Amsterdam: Holland’s “Venice of the North”
Amsterdam’s airport is Europe’s fourth busiest. While some will catch a flight over for the culture and history, for others it’s a city synonymous with hedonistic abandon.
Wandering around the Van Gogh Museum, it’s hard to believe that the artist’s entire career spanned less than ten years. Housing 200 paintings and 500 drawings, the museum chronicles all of his works. Personal effects, like a vase from his brother Theo that appears in several paintings, are also on display.
With over a million visitors annually, the Anne Frank House is one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions. The museum’s focus is the Achterhuis (Secret Annex), where Anne, her family and four others spent two years hiding before being betrayed and sent to their deaths. Particularly powerful is her actual diary, also on display.
Nicknamed the City of Bicycles, Amsterdam has a love affair with the two-wheeler that is hard to miss. Luckily, rental companies are peppered all over town, so tourists can spend a day feeling like real Nederlanders.
Recently cleaned up, the Red Light District is now home to several friendly pubs and restaurants, as well as the Prostitute Information Centre. Walking tours of the neighbourhood include a stop here for a chat with a former call girl who can answer any questions about the profession.
Holland is not known for its cuisine, but after dinner at Greetje, guests usually reconsider putting Dutch food on the culinary map. Market- fresh ingredients and beautiful presentation elevate classics like stamppot (vegetable mash) to a whole new level.
Blue Pepper serves up scrumptious dishes from Indonesia, one of Holland’s former colonies. The rijsttafel (a variety of rice dishes) is topped off with a dessert of tropical fruit, blue pears and coconut flan.