Trip Start Dec 04, 2006
Trip End Aug 05, 2007

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Monday, June 4, 2007

Nathan here: After two nights in Brussels we headed North via train to Amsterdam. This was my second visit to the city but it was Tara­`s first. Although the seat of government in the Netherlands is in The Hague, Amsterdam is the nominal capital. It is also the country's largest city, with a population of almost 750,000. We were told that it is also the most visited, with over 3.5 milion foreign visitors a year.

It is believed that Amsterdam was founded as a fishing village around the thirteenth century when a dam was developed around the Amstel river. Apparently there were 52 bridges at the end of the 16th century but now there are a little more than 250.

Even though we only had two half days in Amsterdam, we saw plenty. If you`re properly motivated, this is enough time to see some of the city`s key highlights. For starters, we took a canal tour which is a great way to see some of the many old bridges, buildings, etc.

We then visited the Rijksmuseum ( which was only partially open for visitors as it is currently undergoing renovations. Among its incredible collection is Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch.' In a word.. spectacular. Here`s a link to the image.
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We also visited the Van Gogh museum ( which was by far our favourite. Although his artistic career spanned only 10 years, Van Gogh was a prolific painter and apparently 864 paintings and 1,200 drawings and prints have survived. The largest collection of his work is found in this Museum. Having visited numerous museums on our trip, I can easily say that this one was - by far - the most user friendly. The displays were open and there was lots of information to explain the progression of Van Gogh`s work up until he committed suicide at the age of 37.

Other highlights of our visit included a brisk walk (Tara`s words) through the red light district. From brothels to sex shops and museums, this part of town leaves nothing to the imagination. What I can`t get over is that on any given street, you`ll find expensive restaurants, pubs and shops and - at the same time - neon red-fringed tall windows where women, of all nationalities, parade in virtually nothing, ready for hire so to speak. Despite what some might think, this area is one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city. Imagine narrow cobbled streets and charming 14th century architecture. A must see for every visitor.

Next stop.. Copenhagen, Denmark. N&T.
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