By Raman Mama
One of the best places I’ve had a chance to see so far has without a doubt been Amsterdam. I was lucky enough to travel to the city with my girlfriend who came to visit, and stay for 4 days and check out the rare culture and creativity that fills the city.
When we first got to Amsterdam, we flew into Eidhoven airport, which is a business district about two hours away from Amsterdam by train. Something to keep in mind when traveling to cities in Europe is that the airports are pretty far from the center more often than not, and it might take a bit more time than you expected to reach your destination.
After we finally got into the city, we had a chance to explore the legendary canals around which the city was built. This was incredible to me because though many notable cities such as New York, DC and Boston have been based around rivers like the Hudson, the Potomac and the Charles, Amsterdam is different because the canals weave in and out of every part of the city. There is not a single four-block radius where you don’t find a canal. As a result of this, there were many individuals who lived on the water in houseboats. The canals also affected the weather in Amsterdam – it was very windy and pretty cold in the mornings.
There were many markets in the city. My favorite that we got to see was “Ij Hallen” which was a giant monthly expo, where anyone could buy a table for 5 euros and sell their goods. There were clothes, electronics, bikes, shoes, silverware and many more treasures. I got away with 4 button down t shirts for 10 euros. Such a steal!
Amsterdam is among one of the most socially and culturally liberal cities in Europe. Amsterdam is a bit like Berlin to me, in that a work life balance is a extremely important. In fact, most European cities value casual living more than American cities, where the go go go life style is extremely popular. In Amsterdam, coffee shops and bars are on every street, as well as specialty restaurants.
I’m excited to go back to Amsterdam one day.