Unabashed with rampant prostitution and soft drug laws, Amsterdam has gained an unsavoury reputation as an hedonistic playground, alluring visitors from all over Europe. However, much less is known about the rich history and culture of this city which is available in abundance for both pleasure-seekers and tourists alike.
Below are my 5 top tips for visitors looking to experience the more cultural side of Amsterdam:
Did you know that the city of Amsterdam was once home to famous artistic figures such as Van Gough and Rembrandt? As a consequence, the city boasts many museums containing a variety of spectacular art pieces such as Rembrandt’s famous painting The Night Watch and the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings and letters.
The various bridges and canals throughout Amsterdam provide a picturesque environment that is as much beautiful as it is practical. In addition to keeping the sea at bay, these canals provide an excellent way of seeing sights such as Westerkerk and the historic Brouwersgracht, one of the city’s most desirable residential addresses.
If you’re looking to experience the surrounding areas of the city, why not take an Amsterdam canal cruise along the scenic IJsselmeer with stops at the historic town of Kampen and Het Loo Palace, a former home of the Dutch Royal Family.
Situated on Dam Square in the very centre of Amsterdam and located next to the Nieuwe Kerk, the imposing Royal Palace was once regarded as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ reflecting the opulence of the city during the Golden Age period.
Less obvious attractions include the city’s oldest museum: Our Lord in the Attic, a beautiful 17th -century house with a top floor converted into a Catholic church. To see a complete list of the top 10 attractions, click here.
Like all busy cities, Amsterdam has lots of markets, each with their own character, such as the workaday Albert Cuyp markt in De Pijp, where you can do a grocery shop for next to nothing. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, why not discover the colourful Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market and one of the most fragrant places of interest in Amsterdam.
Famed for its near-perfect acoustics and its resident Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Concertgebouw offers a varied programme featuring leaning international musicians, orchestras, and conductors. Every Wednesday (from September to June) the concert hall provides free entrance to public rehearsals from world famous orchestras and ensembles.
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Best Places to Travel in December
Travel in December is a good idea for you if you want a vacation that is during the slow season. Here are the best places to travel in December, when everyone else is home celebrating the holidays.
Here are more places to travel in December. Enjoy!
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The Ultimate American Road Trip: Route 66
If you’re looking for the omega American road trip then you’ve got to hit the Mother Road, otherwise known as Route 66. From Chicago to LA, it’s a journey that’ll provide the experience of a lifetime, showing you the heart of a great nation.
Start in Chicago & Chase the Sun
In reality, the best always head west. Would you rather end the trip in the Windy City, or just in time to catch a gorgeous L.A. sunset on the beach? There’s just something deeply spiritual for folks when we head west. It becomes an adventure. It becomes a vehicular voyage to the sea. Here are some of the highlights you can expect in order:
• Illinois: It’s a pretty straight shot through the state from Chicago through Springfield (which has some stretches of restored Route 66) and southwest to St. Louis. There’s a bit of the bright lights of big cities, but also a good calm stretch of rural to cruise through as well; vast fields of corn and farmland for close to 300 miles.
• Missouri: Once you hit East St. Louis you’ll again be greeted by sky scrapers, industrial areas and the mark of modernity but then it’s another SE straight shot through the entire belly of the state.
• Kansas: You’re only going to spend a little time in the good’ol Kansas heartland. And by little we mean a whopping 14 miles far down in the bottom south east corner. You’ll go through two towns: Galena and Baxter Springs but rest assured there’s great classic restaurants and places that’ve been open as long as Route 66 has been around. In fact, it’s because of road tripper like you just passin’on through that keep’em goin.
• Oklahoma: You’re going to go through two huge metropolises that have “country” written all over’em: Tulsa first and then into Oklahoma City before heading directly west towards the Pan Handle. Of all 8 states, it’s here that they take Route 66 the most seriously. It’s got the most preserved still-drivable miles and you’ll be able to see the remnants of Kiowa, Apache and Comanche Native American land. And, you’ll get to take the same route as families long ago in the Dust Bowl took to escape.
• Texas: You’re going to go through the upper tip of the Texas Pan Handle that takes you through Amarillo. It looks short on a map but the 200-mile stretch of plains is a sight to behold like none other. If you can time it so you cut through here in the afternoon on a sunny day your spirit will be recharged. Just try not to pay any attention to all the truckers!
• New Mexico: Welcome to the Land of Enchantment where you’ll pass through Sun Belt city and Albuquerque. These days, it can be a bit challenging to stay strictly on the old road but with all the sandstone mesas and pine forests it’s definitely worth it.
• Arizona: In Arizona you’ll stay in the northern plains rather than heading down into the really hot areas around Phoenix. Instead, you’ll pass directly through Flagstaff which is a mountain town and where Northern Arizona University is located. The sights here are like a completely different world from everything you’ve seen so far, especially once you begin to head south right before passing into California. Oh, and because of the high speeds on the I-40, this will feel like one of those awesome car track days.
• California: Once you reach this point get ready to cruise through rolling hills, vineyards, orchards, stunning landscapes and then at Barstow you should begin smelling the sea. From San Bernardino and Pasadena to Santa Monica it’s simply breathtaking.
This is only a taste of the experience really. You’ve just got to get out and do it. There’s plenty of great resources online to keep you on track and if you have the time you don’t have to miss a thing. Enjoy!