December 25th, 2015 – by: Jollyjetsetter
Activity in Dam Square (Amsterdam; The Netherlands)
Figuring out how to spend the festive period can be as fun as it is agonizing, but with this 3-night stay in Amsterdam, the memorable factor was going to at least make this stand out from previous Christmases. For those uninitiated, Amsterdam is a city of both visuals and experiences, and the canal network of the city can be roughly interpreted as the basic core layout of the city, with the usual high-profile city character taking shape in amongst the main thoroughfares. Forever tagged as the most liberated city in the western hemisphere, due to its relaxed drug and prostitution policies, it is worth nothing that, unlike a more crime-ridden past, the city has effectively cleaned up its act and emerged more as a centre of culture with all the relevant elements of cosmopolitanism to earn its tag as the Netherlands' most tourist-friendly place.
Canalside development (Utrecht; The Netherlands)
A canal cruise will provide a perfect snapshot of both city and canal life, so is well worth working into your itinerary, and other Amsterdam experiences are the variety of museums (of which the Anne Frank museum seems to be the most symbolic), the art galleries, the coffee shops (hello stoners!), the red light district, and the city's crop of mighty fine eateries, of which pancake houses and Indonesian restaurants might well be the most frequented. Getting around Amsterdam is rendered easier by the combination of the tram and tube networks, but being based centrally for a period of time might urge you to 'go local' and hire a bicycle to a convenient effect. Heading out of town by train roughly in a south-easterly direction will, within the time frame of less than half an hour, bring you to the understated University town of Utrecht
, which is a Dutch town with a charm all of its own, despite bearing no huge resemblance to Amsterdam.
The finest church in town! (Haarlem; The Netherlands)
Canals and churches rank among features of the urban landscape, and the unhurried pace of living here, coupled with the sizeable student population and the modern and extensive station shopping area make Utrecht an underrated gem amongst Benelux cities. If it is more shopping that appeals, then a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam central will bring you to the long-established city of Haarlem
, which fact fiends need to be aware is the very origin of the New York borough's similar place name. Haarlem has a charming main square, and a few outstandingly pretty features, such as the outlying St Bavo cathedral, a striking building well worth making your way out of the city centre towards. Back in Amsterdam, and the compact nature of this fine nation will more than likely make you realize that the country's astounding history of economic growth clearly shows in terms of its modern-day allure.
Typical Dutch houseboat(s) (Amsterdam; The Netherlands)
On the subject of compact-natured experiences, drop by the city's very own Ice Bar for a couple of drinks and a chance to see a cross-section of the work which various international sculptors have achieved throughout the growing realm of ice bars, ice hotels and ice festivals. As one departs the city from the well-equipped departure point that is Schiphol airport, you can't help thinking that those free-spirited Amsterdam and / or Dutch vibes are the feelgood factor of the moment and every reason for the visitor to treasure the experience regardless of its brevity.