Review: FoodHallen Amsterdam

Planning a trip to Amsterdam soon?  Be sure you check out the Foodhallen – a cultural center with a focus on craftsmanship, media, fashion, and of course amazing food!    It’s like a daily food truck festival! 

LOCATION

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Credit: VeganAmsterdam.org

On Sunday we spent the day visiting Amsterdam and had our lunch at the FoodHallen.  I had been looking forward to going for a while and LOVED it!  Located on the edge of the city center, we took the tram and walked back to the city center, where we then did a self-guided tour of the Royal Palace – (Koninklijk Paleis).

Since its opening in 2015, this multi-functional cultural complex has become an extremely popular and trendy spot for locals to hang out.  Now even tourists, like us, are making their way to Oud West Amsterdam just to experience De Hallen.

It is housed within a former tram depot, a national monument built between 1902-1928. This is the place where the first electric trams in Amsterdam were maintained, and it has since been given a new lease of life.  It now houses a multicultural food hall,  The Maker Store,  a library, a bike workshop, a boutique hotel – Hotel De Hallen, and FilmHallen – the biggest independent cinema complex in the Netherlands.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT A LOT – BUT YOU COULD!!

The nice thing about eating at the Foodhallen is that you control how much you eat.  When you order, you can choose – small or large at my places.  So you not control just what you eat, but also how much.   You could easily eat a giant beef burger or 3 oysters –   so if you are not that hungry and meeting a friend between lunch and a late dinner, a snack at the Foodhallen is a great idea. 

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There are over 20 food stalls here, serving everything from dim sum to Indian street food.  It is pretty tough to choose between all the different options, as so many look so good, you can over-order if not careful.  It’s not the cheapest way to eat, but the main dishes at Foodhallen are under €10 which if you compare that to a restaurant is decent.  

WHAT WE ORDERED

It has a very international vibe with each stall selling street food dishes from around the world. But don’t worry, if you’re looking for Dutch food, you can get Bitterballen here too.  We decided to split everything we ordered and to order in stages – as having all things show up at once wouldn’t be ideal.   With COVID, the items were delivered to our tables so we didn’t have to go stand in line – I liked that part.

  • Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich from Viet View.
  • Tempura Veggies from Patron
  • Spicy Chicken Kabab Pita from Pita
  • Shrimp Dumplins from Dim Sum Thing

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Most food stalls only take debit cards so make sure you have one with you.   With COVID, like many cafes now do, there is a QR code on your table which opens to an app where you can see menus and order as you go.

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DRINKS AS WELL

Up to this point, I have only been talking about food, but what would a nice meal be without a drink or two? At Foodhallen, they have the drinks covered too.  In the back, there was a large bar set up.   And of course, being a very hip & happening place there is a dedicated Gin & Tonic bar.  But it was closed when we were there.  Not sure if that was part of the effects of Corona time or was it just that it was during the day and no one was drinking G&Ts with their lunches.  I did enjoy two nice beers on draft.  🙂

KANARIE CLUB

Also located in the Hallen but behind the FoodHallen is the hip Kanarie Club.

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This place is a space for creativity and inspiration during the day, and cocktails and fun by night. It has a bar, restaurant, and workplace which is designed for people to spend all day in one spot. With a wide range of flexible workspaces, sufficient electrical outlets, meeting facilities, and good coffee, this is the ideal place to flex a day.  Upstairs they even have a bar with a small pool – which was originally created by squatters to collect rainwater.

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But now with COVID, they opened this area up so when you are eating at the FoodHallen you can sit in that area as well and order off the menu on the QR code on the table.  This is the bar where our drinks were coming from during the day we were visiting.

I WISH WE HAD A FOODHALLEN IN DEN BOSCH

If we had such a place in Den Bosch, I’d be here all the time!   In fact, when Hudson Bay was going bust I suggested they open a large Foodhallen in that amazing building – instead, Shoeby, a giant local clothing retailer, came in and set up shop.   If Den Bosch was to get a Foodhallen in Den Bosch, I’m thinking it would be set up in the up-and-coming hip area of Kop van t’Zand.

I highly recommend this palace and will definitely be back!  If you’re in Amsterdam and looking for a good vibe and great food, do yourself a favor and find the FoodHallen Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam in De Hallen, Amsterdam.

