The red light district can be quite a shock

NAME: TOM van der LEIJ
MY CITY: AMSTERDAM
JOB: GUIDE & WRITER

Why Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is full of Canals; it’s cycling, it has got open minded people. Don’t forget its enormous history. And this city has always been a hotspot for new trends.

My early memory:
The twinkling lights in the night on the canals

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My romantic memory:
Watching the sun go down eating take away sushi in the Westerpark with my by than future wife.

Favourite place to eat:
Of course there are very good high-end restaurants I like, but because of the quality/price I really like Yam Yam Trattoria Pizzeria, Frederik Hendrikstraat 88-9, www.yamyam.nl. A no nonsense restaurant with the best woodovenpizza’s of town, reservation is a must!

What do you eat there?
Yam Yam Pizza with mozzarella, mascarpone, ecoham and truffle sauce… mmmm!

Meet the locals:
Markets are always a good place to meet the inhabitants of a city. The Monday morning and Saturday (eco) market at the Noordermarket are just perfect. Also the Albert Cuyp and Dappermarket are very interesting to see the real Amsterdam people.

My favourite Cafe:
Young and especially old gather in the old fashioned Café Hegeraad during Monday morning market at the Noordermarkt 34.  My by far favourite café is Smalle; what a stunning old café, never music, always busy, a big variety of beers and the right spot in the Jordaan area at the canal. Egelantiersgracht 12

Best place for a first date?
Het Blauwe Theehuis, a café in the middle of the Vondelpark has a very special place in my heart. During my studies I worked there and still I like to visit it. It can be especially romantic in the top part of the almost 80 year old round building. When its dark outside, in the park, with some lights in the trees, a hot chocolate with rum and whip cream in winter, or a white beer in summer; just the perfect place to get in to the romance vibe.

My secret place:
Having lunch or just a coffee at the Hortus Botanicus. The Hortus is not for free, but so worthwhile. It’s like an oasis in the centre. And also the ‘hofjes’, the ancient courtyards in the Jordaan are very special. Try to find the Karthuizerhofje!

My best advice:
Visit Amsterdam and take a local (me) as your guide. I will make a tailor made tour for you and show you all the hidden gems.  

My favourite shop:
Pied à Terre, Overtoom 135. This is the place to be for any traveller; books, maps, globes and a lot of knowledge, everything they have here!

My best buy:
A kilo of eco honey from Geert, a bee keeper. He has got beehives in and around Amsterdam. He informs the inhabitants of this very useful insect in a very appealing way.

Taxi or other local transport?
Cycling, walking, cycling; if you can’t walk, there is cycling taxis or electric taxi’s; also the tram and subway are good and reliable.

Keep away of:
Shopping in down town centre on a Saturday between 1pm and 5pm; far too busy for me. Also the red light district can be quite of a shock and humiliating. 

Your earliest travel memory?
Hiking with my brother and parents in Tirol, Austria, we went there in the winter for skiing and in summer for hiking. We stayed at farmer’s pensions so we could help the farmer with milking cows.

Where next?
Besides my work as a guide, I’m a travel editor and travel photographer (see also my other website www.fototom.nl). Half the time I’m in The Netherlands, the other half of the year I’m travelling all around the world. Travel magazines send me to all kind of places; last months I’ve been to Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, Berlin, Alaska, Paris and Iceland.

Visit Tom’s homepages: www.tomstraveltours.com  www.fototom.nl

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