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CruiseDirection - Magazine May 2019

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With a population of just under a million people, it is also one of the smallest cities, packing some of the most famous industries and museums under its tiny belt. Climatically, Amsterdam is mild and damp but also very changeable. Temperatures range from 30°F in winter to a high of 72 in summer.  

v Situated in the west of the country, Amsterdam looks like a series of concentric semi circles fronting the Amstel River. The city is renowned for its canals, diamond industry, museums, tulips, tolerance, culture, nightlife, bicycles, red light district and its liberal attitude to cannabis. Marijuana may be bought over the counter in Amsterdam’s coffee houses, making the city a draw for most of the world’s younger travellers.

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Why visit Amsterdam ?

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Capital of the Netherlands or Holland

The most diversified and liberal city in the world

Little road traffic means it is a quiet town with virtually zero vehicle pollution. This is largely due to the city’s flat terrain, which enables cyclists to get around with ease. The canal waterways are an added help.  

Amsterdam is something of a hangout town. It is small enough so that everything is within easy reach, quiet enough so that there is not the usual big city frenetic atmosphere and slow paced enough that you are inclined to relax and spend time in the plethora of jazz and coffee bars or super hip pubs lining the streets and canals.  

Walking is a wonderful way to sightsee in this most characterful town. Take a stroll through narrow cobbled streets flanked by charming old crooked Dutch houses. You will cross innumerable quaint bridges, over endless canals and you can visit one or all, of the city’s 50 museums, which attract millions of visitors every year. You might even ogle the sexy girls gracing shop windows in Rossebuurt, Amsterdam’s red light district, which has a definitive charm of its own.  

The most famous of Amsterdam’s museums are the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, but with so many at your fingertips, the hard part is choosing which ones to miss.  

The best time to visit is between April and May when the spring flowers, tulips and daffodils are in bloom. Tulips were once worth more than gold and tulip bulbs were treasured possessions all over the world.  

The average traveller may be surprised to learn that Shell, ING and Phillips are Dutch companies, all headquartered in Amsterdam, as are five other of the world’s top 500 companies.  

Historically Amsterdam derived its name from the Amstel Dam and began as a small fishing village in the late 12th century. It developed into a major port and trading centre, eventually becoming the continents leading city for finance and diamonds. One tradition still carried out today is the ‘Stille Omgang’, a silent procession in recognition of a Eucharistic miracle, which made the city an important place of pilgrimage until the protestant faith emerged.  

Apart from museums, notable landmarks to be found on the banks of the River Amstel include Stopera City Hall, Carre Theatre, Oostemeer, which is one of the many grand houses fronting the river and the Rembrandttoren, which is the tallest building in Amsterdam.

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