Wendy’s Walking Tour of Amsterdam

Interesting places in Amsterdam: what Wendy and Liz like to see themselves.

We lived in Amsterdam for almost 15 years and liked walking around, while shopping, sightseeing, visiting our favorite bars and restaurants.

So here, a description of  a multi-day walk through the centre of Amsterdam, including several links to corresponding websites.  The places we mention are our personal favourites and we like to visit them as often as we can.

We have given this tour description by mail to dozens of people and sometimes got glowing “thank-you’s”, and additions.  Sometimes we accompanied friends on such a walking tour, and included a nice lunch, snack moment, dinner, and drinks, and occassionally even an Amsterdam Perl Mongers Emergency Social Meeting.

Disclaimer: this is by no means a thorough description of what can be seen.  Some bits might not be 100% correct by now.  This description was made by Wendy many years ago, and she’s not very good at maintaining stuff.

As always, beware of pickpockets.  Especially Kalverstraat, Nieuwmarkt, Zeedijk, Dam and Nieuwendijk are infamous for tourists being robbed from wallets, bags, backpacks.  It’s busy, and when they see you don’t pay attention, you’ll be their target.

Also, be careful in traffic.  Car and truck drivers and bicyclists quite often don’t adhere to rules and signs.  Before you cross a street, always check the street to the left and to the right.  Even when you have right of way, or when a traffic light is green for pedestrians, don’t count on courtesy of other traffic, always look left and right and behind.  Don’t get hurt.

From any of the places we mention, you can return to your car, or take a cab, or walk (if your feet don’t hurt like hell).  Many more nice streets and canals and alleys and museums and shops and bars and restaurants to discover and to enjoy.  We’ve never managed to take this route ourselves in one day and we hope we never do, because on our route there are too many interesting places that grab our attention, sometimes for at least an hour.  We hope you enjoy it.

Kind regards,

Wendy van Dijk & Elizabeth Mattijsen

Google Map ( Amsterdam center ) of the area that we’ll describe.

1. Start at the Amsterdam (Historic) Museum.  The outside of the collection of buildings is interesting on its own, and the inside will take the better part of a day to see the interesting stuff.   On the backside, there is a protruding wall with old harnasses in a beautiful setup, that you can see from the outside.

2. Walk towards the Kalverstraat, try to find signs to “Schuttersgalerij“. Go through the gallery and admire the immensely large paintings that can be seen (for free).  These are so-called “schutters-stukken”, paintings of private militia that were guarding sections of Amsterdam in its Golden Age.  By the way, the harnasses at the Amsterdam Museum are just around the corner of the Schuttersgalerij.

3. After walking through the Schuttersgalerij, you can walk on, towards the Begijnhof, which is a small entrance on your right.  Walk around, exit at the other entrance (which is a bit concealed, behind the two churches.  If you turn around, you can see this seems to be just a door of a building.  This is done to not attract too many tourists.  After entering this door and the hallway behind it, look to your left and admire the antique original gable stones.  There’s another big collection of original gable stones on the far end of the Amsterdam Museum, in the Sint Luciënsteeg.

4. Cross the street “Spui” (which has some nice shops, including the American Book Center and a bookshop of Waterstone’s) and go into the Voetboogstraat.
In this alley, “Voetboogstraat” (Footbow Archer’s Street) you will find several pubs, and the place formerly known as “Schutter” (The Archer) was our  regular hangout when we lived in Amsterdam, Liz almost “lived” there.   Liz and I met there on the 21st of December, 1986.  We are a bit sad that the bar is now closed, but we are happy that a new place has started, Restaurant Luitenant Cornelis, who serve nice food.
A couple of buildings further down the alley is a “Flemish frites” shop, the very best in town.  Most of the time there is a line of people waiting for their turn.  Wendy’s favourite is a “middle” frites with green pepper sauce and chopped onions, hmmm.  Liz’s favourite is frites with samourai sauce, spicy!
By the way, I mentioned the American Book Center on the Spui: this is a very interesting bookshop: on the top floor you can find the Espresso Book Machine, the only “self-book-printing” service in The Netherlands: if you have a pdf (or many other formats) of a book and you want it properly printed in just one copy, you can get it done there.  The machine is available to the public, and it is very interesting to look at.

5. At the end of the Voetboogstraat, enter the shopping centre Kalvertoren across the street and walk to the other end (which leads to the Kalverstraat), or, go left into the Heiligeweg.  The top of this shooping center is a nice tower, called the Kalvertoren, you can get up with a slanted elevator and from the top you are offered a very nice view over a large section of Amsterdam.

6. At the end of the Heiligeweg / the shopping centre, go right onto the Kalverstraat, towards the Munttoren.

7. At the Munttoren, go right, over the bridge, and go right again, onto the floating flower market.  On the bridge, you can take a look at the back side of the flower market shops, and as you will see, most of them are just big canal boats with shops build on them.

8. At the other end of the flower market, go left into the Leidsestraat, towards the Leidseplein (Leidse Square).

9. Cross the Leidseplein and go straight on, go to the left side of the street. Cross the canal and cross the very busy street (Stadhouderskade).
Go left, towards the Vondelpark.

10. Enter the Vondelpark and walk straight ahead to the main section of the park.  Go to your right and walk around (counterclockwise).

11. When you arrive at the “left side” (as seen from your point of entry into the park) of the Vondelpark, close to where you entered, exit and walk into the neighbourhood.  Reasonably wealthy neighbourhood here with a lot of classy houses.
11a. You will certainly get across the PC Hooftstraat, the most expensive shopping street of The Netherlands.

12. Keep on going left and right (not the other way around) and you will wind up in the Van Baerlestraat.  Follow this street, away from the Vondelpark.

13. Arrive at the Museumplein (Museum Square) on your left hand and turn left and walk onto the square.

14. Walk towards the Rijksmuseum, which is the museum farthest away when you
enter the Museumplein.  On your left you will see the Stedelijk Museum (City Museum of Amsterdam, which is a museum of modern art) and the Van Gogh Museum (indeed, filled with stuff by Van Gogh and his contemporaries).  Behind you, you will see the Concertgebouw (Concert Building, indeed, they do opera and classical music here).

