Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels Guidebook
Best and worst sights, experiences and destinations:
Best: Dutch Resistance Museum
Why: Really well done museum that depicts what the Dutch went though in WW II. Highly recommend seeing it when in Amsterdam
Margaret Kerkhove in Kerkhove, NH USA 04/12/2013
Jodi Ketry in Metairie, LA USA 03/21/2013
Best: Amsterdam Museum
Why: Not sure it's in the book, but we really liked it. Gave us an historical retrospective on Amsterdam that was foundational for our visit.
Carl in Burlington, ON Canada 03/06/2013
Worst: The Flemish Pot
Why: We visited in late November 2012. The resaurant looked lovely but our experience was not. There was a relatively large Christmas tree in the middle of the front room where we were seated. The owner was seated just inside the door and directed us to our very small table the set against the wall but partially blocking the passage way to the adjacent room and stairs up. It was cramped. We ordered the set menu signature dish of stewed beef. The was a bottle of wine on the table. We asked if it came with the set menu and were told no. It cost 30Euro. We asked if there was a house wine sold by the half litre, yes but the waiter did not know the price or what the house wine was. We ordered anyway and some water.A plain small uncapped bottle of bottle arrived and our wine. We asked the waiter to remove the bottle that they had been promoting as our small table was getting crowded. He refused. We asked again and he said he was not allowed. The food came. Things had to shifted to fit. We found ourselves getting hot and realized that we were both sitting next to heat registers.
As we were leaving, I thought I would let the owner know that the seating was uncomfortable assuming that our table had been shifted to accommodate the Christmas tree. I thought he would want to know. I also told him about the waiter refusing to remove the bottle. His response was that language can be difficult. The waiter clearly understood. I explained about the heat. He said well you should have turned off the registers. Seriously, the waiters are so intimidated that they cannot remove a bottle but I am going to turn off the heat to the building!
We paid our bill and left.
We wrote an unfavourable review on Trip Advisor. Looking at the reviews there we found that our experience was not unusual. What is unusual is the extremes on the reviews, people either have a great experience or they suffer some extreme abuse.
Claudia Buck in Keremeos, BC Canada 01/03/2013
Best: Bike Ride from Bruges to Damme
Why: The ride along the canals in Bruges is great, and the canal itself is gorgeous, with reeds on the edges and large perfectly planted trees along either side. In addition, Damme is very cute and worth a visit. I would STRONGLY recommend sticking to the north side of the canal for both trips so you are not next to the road. It might be worth going part of the way back on the south side to get a nice photo of the Damme windmill, but then I would turn around and go back along the north side, which also has great pastoral scenes opposite the canal.
John K in Alexandria, VA USA 12/15/2012
Best: Dutch Resistance Museum
Why: We have been through Amsterdam two or three times and keep coming back. This was our first visit to this museum, which was well done.
Larry I in Bremerton, WA USA 11/16/2012
Why: We spent several days just wandering along the canals and ducking into backstreets, bars and cafes, especially in the Jordaan. The way in which the friendly, tolerant residents live in this unique city is wonderful to watch, as they cycle so adeptly, linger over beers, coffee, apple tart and seem to enjoy life.
Worst: Mosquitos. / Cigarette smoke
Why: We were badly bitten in both Bruges and Delft. Delft's canals are stagnant, covered in green slime and other detritus. This spoilt this otherwise beautiful little city. Despite being a handsome, healthy race, the Dutch smoke incessantly. Recent legislation forbidding smoking indoors has meant that outdoor seating, usually clustered tightly around the open doors and windows, is the smokers' area. Non smokers still suffer!
