Amsterdam...aka A'dam

This is hands down the city in Europe I visited the most. Since my first time back in 1998, I think I went to Holland more then 20 times in any way: by car, by train, by plan...actually I'm missing hitchiking...gotta do it soon.
Not only I experienced the capital city but also Utrecht (probably nicer then A'dam and more cozy), Haarlem (that was my very first city I visited during an unforgettable new year), Nijmegen (the unbeatable Van der Drift family lives there in a tiny town next to it called Molenhoek) and the surroundings, Arnhem (you gotta stop there as soon as you cross the border with Germany coming from Itlay by car) and the quite island of Marken with its lonely lighthouse.
Of course the first times I'was there was just for getting wasted and stoned (and I defenatly tried lots of coffeeshops), but the more I use to go there, the more I fell in love with the atmosphere you can breath riding a bike and ringin the bell around the canals. From winter to summer I tried 'em all, and to tell you the truth this country gives its best with a butt cold weather...and if you're lucky enough with the snow. It's a waste of time to try to explain what you feel when you're walking around this peacefull streets and some snowflakes start to fall from the flat grey sky (this is mostly the color of the sky you get during cold seasons) and the whole area surrounding you turns into a fairy tale. Everything gets quiet and the bikes riding on the narrow streets of the canals ring their bells just like a bunch of elf's cart. The inhabitants and their smoky mouths look all like comic strips from a romantic drawer helped by such a perfect architetcure for such a setting. Fearless of the icy roads people face this temperatures with total confidence, even if sometimes you see someone crashing on the ground for stepping on a camouflaged block of ice. And once you're too cold to keep walking around and admiring the bending buildings (it's them bending not you stoned!), you can easly walk in any bar, coffeshop or tearoom and you'll get the best out of it.

But let's talk about places to visit in A'dam. First of all try not to stick around Dam square and the red light district...this is the most anoying and crowded and sad area of the town. It's ok to give it a try just to say you've been there, but trust me the rest of Amsterdam is way better then what you get here.
Taking central station as the starting point (if you're coming from Schipol there's frequent trains connecting the airport to the city), if you head right you'll run into Single (the first of concentric canals giving Amsterdam that special look) and here you can already stop at my favourite coffeshop called Rokerij. This is already a sparkling area and you can get a lot out of it if you spend some time walking around and being a bit courious. The famouse bar "The Doors" is there and just around the corner there's Frederic with its bed and breakfast and bike rental shop. If you visit Amsterdam, you can't miss the opportunity to rent a bike, because that is the best way to move around and feel like a local...and what place other then Frederic to rent it?!?! He's sweet, gentle and always ready to help you...he loves grappa, so if you're kind enough show up with a bottle and he will be so thankful!
If you're looking for a cheap place to stay, but with a great location and close to the most wonderful area of Amsterdam (De 9 Straatjes and the Joordan area), then on Keisersgracth there's the Keisersgracth hotel, a budget place but with an easygoing staff and a decent standard.
De 9 Straatjes is the ideal place for relaxing if you're in the mood of it, or doing the best shopping downtown, since this is the area where most of the emerging stylist have their base and atelier.
In the same area you also get the world famouse Anne Frank museum , but be ready to face long lines since this is one of the main attractions of the city.
Keep walking south on one of these canals and you'll get to Leidseplein (consider moving around by tram as can reach almost anywhere and be warm at the same time if you end up there during the coldest months) where plenty of restaurants, bars and discos are. The most popular hang out place around here is the Paradiso with its many concerts ranging from techno music to Hard rock (for sure you'll ben listening quality stuff!!!), but if you're looking for something more particular and where mostly locals go, then head to Lijnbaansgracht and look for a place Korsakoff. I think I had some of the best times in my life here, and it's easy to make some goodfriends since everyone is here to enjoy it and and dance like hell. But if you're not that kind of person (here you mostly get very loud music but excellent), and you're more into blues or softer rock in general, then just outside the door there's Maloe Melo.
Among the many places of interests you'll also be able to spot on any turistic guide, I want to mention Vondel Park, an exquisite green area where A'damers like to fully enjoy either riding their bikes (there's more bikes in Holland then in any other place on earth I think) or just taking a nap on a blanket during sunny days. Right next to the park there's another budget hostel (the Stayok hostel) where I spent few nights, and to tell you the truth I would reccomend this place to any backpacker for its price, cozyness and level of level of cleanliness.
Let's cut it with usless information you could easily find anywhere (the Van Gogh museum, the Rijksmuseum and the many other culutar places of interests) and let's talk about Marken.

It's quite a long ride by bus from Amsterdam (buy the Waterland ticket for abot 7 euros) but once you get there you get a rare taste of Holland with its wooden and colorful houses all around the fisherman harbor. During summer time I heard is possible to see people dressing in the typical way, but since I was there during a 20 degrees below zero day the best option was to take an ufrogettable walk in the countryside to reach the light house stuck in the middle of a frozen sea (check out the pics...that is a freaking amazing place!).
A place in Holland you can easly and in a cheap way reach with a low cost flight landing at Weeze airport in Dussendolf is Nijmegen.

The beloved Van der Drift family hosted few times me and my sweet Elena in the past years and so many good memories will stay with me forever. The city itself is not so charming, but still has got some highlight in the very center and some other natural attractions in the area. It's hard for me to remember the names of the places Pieter, Manon and their wonderful 4 kids took us, but I can assure you there's things to do and see if you're in love with trekkings, iceskating and wellness SPA. Molenhoek is not that kind of town mentioned so many times on the internet and that's why I take advantage of this blog to remember our homebase in this tiny place on the border with Germany.Just sweet!
Well, Utrecht is the last town I want to talk about shortly in this post. Everytime I ended up here I felt like to be in a special place, one of those places you can feel that special vibe. It's small and all concentrated around two canals, but the cathedral in first place and the many students living there (there's one of the best universities in Holland here) make it a little jewel to visit and spend a wonderful day coming from Amsterdam (it's very well connected by train and it takes only 30 minutes to get there).

And if you're to stoned or drunk to head back to your place in Amsterdam, you can stay at the best hostel I've ever stayed in my life. It's called Strowis and if you go there you'll thank me for the rest of your life!
All right, I'm out of here now, but if you're interested in knowing more about other places to visit (unconventional ones I mean) or thiings to do, please leave a comment and I'll be right back at you.
Enjoy wisely.

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