Outside the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, if the weather’s pleasant, you may find yourself approached by a tall Canadian man called Neil. Do not be alarmed: for he is Amsterdam resident, part-time comedian and joint-owner of local company ‘Those Dam Boat Guys’, and this tends to be his prime spot for scouting the right sort of curious tourists to join him on his 11-person open-top boat. For $20.50, he provides a 1.5-hour tour of the city by canal, plus tea and blankets (in winter), and a polished history of the place he calls home.
You can choose from two routes: the cultural and the red-light district. While the former takes in Europe’s smallest bridge (all passengers must crouch down on the boat floor just to get under it), the latter completes a carefully-planned route around the city, taking in ‘the five bridges’, Central Station, the ugliest and prettiest canal boats in town (as decided by Neil), as well as the titular area. (During our trip, a random four-poster bed floated by on the water – a sight which even Neil found inexplicable.) To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org a few days before you arrive.
Back on dry land, it is possible to have a staggeringly cheap couple of days in the ’Dam. We booked two nights at the basic but clean Hampshire Hotel – Theatre District, just a $6 bus ride from the airport. One afternoon, we visited The Dylan, one of the world’s first boutique hotels, and indulged in its High Wine package for $54. Served between 3pm and 6pm every day, four ‘amuse style bites’, such as sautéed filet of halibut and farmhouse chicken breast, are served up alongside complementary wines, including a rather unique sparkling rosé.
[Photo: Flickr/Rob Marson]