I currently live in Amsterdam, where I’m (slowly) learning to speak Dutch and navigate bike lanes.
I love sharing discoveries about my newly adopted home with a worldwide English-speaking audience. My writing about Amsterdam has appeared in Time Out, the G Adventures blog, Ensemble Vacations publications, and Make Change.
When we think of exotic escapes, we tend to think of fragrant spices and tropical air. But the truth is, you can find something exotic in every corner of the world, no matter the temperature. Here are 10 exotic experiences you may have never considered.
Fish For A Living Dinosaur In Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia
B.C.’s Fraser River is home to more than 40,000 sturgeon – the largest freshwater fish in North America, with a history dating back 200 million years…
First things first: If you want coffee or a light meal in Amsterdam, a coffeeshop is not what you’re looking for. (Despite the name, those serve cannabis, not caffeine.) You want a koffiehuis or café. You’ll have your pick of spaces from classic to modern, and from understated to grand. No matter which style you choose, keep in mind that Amsterdam’s centuries-old café and restaurant culture is meant to be savoured – so settle in with a good book or one of the board games you’ll almost certainly find for guests to use.
Try ordering a koffie verkeerd – a ‘wrong coffee’ that’s the local latte equivalent – or a fresh mint or ginger tea. There are no free refills in this town, but at the very best cafés in Amsterdam your hot drink of choice may well come with a small cookie, and you’re welcome to linger as long as you like. And frankly, with those canalside views, we couldn’t think of anything better.
If you’re only here for a short stay but want to catch the best of Amsterdam’s art scene, head straight for Museumplein. The city’s largest square is home to four museums showcasing more Dutch Masters than you can probably handle – plus a healthy dose of modern and contemporary art.
If you’ve got more time, however, you’ll appreciate the chance to discover art across all the city’s coolest neighbourhoods, from Russian treasures to movie posters to digital deep dives into the city’s past. Many of the best Amsterdam gallery and museum buildings are as fascinating as the art they contain, whether centuries old or cutting-edge examples of contemporary design. Where else can you catch a video art installation in a 15th-century church, then hop on a ferry to a film museum that looks like it belongs in a Bond movie?
Visitors to Amsterdam have been exploring its thriving bar ‘scene’ since the 1600s, when sailors dropped by for one last shot of jenever before heading out to sea. Some of the bars they frequented are still around, serving the local juniper-based spirit in tulip-shaped glasses so full you’ll need to lower your head to the bar to take your first sip.
But there’s an ultra-cool, ultra-modern side to some of the best bars in Amsterdam, too. Upmarket lounges, world-class cocktail bars and cutting-edge craft breweries have transformed the Dutch capital’s drinks offering in recent years. And in summer, nothing beats sitting out on the terraces, where tourists and locals alike while away impossibly long evenings over biertjes (little beers) and bitterballen (a classic Dutch deep-fried bar snack).
It’s no secret that Amsterdam has an over-tourism problem. Dam Square is thick with tourists and pickpockets, and the Red Light District (properly known as De Wallen) has become an adult Disneyland where stag parties run wild.
But all is not lost for visitors to Amsterdam. In the city’s outlying neighborhoods, there’s plenty to experience away from the central crowds…
There’s no better way to understand a destination than to see how locals live. From exploring cozy houseboats to touring grand canal homes, here’s how to get an inside look at life in the Dutch capital.
Museum Van Loon
Built in 1672, this grand canal house was the former home of the Van Loon family. The Van Loons were well connected in Dutch society: Willem van Loon was a co-founder of the Dutch East India Company, and later generations included Amsterdam mayors, bankers and ladies in the queen’s court…
When reading a menu in an unfamiliar language, Google Translate is usually your best friend. But in the Netherlands, the literal English translations of some Dutch staples will leave you scratching your head.
For these five Dutch foods, Google Translate is no help at all…
From the Rhine to the Danube to the Elbe, Europe’s rivers are the backbone of this continent, connecting major world capitals and small country towns. Here, we look at 10 of our favorite European destinations to explore from a river cruise ship.