Writer Pip Farquharson answered your travel questions on Tuesday, April 5 at noon ET
Anonymous: I will be in Amsterdam on May 21st. Are there any big tulip/flower festival in the area that weekend? Thanks.
Pip Farquharson: Oh. What bad timing. THE tulip event of the year is Keukenhof, stunning multi-coloured tulip fields, but it closes on May 20th!
Perhaps console yourself with the Singel Flower Market (a floating flower market in the center of town).
NC: Dear Pip, are there any dangerous spots in Amsterdam that I should avoid?
Pip Farquharson: This is also for Bloomfield Hills, MI and others who have asked about safety in Amsterdam...
After Theo van Gogh's assasination last year, I know that people around the world have been worrying about Amsterdam being a safe destination.
However, concerning personal safety - and as a woman - I feel very safe in the city. There aren't really any 'dangerous spots' as such apart from the obvious - i.e. Centraal Station (the city's train depot) late at night. And the Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) can get quite rowdy particularly at night on weekends.
The Red Light District does of course have its fair share of unsavoury characters - particularly along the Zeedijk street where junkies tend to amass in small groups. But I wouldn't say it was 'dangerous'. There's good police visibility here and I would simply advise common sense i.e. if a junkie talks to you just ignore them - don't engage in conversation. Take care if walking around there in the early hours of the morning and don't make it too obvious you're a tourist if you can.
I think the biggest threat you might have in Amsterdam is pickpockets. I know it's always said but really keep your personal possessions secure and hidden (especially on trams!).
And if you use taxis dial 677-7777 for a reputable licensed firm.
Chicago, IL: I will be travelling in the next month and will be stopping in Maastricht after Amsterdam. I haven't been able to find much info on Maastricht, can you help?
Pip Farquharson: This is the official website of the tourist office (VVV) in Maastricht... vvvmaastricht.nl/
Safety Harbor, FL: Hi, 3 questions: What is the best time of day to visit Keukenhof? Is it an all-day affair or can you do it in a half-day or so? Are there currently any major tram lines down due to construction? Thanks
Pip Farquharson: Unless you're a morning person (I'm not) I would visit in the afternoon. You can do it in one afternoon.
As for trams. There are a few major tram line alterations while the city is being dug up to make way for a new metro line. Currently it's mostly in De Pijp area. I would check the city's transport sight GVB at hvb.nl/ for news of individual lines.
I wouldn't worry too much about it. Everything's pretty much within walking distance...
Santa Fe, NM: Hi, If you only had 4 days to spend in Amsterdam, What/where would you be sure to do see or go? Thanks
Pip Farquharson: Also to:
Washington, DC: What sites or itinerary would you recommend during a 2 day visit?
St. Pete, FL: We are going to be in Amsterdam with 2 other couples April 23 to 28th. What are the top 3 off the beaten path things you would suggest we do?
I would definitely go to the obvious - the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum (for the old Dutch masters) and Van Gogh Museum (which currently has a superb Egon Schiele retrospective until 19 June 2005).
Additionally, perhaps check out one of the city's unique 'hidden churches' (these are churches that were secretly built when Catholic worship was banned in the 17th century). The two best examples are the Begijnhof on the Spui (in a house within a 'hidden' garden) and Amstelkring, a church in an attic at Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40 (within the Red Light District).
I would also take a boat tour of the canals and just soak up Amsterdam by walking around in the old center and along the canals and visiting some of its more unique bars and sights. I have a list of my favourite places in Amsterdam in the Forum at http:wateramsterdam.com/ (see UnderwaterAmsterdam News) which you may find helpful...
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