“When it’s Spring again I’ll bring again, Tulips from Amsterdam. With a heart that’s true I’ll give to you, Tulips from Amsterdam.”
With those immortal words from a Max Bygraves tune echoing in your ears, why not experience a less well-known side of Amsterdam away from the bustling city center? Book one of the Amsterdam hotels with Hotels4U and head to the east of the city instead. This district is situated between the Amstel River and the IJ River and is made up of a variety of neighborhoods, each with its own culture and attractions – a real melting pot of nationalities.
In the Eastern Docklands there are some great examples of modern architecture, and the IJburg area is made up of lots of small islands connected by bridges and features the Blijburg beach and a harbor. With parks, restaurants, bars and cafés in abundance in this part of town, you’re sure to find some great places to explore, along with numerous culinary delights too. There’s a great market in the area as well as a world class music venue at Bimhuis. There’s even a fort in the IJmeer area which is a UNESCO world heritage site and forms part of the Amsterdam defensive line.
Of course no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to the world famous canals. Hire a bike or take a boat trip along these beautiful waterways throughout the city. The other must see here is Anne Frank’s house. Concealed by a moveable bookcase you’ll be able to see the secret hiding place of Anne Frank and her family, as you relive this moving story.
A trip to the Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip fields are a must if you love flowers. In spring the gardens simply burst with color. With more than seven million tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other spring flowers, this beautiful garden comes to life offering the most beautiful of sights.
Not just for those seeking the bright lights of the city center, beautiful Amsterdam offers an awful lot more than you might think. Book your hotel in the city or on the outskirts and see for yourself!
*This post is sponsored.
By far the question that I am asked the most after disclosing what I do for a living is “What is your favorite place to visit?” Usually I say the most recent place that traveled to, as it is near impossible to pick a favorite location from the entire world. However, there is one attraction that made such an impression on me, that sometimes I do find myself saying, “Portugal.”
This is the Quinta da Regaleira.
One of the most unique backyards I have ever experienced, the Quinta da Regaleira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has passed ownership through the hands of many wealthy Portuguese landowners. The gardens are lush, the flowers abundant, and the sound of water can be heard trickling nearby. Yet the most incredible part for me was the underground grotto. Hidden passageways carved into the earth connect the vast gardens and they can be accessed through different portals including a winding tower, and my favorite, the grotto. Hopping over each slick rock as a waterfall crashes beside you, the experience brings to mind stories of old, and exciting adventures of what is to come. If you make it through, you are greeted with a darkened tunnel, lit by candles, leading your way deeper into the cavern.
One of my favorite cities in Portugal hands down is Sintra. The city imbues a romantic scene, from its palaces to its winding cobble-stoned streets. One palace in particular stands out in my mind as an unforgettable experience: the Pena Palace.
The Pena Palace looks like a fantasy version of a castle, with rising towers, brightly colored buildings, lush views of the surrounding countryside, and ornately carved gargoyles. On the day that I visited, the morning sky was grey and stormy, just adding to the fairytale feel of the scene. As I stood atop one of the highest turrets, the wind whipping my hair, I breathed in the fresh air and felt myself transported back in time, as if I were surveying my own kingdom. The Pena Palace is so convincing in its authenticity, that it allows visitors to create their own fantasy, even if just for a moment.
As the winter turns colder, and the holiday season approaches my mind inevitably turns towards the new year, and what exciting travels it will bring. While it is hard to plan so far ahead, I already have a few exciting destinations booked thanks to a close friend’s intercontinental wedding. The bride is Thai and the groom is German so the wedding will span both Thailand and Germany (with a bachelorette in Greece!) The first wedding will take place in Germany, specifically in Dusseldorf. While I have never explored that particular German city, it brings to mind another German city that I visited years ago: Munich.
My memories of Munich are tinged with a white blanket of snow, floating through the air as I made my way towards the cultural highlight of the city, the Glockenspiel. As the clock struck 11am the colorful wooden figures adorning the structure came to life with the chimes of a family of bells. A group of tourists and locals stood together, entranced by the beautiful (and noisy!) performance. Then just as suddenly as it started, it was over and life resumed, as if everyone were lifted from a trance.
While I am definitely a sun-seeker, preferring to follow the sun around the globe, Munich is a city that thrives in the winter. With its oversized pints of beer, and the warm halls of its beer gardens serving platters of weiner schnitzel and sausage, it is easy to forget the chilly temperatures here.
For your winter getaway, book flights to Munich here
Brought to you by Emirates.
Winter blues got you down? I used to dread the coming cold fronts, camping out in my apartment with the heat on full blast and a pile of blankets perpetually wrapped around me. While my love for the heat hasn’t changed, I have learned to appreciate certain locations that thrive in the winter months. On a visit to Switzerland some time ago, I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, soaring up all around me. I joined of group of Snow Shoe-ers and began my trek up the mountainside. With each rise my eyes were full of the view around me, scarcely even stopping to blink, lest I miss even a moment of this magical scene. As the minutes passed, the cold slowly dissipated and I found myself shedding my layers one by one.
After my long journey, I rewarded myself with a stop at one of the countless truffle shops in Interlaken, followed by a dinner of fondue. The city roofs were all dusted with a soft coat of snow and the air seemed muffled in silence. It was a beautiful peaceful moment, and I felt warm from head to toe.