15. At the Rijksmuseum, if all would be well, you would be able to walk through the alley under the center section of the Rijksmuseum.  Walk on until you are at the front side of the alley.
15a. If you want to spend several hours watching the most wonderful art that The Netherlands ever created, pay the museum a visit.  Our national treasure is always on display, the famous Night Watch (Nachtwacht) by Rembrandt.

16. Carefully cross the very busy street (Stadhouderskade) and on the other side of the canal, enter the Spiegelgracht, which continues into the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat.

17. At the end, turn right onto the Herengracht.  The houses at this part of the canal are the most expensive houses of The Netherlands, it is called the Gouden Bocht (“Golden Bend”).   Some say that the houses at #475 and #476 are the prettiest, but most buildings here can use a cleanup.

18. At the first bridge that you encounter, go left onto the Vijzelstraat and walk on until you reach the Munttoren (again).

19. Walk straight on after the Munttoren, crossing the street that comes from the left (“Singel“). On the other side, go to your right and cross that even busier street (“Rokin“), towards the magnificent building of “Hotel de l’Europe“, onto the Nieuwe Doelenstraat.

19a. Instead of crossing the Singel and the Rokin, you could go to your right, cross the Muntplein and walk into the Reguliersbreestraat and walk towards the Rembrandtplein.  In the Reguliersbreestraat you will find Tuschinsky, probably the most beautiful cinema of the country.  Go in, and try to join one of their tours of the building (it really is worth the time).
On Rembrandtplein you will find a statue of Rembrandt and a lot of bars and restaurants, and if you look closely, the main office of Booking.com.
19b. Walk on, cross the whole square, and enter the Amstelstraat.  For anybody interesting, in this street is Vieve La Vie, a lovely lesbian bar.
19c. At the end of Amstelstraat, walk on to the Blauwbrug (the Blue Bridge).  Hundreds of thousands of tourists have made millions of pictures from here.   This bridge crosses the river Amstel.
On the other side is the Stopera (Stadhuis-Opera, or city hall and opera building, all in one, and a nice bar too).
Opposite, to the right, across the street and a bit further, of the Stopera is the Jewish Historical Museum.  Behind the Stopera is the Waterloopleinmarkt (Waterloo Square Market, where you can find stuff typically for a flea market, but also some genuine antiques).
19d. On the left side of the Stopera, just walk along the Amstel-side of the building, you will end up at a small bridge to the Staalstraat, cross another small bridge, walk on, and another bridge, over the Kloveniersburgwal, where you go right.  After some 100 meters, enter the Oudemanhuispoort on your left.  There are bookshops, and some lovely garden-like places of the Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam.  Walk on to the other side, to the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, and go left (you just skipped the next two sections of this tour).

20. Take a look on the lovely quay on your left, which is called “Oude Turfmarkt” (“Old Peat Market”).  There’s a lovely archeology museum, Allard Pierson Musem. But go into the Nieuwe Doelenstraat.

21. Go left at the Binnengasthuisstraat.

22. At the end, go right (Grimburgwal) and immediately to the left onto the Oudezijds Achterburgwal.

22. Take one of the streets to the right, for instance “Rusland” (this is Dutch for “Russia”) until you reach the Kloveniersburgwal. Go left onto that street.

23. At the end of the Kloveniersburgwal, you will reach the Nieuwmarkt. Enjoy the view, the shops, restaurants and pubs.  There are a lot of typical Chinese shops (toko) where you can buy spicy food, noodles, Chinese hats/shoes/art.

24. Visit the “Waag” (“weighing scales”: witches have not been burnt here, several witch hangings did occur on Dam Square), the big building on the end of the square.  Or just have a nice cup of coffee/tea in the quite nice restaurant/pub on the ground floor.  The Waag started as a city gate, and you can still see where the gate was in two sides of the building.  On the two other sides used to be the city walls, but the walls have been removed when the city grew larger.  The Waag became an anatomical theater, and later a weighing house for many types of goods (“waag” means “place where you can weigh your goods).

25.  Behind the Waag you will find the Zeedijk.  Enter this narrow , windy, busy and long shopping street.  Halfway you will find a large buddhist temple.

26. At the end of the Zeedijk you will see (across the busy street, Prins Hendrikkade, and the water of the Damrak) the Central Station (train station), which is a beautiful building.  Walk to your left on the Prins Hendrikkade towards the large bridge that leads toward the train station, and go left onto the Damrak, towards the Dam (Dam Square).

26a. Instead of completely following the Zeedijk, you can turn left at several places.  A nice place is the Molensteeg, which you can follow until you reach the Oude Kerk (Old Church). Walk around this church and on the other side, into the  Wijde Kerksteeg and cross the Warmoesstraat, into the Paternostersteeg.  Go left into the Beursstraat and right into the Beursplein. The pretty building on your right is the “Beurs van Berlage” (“Exchange of Berlage”).  You have reached the Damrak.  Go left towards the Dam.

26b. First you could go into the Central Station.  It has been renovated lately and it looks lovely again (well, most of it).  You could walk all the way to the other end of the station and wind up at the back side.  There’s a very busy street, so careful when you cross it.  You are now on the banks of the IJ, one of the busiest sea arms of The Netherlands: to the left it goes to the North Sea, to the right it goes to the IJsselmeer (actually, first the Markerwaard)  Just enjoy the view of the boats, the ferries, the tourist canal boats and all the people.
On the other side of the water is the EYE Film Museum, and both the museum and the boat trip to the other side are worth your time.
When you are done enjoying the view, turn around, go back into the station and go all the way to the front.  By the way, the station has several entries and exits and hallways, so there is more than one way to go through.

27. On the Dam, you will see our National Monument on your left, the Royal Palace on Dam Square (our National Palace) on your right.  Across the Dam, you will see the entrance of the Kalverstraat (earlier, you have been on the other end of that long street), which will lead you back to the Amsterdam (Historic) Museum.

27a. Instead of immediately going into the Kalverstraat, you could dwell a bit on the Dam.  To the right of the palace is a big church, the “Nieuwe Kerk” (“New Church”), which often has nice exhibitions (step in, you can have a view of part of the church from the shop next to the paid entrance area).
A bit more to the right of the Nieuwe Kerk you will see the entrance to another long and windy and busy, shopping street, “Nieuwendijk”.  That will lead to (again) the Prins Hendrikkade, but this time at the other end of the Central Station.
Go to your left onto the Singel and walk by the “Ronde Lutherse Kerk” (“Round Lutheran Church”).  The Singel brings you eventually to the Raadhuisstraat.  There, on your left, you will see the backside of the Palace on Dam Square.
You could go the right into the Raadhuisstraat and into the Westermarkt.  There is the Westerkerk (“West Church”).  At the end of the Westerkerk is the Prinsengracht.  Go right (don’t cross the canal) and you will reach the Anne Frankhuis (the house where Anne Frank has been hiding during the Second World War) (and she was betrayed and taken from there to the concentration camp where she was killed in the gas chamber).

