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Thoughts on Travel, Photography and Life from Ian Lloyd

Impressions of Amsterdam

There is something special about a city that restricts cars in its downtown core and promotes bicycles, boats, trams and walking as the preferred method of transport. The Dutch have always been known to do things differently and that’s why Amsterdam is so special. Amsterdam’s canals were made in the 17th century for defensive and commercial purposes but today they are at the heart of what makes this city unique. My wife and I arrived on a warm evening in early May last year and it seemed the whole city had taken advantage of the first signs of summer by boarding a flotilla of craft ranging from small motorboats to large tourist cruisers. If you owned a boat or could possibly get on one somehow that night, you were out celebrating with friends. Everyone was in a good mood playing music, drinking Heineken and enjoying what seemed to be the Dutch Rite of Spring.

As a photographer and traveler I’ve always believed the best way to explore a new city is to start off by staying in the thick of things. In this regard the Ambassade Hotel was perfect. It is located on the Herengracht Canal and each room is individually crafted out of four adjoining  canal houses. The hotel has evolved from its early beginnings in 1953 to become a very stylish home for visitors. The library bar is stocked with books written and signed by famous guests and the artwork consists of an extensive collection from the world-renowned CoBrA movement. Their brassiere restaurant is world class too. I don’t usually promote individual hotels but in Amsterdam I do think the Ambassade is at the heart of what makes this city special.

For photographers, Amsterdam’s gallery scene is second to none. The newly renovated Rijksmuseum with three stories chocker block full of fabulous art requires more than one visit as does the the new Hermitage Amsterdam which opened in 2009. The Van Gogh Museum, also newly renovated, is a special gem as is the nearby Stedelijk Museum showing contemporary art. Amsterdam’s photography museums such as the FOAM Photography Museum and the Huis Marseille Museum for Photography consistently have excellent contemporary and historical exhibitions that are thought provoking and inspiring.

by Ian Lloyd