12-19. Do not expect to hear a balanced story about the omnipresent trafficking of women here. They'll basically deny it, by saying they don't know anyone who's here against their wills. Very odd, I wonder what their agenda is. They seem to want to convey a positive story only.

One Amazing Thing I’ve Done


Events below are not mentioned elsewhere on this page. The ones that are free admission are specified as such. Keep your eye on the Amsterdam Group for announcements of CS-gatherings during events below, or rather: organise it yourself. The VVV Tourist Board's Twitter account publishes daily discounts and going-out tips also.

Stukafest is a literal abbreviation of 'Student room festival'. Offers theater in Dutch, but also lots of music. Held in various cities. Each February in Am★dam since 2008.International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) (wiki) is not to be missed, the 12 days it's held each end of January-beginning of February. CS-ers always get together during this event. [update2011ed]Free entry to, or a limited entrance fee at most nationwide public museums and a great number of private ones, during Museum weekend. Held early to mid April (8&9April2012). It's the biggest two-day cultural event in the country, attracting 1mln visitors (2009). Note that a few popular public Am★dam museums do not participate, such as The Van Gogh, the Hermitage, and the Rijksmuseum.Queen's Day, our biggest national holiday not to miss. Every April 30th, unless that day is a Sunday. At every edition there's some form of CS-get-together, although the extra 600.000-800.000 visitors to the capital doesn't really allow having a decent CS-meet. Deviating to picturesque Utrecht, where festivities are less massive, but much more authentic, is recommendable.The Memorial Day Service and following Liberation Day are an annual time to remember civilians and military killed in wars and peace operations since the beginning of World War II, followed by an exuberant celebration ('Bevrijdingsdag') to mark the end of the German occupation of The Netherlands during World War II. They're held respectively on the evening of May 4th, and on May 5th. Check past edition's Meeting Display for a brief description of the Memorial Day ceremony and our CS-meet. [update2010]. Every year some 750.000 people visit the handful of free festivals that are held throughout the country on May 5th. Promising Dutch and renowned international artists are flown from location to location by helicopters. To spread the message of freedom, and of course to make their music heard. Democracy and human rights worldwide are central themes. They're loosely given attention to, through debates and playful events. The World Press Photo exhibit at the Old Church in the centre's Red Light District. Early May-end of June, after which it travels around the world. The Holland Festival (wiki). The country's oldest (over 60 years) and largest performing arts festival. Held all of June, and despite its deceiving name located in the capital only. Amsterdam Roots Festival. Free entrance quality world music festival, attracting over 60.000 visitors. Held on a Sunday mid June in Oosterpark, and in clubs the nights before. Also that wknd the 2-day world music Festival Mundial takes place in a park in Tilburg, attracting over 120.000.The Open Garden Days. Every 3rd wknd of June (Fri-Sun). For €15, five out of seven United Canalmuseums & gardens + 25 of the most beautiful private canalhouses and their hidden gardens are open to the public, allowing you to shamelessly admire people's personal property and rich decorated 17th Century interiors. Free open-top Museum-canalboats connect the locations. Kwakoe Festival. The city's biggest multicultural festival and the main festive event of the Surinamese, black and African community. Drawing crowds of up to a million visitors to the free entrance Bijlmerpark show ground, over a six weekends timespan in July and August. Programme consists of live music, (traditional) dance, film screenings, sports, informative events, discussions and many varieties of ethnic food. A different theme is chosen each year, which is reflected in music and performances brought about. Over Het IJ location theatre festival. Early-mid July at the landing site of the free NDSM-ferry. Free entrance to the terrain. Many plays are open-air, on occasion written especially for the location. Worth a visit, but only if you're able to follow a play in Dutch. If you're a beginner, their 5-15 minute shows in shipping containers can be great. Part of those are mime anyway. Rembrandt's Birthday Breakfast (born 1606), annually on July 15 at the Rijksmuseum garden. Free of charge. Mind you, his favorite dish seems to have been Old Amsterdam cheese and raw herring. Come around 8AM.The 5 Days Off festival on electronic music. Spin-off of the 10 Days Off at Belgian Ghant. Held indoors in mid July, mainly at Paradiso and the Milkyway (elsewhere on this page).Dance Valley (wiki). Renowned dance festival since 1995. Held mid July at a recreational area above Am★dam. A day at the Park. House music. Held end of July in the Amsterdamse Bos park in the south. Raw Rhythm Festival. Formerly called Drum Rhythm, but tobacco producers are not allowed to advertise any more in this country, so G-Star took over. Held apprx last wknd of July. Returned in 2009 after a long absence, so hopefully they'll be back in 2010. Hosts hiphop, reggae, house, drum n bass and soul.[max# of characters reached, CONTINUING BELOW]

