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Amsterdam – a City of Coffee shops and Canals

Amsterdam conjures up many images, all of them perhaps as disingenuous as they are perhaps partially accurate. A very tourist-friendly city, Amsterdam provides a distinctly European flavour through its many picturesque canals and bridges joined by quaint bookstores and stylish cafes. The city is easy to traverse on foot, and indeed many locals prefer to either walk or travel by bicycle. Trams and canal boats are also available for those who want to sit back and absorb the many delights all around. Amsterdam is a prime example of old world culture and charm, and houses buildings dating back to medieval times. Most prominent is the canal ring which dates back to the 17th century encompassing ‘Jordaan,’ the oldest neighborhood in Holland. Alongside historical buildings are examples of contemporary architecture that rank among the most celebrated in Europe. Amsterdam also has over 20 museums – highlights include the Jewish Historical Museum the Rembrandt House Museum and the Van Gogh Museum. Within the city, tours can be taken on canal boats to visit windmills, shopping districts and the famous tulip warehouses. Or if you’re feeling active, you can hire a bike and cycle to one of the many neighbouring towns, or even visit the beach thirty minutes away on a rare warm day. Of course, many travelers come to Amsterdam solely for what can be found in the Red Light district. Coffeehouses offer large selections of marijuana and hash to be legally smoked on the premises. The Red light district is also the sole area where prostitution is licensed, and prostitutes can be seen in windows along the side streets. Seedy but safe, the red light district is a good place for café’s, bars and home to some of Amsterdam’s discount hotels. Food markets are common around the city. There you can sample ‘bitterballen’ or Dutch fried meatballs, one of the excellent Dutch cheeses, and, of course, a glass of Heineken. International food is plentiful, and fine dining in Amsterdam is among the best in the world. Flying to Amsterdam is generally trouble-free, as it is one of the principle hubs for travel within Europe. Low-cost airlines provide cheap flights to Amsterdam from all major European cities, and the city is also easily accessible by bus and train. Accommodation is not a problem, considering there are four hundred hotels in Amsterdam, ranging from ultra luxury suites to cheap hotels and youth hostels. The Dutch are also known as being excellent English speakers in general, making communication a breeze for visiting English-speakers. The best time to tour the city is in the summer when the temperatures are mild, as the winter can be too cold for long walks or boat rides. Take advantage of the multitude of cheap flights heading to Holland and enjoy culture, history and partying the Dutch way.

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