You may think of Parksville as a family destination—and with good reason. With the warmest swimming beach in Canada, mega-sized mini-golf and plenty of kids camps and activities, it’s a holiday favourite for Lower Mainland families.
But there’s also plenty for grown-ups to do in this easy-to-reach stretch of Vancouver Island’s east coast…
Hamburg, Germany, welcomed more than 500,000 visitors to its Cruise Days festival last weekend, including 250,000 spectators at the Grand Hamburg Cruise Days Parade along the Elbe River on Saturday night.
Held every two years, Hamburg Cruise Days is the largest public cruise festival in the world. This year’s event saw 12 cruise ships call in Hamburg’s three passenger ports over the weekend, including the Costa Mediterranea, the MSC Preziosa, and the MS Europa and Europa 2. The Europa and the Preziosa were among the five parade ships that sailed downriver Saturday accompanied by lasers, music, and fireworks, along with 20 escort boats.
Venture beyond the Czech Republic’s capital city to find an astonishing number of UNESCO sites and traditions, along with far smaller crowds. Here are eight to get you started.
1. Tugendhat Villa, Brno
This modernist villa designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929 was home to Fritz and Grete Tugendhat and their children. A wedding gift from Grete’s father, who provided unlimited funds, it’s a stunning open-plan family home incorporating exotic woods, imported stone, and a feature Onyx wall.
When I arrive at Healing Farm, I have an overwhelming sense that I’ve come home. This 18-acre organic farm on Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula is everything I love about this part of the world, where I grew up. There are fruit trees and blackberry vines and even 85 maples, that ultimate symbol of Canada, tapped each year for syrup. But what really gets me is the smell of the western red cedar, hemlock, and Sitka spruce.
I moved from Vancouver to Amsterdam six months ago, and walking into the forest that takes up half the farm’s land, standing under the 400-year old trees, I find myself almost paralyzed with nostalgia. Amsterdam has trees, of course, but not these towering sentries — and very few evergreens…
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…