 

Inside The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) Amsterdam, Netherlands

History of the Royal Palace Amsterdam

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Credit: Iamsterdam

The Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace)  located on the ‘Dam’ (Dam Square) in Amsterdam, is one of the three palaces still used by the Royal Family.  Paleis Huis ten Bosch and Noordeinde Paleis being the other two.  It is very hard to miss and I’d wager that any visitor who has come to Amsterdam will have seen this building.  The exterior’s yellowish sandstone turned grey/brownish over the centuries.

While the Royal Palace in Amsterdam isn’t King Willem-Alexander’s place of residence, he occasionally receives important guests here.  It is used for state visits, award ceremonies, and other official receptions. When the palace is not being used by the royal family, it is open to the public regularly host exhibitions, including the Royal Award for Painting each autumn.

The palace was built by Jacob van Campen to serve as a city hall during the Dutch Golden Age back in the 17th century.  In 1808, French conqueror Napoleon appointed his brother Louis as King of the Netherlands and Louis took up residence here.  He took possession of the city hall, which he converted to a royal palace, redecorating it in Empire style.

As the empire started to crumble, Louis made a hasty retreat, leaving many of his opulent furnishings behind which are still on view today.   In 1813, Prince William, later King William I, returned the Palace to the city of Amsterdam. However, after his investiture, the new King realized the importance of having a home in the capital and asked the city authorities to make the Palace available to him once again.  It was not until 1936 that it became state property.

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Following the course of the 20th century, his modifications were reversed and the palace was restored to its original state of a government building based on classical models.

When you walk upstairs the first area you arrive into is the main grand hall known as the Citizens’ Hall (Burgerzaal).

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This impressive area has marble floors inlaid with maps of the western and eastern hemispheres.  You’ll find a sculpture of Atlas carrying the celestial globe on his shoulder and amazing chandeliers.   As you walk around the first floor, you’ll see other rooms including the City Council Chamber where you can find various lavish furnishings. The Magistrates’ Court is also particularly interesting, with carved reliefs that date back to the mid-XVII century. 

A self-guided tour to me was necessary and quite informative. I really admired the marble floors, magnificent paintings, delicate sculptures, and especially the gigantic chandeliers – imagine having to clean them?  With the audio, you really learn about its royal history.

Filming was not allowed inside but the Palace has a Youtube channel featuring a lot of nice videos so you can see the interior and more about history.  iAmsterdam has put out a post 10 Hidden Secrets of the Royal Palace Amsterdam.

While visitors are not allowed on the famous balcony, you do walk by it and this is the closest I’ll ever be to it.

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The balcony of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam is where Queen Juliana announced the new queen to the people and it is also where Prince Willem-Alexander kissed Princess Maxima on their wedding day.

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Admission is €10 & kids under 18 are free.  Museumkaart holders are also free.  Included in the entrance fee is a self-guided audio tour in which you select your language of choice.   I believe proper one-hour guided tours can be arranged at an extra cost [outside of Corona period].  There were restrictions on having to pre-book online (we did that a few hours before), how many people were in a room at a time (often limited to 3) so you occasionally had to wait a minute before entering the next room – but that was fine.  Our entry was at 3:30 pm and when we left we were one of the last few still left in the building so it was very quiet.

DAM SQUARE

When you step outside the Palace, you are located on the Dam.

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It is also where you can find the National Monument, a white stone pillar dedicated to the victims of World War II and the XV century Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). Though it is no longer a functional church, it is still used for royal events such as weddings and coronations. The most recent high profile event in the church was the coronation of Willem Alexander in 2013, following the abdication of Queen Beatrix after 33 years on the throne.

The palace and Dam Square are also used on National Memorial Day, May 4th, when the Dutch remember those who suffered and died under the Nazi German occupation during WWII. The King and his entourage walk from the palace to the National Monument at the opposite end of Dam Square, where they participate in a wreath-laying ceremony.

Dam is also famous for the daily protests and police and pigeons.  You’ll always see groups (sometimes a single person) holding signs – typically about political and social issues.  On June 1st, nearly 5,000 people attended the “Black Lives Matter” protest against racism and police brutality in the US and EU.  The Dam Square protest was widely criticized because protestors were not able to keep 1.5m from each other, particularly towards the middle of the crowd.  

I shared that I visited here with a few Dutch friends – all said they’ve never been.  Perhaps I’ve inspired them to go check out their historical palace open to the public instead of simply walking by on the way to the shopping streets.

Kids Painting Workshop at the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

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Yesterday Maebh and I spent the day in Amsterdam having a mom and daughter day.  A highlight of our trip was the Kids Painting Workshop at the Van Gogh Museum.   Many weekends children between 6 and 12 can attend painting workshops in this world- famous museum.  It starts with a guided tour especially for children (in Dutch and English). This inspires them, then they do a workshop of painting and sketching and take home their masterpieces in a special box easy for transporting – we carried it around Amsterdam and on the train home.   Sessions cost €7.50 and there is a limit so do book in, if interested.

