Sharing is caring!FacebookPinterestTwitterLinkedinRead the first part here. On the second day in Cyprus the rain had finally stopped and it was definitely warmer, so we decided to explore Paphos a bit and then head up to the Akamas peninsula, to see Aphrodite’s Baths and other…
Sharing is caring!FacebookPinterestTwitterLinkedinWith its crystal clear, turquoise waters, picturesque Cypriot villages and mouth-watering cuisine, this little island in the Mediterranean charms you and leaves you longing to come back. There’s so much to be said about Cyprus, it had a very complicated history, with Ottoman…
Amsterdam was never very high up on my bucket list, I must admit, but when the opportunity presented itself I obviously couldn’t say no. And not only that I absolutely loved it, but it’s made its way into my top three cities I’d like to live in (Barcelona is still front position though).
It’s a city of freedom, a place where everyone can be who they want to be. There is luxury, there is poverty, there is culture, there is debauchery – and you are completely free which side of the spectrum you want to explore.
I loved the diversity given by the high number of expats – not sure how much the Dutch love it though, as the city is definitely overpopulated, by inhabitants and tourists alike, one of the consequences being a very competitive real estate market.
I usually like to make my articles as informative as possible, with prices, recommendations, means of transportation etc., but this time I haven’t got much info to report as I did not plan a single thing for this trip. Its sole purpose was to completely relax, go with the flow and enjoy the moment – and that was possible because a good friend of mine who lives there took me in and did all the thinking for me. (My eternal gratitude to you for that!). Also, there was a lot of wine involved, so some details are a bit fuzzy 😀
The respect for nature is one of the first things I notice when I enter a country and the Dutch surely do a great job when it comes to this. There is green everywhere, a lot of parks, flowers, lakes, canals and so on. They are very outdoorsy people and no matter how shitty the weather, they’re out there on their bikes, jogging, walking the dog, just enjoying themselves.
One of the largest and most famous parks in Amsterdam is Vondelpark. I didn’t have much time to explore it unfortunately, but I did bike through it and stopped by this pretty lake for a few moments (I was mostly attracted by those amazing houses in the backdrop, I admit).
I spent most of my time in awe at how perfectly beautiful everything was. Nature and architecture are my two favourite things to admire when travelling, and there’s plenty of both in the Netherlands. Just passing by all these amazing houses, each one with its own personality and character. Perfection! The best part: walking around after dark and being able to see a bit of the interior as well, as most of them don’t have any curtains. (Please someone tell me I’m not the only one who does this…)
The next stop after Vondelpark was the very famous Rijksmuseum, made so by the even more famous #iamsterdam sign located in front of it until not long ago. The local authorities decided to take it off though as it became too much of an Insta spot and attracted way too many tourists.
I didn’t go inside as, however superficial it may sound, museums bore the life out of me, but, for a museum lover, Amsterdam is the place to be as there are tons of them.
The next day the weather was not great, it was cold, windy and rainy, but we decided to go out and make the most out of it. We didn’t want to go see the canals just yet as we were hoping the weather would turn around by noon, so we just biked along the Amstel river, went to have some fries at Manneken Pis, which are apparently the best fries in the Netherlands and then crossed the river to see the city from the other side. There are ferries that run every few minutes from Amsterdam Centraal. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the city as the weather had gotten really bad by that time and the wind was absolutely crazy, so we headed back to the city.
An interesting thing to do when the weather allows it is to go up to the A’DAM lookout. This is a deck on a 20 story building overlooking Amsterdam. For adrenaline junkies, they have an over the edge swing that’s worth giving a shot.
By the time we made our way back to the city, the sky was clearing out and there were even a few rays of sun. This is where things get a bit fuzzy and I’m a bit uncertain about the timeline. I saw many bridges and canals, that’s for sure. And some statues. And lots of beautiful buildings.
I remember one thing though, I asked my friends why most of the buildings are slightly tilted forward and have a big hook at the top. He explained that most of these buildings were actually warehouses before and they used the hooks to lift the goods up. The buildings being tilted, there was less risk to hit the walls. Just in case you were wondering, now you know!
Another thing the Netherlands is famous for is, of course, cheese. There are lots of cheese shops around the city where you can go in and have a tasting. We stumbled upon this one and tried a few of the cheeses. The extra old goat cheese was to die for. They actually deliver worldwide so you can thank me for that later.
The flower market is definitely worth a visit, though there aren’t as many flowers as I would’ve expected, it’s mostly bulbs. But, bulbs make a great souvenir, especially for mums, your mum will love you for it, trust me! Or you can get her some cannabis seeds, depending on how hippie your mum is 😀 Though it’s probably not legal to get them out of the country… Or is it? Does anyone know?
The last stop of the day was in the Jordaan neighbourhood, where the most picturesque canals seem to hang out. And just look at those buildings, oh my God, can I just go back now, please!?
