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The capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, is famed for its canals, culture and coffee shops. As a final farewell to undergraduate life, I spent two nights there with the University History Society last summer, and have been aching to return ever since. Although not as vast a capital as Paris or London, a day and a half was nowhere near long enough to explore all that Amsterdam’s cobbled streets have to offer. Nevertheless, we crammed a lot into our limited time there and I would highly recommend the following activities and attractions to any traveller who only has a day in the ‘Dam…
What better way to see a city built around canals than by boat? There are several canal tours operating in Amsterdam and most include an English audio-guide. Chugging past houseboats and landmarks is a great way to get a sense of the city’s scale and an introduction to its history, besides being relaxing. Once on the streets though, beware the ominous tinkle of bicycle bells: cycling is the most popular mode of transport amongst Amsterdam residents and they frequently whizz past at an alarming pace! There is a tram network, but hiring a bicycle is certainly high on my ‘To Do List’ for next time.
When it comes to dinner, you’d be mad to miss out on traditional Dutch Pancakes. They can be eaten sweet or savoury and make a very satisfactory meal. Heineken is on tap everywhere and for about 15 Euros you can have a tour around the brewery itself.
Situated near the 17th Century Westerkerk is the Anne Frank House, where the famous diarist hid from 1942 to 1944. The House is well worth a visit, even if you haven’t read the Diary. Comprising the Secret Annexe and a museum, it is both a moving and fascinating place. The Dutch Resistance Museum, although not so central, compliments the story of the Anne Frank House and is great for anybody interested in this era of history.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit either the Van Gogh Museum or the less renowned Museum of Bags and Purses, but those who did squeeze them in spoke highly of both. As well as museums and art galleries, Amsterdam boasts a zoo, parks, its own Madam Tussaud’s and a vibrant and varied night life. So much to discover in so little time…but with only a day I didn’t do too badly!
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