Writer Pip Farquharson answered your travel questions on Tuesday, April 5 at noon ET
Tallahassee, FL: I will be visiting Amsterdam next month. I am a college student on a serious budget. What are some fun things to do in the city that are free or pretty cheap?
Pip Farquharson: I would get hold of a copy of Get Lost! The Cool Guide to Amsterdam. It's aimed at budget travellers and has some great tips (and recommendations of freebies). It's written by a lovely Canadian guy called Joe Pauker who gives a very personal take on places in the city.
The website is www.xs4all.nl/~getlost/
Clifton NJ: In Amsterdam, everyone's English is so perfect. Is it even worth it to try some Dutch words, or is it a waste of time?
Pip Farquharson: On one hand, it's polite to talk a few words of the language. However, as soon as the Dutch hear any trace of your accent, they will just start talking back to you in English. So, unless you're here for any length of time I wouldn't really bother.
It's a bit of an ongoing battle for foreigners living here. Some of the Dutch really complain if you don't speak their language yet they still insist on talking back to you in English - even if they've understood what you've said in Dutch.
Phoenix, AZ: Pip, I heard that they are looking at making marijuana illegal in Amsterdamn? Won't this hurt your economy, or do you think you would still get an abundance of tourists?
Pip Farquharson: There's always stories like that coming out now and again but I don't think they'll ever make it illegal. Mostly because it WOULD hurt the Dutch economy!
Personally, I think the way they have decriminalised marijuana and handle the sale of it via coffeeshops is very responsible. It's like the way the French introduce wine to children at a young age so they don't turn into a nation of alcoholics.
Also, if it's readily available it does haven't that 'we're doing something naughty' factor and to be honest, when it's there on your doorstep you just get bored of it after a while...
Personally, I think alchohol is far more harmful than marijuana.
Philly, PA: Hi again, Pip. Thanks for your answer to my graphics question. Could you speak to the current influences bearing on your music? I mean, what are your interests lately? Are there any trends that you see developing? Do you see a positive direction happening in peoples' home studio music creation? Have a nice year, Pip.
Pip Farquharson: Just quickly, one band that are based in Amsterdam that I'm very excited about are The Jack Stafford Foundation, fronted by a British guy. jackstafford.co.uk/
Fort Myers, FL: We are going to Europe for 2 weeks next month and have a 3 day lay over in Amsterdam. We have reservations at a hotel near Centraal Station and we're considering taking the train in from the airport but were concerned about handling several larger pieces of luggage on to the train. Should we consider alternate transport?
Pip Farquharson: The railway station is within Schiphol Airport and it has moving esalators going down onto the platforms. However, you could have problems when you get to Amsterdam's Centraal Station where there are no luggage trolleys for security reason. One of you will probably have to go and find a portier to help.
Alternatively you could take a taxi (about 20 mins into Amsterdam), costs about 45 euros or, I believe, there's a bus that runs to the major hotels in Amsterdam which is free or very cheap. Look at the website of Schiphol as it might have some information or do a Google search hchiphol.nl/
Tacoma, WA: Follow up to my age/club question. What is the drinking (legal!) age in Amsterdam? What is the coffeeshop (illegal! sort of) age in Amsterdam? Here's a more pedestrian question. If you rent a bike in Amsterdam, do you need to bring your own bike lock, or will they provide one? That's more of a cyclical question than a pedestrian one, but hey. Final Question: Do you have any reservations about a couple of pretty street-wise, well traveled 17-year-old kids (1 male, 1 female) crusing around Amsterdam on their own? At night? Around clubs?