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Of course it’s not the original behind her!  In fact, you can tough this one.


The “theme” this week was frightening and scary.  Her work of art are below … which include CROWS and SKULLS.

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You can use the two hour duration of the workshop to visit the museum yourself or leave – whatever you want.   The entrance fees for adults is currently €19 but as I have my museumkaart it was free for me to enter.  I did pay €5 for a self-guided audio tour around the museum.    The last 10 minutes the parents are brought in and allowed to take photos and their session is explained.

She really enjoyed it so will be doing it again in the future for sure and if we go back with Soren, we’ll check out the Treasure Hunt!  We also visited the Anne Frank House today too – but you were not allowed to take photos inside so there is not too much to share.  

NEMO Science Museum Amsterdam – Revisited.

We visited the museum one time before, but decided since our museumkaarts were renewed and we have one more week left of summer vacation we decided to head to a museum.   While I wanted to visit a new one, the kids really liked NEMO so we agreed and we were off on the 11:38 train bound for Amsterdam.   I am going to make sure our next museum visit is one that we have not already visited before. 

If you have ever been to Amsterdam, you’ve most likely seen the giant, green, odd boat-shaped building just east of Central Station. Those familiar with it might recognize it as NEMO Science Museum.

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NEMO is known country-wide as being THE science museum to visit.  We’d like to check out the Science Center in Delft too.  The 5-story building hosts a wide variety of interactive exhibits that will entertain young and old, all while teaching valuable lessons about science, technology, and their importance in everyday life.

We decided last minute to attend but it was packed – having only been there one other time, it was not as enjoyable this time due to how many people were here.  No matter how long you waited for your turn, the minute you started a child would come in and interfere – it was truly incredible and frustrating.   For example the bubbles, you wait and you start to pull up the bubble mix and immediately a kid starts blowing and it pops – or a hand goes in…  Our kids ask them nicely in Dutch and then in English in case they don’t understand – they continue…   or they leave a new one comes along.

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The line cutting, the overall lack of patience and respect for others – it was mind blowing.   This is just one example it – it happened ALL DAY LONG!   We agreed, it’s best to come on days when there is a school studiedag as there would not be as many people.  I cannot imagine what it would be like on a Saturday or Sunday – and we visited on a Friday.

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FENOMENA

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This area is full with sensational science we encounter every day like sound and movement.  Here you have the chance to create these phenomena for yourself and to see how they work. In doing so, you will discover the true nature of ordinary yet surprising natural phenomena like light, sound and static electricity.  This is also the floor that is most suitable for smaller children but at 9 & 11 our kids loved it as well.

They love the lightening globe – reminder DON’T TOUCH each other and the globe at the same time or you’ll get a small shock!

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This photo is 1/2 Soren & 1/2 Maebh

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Several times a day they show a 15 minutes show called  Chain Reaction which is moderated in Dutch and English.

TECHNIUM

There is the Water Power area here which Soren LOVEDoves – and when we were leaving he was pretty wet from building a dam and was pretty soaked!

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There is a very big machine with coloured balls that show you how a logistic process can work.  You can set off an order and see how the balls move around the machine and in the end reach their intended destination. In this area you can also visit the world of shapes, huge or tiny chairs to sit on, a big wheel that slowly turns and in which you can create beautiful patterns and a room where you can trick your brain, because small kids turn into giants and the other way around.   It took me a lot of patients to get photo of just my kids in the room – but it was worth it – funny photo to see Soren so small and Maebh big.

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ELEMENTA

You can find the exhibition: Life in the Universe. They have this huge screen where you can play a video game and protect the earth from dangers from outta space such as comets, meteorites and solar wind.   As you’ll see in the photos, the kids take a shield and hold them above their heads and their movement are shown on the screen as they run back and forth trying to block the earth and not hit each other.

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Kids of all ages loved this exhibition.  On the same floor is the LAB, but where it is always packed. But it does look like very cool experimentation are going on inside with everyone wearing a white lab coat and eye protection – I promised the kids next time we will get in line and wait.  I looked online later and doesn’t appear you have to book in for this – just wait in line.   There are other exhibitions which happen like Exciting Electricity which we didn’t go to – next time.

HUMANIA

This area was closed and a new exhibition would be opening in November 2019.

