Amsterdam – a city for all desires

It’s no coincidence that this perfect vacation spot is called the ‘Venice of the North’

February 1, 2015 02:07
AMSTERDAM, WITH SOME 750,000 citizens, is rich with culture, history, amazing architecture and moder

AMSTERDAM, WITH SOME 750,000 citizens, is rich with culture, history, amazing architecture and modern entertainment.. (photo credit: SAPIR PERETZ)

AMSTERDAM – One of the most popular European cities for tourists is Amsterdam: colorful, flat, green and authentic. It is a vibrant and inviting city, and a perfect escape – especially for the Israeli tourist.

You can enjoy Amsterdam on a short trip, but I would recommend at least three to seven days. It’s a great place for a romantic getaway, youthful partying or a family trip.

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Amsterdam, with some 750,000 citizens, is rich with culture, history, amazing architecture and modern entertainment.

One of its most prominent features is its canals; there are 165, which is why it is sometimes called the “Venice of the North.” The canals were once used to transfer goods by small ships and boats; warehouses stood on their banks in the city center, some of which were on the water, with offices on the ground beside them. Sometimes merchants occupied the lower floors, with residential premises on the top floors.

Crossing the canals are 1,281 bridges.

These include a wide range, from pedestrian bridges; drawbridges for vehicles, those on foot and boats; to ones built of wood, concrete and steel.

Lanterns lit at night on the bridges provide a new dimension to a nighttime cruise on the canals. If you are in Amsterdam, do not miss a canal cruise! In this marvelous city, you will see people literally living on the water; real houses are built inside the canals, some of them with wonderful windows.

Usually, the cruise companies will offer you a guide in three languages – English, Spanish and Dutch – while some will give you the opportunity to choose your own language.

Some interesting facts about the canals: At least once a week, a car is pulled out of the water; 25,000 bicycles drown annually before being rescued.

After you take a magical cruise, and once it is already dark, meet Amsterdam’s nightlife.

Clubs and pubs are everywhere and you should not miss them, because most stores and entertainment centers, aside from restaurants, close at 6 p.m.

It is not a secret that this city is one of the best place to have a beer, at the most attractive prices; for beer lovers, it is a real paradise. Select from more than 200 varieties: sour, bitter, ticking, barley, fruit and 100-years. To learn more about this libation, pay a visit to the Heineken Brewery, where they show you how they actually make beer; at the end of the tour, you get two free drinks! The Netherlands is much more liberal than many other countries. One expression of this is the Red Light District, where prostitutes pose for costumers in red-lit windows. These women pay taxes to the Dutch government and benefit from the Red Thread trade union, which maintains their rights, regulates their duties and does their PR. Everything in this district is legal, and the prostitutes work under the supervision of licensed medical personnel.

A safe thoroughfare, the Red Light District is not far from the city center. Today, there are more than 25,000 working girls, some local and some from abroad. Photographing them is forbidden, and it is advisable to respect this ban. It is recommended to arrive in the evening, when the famous crimson lights go on.

Dam Square is considered one of Europe’s most important squares, about a five-minute walk from the Amsterdam Central Station.

Known in the ’60s as a gathering spot for hippies, in spring and summer you can enjoy all sorts of entertainment, including carnivals, a Ferris wheel, food stalls, bars and shops, as well sideshows. Around the square, one barely sees cars; the main road belongs to the light rail and cyclists.

Around the Dam, there are many attractions such as the famous Madame Tussauds, the ultimate celebrity experience with wax figures of the world’s most famous faces; the top of the museum offers a great view of the whole city. There are also countless shopping centers, coffee shops and restaurants.

If you want to be in the middle of everything, it is worth paying a little extra to stay in a hotel next to the square.

One of the things you cannot ignore in Amsterdam is that it is entirely flat, so many of the places worth visiting are within reasonable walking distance of each other. Even if you are not fit, Amsterdam is easy to ride up and down, and renting a bicycle further shortens distances and allows you to experience the place like a local. In fact, bicycles are the main mode of transportation here.

Not far from the city center is the large, green Vondelpark, where it is most pleasant to stroll between trees and lakes on trails through well-kept grounds. Open-air live shows in the summer are free and usually fascinating. At the center of the park are some small cafes and good restaurants. If you are in the Central Bus Station area, visit Leidsestraat, which ends in the Leidseplein; it is a good bicycle ride! As for culture, Amsterdam is full of museums; among the most famous are the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and the Sex Museum.

Anne Frank House, the city’s most popular tourist site, is especially recommended for Jewish visitors interested in the story of the young girl who perished during the Holocaust but gave millions hope through her diary.

Another awesome attraction is the flower market. This is a must-see, even if you do not really need Lazar fragrant tulips. the Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular are well-known empire flower growers, with colorful markets and exhibitions yearly.

Amsterdam’s Flower Markets the only floating market in the world, with display booths located on canal boats. Even if you are not really the flower type, you should experience the wonderful smells, colors and infinite masses of people, moving along through the stalls.

Another famous feature of Amsterdam is the availability of light drugs. Please pay attention, though: The use of marijuana and hashish on the street or in regular coffee shops is prohibited. The use of light drugs is permitted only in designated coffee shops, and they do not sell alcohol. Do not forget that after the vacation, you have a real life to live.

Wherever you go, if you need tickets to attractions or the train, it is better to buy them online or in the tour shops then to wait in the long lines.

Enjoy Amsterdam!

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