As anyone who has ever arrived in Amsterdam early on a Friday evening in the summer knows, the city is full of tourists. Some nights, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who lives in the city on the walk from your train to Dam Square.
Nina van der Weiden, author of How to Avoid the Other Tourists in Amsterdam, wanted to highlight all of the places away from that crush of tourists and offer something with more local flavour. Her book takes you through five sections of Amsterdam: West, South, East, North and Centre. Each section gets its own chapter, subdivided into neighbourhoods. All of the chapters include a suggested walking route (or, in the case of North, cycling).
The book highlights restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, museums and more which the author finds to be less touristy and more Dutch and are described on the book’s website as ‘the funniest, most beautiful, striking, exclusive or most ordinary’ of the city’s restaurants, etc. They range from locations in every guide book (The EYE, Westerkerk) to the obscure (The Plague House in West and a soup restaurant in North.) There are also lots of bits about history and culture in the introductions to each chapter.
As an off-the-beaten-path guidebook, it’s useful.If you have a lot of out-of-town guests, you might want to have a copy on hand. Even for locals, a number of the walks and relatively unknown restaurants are interesting. The material makes for some really great first date ideas.
Unlike Lonely Planet or other travel books, its shape makes it difficult to carry as a guide book. It’s too wide to fit easily into your hands. Also, it spends a lot of text on walking directions, which, in the era of Google Maps, aren’t especially useful. It’s also clearly been written by a Dutch person and could have used a native English editor.
Aside from its flaws, it is a curious and useful book. Grab a copy and when the weather is nice, follow the book’s Poets’ Walk which starts at the Cookie Bridge or have it on hand, along with a public transport smart card, for when your in-laws are visiting.
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