End of tour.  Hope you enjoyed yourselves.
(Maybe I will add more information in the future)

More links and background stories to complete the touristic roundview.

Begijnhof, Schuttersgalerij, Amsterdam (Historic) Museum
The Begijnhof, the Civic Guard gallery (Schuttersgalerij) and the Amsterdam Historic Museum are located in the same city block, next to eachother.  The Schuttersgalerij is a gallery under a wing of the museum, it is a through traffic path for pedestrians, with sliding doors at beginning and end.  It is guarded because of the fifteen-or-so enormous paintings, the so-called “schuttersstukken” (paintings of companies, military units, civic guards).  Men with guns were so-called “schutters” (“aim-and-shoot-ers”).  The famous Nighwatch of Rembrand is such a schuttersstuk, but that one is the most beautiful one and can be found in another museum, the Rijksmuseum (“State Museum”).

The “court of the Beguines” is a lovely little silent spot in the center of Amsterdam.  Beguines were religious lay-people.  In this court dozens of them lived a bit secluded from the busy surroundings.  The houses are quite old.  Try to be here when the large amounts of tourists are gone, and even  better, when both churches are open for visit: the (protestants) English church  and the (catholic) “Johannes en Ursula church”.  Enjoy this quiet place.
Begijnhof Amsterdam
Wiki-page English on Begijnhof
Wiki-page Dutch on Begijnhof
Wiki-page English on Beguines
Nice pictures of the Begijnhof

Amsterdam Historic Museum (Amsterdams Historisch Museum)
Amsterdam has a long and rich and well-documented history.  The museum
contains not just documents and paintings, but many “daily-use” objects,
harnasses, coins and statues.

Civic Guards Gallery (Schuttersgalerij)
Dutch text about the Schuttersgalerij
Click on “Schutters” to see the paintings
Picture of the Schuttersgalerij
Lots of pictures on Flickr, like these
Google pictures

Voetboogstraat and surroundings
Flemish frites Vleminckx since 1957
The Flemish frites (“Vlaamse friet”: like French fries, but thicker, and made from fresh potatoes, which are skinned and cut into pieces right there in the shop) are very good and tasty.  I think they are the best in The Netherlands.  They remind me of the Irish potatoe parts, but the frites are without skins.  And there’s a large selection of sauces.  I prefer Samurai (very spicy) or green pepper sauce with chopped onions.  They only serve frites, no other food.

Restaurant Luitenant Cornelis
This restaurant is quite nice.  Before, this place used to be “De Schutter”, which was a pub that served nice bar food, and this is where Liz & Wendy met in 1986.  It is on the first floor, so you have to walk up the stairs.  It has changed significantly since we met there.

The tower on the top floor offers a very nice panorama of Amsterdam.

The tower of the Mint, in old times (Medieval Ages) part of the gates in the large wall around Amsterdam. The tower is lovely.

Flower Market
The flower market is just around the corner from the Munttoren.  While standing next to the Munttoren, on the bridge over the canal, you have a nice view on the backside of the market stalls.  The flower market is a semi-normal street (pedestrians only) and all shops are flowers only.  Well, the shops on the waterside.  On the landside, the shops are diverse: mostly for tourists (for instance, there’s a cheese shop, and I would most definitely not buy my cheese here!).  The flower market itself is of course mostly a tourist trap…

At the end of the flower market, you have reaced the Leidsestraat. A real shopping street, but most of the buildings show the age of the area: old style, classical architecture.

At the end of the Leidsestraat you will reach the cozy Leidseplein (Leidse Square).  Sometimes street artists perform: they make music, dance, act, do silly things.  At the Leidseplein you will see the City Theatre (Stadsschouwburg) on your right.  Liz and I have been there often for performances of ESTA (English Speaking Theatre Amsterdam, which does no longer exist).

Vondel was a famous Dutch poet.  The Vondelpark is a public park, long, surrounded by Amsterdam neighbourhoods on all sides.  It has many nice spots to sit and look around, and even some nice places for tourists and other visitors to drink/eat (‘t Blauwe Theehuis (the Blue Tea House) or Vondelpark 3).  The eastern part of the Vondelpark is not very interesting: long and narrow.  Walk under and beyond the first street (Eerste Constantijn Huygensstraat) and enter the interesting part.

Film Museum EYE
This museum used to be in Vondelpark, but has moved to the IJ, on the opposite side of the Central Station, across the water, and has its own posh modern style building.  It’s worth a visit, and the boat ride is an added bonus.  They are often open late in weekends, but on weekdays they open at 09:00.

PC Hooftstraat
After walking counterclockwise around in the park and nearing the point of entry, there is an exit to the PC Hooftstraat.  This is probably the most expensive shopping street of The Netherlands, with extravagant prices, posh shops, and even more posh visitors and cars.  The neighbourhood around this street is typically well-to-do.

If you missed the PC Hooftstraat, try to reach the Van Baerlestraat and go east, away from the Vondelpark.  You will reach the Museumplein (Museum Square).  On your right you will see the Concertgebouw (Concert Hall; they do classical concerts and opera here).  On your left you will see the Stedelijk Museum (General City Museum, modern art) and the Van Goghmuseum.  Just before you reached the Museumplein, the street on your left “Paulus Potterstraat” is the street where you can enter these museums.

The Rijksmuseum (State Museum) is in my opinion the most beautiful, nicest and most tasteful museum of classical art in The Netherlands.  When you come from the Van Baerlestraat and turn left into the Museumplein, the Rijksmuseum is on the far end, across the square.  After many years a renovation and restoration is beautifully finished, and now it is extremely busy again.  If you want to visit, you might want to plan ahead and buy tickets online.  Therefore only part of the building is open, and just a small part of the  collection is on display.  On display is The Night Watch by Rembrandt.

