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Amsterdam is people, twenty-four hours a day. People, short and tall, fat and thin, young and old, rich and poor. Amsterdam, city on the water, sparkles. And Amsterdam accumulates art and culture in profusion. One thing you certainly won't be in Amsterdam: bored. Besides, just about anything is possible. Amsterdam and the 'Amsterdammers' offer you much, so much. The city is rich in diversity and is tolerant above all. Thanks to this tolerance, Amsterdam has grown to full economic and cultural stature over the centuries.
Amsterdam numbers about 150 nationalities, a good 700,000 inhabitants, around 400,000 bicycles, 600,000 flower bulbs in parks and avenues, more than 10,000 shops, 165 canals, nearly 1300 bridges, around 2500 houseboats, an Anne Frank Museum, nearly 7000 buildings from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, around 6100 animals in Artis Zoo, a Royal Palace, 22 paintings by Rembrandt, roughly 40 concerts and theatre performances each day, at least 1400 cafes and bars, more than 750 restaurants, nearly 30,000 hotel beds and a Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Indeed, you will never be bored in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is unity in diversity. The city is ideal for a day out or a short holiday. There are numerous sights only a short distance from each other. For example, the distance between the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum is a mere few minutes on foot. You need more time if you actually want to visit these. The museums present an unimaginable treasure trove of art, of which Rembrandt's Night Watch is the indisputable highlight for millions of people. In Amstelveen, the town nestling at the foot of Amsterdam, you can soak up modern art in the Museum van der Togt and the Cobra Museum for Modern Art. Culture, history and water have been inextricably linked to Amsterdam over the centuries. Where the river Amstel flows into the IJ, the first settlers established themselves around the year 1200. Fishing, initially the main source of income, gradually gave way to trade. By the end of the sixteenth century, Amsterdam was the wealthiest city in Europe.
Even today, the thousands of merchants houses and warehouses along the canals bear witness to this Golden Age. A stroll along the canals is an astonishing voyage of discovery. Countless age-old monuments adorn the canals, which are refreshed each night. You can also take a boat tour through the canals, which are picturesquely floodlit in the evenings. In the winter, if there is ice, you can even skate over the canals. Under the title of 'Amsterdam Arts Adventure', each year a number of cultural events are held in the summer months. These are the months par excellence for international festivals, with an comprehensive theatre, dance, music and opera programme. 'Amsterdam Arts Adventure' includes such events as the Holland Festival, the July Dance Festival and the Prinsen-gracht Festival.
Amsterdam possesses more than forty museums. Under the title 'Amsterdam Winter Adventure', the Amsterdam museums organise exclusive exhibitions in the winter months. As well as the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Amsterdam Historical Museum, there are a wealth of large and smaller museums with magnificent collections such as the Dutch Maritime Museum, the Tropical Museum and the Bible Museum. Recently two more museums opened in Amsterdam; the new Ajax Museum and New Metropolis, the Science and Technology Center.
The present and the past flow seamlessly into one another in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a city of character, where you can also enjoy shopping to the full. Large department stores are to be found in the city centre. Smaller, exclusive shops you will find in the neighbourhood around the Concertgebouw, where renowned couturiers have their boutiques. In the Jordaan, from time immemorial a working-class district which has been beautifully restored, you can stroll along the most diverse collection of shops imaginable. The diamond dealers are also synonymous with beauty and chic in Amsterdam, and are highly regarded for the quality of their work. Art and antiques are found in the 'Spiegelkwartier' the approach road to the Rijksmuseum. Paintings, ceramics, glass, jewellery, furniture, coins, books, Art Deco, and much more. If you like, you can feast your eyes on all this the whole day long.
If you are hunting for bargains, try your luck at one of the cheerful markets. The most colourful is on the Albert Cuypstraat, where many market traders hawk their wares in their inimitable Amsterdam accent. The fame of the Waterlooplein flea market extends well beyond the country's borders. You will find the only floating flower market in the world, along the Singel. Every week there are markets for philatelists and lovers of old books and prints. In the evenings too you needn't be bored for a second. An enormous range of pubs, cafes, discos and night clubs offer a wide choice of entertainment. It goes without saying that you can dine out well in Amsterdam, whether it is in a simple Dutch eating house or a chic Oriental restaurant.
