Last summer, I was interning in Dortmund, a city in Germany known for its football and more so for the club's loud fans. I hadn't been in Germany for more than 2 weeks, but the prospect of travelling to Amsterdam , the city most famous for its red light district and it's progressive tolerant policy to soft drugs was quite an idea I had been harbouring in my mind for a long time. Booked my tickets via Eurolines, a meagre 9€ for a 6hr ride. That's pretty cheap compared to European standards, and don't ever make the mistake of taking Eurorail unless you have too much money to throw away ! But Amsterdam turned out to be much more than just a land of legalized prostitution and weed. Also called the 'Venice of North' , a lot many canals criss-cross the city. This city has more bicycles than their population, a plausible explanation to the fact as to why Europeans stay so healthy and fit compared to their counterparts on the other side of the Pacific. The place is beautiful, the people helpful and sweet. Travelling unlike tourism doesn't have a pre-planned trip itinerary customised for you by a tour company, it's about making spontaneous decisions. So unlike other tourists, I decided to take the free shuttle ferry 'Buiksloterweg' across the IJ harbour to visit the Eye Film Museum, which most people skip on their trip to Amsterdam. The museum collection was comprised of movie posters dating back to origin of cinema itself, a chronology of film equipments from the time it all started to all the modern technology in use today. Enamoured by the collection , coupled with a discount on movie tickets for students , I ended up watching a critically acclaimed short movie. Another advantage of this place is that you can get clicked at the iconic 'I amsterdam' letters which is quite crowd-free at this location unlike the other one where a lot of people throng by. After a couple of pictures later ,I returned to the mainland by the next ferry which runs every 3 min, picked up a map of the city from the city help desk, and was off to the city centre more popularly known as the Dam Square. The neoclassical Royal Palace, the Madame Tussauds wax museum, the National Monument ( a stone pillar to commemorate World War 2 victims) and a fancy department store make the 4 sides of the square. The atmosphere here was electric, the crowd crazy. Took me a few moments to take it all in , Europeans surely know how to have fun. By the time I realized I should move on, it was dusk. The next destination was clear in my head : De Wallen or Amsterdam's Red Light District ! The whole street was bathed in neon lights , a large number of bikini clad heads were propping up from the windows in all directions ,women of various ethnicities, built and age groups. Call the Europeans crazy or educationally oriented, they have as many museums as any popular junk food chain counter. I decided to check out the Prostitution Museum, and it turned out to be quite a learning experience, a typical insight into a prostitutes' life. Well atleast they have got one thing right, they treat prostitution as a regular respectable job.The right light district did get me taking a round of the whole street, doubling back and running up the whole street again till I could take in all the color and the glamour. Next I decided to try the Leidsplein pub crawl and it turned out to be much fun. A little bit of boozing and hell lot of partying, it was already 3am when the music stopped. It was quite late and I didn't have a hostel booked so I decided to spend the night at the Central Railway Station. Bad idea. I would advise anyone against doing that, the weather was super cold and windy, and I barely slept the night, desperately waiting for the sun to rise.
On the way back to Rotterdam, everyone slept in the car but I was awake. I was awake because I had a lot to be grateful for today. I realized that the things you want dearly may be are denied to you only temporarily, may be they come back to you in a way that proves to be much better than it would have been earlier and that ultimately no one except God can deny you the happiness you want for yourself.
I have always been in awe of wooden windmills, from the first time I, as a child, attempted to paint a Dutch country side with a windmills-dotted skyline to the time when I visited a windmill-turned-brewery (Browerij’t IJ) in Amsterdam on my student trip in 2011. My short time in Amsterdam had not given me the scope to visit any other windmills around the area and my awe persisted. In my recent Euro-trip, I decided to get a closure on my infatuation and visit the Dutch countryside teeming with these imposing wooden structures. The visit turned out to be much more than windmills and alas, my love for the Dutch countryside continues…In Netherlands, there are two very popular neighborhoods which have been protected and preserved to display the Dutch way of living and trades and crafts from rural Netherlands. One is Kinderdijk (near Rotterdam) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other is Zaanse Schans (near Amsterdam). We decided on Zaanse Schans because it was easier for us travel-wise. We took a bus from Stuttgart to Amsterdam and then bought an Amsterdam & Region Travel Pass, which covers a lot of neighborhoods around Amsterdam including the famous Keukenhof tulip gardens and Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans is a short 45 mins trip from Amsterdam Central by bus.We had booked an Airbnb accommodation in Zaandijk, very close to the site of Zaanse Schaans. After freshening up, we took our bicycles and made our way to the site. It was very windy and our hair was windswept. As we neared the place, a strong odour accosted us. We were to find out later that it was the emissions from the chocolate and starch factories in the region.We had a preconceived picture of a few windmills and wooden houses that we would get to see at the site. But the scene that welcomed us transported us immediately to the industrial age in Netherlands. It is like an open-air museum with bakery, cheese factory, clog-making warehouse and wooden houses with barns and working-windmills on the banks of river Zaan that flows in the area. It indeed looked like a painting.
Edam and Volendam are two beautiful villages near Amsterdam. Definitely worth a day visit from Amsterdam.
BYE AMSTERDAM. WAS FUN . Went to Amsterdam airport to reach Frankfurt airport and from there on same day to India .. its all over ..
Give the term ‘on the road’ a miss for this one. Giethoorn, 120 km from Amsterdam, is a village with no roads. Arguably the most famous spot on our list, there is something about this tiny village, also called the Dutch Venice, that kept floating around in our heads. With over 150 wooden bridges, 4 miles of canals, and some spectacular farmhouses, this town merits a halt during your trip through Holland. All tourist go to Amsterdam, Giethoorn can turn out to be best travel destinations in Europe.
Baarle-Nassau is that part of town which lies on the Netherlands side while Baarle-Hertog is the one on the Belgium side.