This street was in 1872 named after the two Stadhouders:   William II (1626-1650)  and
William III (1650-1702).  The canal along this street is called the Singelgracht, which is not
a complete horseshoe canal, like the more inner canals of Amsterdam.

Since Liz and I left Amsterdam, the Rembrandt Square has been heavily reconstructed.  The statue of Rembrandt now has a 3D-depiction (of course, lovely statues) of his famous Nightwatch.

On Rembrandt Square, stand in front of Rembrandt’s statue.  Look behind him.  That big building is the main office of Booking.com.  It is not open for visitors/tourists (!), but if you know some Perl-people, you might get invited in (so, plan your journey, and don’t ask Liz or Wendy who to ask, because we don’t work there).  Of course, it’s mostly “just another office building”, but the view from the top floors is amazing.

Spiegelgracht and Spiegelkwartier (with Nieuwe Spiegelstraat)
These two streets contain a lot of pubs, restaurants and art galleries and real antique shops.  It also contains many classical Amsterdam houses.

The area around this square contains many lovely streets, alleys, shops, canals, houses.  You problably also will find the Red Light District (locally known as De Wallen) in this
neighbouwhood: prostitutes sitting on a chair behind their window, offering their services.
The Waag is a beautiful building (oldest parts from 1488) and it contains a restaurant.
The shops around the Nieuwmarkt are quite special, and amongst my favourites are the Chinese shops, with strange food types, clothing, shoes, statues and swords.

On the east side of the Nieuwmarkt, enter the Koningsstraat to visit the first (and oldest still-existing) European comic book shop: Lambiek.  You will see the colourful sign from far away.  The interior is just what you’d expect: comic books everywhere, ranging from new to very old, from decent to corny to sweet, Dutch and English and several other languages.  I was a regular and I still love to come here.  Liz and I made their original website in 1994 and it was one of the five first commercial websites of The Netherlands.

The Zeedijk (the sea dike) is one of the oldest streets of Amsterdam.  It now is a long and windy and very busy shopping street.  The shops are not exactly posh, but they are diverse and offer a lot of different goods, foods, drinks, clothes and also touristic stuff.

Amsterdam Centraal Station
The central railway station is a lovely building, both the outside and the inside, lots of details that are just gorgeous.  It is busy!

Oude Kerk
The Oude Kerk (old church) is really old, early 14th century.  Worth to walk around.  Often, cultural stuff is going on: art exhibition, photo exhibition.

Beurs van Berlage
This is the old Stock Exchange.  It is a nice building.  Often, exhibitions of art and other stuff can be visited here.

The Dam Square contains our national monument and national palace (the queen does not live here!).  Nothing spectacular compared to similar places in London, but for the Dutch it is special.
Wiki English about the Royal Palace on Dam Square
Wiki English on Nieuwe Kerk
Department store Bijenkorf (“beehive”) is a lovely building and a great shop (really) to go shopping.  That’s where Liz and I bought our camel.

Near the Dam is our favorite bookshop: Scheltema Boekverkopers on Rokin 9, the largest bookstore of Amsterdam.  It has five floors with books, and quite a lot of English language books.

This street has a lovely pedestrian pavement with a roof over it, called the Gallery.

Rembrandt was buried here.  It is a lovely building.  Around it are some romantic places.

Anne Frank House
She didn’t survive the Second World War, but the house that she and others hid in for several years did.  Many tourists visit Anne Frank House and it can be really busy, with long lines of people waiting to enter.  I’ve been here several times and I think it is worth a visit.

Catering thoughts for organisers of a hackathon or small workshop

The Perl QA Hackathon in Rugby from 21 to 24 April 2016 kept me busy with regards to catering.  Not the warm catering, because I am not a good cook, because I have never made hot meals for more than 10 people, and because I don’t have a diploma to work in a professional kitchen.  That last bit was also why I was not allowed in the kitchen of the Rugby Hotel, the venue of the QA Hackathon (insurance reasons mostly).

I think the approach by the organisers this year, to have the Rugby Hotel to be both the venue and the place to stay, was a good one.  No need to walk a distance, nice possibility to go on as long into the night as you want, and/or to start as early as you can.  Also good was to have the hotel take care of breakfast and lunch.  A bit more attention to vegetarians and vegans would have been nice, and a bit more attention to the international character of the group (I am quite sure that Dutch people are not the only ones who would welcome cheese at breakfast).  Oh, and tea and coffee in larger quantities, and earlier in the day.

At the QA Hackathon of 2014 in the Booking.com office in Lyon, I had a bit of a kitchen to my disposal.  That was nice and handy: all the things I needed were just there.  Colander, cutting board, knives, cups, bowls, plates, cutlery, glasses.  I did bring some things myself, but this kitchen made it easy to work, and to not disturb anybody.  No stove, so I could not boil eggs, or fry eggs or sausages or other things.  Well, I am just as happy to do just the cold things to eat.

The QA Hackathon of 2015 in Berlin was a bit more difficult.  No kitchen, I had to use the ladies’ restroom, and keep hygiene in my mind more than ever.  And I had to buy some things that I didn’t bring, like bowls.  Fortunately the open workspace of the venue allowed me to have to big tables to fill with a lot of stuff.

In both 2014 and 2015 I also took care of breakfast and lunch, with bread, baguettes, juices, some salads.  That was no problem, with plenty of space, and shops in the neighbourhood.  In 2016, there was no need for that, since the hotel provided it.

The hotel people told me that they were impressed nonetheless with all the things I did: fruit, vegetables and other things.  They could have done it, but the cost might have been prohibitive.

For anybody who wants to do the same thing (provide healthy food and a-bit-less-healthy snacks to 30-45 people), some thoughts.

Keep in mind that a hackathon differs in some important aspects from a workshop.  A workshop follows a tight schedule, a hackathon is mostly an organised chaos.  In a hackathon, people move freely from group to group, or sit for hours at the same spot.  In a workshop, the time between talks mean a rush to the tables where food and drinks are served, and timing is important.  I think my approach works best for small events, not for big conferences (I don’t want to prepare 30 kgs of strawberries for 100+ people).

Hygiene is key.  Make sure you bring (or buy) dishwashing liquid, kitchen towels, disposable kitchen paper, a colander, and thrash bags.  There should be a hygienic place to work (or pay the venue to do all the things I describe), because you really don’t want any food poisoning.  Keep your working area clean at all times.