Richard Pearce in Whitby, ON Canada 10/11/2012
Why: see above
Gerry Keir in Honolulu, HI USA 09/26/2012
Best: Anne Frank Huis
Why: Because we paid attention and ordered our tickets on line. However, since we got there right when it opened, there was no line to get in, anyway. Still...Dam Cafe
Nancy Villalobos in Carlsbad, CA USA 09/23/2012
Best: Zaanse Schans; strolling in Amsterdam's Jordaan neighborhood; panorama terrace at AMS
Why: We went to Zaanse Schans on a cold, windy day. (The man at the train station who sold us the train tickets warned us to take an umbrella!) But it was marvelous to see the windmills really going. Our visit only cost us the train ticket there and back. We enjoyed the windmills from outside, walked all around, took the nature trail behind the museum across the bridges to get another view of the windmills, and ended our visit at the fun Albert Heijn general store exhibit. (We're from the Detroit area, so Zaanse Schans reminded us of a micro Greenfield Village.) We also spent two evenings in Amsterdam strolling along the canals in the Jordaan neighborhood. The houseboats were so neat, and it was fun to picnic for dinner on a bench along the canals and watch all the locals in their "floating happy hour" boats go by. I had never flown into or out of Amsterdam Schiphol (only connected through), so I really enjoyed visiting the panorama terrace overlooking the planes before my flight.
Kyla Gurganus in Ypsilanti, MI US 08/02/2012
Best: Quasimodo Countryside Tours
Why: We got out into the country side and saw a lot of things with a Belgian native. He explained a lot of things to us, from politics to cows.
Heather Cowley in Vancouver, WA USA 07/24/2012
Best: Hop on Hop off bus in Brussels
Why: Because it is so easy to get lost in this city and this is a good way to see a lot in a relaxing way.
Also good to know ahead of time is that there are two routes and make sure you know ahead of getting on if it goes back to where you want to get dropped off. I learned this the hard way.
Linda Clauson in Renton, WA USA 07/15/2012
Best: bicycling to Dam
Why: A lovely change of pace, getting out of picture perfect but tourist filled Bruges and experiencing the pastoral countryside.
Worst: Covent Gardens, London
Why: Just a covered shopping mall and all the shops closed by six.
Sheryl in Atlanta, , Ga USA 06/14/2012
Best: Quasimodo Tours
Why: The Belgian Triple Treat Tour (from Bruges) was a fantastic way to get off the beaten path and see some hidden gems in the countryside. Our guide was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. One of my favorite days in Belgium!
Emily M. in Columbus, OH USA 05/20/2012
Best: Walking in the residential neighborhoods
Why: I like being able to see how the people live, and I enjoy the different architecture and surroundings.
Iris in Fremont, CA USA 05/18/2012
Worst: Flanders Battlefield Daytours by Nathan
Why: As noted by other comments, Nathan has become unreliable. He cancelled the morning of the tour and we were lucky to get onto the Quasimodo tour on no notice.
Mike in Victoria, BC Canada 05/15/2012
Worst: Nathan's Flanders Field Tour
Why: I wish I had read some of the feedback on this sight first. I had a confirmed booking and he just didn't show up. No call to cancel or anything. The Quasimodo tour had already left so there were no Flanders Fields for me! I would suggest removing him from the book.
Amber Canada 05/08/2012
Best: Quasimodo's Tour Flanders Field
Why: Informative, educational and well-researched. Our guide was pleasant and friendly. And his wife picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the meeting place after the last-minute cancellation by Nathan. It was worth the money.
Worst: Nathan's Tour Flanders Field
Why: We had a confirmed booking. He telephoned our hotel 8 am to cancel on the day of the tour. Fortunately we were able to get on Quasinodo's tour and met others from Nathan's tour.Everyone had a different story for the reason of cancellation.
Myrna Bossler in San Diego, Ca USA 05/05/2012
Best: Amsterdam; Utrecht; Leiden
Why: All were different, and quite nice.
Worst: Delft; Keukenhof
Why: I was not able to get a room in a central hotel, so I stayed just south of the center. With the construction, getting to the hotel from the station was a huge pain. But even without that, I just didn't find Delft enticing; after a half-day, I was ready to leave. My hotel, the Juliana, was fine, except for the location (close to the university, but a bit far from the center, and the walk was not all through a great area).
Keukenhof was lovely. But, you've heard of "too much of a good thing"? Beautiful flowerbed after beautiful flowerbed after beautiful flowerbed. Even though much effort was clearly taken to make them look different, after a while I was flowered out. Given the time and money it takes to get there, I don't regret going, but I wouldn't do it again. And, while the outdoor spaces could absorb the huge crowds, the indoor pavilions got claustrophobic very quickly. But, if you want to see people from all over the world in one place, it's got to be the very best opportunity next to the Eiffel Tower.
