Make the Most of a Short Trip to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world; picturesque bridges over canals, beautiful parks with uncontaminated nature spots and lakes, and colourful streets lined with quirky architecture. It’s stunning beauty make it a favourite tourist spot both for world travellers and for those seeking a long weekend in a place filled with historical landmarks that have played a part in the evolution of western civilisation and art. Here are some tips to make the most out of your weekend trip to ‘The Venice of the north’!

Plan Ahead!

This is the best way to enjoy what you most want to see in Amsterdam, as there are plenty of things to see and do. Amsterdam is full of tourists in the summer months, and though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s really important to book things early (including flight tickets and accommodation). Most museums and galleries require tickets to enter, which can, more often than not, mean long queues and restricted entry.

Things to see

Here are the three ticketed attractions I would describe as un-missable on a trip to Amsterdam. The first would be the Rijksmuseum, which is a museum of the Netherlands from the middle ages to the 20th century and full of incredible works from one of Holland’s most famous artists- Rembrandt.

Then, of course, there is Anne Frank House, in which you can visit the hiding place where Anne wrote her famous diary during the horrors of the Second World War. A very sombre, but fascinating and important insight into the life of Jews in the Netherlands during this period.

Finally, who could visit Amsterdam without going to the Van Gogh Museum?  Here you can find the word’s largest collection of the famous Dutch painter’s work. A stunning building filled with incredible art, including Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ -which may look beautiful in pictures, but is truly breathtaking in person.

If you are visiting the city for a short time, I’d highly recommend pre-booking for all the major attractions, so you can already have your Van Gogh museum tickets when you arrive and can spend more time enjoying the artwork rather than the external architecture as you stand in line.

Transport

Forget about your car, this is the city of cyclists! The locals live a healthy and sport-filled lifestyle, so grab a bike when you are there as this is the best way to experience the life and scenery of this lovely city. Holland is famously flat, and there are cycle paths on all the main roads meaning you can feel a little more secure on your bike. Indeed, if cycling is your thing, and the weather is fine I’d recommend going on a cycling tour of the city to hear from an experienced guide all about the history of Amsterdam, you will certainly notice things you never would have done if you simply stroll through the streets on foot.

amsterdam bikesHowever, is this just isn’t for you, there are also the electric bus and tram systems which are excellent; with 16 tram lines, 55 bus lines, 5 free ferry connections and 4 metro lines you can get anywhere you want—another reason why the air is fresh and reinvigorating for newcomers. While walking will also take you anywhere in this small city, you may still feel fatigued after a while which will take away from your sightseeing experience.

If you plan on starting your trip around the city as soon as you step off the plane you might be wondering -What is the fastest way to get to Amsterdam from the Schipol Airport? Thankfully you won’t have to jump hoops with different modes of transportation and waste half your day once your plane lands because the train will take you directly to the city centre (Amsterdam Centraal) after a 20 mins ride and cost you only €5.10! Trains are regular and comfortable and the 20 minutes will give you enough time to decide where you’d like to visit first.

Food

Make a packed lunch so you can save time on your trip and see more of the city! Maybe you could go to a supermarket and grab some sandwiches for a light lunch, or go for a nice picnic at one of the many parks so you won’t feel like you’ve missed anything in your list. And best of all, you can save money for an extravagant gastronomic experience later on at dinner! There are some incredible restaurants in Amsterdam to have a really special dinner, and a lot of choices depending on your personal taste. Personally, I can’t visit the Netherlands without having at least one delicious Dutch pancake!

Amsterdam at night

If you love shopping and also don’t want to miss out on the designer shops on your visit through the historic neighbourhoods, why not head to the Dam Square– the historic 17th Century city center also has a fantastic Food Court on the fifth floor of DE Bijenkorf Department store, a large mall which holds a wide number of high end luxury and designer brands along with a splendid houseware department.