To work with the food, you need knives (a small one for small fruit like strawberries, and a larger one for bread and carrots), bowls in different sizes (including bowls with a lid), a cutting board, some cutlery (forks and spoons), plates (paper plates are often good enough).

For shopping, make a list, and bring enough money and shopping bags.  I like to arrive at least a day early and find nearby shops.  I love local bakeries (hackers also smile when they smell fresh bread!) and greengrocers and small “biological” shops.  In Rugby, the best place to go to was ASDA, and I could not find a decent bakery nearby (and since the hotel provided breakfast and lunch, I did not have to take care of the bread, even though I did not like the “factory” bread they provided), or other useful small shops.  It did cost me too much time and it was just too much of a hassle to go on a bicycle for shopping (which I did twice).

A group of 30 – 40 people will consume 2 kgs of strawberries in less than half an hour, it’s an amazing sight.  In 4 days time, I bought and prepared 12 kgs of strawberries, 12 kgs of grapes, 6 kgs of blueberries, 6 kgs of raspberries, 4 kgs of blackberries, 12 kgs of plum- and cherry-tomatoes, 10 kgs of radishes.  Fortunately some fruits don’t need any preparation, but still, the hackers ate 8 kgs of apples, 12 kgs of bananas. 8 kgs of oranges and tangerines, 2 kgs of plums. This year, the 4 cucumbers did not go fast, and neither did the olives, mini-corn and nuts.
Pick food that is relatively easy to handle.  Pineapple is lovely, but handling makes a real mess of your workplace. Peaches in addition of apples and so are also lovely, but when they are soft, your hands will get wet and sticky, so only provide peaches when a restroom is nearby, or when you provide wet towels for your hackers.

My list:

  • strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes (and if you’re lucky and in the right season, other berries)
  • apples, pears, plums, oranges, bananas, kiwi
  • juice: orange, apple, plum, mango, grape
  • plum tomatoes or honey tomatoes, radishes, cucumber, carrots
  • milk, yoghurt, maybe even buttermilk, chocolate milk, and for the vegans please buy almond milk (or rice milk, soy milk, or another non-diary milk)
  • sodas (this year the Pepsi Max was popular), and maybe even energy drinks
  • cheeses, sliced meats (cold cuts, luncheon meats: salami, ham, roast beef, corned beef, ham, bacon, etc), peanut butter, chocolate spread, hummus, tapas spread and other spreads, honey
  • olives, pickles, nuts (peanuts, cashews, etc), sultanas (raisins), dried tomatoes, dried plums
  • butter, margarine, mustard, mayonaise, veganaise, pesto, tapenade
  • muesli, cruesli
  • bread, baguettes, rolls, crackers (e.g. Wasa)
  • cookies (chocolate chip cookies, almond cookies, etc, and for the vegans the non-diary cookies like Oreo cookies, look mom, they have no milk nor eggs)
  • bars of chocolates, chocolate bonbons, chocolate candy bars, cruesli candy bars, other candy bars, candy (they really seem to like the Haribo stuff)
  • sometimes you can ask the people at the venue for boiled eggs; in case you can’t, bring eggs and a cheap egg boiler ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Egg-Boilers/b?node=11713161 ) and boil as many as you can at a time
  • if the venue does not provide it: paper plates, plastic cups, plastic cutlery (knives, spoons, forks), plastic bowls (small ones for the cruesli/muesli + milk, and larger ones for the fruit and veggies), colander, cutting board, sharp kitchen knives, cheese-slicer (yeah, the typically Dutch thing, also very handy to peel a cucumber), paper kitchen towels, napkins, zip-lock plastic bags, garbage bags
  • even if the venue provides it, think of bringing several types of good tea (Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast) and coffee (at least instant coffee), cocoa powder (or even Ovaltine / Ovomaltine), and an electric kettle (our French friends often bring a portable coffeemaker (Nespresso)

Again: hygiene is the key factor.  It will cost time anyway to prepare everything, especially the strawberries, grapes, plum-tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, radishes. It cost me several hours a day to do shopping and to prepare all for the food table and to clear & clean afterwards.

Every bit of fruit and veggie went through my hands.  I picked the grapes of their stems.  I cut the crowns of the strawberries and the radishes, and sometimes cut off a bad spot.  I took the plum tomatoes of their stems and removed the crown.  I felt and inspected every blueberry, raspberry and blackberry, and disposed of the bad (moldy) ones.  I peeled the cucumbers and carrots and cut them in slices.  I washed and dried the plums, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, radishes, and in some cases also the blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.  I used the colander and kitchen paper extensively.

Well-filled food and snack table

Well-filled food and snack table

I found that serving all the food in a bit more attractive way makes things easier and quicker.  Leaving things in their packaging is not a good idea: the hackers will make a real mess of it (somehow their mind is set to hacking, and not to open bags and packages, and certainly not to keep things clean).  So, really, open all packages that you put on the table, and place it for grabs in bowls and on plates.  Open every bag of cookies and candy and chocolate bonbons and chocolate bars too.  Add plates, cutlery, napkins.  Make a nice display.

Stand back, and let the hackers attack.  It’s a bit like feeding a pack of hungry wolves.  I love wolves.

Perl QA Hackathon in Rugby, 21-24 April 2016: healthy snacking and other catering

I attended the Perl QA Hackathon in Rugby ( http://act.qa-hackathon.org/qa2016/ ).  Of course the hackathon started a day early (20th) and ended not until everybody left on the day after (25th), but that is typical for Perl hackers.  QA Hackathon, what does that mean?  QA stands for Quality Assurance, which means all attendees work hard on improving the quality of Perl.  Fixing problems both old and new, fixing bugs, improving documentation, setting up guidelines and protocols, adding new features, changing existing features, and sometimes even killing off unwanted features.  Hackathon is a hacker’s marathon, and the marathon part does not mean it is a game or a match, it just means it lasts long, it goes on and on and on for hours and days and at the end, the hackers are tired and mostly happy and proud.  A hacker in our hackathon is a white-hat hacker, a friendly person, set on improving the world.  Not the black-hat hacker, who should be called a cracker, who wants to steal, destroy and misinform.  I was feeding the hackers and taking notes, so my role was limited, I definitely not worked as a hacker.