But Amsterdam is also Ajax and the Arena, the futuristic stadium where Ajax plays. Amsterdam is the 'Uitmarkt', the opening of the cultural season that takes place each year at the end of August. Amsterdam is also the pleasant squares and parks, such as the Vondelpark. And Amsterdam is Konninginnedag, the Queen's Birthday: each year a huge popular festival.
The Port and Industry of Amsterdam
A guided coach tour through the Port of Amsterdam. Tour themes include the Royal National Water Police, entrepôts, inland navigation, the timber docks, the Africa Harbor, the Container Terminal, cocoa warehouses, a power station and the transportation centre.
Visit to either De Telegraaf newspaper, the Amsterdam Municipal Waste Disposal Department, Sorting Centre for Letters Amsterdam. Each visit includes a video presentation, tea or coffee and a guided tour.De Telegraaf is a stock-exchange listed company employing some 5000 staff. As well as publishing the Netherlands' leading daily newspaper, with a paid-for circulation of about 800,000, the group also produces local newspapers and magazines.The Amsterdam Municipal Waste Disposal Department extracts the maximum benefit from waste with the hightest environmental yield. Its Amsterdam waste incineration plant incinerates approximately 800 million kilograms of domestic and similar industrial waste each year, in a technologically advanced and environmentally responsible way.The Sorting Centre for Letters Amsterdam opened in 1998 as part of the "Briefpost 2000 Automation" project. It is interesting because it provides an opportunity to see both "traditional" manual sorting alongside modern mail process.
The Centre of Amsterdam
Visit to Amsterdam Exchanges, operator of the Dutch stock markets. Its various trading floors deal in shares, bonds, options, futures, agricultural forward contracts, warrants and special products. From the public gallery, you can watch the hectic options exchange with its floor traders and market makers in action. Lunch at a brewery in central Amsterdam, followed by a guided tour. A choice between guided tours of the Radisson SAS Hotel Amsterdam, the Carré Theatre, Het Muziektheater, the Amsterdam ArenA stadium or the Hilversum Media Park.
At the Radisson SAS Hotel, for example, you visit the bedrooms, public areas, housekeeping section, sales department and kitchens. The Muziektheater, as well as being a venue for operas, ballets, and modern dance performances, is also a major production company. All its costumes are hand made. The tour offers you a glimpse of the complex daily life in the world of theatre, where apparent chaos always manages to deliver a perfect performance at the end of day. View the often ingenious sets and costumes, and see the incredible technology behind the sound and lighting effects.The Media Park Event Studio (MES) in Hilversum is part of the country's main radio and television production centre. Here, during a 90-minute guided tour, you will see the props store, set construction, several control studios and take a look behind the scenes at facilities company NOB. At the Amsterdam ArenA, you can watch a film about and take a guided tour of the largest stadium in the Netherlands.
The IJmond region
A look behind the scenes at McDonald's. During a guided tour you visit the busy kitchen, see how the restaurant is run, how teamwork is put into practice, how high product quality is achieved, and how McDonald's makes its contribution to the environment. Finally, you can fry your own hamburger for lunch! Boat tour of IJmuiden docks and, in good weather, a cruise along the North Sea coast. Visit to the North Sea Canal Visitors' Centre. Enjoy the multimedia exhibition about water management in the province of Noord-Holland. Subjects covered include the operation of the canal's gigantic locks.
Visit to the Royal Netherlands Lifeboat Institution. After watching an explanatory film, you can take your place in one of the Society's lifeboats on trip out into the North Sea! Alternatively, you can opt for a visit to Bob's Party Palace, the largest party venue in the region. During a one-hour guided tour, you witness preparations under way for spectacular party.Or you choose to view one of the luxury cruise ferries operated by DFDS Seaways. On board you are shown the restaurants, bars, nightclub, cinema, games room and various types of cabin.
