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AMSTERDAM

A CITY OF ART, BIKES AND CREATION

Amsterdam is one of the few cities in Europe that I would love to return once more. Despite its iconic symbols of windmills, wooden shoes, and tulips, the charm of the city is also evident from its artworks of world-famous painters, such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt, word heritage canals, as well as clean transportation, as biking has become a way of life for Dutch people.

Founded since the 12th century on the Amstel River, the capital city of Netherlands is also named ‘The Venice of Northern Europe’. Though it has 165 curved canals around the city, it is easy to explore the city thanks to its excellent plan. Dating back to the golden era in the 17th century, Dutch people dug cannels as commuting routes for trade with the rest of the world. Today all the canals are connected with bus and train stations, including bicycle parking and most tourist places. Since the golden era, Amsterdam has become rich in creativity, and enjoys a city environment which is a livable, modern metropolis, while maintaining its 17th century historical ambience.

To get to know Amsterdam and the local ways of living, we recommend you stay at least two days. Keep the first day reserved for cycling and driving around the city, and the second day for going on a boat tour along the surrounding canals to sightsee the old city, before going for a walk along the small streets in the evening. There are fabulous cafes and stylish galleries hidden along the roads where you can sit and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere. A map is probably unnecessary here as there are many local people willing to help you and make friends with.

Enjoy the Culture, Museum and Art

When in Amsterdam, do not miss the opportunity to visit a museum as there are more than 70 (a month is not enough to explore them all). Start at the National Museum of the Netherlands (Rijksmuseum), the most famous museum,

as it is the center of tourism and also a source of Dutch history. There are antique objects and more than 8,000 pieces of exhibited artworks from Dutch artists and others in more than 200 gallery rooms. It is also the place where you can admire the beautifully decorated décor of the Gothic and Renaissance periods, from ceiling to floor.

In a nearby area, there is another world-class museum which should not be missed, namely the Van Gogh Museum, which tells the journey of his artistic discovery and his pioneering style in the late 19th century, from the start of the period to the time he produced his world-famous pictures, entitled The Starry Night, Sunflowers, Café Terrace at Night, and The Potato Eaters.

Beside the art itself, one thing I like when visiting art venues is the conversation, exchanging opinions and critiques. It can be compared with the truth of art, which does not require clear understanding, but only places itself to be seen by the public. With this in mind, art can play its role perfectly. Besides, there are other interesting museums, such as Anne Frank House and the Rembrandt House Museum.

Beside the museums that are very interesting to see, Amsterdam also has creative areas to be enjoyed, including Dam Square. This is located in the center of the city, and provides a meeting place for shopping and hanging out with friends in a classic atmosphere, surrounded by beautiful, old architecture, ranging from The Royal Palace of Amsterdam and churches, to The National Monument.

Enjoy Markets, Food and Flowers

If you would like to try affordable local cuisine, we recommend the Albert Cuyp Market, a street market which opens at 9am until evening, and not far from Dam Square. Try original foods such as Frikandel – a kind of spicy sausage, Stamppot – mashed tomato with sausage or bacon, and Hollandse Nieuwe Haring – eaten with onion with pepper on top. For dessert, try caramel-stuffed waffles and pancakes. After a meal, you might want to relax at Bloemenmart, the only floating flower market left in Amsterdam. Although there are only 15 shops, there are more than enough varieties of tulip and other types of beautiful flowers to enjoy.

MUST VISIT & RECOMMENDED

Restaurants

1. d’Vijff Vlieghen

A five-star restaurant located in a house alongside a 17th century canal. The place is decorated with paintings of Rembrandt, and the food is delicately prepared.

2.Greetje

A marvelously creative Dutch restaurant, using seasonal food, that gives a twist to the more traditional cuisine. The standard dessert is delicious lemon pie.

3.Back to Black

A pleasant café, with a largely young Dutch clientele, which offers homemade coffee prepared by a cool barista.

4.Café Toussaint

This café suggests an atmosphere of Edith Piaf songs. Try ordering cappuccino coffee while sitting under a tree, or sit and eat under the light of a candle at night.

Hotels

Take the train for ten minutes from Amsterdam to Zaandam, a small city where Inntel Hotels is located. This hotel is designed to look like an amusement park, with colorful architecture reminiscent of Legoland. It is also conveniently close to an ancient windmill village. inntelhotelsamsterdamzaandam.nl

TRAVEL TIPS

– It is recommend you buy an Amsterdam Card which allows you to visit more than 30 museums and as well as a ticket for public transport. The ticket can be purchased at iamsterdam.com

– The Van Gogh Museum always has a long queue, so it is better to reserve an e-ticket in advance to help speed up the process

vangoghmuseum.com

– A bike can be rented to tour the city at www.ajaxbike.nl.