I offered my services as a keeper of notes.  Meaning, I attended four meetings, of the type “sit with 2 or more people around a table, have some things to discuss, and maybe even have a vote about topics”.  I took notes.  I wrote down the notes in a document, and I sent the document by mail to the leader of the meeting.  The leader would have to rework it extensively to make it useful, it was just the things that were said.  Sounds easy enough.  Well, I am not much of a coder, and the meetings were at times extremely technical, and people used words I never heard before, so every now and then I had to ask somebody to repeat a sentence.  It seems that I was not the only one that benefited from my interruptions.  :-)   Anyway, I took notes at the meetings “Test2/Test::Builder”, “The River of CPAN”, “Test2”, and “Naming of the next QA Hackathon”.IMG_7144

I offered to take care of food and drinks.  But the organisers (Neil Bowers, Barbie and JJ Allen) already arranged with the (excellent) staff of the Rugby Hotel ( http://www.therugbyhotel.co.uk/ ) that we would have breakfast and lunch in the hotel, and they also arranged tea and coffee and juices to be served throughout the day.  So I wondered what my contribution could be.  Well, I am a bit of a mad person, so it became clear very fast.  There’s never enough fruit, tomatoes and other snackable veggies, cookies, candy, chocolate and more.  The hotel people said they could provide this, but were a bit baffled by the quantities I mentioned.  And no, I was not allowed into the kitchen, because of insurance problems that might arise.

In the 2 days before the hackathon started, I checked out the surrounding area for shops to buy food.  I found acceptable nearby shops (like ASDA) and superb shops a bit farther away (Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer).  The travel distance to the better shops was a nuisance.  The nearby ASDA turned out to be very good actually.

I bought a colander, a small knife and a bigger one, a nice wooden cutting board, some detergent, several rolls of kitchen paper, several nice bowls and plastic containers.  Every day, I bought grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, apples, oranges, pears, cherry-tomatoes, radishes.  I also bought cucumber, plums, olives and carrots, but hardly anybody took them, so I didn’t go for those again.  All the fruit and veggies had to be cleaned, and stripped of leaves, stems, roots, and bruised/bad/moldy spots; the completely bad ones just were removed; then another cleaning, with water; and drying, with kitchen paper.  Serve in a bowl or plastic container.

Hygiene was of the utmost importance to me, so I kept cleaning the sink and the floor in my room’s bathroom, and of course the knives, the wooden cutting board, the colander, the bowls, etc.

I also bought cookies, because, well, hackers without chocolate chip cookies, it’s weird.  Several types.  Also, some cookies without chocolate.  And chocolate bars and chocolate bonbons.  I found some vegan cookies too, and vegan chocolate.  For some reason, several people wanted Haribo candy (personally, I despise the stuff, it contains ground up animal bones, the smell is abhorrent), so I bought it for them. Other types of candy.  Several types of English cheese (I brought a Dutch cheese slicer from home, because I wasn’t sure I would find one in Rugby, and I was right about that).  I refused to buy “energy drinks” (ghastly horrible stuff), but I did buy some sugarfree cola (also quite horrible).

For the vegan attendee, I once bought some “fake milk” (inIMG_7353 this case I think it was almond milk) and I forgot to buy a second package.

All this helped fill a big food table (see the pictures). People now just have to take a plate and take several of the fruits and veggies they like, add a cookie and a candy and a chocolate bonbon.  Or while walking from one room to the other, take one as a quick snack.  I was amazed how fast some items would “vanish”, especially the strawberries were eaten like they are a miracle food.

If you want to organise a hackathon or a small workshop, I think you should consider doing something like this.  Otherwise people will go out the door to buy stuff for themselves, and that disrupts their (and others’) rhythm in work, and discussions.  It makes thinks go smoother when they have a mixture of healthy and not-so-healthy snacks.  Try to get a volunteer to do this for you, maybe somebody not technical enough to contribute in the programming stuff, but who still wants to contribute.

In total I bought and prepared and served over 10 kg of strawberries, 12 kg of grapes, 10 kg of bananas, 5 kg of radishes, 10 kg of cherry-tomatoes, and much more.  It was part of my company’s sponsoring of the event, and it did cost only several hundred pounds (much less than what a typical sponsored dinner evening would cost).

Time was more an issue, indeed: shopping, preparing, serving, and cleaning, cost me several hours a day.  But looking back at it, it was a pleasure.  People were quite happy with the food.  Just standing at the other side of the room and seeing 5 people each fill a plate with the food and walking away while eating some of it, and in the meantime also talking about technical issues with the other people, and after those 5 people soon others visited, well, that’s a reward in itself.  Maybe I am a bit responsible for some good stuff ( http://act.qa-hackathon.org/qa2016/wiki?node=Results ) in Perl because of this food.  Nice thought.

Thanks to the organisers, all attendees, and of course the sponsors ( http://act.qa-hackathon.org/qa2016/sponsors.html ) for making this hackathon happen, and for making it happen so well.  I had a great time.

Fosdem – Perl devroom schedule 31Jan2016 and booth 30&31Jan2016

Hello all,

Fosdem, the Free and Open Source Developers’ European Meeting.  See all about it on https://fosdem.org/2016/

Perl-devroom in H-building
The Perl-community will be present with a big booth and a so-called devroom.  The devroom will be on Sunday (!) in room H.2214 (not like last years in K-building, and this room can hold 100 people, instead of the 85 of last years), and you can see the schedule on https://fosdem.org/2016/schedule/track/perl/ .

Everybody is welcome in our very own devroom at the FOSDEM in Brussels on Sunday, January 31st, starting at 09:00, ending at 17:00.  We have 12 presentations by 12 speakers.  Most talks, 7 of them, will be 40 minutes, 4 talks will be 20 minutes and one lasts 30 minutes.  The schedule will be interesting for Perl- and non-Perl-people alike, with topics ranging from RPerl, mathematics, teaching Perl, to updates on the status of Perl 5 and Perl 6.  There will be no coffee-, tea- or lunchbreaks,  between every talk is just a short 5-minutes break.

We did have quite a lot of nice proposals, even before doing a Call for Speakers, that we could fill a second day in our devroom.  We finished the schedule within the deadline, so we will be printed nicely with our schedule in the FOSDEM conference-booklet.

