Amsterdam

Cafe Alto

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Cafe Alto

Cafe Alto, just off the Leidseplein, was a welcoming little club, and everything I had hoped for on a night out in Amsterdam. Our arrival was timely—before the band set up on the small stage and with tables still available. The place is small and with nightly entertainment and no cover charge, it surely must get crowded. Besides the right kind of crusty, funky ambiance, drinks were moderately priced and the acoustics fine. The caliber of musicians we were treated to was impressive—and the music got better with each set. We stayed for set after set, and round after round. The clientele was an...

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Rembrandt and the Dutch Soul

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Rembrandt and the Dutch Soul

Thanks to the loan of a museum pass from a local friend, I was able to obtain a hard-to-get ticket and entrance time to a new major retrospective of the works of Holland’s greatest master, Rembrandt van Rijn. The exhibition was devoted to Rembrandt’s works from the last years of his life in Amsterdam, from 1606 until his death in 1669. The exhibit consisted of 90 paintings, drawings and prints that showcased Rembrandt at the height of his powers. “Emerging from the shadow of tragic personal losses and financial setbacks, Rembrandt produced some of his finest works in his...

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Cafe Americain

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Cafe Americain

Last night I visited one of my old haunts, the Cafe Americain located in the venerable Art Nouveau landmark, the American Hotel. The grand hotel, built in 1902, remains a landmark and central meeting point in the heart of the city, sitting as it does on the busiest hub of activity day and night, the Leideseplein. In the 19th century the “grand cafe” was an institution in the old cities of Europe. Today many of these opulent venues have been preserved and are patronized by fashionable folks, business people and tourists. The beautiful Art Deco interior of the Cafe Americain is in...

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Return to Old Amsterdam

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Return to Old Amsterdam

I woke up in Amsterdam this morning and looked out of my apartment window at a scene that transported me instantly to 35 years ago. The summer of 1980 I had the opportunity to spend the season in a friend’s vacated apartment on the lovely Prinsengracht Canal of central Amsterdam. Eager to escape the aftermath of a failed romance, I jumped at the chance of a change of scene. Amsterdam proved to be a worthy choice of destination to replace my sorrows with everything new and different. I was learning then, about one of the great values of travel. But this morning, a few days after a...

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