With your next weekend break you must plan a holiday package to the Cultural Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. Amsterdam has always been a great city for a weekend break but this year will be greater than ever as they celebrate the 400th anniversary of the famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn.
On your Amsterdam travel, note that you can stroll around the city on foot, by bike, by tram, or by bus or metro, as these are the usual mode of transportation around the city. A recently introduced feature is the Amsterdam Transport Pass that is valid for all day travel on the metro, canal bus, tram and night bus.
For those who are budget conscious and like to travel off the peak season when everything is usually about 50 percent off you can do that in Amsterdam as well. Anyone that is interested in visiting Amsterdam will be impressed with the 'gezelligheid' or friendliness of the Dutch people, who have a tendency to act informally with the tourists wherever or whenever they come across them, be it when they are eating out in restaurants or going to visit the shops. In fact, there are so many places to visit that tourists will always have somewhere or something interesting to go and see, whether that is visiting the historic museums, going to listen to the different concerts, walking through the parks, eating at restaurants or visiting some of the popular cafes of Amsterdam.
Waterlooplein is the host to Amsterdam's largest flea-market, the merchandise has become more geared towards visiting tourists with lots of second-hand apparel and smoking paraphernalia, but for cheap clothes it's still hard to beat. Even if you have no desire to attend any of the nightclub shows, visit the sex shops or patronize the entertainers, you shouldn't miss out on at least strolling through Amsterdam's Red Light District, it truly is a unique and fascinating experience. People in Amsterdam have a different understanding of things compared to the rest of us, such as a very wide acceptance of some drugs and paid sex.
You can’t really talk about Amsterdam and not mention some of the other aspects it is famous for and that are its tolerance to sex and low class drugs. Before your Amsterdam vacation it is interesting to know that there is actually an apparent contradiction to the positive aspects of the city, and this embodies much of the spirit of Amsterdam. Majority of the people of Amsterdam are able to speak English fluently, but do attempt to say at least please and thank you in Dutch, and do not speak to them in your local slang, they probably won’t understand as they have been taught correct English.
Something to consider if you prefer to take your travel to Amsterdam by air is that some budget airlines are starting to fly to Rotterdam Airport, which is approximately one hour from the city via bus. Further afield in the UK, Easyjet operates from regional hubs but there are also even smaller airlines such as Jet2 that flies from Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds Bradford airports.
There are also ferry services servicing the north of the United Kingdom, namely from Hull to Rotterdam and from Newcastle to Amsterdam.
Arriving at Central station after the 20 minute journey from Schipol airport, you are greeted by the large covered glass roof overhanging several platforms serving journeys to and from other regions of the Netherlands as well as further afield in continental Europe.
It doesn’t matter where you walk in Amsterdam you going to be near a canal, but in my opinion you don’t see how pretty the canals are until you have walked 15 minutes or so away from the central station.
In the old part of Amsterdam, there are numerous colourful plaques set in the walls of the buildings as advertisements and some of them display some beautiful artwork in scenes and figures. Westelijke Elianden (Western Islands), a part of Amsterdam, has the most wondrous waterside views with some inimitable façades of buildings, wooden bridges, canals, marinas, boats that take you on trips along the canals and water taxis.
As a destination for a quick weekend away or a fully fledged holiday, Amsterdam is a great city to visit, and during the summer it really comes alive.
About the Author: Dave Odell lived and worked in Amsterdam as a freelance writer and is the creator of the website Amsterdam Know How Pages at http://www.amsterdam.knowhowpages.co.uk