Booth in K-building
As last years, we have a big booth again, with two tables, in the same building as last year (but not in the same building as our devroom this year!!!).  On both days of FOSDEM: 30&31 January 2016. You can find us in K building, level 2, and among our neighbours you will find Google Summer of Code, Mediawiki, Mozilla, Apache, Jenkins, and many more.  See https://fosdem.org/2016/stands/ for info about which communities will have a stand.

At the booth you will find the largest library of Perl-books, the big Perl camel, goodies, brochures, tuits, buttons, stickers, soft toy camels in three sizes, wine from the city of Perl, Perl t-shirts, and quite a bit more.

See https://fosdem.org/2016/schedule/buildings/  for where the buildings are.  See https://fosdem.org/2016/practical/transportation/  for directions on how to get to FOSDEM.  Go to the Free University Brussels, Campus Solbosh, and meet 6,000 to 7,000 open source enthusiasts.

You can to contribute to our booth.  Bring brochures, job descriptions, pens, books, buttons, t-shirts, stickers, and other goodies from your company, institutation, organisation, as long as it has something to do with Perl,  Please bring that with you.  If we can use it for Perl promotion, and if there is still room on the tables (!), we will put it there and give it away.  Or we sell it and use the proceeds for a donation to The Perl Foundation.

Help with the booth?
You can help with the booth too.  On Saturday morning at 08:00 (we will try to be sharp on time) we will arrive with a small truck at the left entrance of K-building (see the map https://fosdem.org/2016/schedule/buildings/ )and start unloading it and setting up the booth.  Every year, some people help us to move the boxes with books, the camel, and other things, and make our work lighter (thank you!!!).

On Sunday afternoon, around 16:30. we have to start breaking down and cleaning up.  I know that Liz Mattijsen gives her talk about Perl 6 ( https://fosdem.org/2016/schedule/event/perl6_end_beginning/ ), and I can’t attend it this time, but cleaning must be done, and I want to be in time for the restaurant.  So, if some people can be around to help me, that would be grand!

Beer Event in Delirium
Friday night is the famous Beer Event ( https://fosdem.org/2016/beerevent/ ) at Delirium Café (Impasse de la Fidélité 4, Brussels, http://www.deliriumcafe.be/).  It will be enormously busy as always, with many hundreds of people (more than 1,000?).  We know that a group of at least 6 Perl Mongers will come, and some of us will try to come early and conquer our own table / corner, probably on the first floor (so not the ground floor, the one upstairs!).  Pay for your own drinks…

And don’t come too late.  Rather soon, the Delirium Café will be filled with people, and the alley it is located in will be filled with people, and when that happens, the alley will be closed by security people, and you have to wait for people to get out before you can get in.

Get some dinner before you come in, there are many restaurants in the streets around Delirium (too many of them are tourist traps, so beware, make a good choice).

Dinner on Saturday and on Sunday
Saturday night we want to have dinner with a large group of people at Brasserie-restaurant La Porteuse d’Eau (the waterbearer), Avenue Jean Volders 48, Brussels (see http://www.laporteusedeau.be/ ).  We have reserved space for 50 people at 18:00 and later, on the first floor (again, not the ground floor, but upstairs).   You are welcome to register with Wendy van Dijk (wendy (at) wendy (dot) org).  Only people who have registered can join us (last year it got a bit busy, so we have to do it this way).  Also tell Wendy about any dietary wishes, because the menu will be limited to only a small number of options, and there will be a vegan menu and a vegetarian menu.  Price is €25 per person (drinks are included, dinner is sponsored), to be paid in cash to Wendy.  Speakers in our devroom, and the “designated volunteers” (you know who you are) don’t pay for dinner nor drinks (I still would like to know that you come).

On Sunday, after we cleaned the booth and stored all stuff in our van, we will have dinner in La Becasse ( http://www.la-becasse.com/ ),  which is on walking distance from the university: Chaussée de Boondaal 476, Ixelles / Brussels.  We have reserved room for 30 people at 18:00, and later.  Again, you have to tell Wendy that you want to join us, so please send an email to Wendy.  Price is €25 per person (drinks are included, dinner is sponsored), to be paid in cash to Wendy.  Speakers in our devroom, and the “designated volunteers” (you know who you are) don’t pay for dinner nor drinks (I still would like to know that you come).

Thanks and hugs
Many thanks to all who have talked, thought, chatted, mailed with us, who proposed a talk, who helped spread the call for talks, offered to volunteer.  Excellent cooperation!

Hope to see you Friday, Saturday, Sunday, in Brussels, Belgium.

Kind regards,

Wendy van Dijk

Why would you want to use Perl 6? Some answers.

People ask me what’s so special about Perl 6.  Well, there are a lot of answers to that.  One of the answers is a long list of the things that make Perl 6 different from Perl 5, and that make Perl 6 different from a lot of other programming languages.  So, here goes!

General topics

  • Perl 6 is a clean, modern, multi-paradigm language; it offers procedural, object-oriented AND functional programming methodologies.
  • Easy to use consistent syntax, using invariable sigils for data-structures.
  • Perl 6 is a very mutable language (define your own functions, operators, traits and data-types, which modify the parser for you).
  • Adding a custom operator or adding a trait is as simple as writing a subroutine.
  • Advanced error reporting based on introspection of the compiler/runtime state.  This means more useful, more precise error messages.
  • Multiple versions of a module can be installed and loaded simultaneously.
  • System administration is simplified due to simpler update/upgrade policies.
  • Runtime optimization of hot code paths during execution (JIT), by inlining small subroutines and methods.
  • Runs on small (e.g. Raspberry Pi) and large multi-processor hardware.
  • Garbage collection based: no timely destruction, so no ref-counting necessary.  Use phasers for timely actions.
  • Fewer lines of code allow for more compact program creation.  Huffman-coding of names allows for better readability.


  • Full grapheme based Unicode support, including Annex #29, meaning almost unparalleled excellent Unicode support.
  • Regular expressions are cleaned up, made more readable, taken to the next level of usability, with a lot more functionality.  Named regular expressions are made possible for ease of use.
  • Extensible grammars for parsing data or code (which Perl 6 uses to parse itself).
  • Execute code at any time during parsing of a grammar, or when a certain match occurred.


  • Dynamic variables provide a lexically scoped alternative to global variables.
  • Emphasis on composability and lexical scoping to prevent “action at a distance”.  For example, imports are always lexically scoped.
  • Easy to understand consistent scoping rules and closures.
  • Phasers (like BEGIN / END) allow code to be executed at scope entry / exit, loop first / last / next and many more special contexts.

