Bicycles are the fastest and most efficient way of exploring the city, however they can also be a bit of a nuisance when walking around the city. Before crossing the road, make always sure you look in all directions as you cannot normally hear their approach.
Please try and use TCA or MTA taxis only. TCA taxis can be called from any point on (local): +31 (0)20 777 7777. MTA taxis from any point on (local): +31 (0)6 260 68 999. Always ask for a receipt as this comes in handy should you have forgotten something. When in doubt about the service given always ask for a receipt and also take a note of the vehicle's registration number.
Service is always included in The Netherlands. Only when the service has been exceptional, is it customary to leave a gratuity of 5-10 percent of the total amount. This applies for restaurants, taxis and the entire service industry.
Amsterdam is a very flat and compact city and as a result the city centre is easy to walk around. If you get lost, simply find a nearby main canal (Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht or Prinsengracht) and walk in the direction of rising house numbers, which will finally bring you back onto the Amstel river. When reaching the Amstel river, you should be able to see the Intercontinental Amstel Hotel on your right.
DID YOU KNOW ?
The Amstel Hotel was originally planned by Dr. Samuel Sarphati to be four times as big. Unfortunately, Dr. Sarphati died before the property was completed. When the hotel opened in 1867 the most expensive rooms were on the ground floor as lifts did not exist yet. In the first years of existance, the Hotel owed its exceptional clientele of royals and celebrities to Dr. Mezger who started his practice in the Amstel Hotel during the opening years. In the Amstel Health Club of the hotel you can still find a remembrance plaque.
AMSTERDAM'S THREE CROSSES
The city's official motto "Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig" (Valiant, Resolute, Merciful) which is displayed on the coat of arms, was bestowed on it by Queen Wilhelmina in 1947 in recognition of the city's bravery during World War II.
Amsterdam: 17th Century
In the 17th Century Amsterdam was the most important city in the world in terms of trade. The most successful businessmen had houses on the main canals and in the nearby countryside along the rivers, like the Amstel and the Vecht. The inner ring of city canals has recently been nominated by UNESCO as World Heritage.
Amsterdam: Capital City
Although Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands, the Houses of Parliament, ministries and embassies are all based in The Hague.
Built in 1648, this former town hall was build during the Golden era of the Netherlands but turned into a Royal Palace in 1800 by Napoleon's brother Louis. As the Amsterdam soil consists mainly of marshy subsoil (peat) it was built on 13.600 piles driven 20 metres deep.
WHAT TO PACK
Summer time is usually mild, winter time is usually cold with occasional periods of rain. Appropriate clothing is necessary. A cardigan, summer jacket or raincoat is recommended.
It is recommended to exchange some money to cover airport incidentals and transportation to the hotel. Best Euro rates are given from nearby ATM machines. Changing dollars can be done at the cashier or from the GWK exchange offices at the main stations or at various places in town and also from cashier desk in the hotel itself.