There are not many cities that have experienced such social and political extremes in recent history as Amsterdam. In the 20th century alone, Amsterdam faced the atrocities of war for the first time in 400 years, became the radical center of 1960s social movements and witnessed a complete about-face in its core economy. Amsterdam’s progressive, multicultural, conscientious and contentious attitude wipes out images of a more docile past and ranks this capital city among the top 5 for European travel destinations.
Precariously positioned on the banks of both the IJ Bay and the Amstel River headwaters, Amsterdam made an early mark on the world with its dominant seafaring fleet and colonial aspirations in the 17th and 18th centuries. Amsterdam’s economy turned inward once England emerged as the seafaring superpower. Consequently, most of the enchantingly crooked mansions and townhouses alone the canals are now inhabited by eclectic stores, businesses and engaging galleries and the majority of Amsterdammers live outside of the canal belt.
Museums, Music and a Barrage of Culture
To gain a better understanding of how such a metropolitan city emerged from bogs, swamps and floodplains, visit the Amsterdams Historisch Museum. Extensive documentation covering centuries of growth spans the walls of the exhibits and a detailed segment is dedicated to modern day issues, conflicts and controversies surrounding Amsterdam’s path to becoming a free and tolerant society. Then, explore Amsterdam’s historic relationship with water aboard the Nederlands Scheepvaart Museum, a dry-docked ship from the East India Company. For a more refined jaunt into the past, a trip to the colossal Rijksmuseum will indulge the senses with fine art from Dutch masters throughout history.
As evening approaches, leave your museum voice behind and dive dancing and drinking into Amsterdam’s edgy and rowdy nightlife. The pubs and coffee shops that line the canals are a vibrant mix of locals and visitors, and the perfect place to begin your evening. Enjoy an extensive array of domestic ale or have a taste of the unique Dutch gin. Musically, Amsterdam has something for everyone. Visit Mulligans Pub for authentic Irish entertainment, kick back to some jazz in Dylan’s stylish lobby bar or go electro at the famed mega-club, Ministry.
For a moment of contemplation or a summer picnic, Amsterdam offers some of the best urban park spaces among European cities. Bikes are available for rental to take in the scenery at a faster pace, just beware of the tram tracks that crisscross most roadways and footpaths.
Of European cities, Amsterdam is most likely to surprise, excite and intrigue its visitors in a most unexpected fashion. Travel to Amsterdam to enjoy the perfect balance of open spaces, a lively urban pulse and a gracefully multiethnic ambiance.
Amsterdam, Van Gogh, Anne Frank
Holland certainly has a reputation with travelers. Known for having a very liberal attitude on social issues such as prostitution and drugs, the reputation is not always deserved. Yes, marijuana and prostitution is legal, but there is so much more to the country. Many look at Amsterdam as Holland, but visitors know there is much more. If you desire to travel to Holland, also known as the Netherlands, don’t miss these attractions.
Simply put, Amsterdam has something for everyone. The city is an incredibly beautiful collection of old world European architecture elegantly partitioned by canals. In truth, the city is built on roughly 90 small islands, although you can hardly tell. Transportation is best undertaken on foot or by bicycle. With a cool climate, you’ll barely break a sweat.
Contrary to popular opinion, Amsterdam is not just a city of liberal policies. Yes, coffee bars sell things other then just coffee. Yes, there are women in windows that are awfully friendly. Still, there is so much more to experience in the city.
Van Gogh Museum
The Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh houses the world’s largest collection of the work of Vincent van Gogh. From his early work, the museum contains 700 artistic works and 850 letters. After moving to Paris in 1886, van Gogh entered an impressionist period, of which the museum contains a large collection. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the collection is the organization. The entire collection is arranged chronologically from the first to last work. As you walk, you can clearly see the evolution of this master’s skill.
Anne Frank House
Who hasn’t read the intense diary of Anne Frank? Hiding from the Nazis, she and her family lived in an annexed section of an apartment in Amsterdam for two years. In 1957, the house was donated to the Anne Frank Foundation and turned into a museum. A visit will send chills through your spine. The museum contains films, the annexed area and the original notes of Anne Frank. A must see for anyone traveling to Amsterdam.
For those needing a break from Amsterdam, there is much to be seen in Holland. If you are looking for a color explosion, consider taking the bulb cycling tour out of Noordwijk. Windmills your thing? Head to the De Zaan district to see them in action. Prefer to spend a night in a castle? Try the Castle Hotel Engelenburg, which even lets you ruin a good walk by playing golf.
Travel to Holland and you won’t regret it. Whether you want to “investigate” the countries liberal policies or simply bike through fields of tulips, Holland will satisfy.