BRILLIANT BICYCLES

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This was a special exhibition until September 1st in the lowest level and we found it quite cool.  There were tables with equipment to make something yourself using inner tubes of bicycles.  I made a little bag – not an 100% original idea as I saw a previous person made one and left it hanging on the display, but mine had more details and was a bit nicer 🙂   Other people made people, key rings, bracelets and just a whole lot of nothing – just scissors and hole punching.    Maebh and I found it fun – Soren did it a bit but found more fun in exploring the exhibition.

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FOOD & DRINK

By the time 2 pm rolled around we were starving so went up to the top floor and ate the in main restaurant.   I had a veggie hummus sandwich, Maebh had a hotdog and fries and Soren had a carpaccio sandwich and fries – I even got a Hoegaarden on tap at the bar.   The total was €30 so not that bad.  All were delicious!  They do a good job with recycling bins asking guest to separate their items to waste, paper and plastic, but there is too much plastic – knives, forks, spoons & straws – they should use wooden utensils and get rid of the straws completely.  There are also 2 smaller cafés inside the museum where you can get drinks or enjoy a Dutch tostis, etc.  I did see a few people eating their sandwiches which they packed near the lockers.  On their site, they do say there are some areas set up with tables for you to bring your own lunch but not in the restaurants.  I would suggest you eat it outside on the roof and enjoy the views of the boats coming and going.

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BE SURE TO VISIT THE ROOFTOP

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Make sure you go up to the 5th floor and go out onto the sloped top roof. There you’ll have  lovely views of the city and outdoor exhibition called “energetica“ with wind- and water-sculptures.  Keep your ticket as you’ll need it to re-enter the building.    Also, this area is open to the public by steps along the edge so if ever in Asmterdam and don’t have time to visit the museum, you can still pop up for a drink at the bar or just a few minutes to take a few photos and check out the view.

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HELPFUL INFO

  • Check out their website before you go for opening times & what’s going on.  They are closed some Mondays!!
  • According to their calendar on their site, during summer holidays, weekdays are their busiest days.   Outside of school summer holidays, I’d say weekends are probably the busiest times.  Rush hour is between 12 and 2 pm because the early birds and the people that arrive later, overlap.   I’d say most people stay around 3 to 4 hours in the museum, so manage your time carefully.  It closes at 5:30 pm so if you have a museumkaart, go later in the day when the early birds are are already leaving and it will be less busy.
  • There are tons of lockers which are under video surveillance.  So no need to lug around your coats, bags, etc.  Some which fit foldable strollers, but you can leave bigger ones under the stairs.
  • There are different smaller lockers – ones with combinations which you set and they are free.  We found many struggling to figure out how they work.  So for those folks there are others where you put in €1 coin and take a key.  The coin is refunded when you are finished.  If you don’t happen to have a €1 coin – find a worker where you enter – they have some tokens in their pockets which they’ll ask you to return when done.
  • Ticket Prices: kids up to 3 years old are free!  3+ years, €17,50   If you live in the Netherlands and are going to visit museums – get yourself a Museumkaart!

 

 

NEMO Science Museum Amsterdam

Today the kids and I were going to go to Beerkse Bergen (again) due to our annual membership and not being there for some time. Plus the crazy French family who got out of the car and were hunted and thankfully not killed by cheetahs put it fresh in our minds. As we were driving, I offered a day trip to Amsterdam and the NEMO Science Museum instead and both kids enthusiastically agreed.

So we parked the car, took the train from s’Hertogenbosch to Amsterdam (one hour trip with two stops – Utrecht Central and Amstel) and we were there.

The walk to the NEMO from the central station is not only simple 13 minute walk (once you look at the map) it is picturesque and really gives you a glimpse at the beauty there is in Amsterdam (well some parts) but especially on the water! We went by places which the kids remember from our canal cruise last year aboard the Friendship – which I highly recommend.

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We got to see some pretty cool boats coming and going.

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And here is when I wish my camera had a video. We witnessed two British women nearly shit themselves as they ignored the bells and lights on the draw bridge and kept walking.   When they got to the end, the second pole started to come down and they panicked.    Note the boy in the background, he was 1/2 across when it started to buzz and also ran back as fast as possible to his parents.

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First off, the design of the building itself is a sight to see because of the sloping rooftop and unique angles and it is the highest city square in all of The Netherlands. Soren thought it look a lot like a boat which is somewhat does and surrounded by water I can see that but Architect Renzo Piano had to build the structure like this since the museum is directly over a tunnel. We didn’t make it there but you can actually hang out on the rooftop for FREE and get a breathtaking views of Amsterdam from above. We’ll do that next time for sure as I totally missed it this time.