You have never seen an airport at such close quarters! Your bus drives past the aircraft, giving you an excellent view of the activities surrounding them: refuelling, loading and unloading, and so on. After your tour of the "apron", you visit the hangars of the Dutch Dakota Association (DDA) to see volunteers at work on its historic fleet. This consists of one Douglas DC-4 Skymaster and two DC-3 Dakotas, one of which is owned by HRH Prince Bernhard. The history of the aircraft is explained, and you can watch restoration work being carried out on them. Lunch on the third floor of the Schiphol passenger terminal.
Company visit. You have a choice between the Radisson SAS Hotel Amsterdam Airport Schiphol or Yamaha. At the five-star hotel, you take an extensive guided tour of the bedrooms, restaurant, conference complex and kitchens. Yamaha Motor Distribution BV is the European parts and accessories distribution centre for Yamaha's quality products, such motorcycles, mopeds, outboard motors and jet speedboats. As well as distribution, the centre handles purchasing, storage and sales. For Yamaha, rapid and reliable delivery is a crucial aspect of quality. This is managed from a largely mechanised and automated warehouse in which more than 140,000 items are stored.
The 'Zaanstreek' region
Coffee and cake in Zaandam. Boat trip along the River Zaan, passing a range of (industrial) companies including Verkade (chocolate and biscuits), Honig (processed foods), Amylum, ADM Cocoa, Gerkens Cocoa, Karlshamns, Duyvis (snacks and condiments). Particular attention is paid to the cocoa processing and food industries, to the region's various modes of freight transport and to cargo transfer facilities. Tour of the Zaanse Schans "living museum", with particular emphasis on its industrial aspects. Created mostly during the 1960s and 1970s, the Zaanse Schans is unusual as a museum in that people actually live and work there. You will visit the Albert Heijn museum shop, the Museum of Dutch Clocks and a handicrafts centre. Five working windmills demonstrate how the wind was once "harvested" to produce oil, mustard and paint pigments.
By road along the "industrial route" through Wormerveer and Wormer, passing the "Wall of Industry", a restored rice-husking plant and the Lassie rice factory complex on the way to lunch at the Eetcafé Batavia. In the afternoon, you can choose between a visit to Forbo-Krommenie or Bob's Party Centre. Forbo-Krommenie celebrates its 100 years anniversary and is world leader in linoleum. The factory produces linoleum for export to countries throughout the world. A century of industrial experience combined with use of the latest technology ensures products of the highest quality. At Bob's Party Palace, you can look behind the scenes of the largest party venue in the region. During a one-hour guided tour, you witness preparations under way for a spectacular celebration. And of course you can end your visit with an evening of entertainment at Bob's Party Palace.
Flowers from Aalsmeer
Visit to the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. Watch the world's largest flower market from a gallery six metres above the trading floor. An audio presentation explains what is going on. It is in the auction halls of Aalsmeer that the world price of plants and flowers is set. Millions of blooms begin their journeys to customers throughout the world as the clocks tick down at this, the original "Dutch auction".
Visit to Aviflora, a young and dynamic Aalsmeer company with close links to both the flower auction and Schiphol Airport. Each day, Aviflora's buyers purchase plants and flowers at the auction, which are transformed by a skilled team of arrangers and binders into beautiful bouquets for sale in the firm's three shops at Schiphol and on Amsterdam's floating flower market. As well as watching a slide presentation about Aviflora, you visit the bulbs department. You can also extend the visit with a workshop and lunch.
Visit to a horticultural firm. You can choose between a rose nursery, a pot-plant company, a bulb nursery, a cyclamen nursery or an exporter of bulbs and other horticultural products. At Tropisch Rozenland, for example, you will see the latest techniques in rose cultivation. Vegmo Plants, meanwhile, specialises in the cultivation and production of cut flowers from seed. Thanks to the use of organic pest control, self-generated energy and complete automation, both firms meet the most stringent environmental standards.