Take Your Pick
Aalsmeer, Netherlands
Socko Quijote
Windmills - One of the most popular attractions in the Netherlands, with the possible exception of the tulips, is the country's magnificent windmills. These canvas sailed behemoths are both beautiful and functional. The Dutch use them for corn milling, land drainage (most of The Netherlands is below sea level), saw milling, and other industrial purposes. First used around 1200 AD, the number of windmills grew to over 9,000 in the 1800s and currently number around 1,100 (and growing). The most famous group of windmills are located in the picturesque area of Kinderdijk. This UNESCO site has nineteen authentic mills that still operate today.
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Canal Tours
Riding the Canals - With over 165 canals measuring over 60 miles, Amsterdam's Canal Ring is a great place to take a boat tour. It was also added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010. There are several options, a canal cruise, a specialty charter (dinner cruise), and a do-it-yourself mini-boat tour. If it is your first time, it is best to take a 90 minute hop-on-hop-off cruise that introduces you to the many sights in the city. The specialty cruises in which you can dine offer anything from pizza to a fine dining experience (my personal favorite is the Pannenkoekenboot or pancake boat. If you just have to do it yourself, there are several places to rent a small motor boat or pedal boat.
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum - Boasting the world's largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), the Van Gogh Museum holds more than 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 900 letters by this prolific artist. Some of the collection highlights are "Sunflowers", "Irises", "Wheatfield with Crows" and "The Potato Eaters". Just a warning, if you come here looking for "The Starry Night", you won't find it. It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941. The Van Gogh Museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Concertgebouw. As long as you are in Amsterdam, be sure to drop by the Rembrandt House Museum too.
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House - Annelies "Anne" Frank (1929-1945) is world-renowned for chronicling her time in hiding during the Netherland's occupation by the German Nazis. Her book "The Diary of a Young Girl" was posthumously published in 1947 and has been the subject of several movies and plays. Anne, her sister Margot, her father Otto and mother Edith spent two years in the 500 square foot annex along with the van Pels family: Hermann, Auguste, and 16-year-old Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer (Otto is the only survivor). Their time hidden in what is now called the Anne Frank House began in July 1942 and ended in August 1944 after an anonymous tip was received. Anne Frank and her sister, were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died just a few weeks prior to the camp being liberated by the British. Visiting the house today is a solemn experience, but highly recommended. The lines to the house get very long, sometimes stretching for several city blocks, so it is best to get there at least 30 minutes prior to opening.
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Getting Around
Walking and Biking - Getting around Amsterdam by car can be a bit of a challenge, there are bikes, people, trains, canals, one-way streets and a myriad of other obstacles. Oh and parking is either unavailable or extremely expensive. The two best ways to see Amsterdam (besides by boat) is to walk or bike it. Personally I prefer to walk. When walking I can drop into an interesting cafe or art gallery and really get the flavor of the city. Of course most residents of Amsterdam hop on their bikes and pedal, in fact over 60% of trips in the city are made by bike. Another interesting fact is that each year Waternet, Amsterdam's Water Authority, fishes between 12,000 and 15,000 bicycles from the canals.
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Other Entertainment
Other Entertainment - Besides the museums, canal tours and other historical sites in Amsterdam, there are other forms of entertainment, all of which can be found in the Red Light District. In the Red Light District you will find magic mushroom shops, marijuana dispensaries and of course prostitution. People from all over Europe (and the world) come here to party and partake in otherwise illegal activities. The surprising thing about the area is that it is quite charming and located in the oldest part of the city. When I visited here in the late 1990s, the ladies of the night filled hundreds of windows, but today only fill a relative few. The area does get a bit sketchy at night, although if you are careful you shouldn't have any problems.