Review of Lonely Planet City Guide to Amsterdam – Het Parool

Translated from Dutch, in the PS van de Week magazine of this Dutch newspaper. Andy wrote this book (edition 4, published 2004) and edition 5, published 2006:

Finally there is the new Lonely Planet City Guide Amsterdam. It begins with the line “Introducing Amsterdam,” which is a bit after the fact since Amsterdam has existed for a while now already. Soft drugs, prostitutes behind windows in red light districts, hallucinogenic mushrooms and gay marriages are all noted in the introduction to the book. Also the number of windmills in the city (6), the number of canals (165), what a blowjob costs (30 euros) and what the biggest no-no is (walking on a bike path – “What are you, suicidal?”).

Lonely Planets are fine guides. Good maps, clearly organized, no-nonsense, with a brief history of the city and an extensive list of handy (emergency) addresses. It is the only guide that is aware of the newest developments in the city (like the night-mayors) and which knows the real in-crowd places and happenings are (Ship of Fools, Dance Valley, etc.). Even if you are an Amsterdammer, you can learn something here. Did you know that the town has a hotel called the Flying Pig Downtown Hostel? Or that there is a hotel open only to female guests (Liliane’s Home in the Sarphatistraat)? In the back of the book there are a number of handy translating tips which really make the guide special: (“Where is the local internet cafe?”) as well as informative tidbits (an Amsterdammertje is a “a knee-high, phallic-shaped post”).

This is a guide that is so well informed that you can almost forgive the awful cliche cover of a man on a bicycle and a pile of clogs. What do clogs have to do with Amsterdam?