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Title: Walking Amsterdam, 3rd edition
Author: Robin Gauldie
Copyright: © 2001
Publisher: Contemporary Books, an imprint of McGraw-Hill
Relevance: Walking Amsterdam is of interest to any writer, reporter or correspondent posted in The Netherlands or nearby. The book covers 25 well described walking tours in and around Holland's largest city.
Review: Walking Amsterdam is an ideal companion to anyone who finds himself or herself in Amsterdam or in nearby cities such as The Hague, Rotterdam, Delft, Utrecht or Gouda. The book's 160 pages describe 25 multi-hour walks within the downtown areas of some of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Judging by its cover, readers may well think all 25 tours described within Walking Amsterdam concern Amsterdam itself. In fact, the book is divided into two sections: the first section describes 11 walking tours in Amsterdam proper (including two tours on the outskirts of the city). The second section outlines 14 tours in other cities throughout Holland.
Each tour begins with the start/finish places, the length (in both miles and kilometers), the estimated time of the walk, where to get refreshments (if available on the particular walk), which day to visit (especially important for markets that may be especially crowded or museums that may be closed on others) and, the opening times/dates of each attraction on the walking tour.
Each tour also features a small, but well-drawn, map of the area to be covered. Although all maps are properly oriented with North always facing up (unlike some other guidebooks), the book's maps lack sufficient detail to travel off the beaten path. This kind of detail is especially useful if readers get lost or just want explore on the own. Without all the street names marked in, readers might find it difficult to get back on the tour without too much trouble.
Another small thing we thought would be a good addition to each map was some kind of numbering system to coordinate each notable site on the tour with specific map points. This way, readers could easily visualize if they've passed a tour way point and how to backtrack with the minimum of fuss.
We also liked how author Robin Gauldie has categorized each of Walking Amsterdam's walks into one or more of the following helpful categories: Museum Walks; Canal and River Walks; Harbours and the Sea; Parks and Gardens; Shopping and the Markets; Architecture and Historic Buildings; and Circular Walks. There is also a small category of Connecting Walks: those that connect to each other so that ambitious walkers can fit more than one walk into a day without too much travel between the two.
Each walk is also categorized by the length of time Gauldie thinks it will take readers to actually walk the tour. This is very useful if you've only got a few hours to tour around and want to figure out if you can take the time to see what you want to see. Listing distances is also useful for those who may not be up to five miles of shlepping around town.
All of the walks are pleasant and are well chosen, based on the criteria Gauldie uses. After a cursory introduction to Amsterdam and historical timeline, the book launches into its first tour: The Dam - Old Amsterdam. Starting off at the Centraal Station (no, this is not a typo), the tour travels vaguely south and west via the Voorburgwal and Nieuwezijds and into Koninklijk Paleis. It circles around the Dam and the Nationaal Monument (again, this is not a typo) and up again to Beursplein, Warmoesstraat, the Oude Kerk and back across Prins Hendrikkade to the Centraal Station.
Everywhere the book shows a high level of detail and love for the city. As well, interesting and humorous stories concerning the neighborhoods are quietly slipped into the text. The result is a pleasant, calming exploration into a particular part of the city.
Other walks include The Old Side and the famous (or, perhaps infamous) Red Light District; Nieuwmarkt to Waterlooplein (the Jewish Quarter); Around Herengracht; Prinsengracht (Noorderkerk to Weesperplein; the Markets and the Amstel; The Jordaan; the famous Rijksmuseum and the Vondelpark; the Plantage and the Artis Zoo; the Oosterdok area (essentially the East Harbor district); and Westelijk Eilanden (the Western Islands).
Of course, there is more to The Netherlands besides Amsterdam. Thus, the good idea to also include the 14 out-of-city walks in the book. There are, for example, two walks in The Hague; one in Scheveningen; two in the giant ship port of Rotterdam; two more in Haarlem; and one each in Delft, Gouda and Utrecht. Three Leiden walks and a trip to The Keukenhof (about 12 miles south of Amsterdam) round out the book.
Overall: We liked Walking Amsterdam and recommend to those who wish to know the city more intimately than the standard two-hour canal tour. Ideal for reporters and correspondents posted to the city who need to become up-to-speed with the history and geography of Amsterdam, the book provides almost a dozen discovery walks for the city and slightly over this number for other cities within Holland.
Although we would have preferred more detailed maps (and a slightly small format to be truly pocket-sized), the book holds up well and would be a great addition to day visitors and newly posted professionals alike.
End of Review
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