The NEMO Science Museum is a wonderful place for kids and adults and is full of cool stuff like interactive labs, informative exhibits, and hands-on learning activities. The staff are super friendly and informative. They engage the kids and ask them questions about what they are seeing and doing – plus they all speak fluent English. For Soren it was cool to do it both in Dutch and English.

It’s really set up well for parents too. There are toilets and coat racks on each floor, baby changing facilities and even a breastfeeding room, which you can access by asking an employee.

As with all museums here in The Netherlands there are lockers for you stuff. Some are free and others take a coin and return it in the end – that is the case here. There is a change machine in case you don’t have a .50 cent piece it requires. If you have no money or no interest there are coat hangers on each floor which allow to you hang your stuff (but note it can ‘walk off’. For those with small kids, there are larger buggy lockers if you have a fold able buggy). Or there is buggy storage under the stairs if you want to park it somewhere or of course, take it with you. There are toilets and coat racks baby changing facilities and even a breastfeeding room, which you can access by asking an employee.

After we topped in Mojo Sushi. The manager was so nice – as we didn’t have reservations they would need the table back by 730 pm. No problem – there is only so much you can eat in an all-you-can-eat place especially with an 8 year old who doesn’t take much to fill up.

Then a funny one-hour train ride to Den Bosch full of Victorian jokes told by Soren.

Schipol Airport Adventure

While our original plans of ending our two week trip to the Netherlands over Easter break in Amsterdam for two nights changed 😦 [I’m not happy about this at all], we’re still flying out of Amsterdam on the 9:45 pm flight to Dublin.  Therefore, we will have some time to kill at the airport. Thankfully Schiphol is a very child-friendly place.

They happily got to take their train ride on the top deck while Nils sat down with the bags.  It was only an hour so he probably enjoyed the quiet time with his book.  The kids liked spotting good graffiti, barges on the waterways and by the Ajax stadium where Soren gave two thumbs down.  I hoped to see tulip fields but no such luck!  Right season this time – just didn’t see any fields! 

Once we put Nils in the bar area, we set off to find The Planes@Plaza where the kids can design and print a 3D paper airplane for FREE! And sit inside an old cockpit and press all the buttons he/she wants.   Both kids loved that – what kid wouldn’t find sitting in an old cockpit and all those buttons cool?!

After we checked our bags, we set out for Nils’ spot, yet again in a pub – Murphy’s Irish Pub for more beer, bitter ballen and nachos (this was dinner!).  After a bit I had to leave the bar – absolutely boring airport bar and the kids and I walked into the shops.   They got Pringles for the plane but I could have bought so much stuff. I want a nice cheese assortment and Maebh wants soft wooden shoe slippers.  Update: we ended up getting the slippers on a future trip they wore them like twice and now outgrew them.   What a waste!   We do bring them home for friends’ kids as they are a bit hit! 

They do some plane watching – it’s a very big airport, so watching some huge planes could be a possibility but turned out we,’d have to go down a different area to see the really big ones.  Panorama Terrace is a cool spot.  All the planes in our section we’re for UK and Ireland – so nothing cool like the super large planes heading to Asia, etc.

We were going to look for the Kids Forest play area on Level 1 in the Holland Boulevard between Piers E & F.  It’s says it’s for kids 3-9 so our 9 year old might be a bit but we never made it there.

While we didn’t do it there is a Schiphol Scavenger Hunt.

Think you know all of Schiphol’s secrets? Think again! If you’re a budding detective, visit the information desk in Schiphol Plaza to ask for a scavenger kit. It will help you learn all about Schiphol with thrilling tasks, trivia and more.

But I felt like most of the searching was before sending security, I thought it would be ‘safer’ to do it after, so steered the kids away from it.  At times I am paranoid about a possible attack in a crowded place and just a bit extra vigilant as an airport this big and crowded could be just that place.  I did see a few security guards but nothing like Antwerp Christmas market.  

They do Behind The Scenes Tours which looks great but the last tour is at 2:30 pm so it won’t work out this time.

Overall it is a very large, family-friendly airport with things for kids including baby areas to let them rest, and a yotel to rent a room for  both few hours, but do prepared for longer lines in security and passport control.  Oh there is a casino with blackjack and roulette tables but I kept far away!

I am going to do searching for our next trip to Amsterdam and will hopefully update with photos from the Behind The Scenes Tour.