Teach, Learn, Share

THE BEST WEB PORTALS TO AM★DAM (in no particular order)
This weather site shows the situation at your web connection's location and has a handy shower forecaster for a few hours ahead. City searches are in Dutch. The shower radar below↓ is real-time (time in CET), refreshed every 5 mins. It links to a radar shower-forecast for the next three hours:
The Last Minute Ticket Shop for half-priced performing arts. (elsewhere on this page in detail)The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh on Google Art Project (update 2Feb2011)If you're considering to catch a movie, then know that nothing here is dubbed except for kids films. And even then there often is the option to choose for the original. Screenings are subtitled in Dutch, unless you're at a film festival, where it's usually English, or French.
• Read about the majority of this city's cinemas in this nicely descriptive page. I do miss the remainder of respected independent/arthouse theaters in their overview: cute Filmhuis Cavia ('guinea pig'), awesome Smart Project Space, beautiful KIT Tropentheater (Royal Tropics Institute Theater), internationally respected center for politics, culture & media De Balie, movie theater/gallery/cafe/restaurant Studio/K and De Melkweg (elsewhere on this page).
• The country's cultural week runs from Thursday to Wednesday, meaning new films come out on Thursdays and older titles vanish from the screen after Wednesdays.
• Thirteen arthouse theaters in the capital issue the Cineville unrestricted access card (€17,50 per month), to counterbalance the Pathé Unlimited subscription (€18 per month). They do require having a Dutch bank account.
• Filmladder is this country's official cinema agenda. But I like a lot better. This co-op between daily national De Volkskrant and public broadcaster VPRO is the country's leading film website. It has descriptions and reviews of almost all films that are or have ever been screened in theaters (in Dutch). The seemingly insignificant link "►BIOSCOOP-OVERZICHT", takes you to an overview of all films playing at the 1st & 2nd screening circuit in NL. Aanbevolen means Recommended, and you can sort by city. The 3rd circuit (such as cultural centers, squats, and film festivals) is not included in the overview. Tiny link "►TV GIDS" on the main page lists what's on tv today. Creating an account enables you to rate and subscribe to films. You'll receive a notification if it'll be on a tv-channel of your choice, or at a cinema near is THE portal to the squatting movement. Very active site where it regards the capital. Indymedia (wiki) is the(ir) political activists news channel. You do know squatting is officially illegal since October 2010, right?The Amsterdam Underground Collective is a group of independent showbookers, feeding the underground music scene in this town with regular alternative live gigs. They organise shows in about a dozen selected venues, among which the coolest ones in town. The line-up is international, but has at least one local/national band. They book at least one show a week, anything "from acoustic Indie-pop to double bassed Hardcore-Metal and everything in between". They have a mailinglist (or via:, with all kinds of alternative gigs going on. Partyflock (wiki) is probably THE leading community for the dance scene in NL and Belgium. Partially in English or French.10 Best does a good job picking great dance clubs here, so you might find this useful for other topics hotspots Has an out-of-the-ordinary selection of venues.Showbooker Subbacultcha organises parties on the first Friday of the month in a variety of nice venues. There's always a live band or two + DJs and it gets packed with a cool, friendly crowd. "Hipsters that actually dance!", just to quote Carly Blair. TipSpot presents itself as a simple overview of what's happening in Dutch cities, based on the interests of you and your friends. This event listing thrives on user-generated content and claims to be the one and only unified, complete and independent calendar. It filters on your fields of interest. Keeping posted on acquaintances' recommendations is made possible through friend links. Mobile phone-friendly. Some descriptions are inevitably written in Dutch. With a cellphone running the Android operating system, you may find the Layar Reality Browser of great interest: point your camera into the street where you're at, and links to info of various locations is digitally projected across the image. Think Wikipedia-articles of historical buildings, cafe/restaurant reviews, ATM-whereabouts, medical practices, and Google Local Search. The offer is rapidly expanding. Launched internationally end of Aug09, this field in development called augmented reality is referred to as the mobile service of the future. Also active in Japan and Frisco. Not sure if it's available for iPhone yet, as I don't have one to check. There used to be a legal difference w/Apple.The Shark Underwater Amsterdam webzine, for mainstream and the alternative scene is independent and very good. Channels' informative maps of Am★dam, including its streets and area seeker with pictures. The center for Math & Computer Science's Internet Guide to Amsterdam is pretty extensive.The comprehensive Amsterdam Coffeeshop DirectoryThe Amsterdam Hotel Service offers last-minute deals for when you got stood up by your host. Desk at Damrak 7 (9-21).Trendwatcher Vincent van Dijk slept at and reviewed a different hotel each night in 2010 (in Dutch, but easily translatable if you're looking to review a specific hotel; also budget hotels). He's writing a book abt it in 2011.

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