Object-Oriented Programming

  • Powerful object orientation, with classes and roles (everything can be seen as an object). Inheritance. Subtyping. Code-reuse.
  • Introspection into objects and meta-objects (turtles all the way down).
  • Meta Object Protocol allowing for meta-programming without needing to generate / parse code.
  • Subroutine and method signatures for easy unpacking of positional and named parameters, and data structures.
  • Methods can be mixed into any instantiated object at runtime, e.g. to allow adding out-of-band data.


  • Multi dispatch on identically named subroutines/methods with different signatures, based on arity, types and optional additional code.
  • Compile time error reporting on unknown subroutines / impossible dispatch.
  • Optional gradual type-checking at no additional runtime cost.  With optional type annotations.
  • Easy command-line interface accessible by MAIN subroutine with multiple dispatch and automated usage message generation.

Concurrency, Parallelism, Asynchrony

  • High level concurrency model, both for implicit as well as explicit multi-processing, which goes way beyond primitive threads and locks.  Perl 6’s concurrency offers a rich set of (composable) tools.
  • Multiple-core computers are getting used more and more, and with Perl 6 these can be used thanks to parallelism, both implicit (e.g. with the >>. method) and explicit ( start { code } ).  This is important, because Moore’s Law is ending.
  • Structured language support is provided to enable programming for asynchronous execution of code.
  • Supplies allow code to be executed when something happens (like a timer, or a signal, or a file-system event, or gui events).
  • The keywords react / whenever / supply allow easy construction of interactive, event driven applications.


  • Junctions allowing easy checking of multiple possibilities, e.g. $a == 1|3|42 (meaning is $a equal to 1 or 3 or 42).
  • Lazy evaluation when possible, eager evaluation when wanted or necessary.   This means, for example, lazy lists, and even infinite lazy lists, like the Fibonacci sequence, or all prime numbers.
  • Lazy lists defined with a simple iterator interface, which any class can supply by minimally supplying a single method.
  • Native data types for faster, closer to the metal, processing.
  • Floating point math without precision loss because of Rats (rational numbers).
  • Large selection of data-types, plus the possibility to create your own types.
  • Multi-dimensional shaped and/or native arrays with proper bounds checking.
  • Automatic generation of hyper-operators on any operator (system or custom added).


  • Interfacing to external libraries in C / C++ is trivially simple with NativeCall.
  • Interfacing with Perl 5 (CPAN) / Python modules is trivially simple with Inline::Perl5 resp. Inline::Python.
  • Perl 6 runs on a variety of back-ends.  Currently MoarVM & JVM, JavaScript is in development, more may follow.

So, and now, what to do now?

Install Perl 6, and learn how to use it, of course!
Getting started:   http://www.perl6.org/getting-started/
For most people, download and installation instructions can be found here: http://www.rakudo.org/how-to-get-rakudo/
The simplest way to install Perl 6 is to use Rakudobrew: https://github.com/tadzik/rakudobrew/
MoarVM:  http://www.moarvm.org/

Useful places to start learning Perl 6
http://perl6intro.com/                                                Perl 6 Introduction
http://learnxinyminutes.com/docs/perl6/              Perl 6 version of Learn x in y minutes
http://rosettacode.org/wiki/Category:Perl_6       Perl 6 section of solving problems with different programming languages
https://perl6advent.wordpress.com/                     Perl 6 Advent calendar: every day leading up to Advent, a new interesting Perl 6 example
https://p6weekly.wordpress.com/                           Perl 6 Weekly, with the latest developments in Perl 6
https://6guts.wordpress.com/                                  Perl 6 Guts, the newest innards of Perl 6 explained by Jonathan Worthington
http://strangelyconsistent.org/                                Strangely Consistent, an insightful blog by Carl Masak
http://pl6anet.org/                                                       Perl 6 Planet, a collection of blogs and articles
http://szabgab.com/perl6.html                                Screencasts about Perl 6, by Gabor Szabo
http://blogs.perl.org/users/damian_conway/       If you ever have the chance to attend a presentation by Damian, enjoy!
http://design.perl6.org/                                              Perl 6 Design Documents: This is the core of what is Perl 6
https://www.reddit.com/r/perl6                                Reddit page with many useful articles on Perl 6

Get involved and contribute
The Perl 6 homepage at http://perl6.org/  links to many useful resources.

IRC: the channel #perl6 on irc.freenode.net discusses all things Perl 6. The people are very friendly and very busy developing Perl 6.  Keep an eye on this to stay up-to-date.   The channel is logged, and you can read back to see what has been discussed: http://irclog.perlgeek.de/perl6/today

Mailing lists: send an email with subject ‘subscribe’ to:
perl6-announce-subscribe@perl.org        Announcements and news.  Low traffic.
perl6-users-subscribe@perl.org                User questions and discussions regarding the Perl 6 language and compilers.
perl6-language-subscribe@perl.org         For issues regarding the Perl 6 language specification.
perl6-compiler-subscribe@perl.org         For issues regarding various Perl 6 compilers

Have fun!

Perl 6.0.0 aka Perl 6.c is released this christmas, so let’s celebrate

After 15 years of development, the work by hundreds of people has resulted in a shiny lovely beautiful useful Perl 6.0.0, also called Perl 6.c (for christmas).  Congratulations to Larry Wall, Jonathan Worthington, Liz Mattijsen, Will Coleda, Audrey Tang, and all the other people that contributed.  Thanks to Will Coleda for being the release manager, and for finishing this Christmas.

Please spread the word! Blog, tweet, post on technical sites, write on your mailing lists, mention on your Facebook page. Perl 6 is released with Christmas. Thanks!


Perl-devroom at FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium, on Sunday, 31 January 2016

This just in.  Perl gets a devroom  at FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium, on Sunday, 31 January 2016.

Doors open at 10:30, close at 19:00, no (lunch or coffee or tea) breaks between the talks.  The room number is yet to be announced (so we don’t know the seating capacity of the room yet, in 2015 our room could hold 90 people).  There will be WIFI and a VGA projector.

You are welcome to send your talk proposals to me.  Read about that here: https://wendyga.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/fosdem-30-31-january-2016-brussels-belgium-call-for-speakers/


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