Harold Chasen in New York, NY USA 04/28/2012
Best: bike rental in Amsterdam
Why: Great way to get around the city and also cross the harbor by ferry to get out into the tourist-free countryside. Feel like you're part of the bike-loving Dutch culture!
Andy in Auburn, AL USA 04/16/2012
Why: Entire city was beautiful.
Worst: Bruges Museums
Why: Subject matter was really, really dark. Not good for kids and pretty grim for everyone else.
Alex in London, UK 03/07/2012
Best: Not purchasing the I amsterdam card
Why: As suggested in the Guidebook, it is overpriced and limiting. We used the Museumkaart that worked great.
Bruce and Barbara Chaloux in Smyrna, GA USA 03/04/2012
Best: Anne Frank House
Why: Such an important monument to history.
Stacey Oziel in Santa Monica, CA USA 11/25/2011
Best: Hotel Cordoeanier B&B in Bruges
Why: Nice rooms, good breakfast and really terrific location. Note - breakfast was served in the dining room off the office area, not in Cafe Rose Red as the book states.
Michael Street in Ancaster, ON Canada 11/14/2011
Best: view of Amsterdam from the library
Why: What a magnificent view, and the library is amazing. Multi-story with a cafe at the top we were duly impressed to say the least, great spot for a coffee break.
Wendy in Chatham, MA USA 10/15/2011
Best: The Grand Place in Brussels
Why: It is truly the most impressive "main square" I've encountered in Europe -- a great place to sit with a beer and people-watch.
Worst: Not worst -- just a bit oversold
Why: The Museum of Belgium was interesting but perhaps not as much as the comments in the guidebook led us to expect.
Kate McCain in Philadelphia, PA USA 09/10/2011
Best: Brussels Walks, Edam guide
Why: Perfect guide to the Upper Town. Excellent for a quick visit to Edam.
Philip Braverman in New York, NY USA 09/05/2011
Best: Biking with Quasimundo
Why: Most amazing day with Jos. Do it, you won't be sorry.
Clownis in Clomper, Ca USA 07/17/2011
Best: Red light district tour
Why: Easy to follow and amusing!
Sara Shaughnessy in Palm City, Fl USA 07/12/2011
Why: Outstanding accommodation at a good price, clean, comfortable,
David in Laramie, WY USA 07/04/2011
Best: Queen's Day in Amsterdam
Why: Biggest, good natured, friendly party I've ever seen. Unbelievable.
Michael Bray in Idaho Falls, ID USA 05/20/2011
Why: Loved the experience of the entire town ... sights, canal ride, architecture. ambience!
Worst: Dumon Chocolate Shop - Bruges
Why: Rude, impatient, cranky salesperson. I'd give her the benefit of the doubt and say maybe she was having an "off" day but the friend I was traveling with said that the salesperson at the location near the market square was also unkind. There are too many chocolate shop options to justify spending money in a shop that is this nasty!
Sherrie Sons in Bolingbrook, IL USA 05/17/2011
Why: Beautiful city. Also, the tour guide for the Anne Frank house was very helpful and easy to follow.
Worst: Red Light District
Why: Area was dirty and not really anything interesting to see.
Penney Haas in Belleville, IL USA 05/17/2011
Best: Areas not mentioned in the guidebook were the best
Why: Rick Steve's and his guidebooks have become so popular that the places mentioned are typically overrun with tourists.
Why: Big tourist trap. Mussels not in season or even available in April. Bruges is an out of the way place with nothing much to offer except crowds and insensed shop owners annoyed by the crowds, but not their cash.
Lance Stronk in Northfield, CT USA 04/28/2011
Best: in holland and belgium it's all good !!
Why: great people
bruce lahr in sauk rapids, mn USA 04/16/2011
Best: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Why: The layout of the museum is fabulous. It is a manageable size and has a clear flow. The art on the display is also stunning, Rembrandt was not an artist on my list of favorites until I saw his work showcased in this museum. They do a fabulous job of displaying and explaining all their art and history.
Emma Alvarez in Redmond, WA USA 02/07/2011