How does this Frommer’s Amsterdam guide keep up with the changes going on in the city right now? We recently criticised the Michelin Guide to the Main Cities of Europe because its Amsterdam section had simply not been kept up-to-date with the current museum scene in Amsterdam. Museums have been closing for refurbishment (and some have been closed for several years), moving to temporary locations, sometimes re-opening on time but more often still being closed long after they were due to be open again. How has Frommer’s kept pace?
The answer, thankfully, is that it has kept pace very well and has obviously had a thorough checking by the author. Places that have been affected, like the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Scheepvaartmuseum and others all have their current situations properly explained. Some dates have slipped since the book was written, but that isn’t the author’s fault. On the question of being up-to-date, the book scores perfectly.
The next thing we did was read through the entries for the city’s top attractions, as these are the ones most visitors will most want to see. The entries need to be right – and they were. Top museums like the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, and other attractions such as the Anne Frank House and Rembrandt’s House, all seemed to us to give detailed and accurate descriptions of what the visitor can see, what the highlights are, and a good feeling of the atmosphere of the place.
And there are good tips too, like when to get to the Van Gogh Museum to avoid the crowds, and how long you might expect to spend there. There are lots of little boxes on the pages too, containing snippets of information – a quote from Anne Frank, a fact about Rembrandt, an explanation of why there are small mirrors on some Dutch house fronts.
The Frommer’s guidebook is written by George McDonald, who has written widely on the city. He has lived and worked in Amsterdam, used to be Deputy Editor of the excellent KLM inflight magazine Holland Herald, and has written other guides including Frommer’s Irreverent Guide to Amsterdam and Frommer’s Portable Amsterdam. There’s no doubting the author’s credentials, then.
The author also writes very well, and evocatively. Amsterdam is an inspiring city to write about, but that doesn’t mean everyone can capture its appeal and its atmosphere. George McDonald does that. There’s a good long section on history and culture, and I’m delighted he recommends the excellent Van der Valk books by crime writer Nicolas Freeling. He loses a point, though, for neglecting to mention the name of the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel Amsterdam: Ian McEwan.
The author doesn’t lose many points, though. Overall, this is one of the best guides to Amsterdam that I’ve seen. It’s comprehensive, up-to-date, well-written, covers hotels, restaurants, museums and other sights in good detail, is understanding of the Dutch culture, and has lots of good clear maps. It’s slightly on the pricey side, but is usually available generously discounted on Amazon. Highly recommended.
Dec 26, 16 03:03 AM
Beyond London Travel visits Floors Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, family home of the Duke of Roxburghe and one of VisitScotland's 5-star visitor attractions, a Scottish Downton Abbey.
Dec 04, 16 12:37 PM
The Beyond London Travel Books page reviews guidebooks, history, mysteries and fiction to help readers enjoy their visits to England, the UK, France, and beyond.
Dec 04, 16 12:20 PM
Beyond London Travel reviews Food Trails, a new guidebook from Lonely Planet for the culinary traveller which helps you plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the world's tastiest destinations.