Red Light District
On the third and final day it just rained and rained, so we stayed in for most of the day. I really wanted to go see the Red Light district as well, it’s just something you have to do when in Amsterdam, so when the rain eventually stopped we went to see the girls. It was a bit shocking, yet fascinating at the same time. Though it really wasn’t my scene, and at times I felt a bit unsafe, especially with all the people trying to sell you cocaine and heroin, I think when it comes to prostitution, it’s a way healthier attitude to accept it, legalise it and somewhat keep it under control rather than try to deny it and hide it under the mat. Humans have always had this fascination for sexual practices, ever since the beginning of times, so really, why not embrace it?
As I said in the beginning, Amsterdam is all about freedom and personal choice, and I chose to enjoy all the nature, the architecture, the scenery, the cheese, the flowers. And the fact that I managed not to get myself killed on that bike for three days straight! Kudos to me! 🙂
Sharing is caring! Facebook Pinterest Twitter Linkedin Vibrant nightlife, incredible food, UNESCO recognised architecture, sandy Mediterranean beaches and some of the most friendly people in the world – you can find it all and much more in Tel Aviv. Though a bit sceptic at first,…
Venice – one of the most famous attractions of Italy and perhaps even Europe. We all know about it, read about it, seen pictures of it and probably half of the population of the planet has already visited it. Except for me. Yup, I lived 28 years without going to Venice and to be honest, I didn’t even have the desire to go. It just seemed like one of those places that’s so crowded with tourists that it’s lost all it’s charm and authenticity. And while for most part that’s true, there’s still enough uniqueness to it to make me say that yes, Venice is definitely a bucket-list place.
How to get to Venice
There’s apparently 2 ways you can get to Venice from the airport: there’s a direct shuttle bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma (that’s as far as you can go by car) that costs 12 euros/one-way or 24 euros return ticket. It takes about an hour and you get to see some pretty cool sights on the way. Now, I’ve been told that there is a cheaper way, if you take the bus to Treviso train station and from there the train to Venice – it’s supposed to cost about 6 euros/one-way – but I haven’t verified that one.
How to get around in Venice
As I mentioned before, Piazzale Roma is about as far as you can get by car in Venice. From there, your only options are a water taxi, vaporettos or your own two walking sticks. Water taxis are quite expensive, but they might be worth it if you are travelling in a larger group. Vaporetto tickets cost 7 euros each and are valid for 60 minutes. The best option, especially if you want to visit other islands, such as Murano, Burano or Torcello (which I would’ve very much liked to see, but the time was not enough), is to get a travel card.
Where to stay in Venice
Venice has six sestieri or districts, situated across a group of 118 small islands, separated by canals and linked by around 400 bridges. Cannaregio is the most populated and home of the Jewish Ghetto. That’s where I chose to stay and for me it was perfect. There are plenty of shops and restaurants around, and all major attractions are within walking distance. I felt perfectly safe at all times, even walking alone at night. Castello is the largest one, but it seems a bit too far from everything. Dorsoduro is the University district and the more artsy part of Venice. There are a lot of street artists, galleries and museums. It is separated from the other districts by the Grand Canal, so I wouldn’t recommend staying here, unless you’re very close to one of the bridges. San Marco, as the name suggests is home to the famous San Marco Square and other major tourist attractions. If you want to be right in the middle of things, this is obviously the place to be. San Polo is right in the heart of the city and it’s a good location. This one is one the other side of the Grand Canal as well, so being close to a bridge would be a good idea. And last but not least, Santa Croce is the district closest to the mainland, but farthest from all the attractions.
When to go to Venice
This was a subject I wanted to touch because I think I will be scarred for life by the Venice’s deadly combo of heat + humidity and I feel as it is my duty to warn other people. So, do not go to Venice in the summer!!! Not even September is safe. 26 degrees might not seem that much, but pair it up with 88% humidity and you got yourself a little version of hell on Earth. I’m guessing May or October would be the best options if you want to actually enjoy your trip.
What to do in Venice
San Marco Square, the Doges Palace, the Bridge of Sighs – we’ve all heard of them and probably seen thousands of pictures of all the main attractions of Venice. And yes, they are beautiful and impressive, but also over-crowded and somewhat… impersonal. Instead of making your trip all about checking places of a list, I’d recommend ditching the map and just trusting your intuition to take you where you need to be. Take your time, don’t rush, stop every now and then and just allow yourself to appreciate the beauty of a detail on a building or that of a gondola passing by. Let the explorer in you take control – go take a closer look of that old, torn down building and don’t be afraid of walking down that narrow alley that seems to lead nowhere – you never know where you’ll find a hidden gem.
One of my favourite places in Venice was exactly down one of these narrow alleys nobody seemed to be interested in. It turned out to lead straight to the Grand Canal, offering such a beautiful view. I felt so lucky to be able to share such an intimate moment with the city: just me, the water and Venice’s beauty.
At the same time, it felt absolutely magical to have dinner by the Rialto Bridge and then take a stroll along the Grand Canal, admiring the palazzos and the docked gondolas. But the best part was that it was not planned, I got there by simply following my intuition.
This being said, I think it would be redundant to simply list out the places you HAVE to see in Venice. Just follow your heart and it will take you to all the right places.