Lastly, enjoy your time there and allow plans to change; recognising that a weekend trip just won’t give you time to see everything will save you a lot of stress once you are there and give you peace of mind. It is, after all, supposed to be a vacation, not a job! You will find that the Dutch are very relaxed and open-minded people, with a generally very high level of English- so don’t be afraid to ask a local if you’re stuck.

 

Why Europe Is The Best Place To Travel Solo.

“You’re going alone?! How are you going to meet people?!”

 

That was the response I received from many people when I told them that at the age of 18, I was heading off to travel around Europe for a month on my own.

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The Ultimate South East Asia Travel Route.

When you travel through a region you want to try to visit all the best places available! South East Asia is such a varied and exciting place that luckily, you can never run out of places to visit and things to do! Thailand has crazy cities mixed with beautiful tropical islands, and both are waiting to be explored! Laos, a communist country, is very laid back and a lot less developed than its neighbours, however, it contains Luang Prabang – one of my favourite cities in the world. Vietnam has the craziest cities ever but also beautiful seaside towns that are just like little oases. Whilst Cambodia has the famous Angkor Wat temples, beautiful jungles and a dark history waiting to be explored.

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Don’t Miss Out On The Top 10 Activities In Tahoe This Summer!

Welcome to Lake Tahoe…

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and is only just behind the Great Lakes in terms of volume! Situated in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at nearly 2000m above sea level on the California/Nevada border, the turquoise blue lake has 72 miles of gorgeous shoreline for you to explore. The lake is surrounded by snow topped mountain peaks, thick lush forests, and sprawling meadows. Various towns and bays lie along the lake shoreline, offering some spectacular cabin rentals in Lake Tahoe. The whole lake area has so many activities on offer it’s a good job you can drive to anywhere along the lake within two hours of wherever you are!

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You Won’t Believe This Cave In Vietnam Exists!

There’s always something special about exploring what mother nature has created in this world. What’s even better is knowing that what you’re exploring is so unique and rare that you’re one of only a handful of people to have ever seen it in person. There’s a feeling that comes with that; exploring the untouched and dangerous territory, the satisfaction of knowing that you haven’t followed the beaten path, and telling a story when you get home that only a few can tell.

Unfortunately, there are few places like this left in the world. However, Hang En Cave situated in Phong Nha National Park, Vietnam is one such place.

Towards the middle of Vietnam and Hidden deep within the Vietnamese jungle lies this beast of a cave – the world’s 3rd largest. It’s so remote and isolated that it took until 1994 for British explorers to discover it. The mountains in the area are 99.9% pure limestone – the purest in the world. As a result of this pureness, the limestone can easily be eroded away by water, creating the largest caves in the world!

trek

What’s great is that you can actually visit Hang En Cave by booking onto a two-day guided trip with Oxalis Adventure Tours, what’s even better is that you get to spend a night in the cave in tents! And that’s exactly what 21 year old me decided to do 4 years ago when I was on a month long trip to Vietnam.

To get to the cave you have to embark on an unforgiving 12km trek through the dense Vietnamese jungle. The landscape has hardly been touched by humans and is so raw; you will find yourself traversing steep inclines and declines, wading through rivers, climbing over fallen trees, and struggling in the Vietnamese heat.

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The tour groups range in sizes up to 16 but it’s often less than this. Within the group, I was the second youngest at 21, there were two American couples in their 20’s from California as well as a well as a Dutch couple who took awesome photos, two 20 something dudes from Denmark, and a slightly older American couple with their daughter. From the start, at the company HQ, the group really jelled well together which made the trek easier as we were constantly finding out about each other.

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What does give you a slight respite is that you don’t have to carry absolutely everything. There are porters on your trip that carry the tents, helmets, medical equipment, and the all important food! At a clearing around half way through the trek, you will stop in the shade and the porters will set up lunch for you. It as basic sandwiches with cheese, meats, and some chocolate on the side but it was a heavenly break from the mid-day heat!

What’s great is that all of your tour guides and porters are Vietnamese locals. Seemingly plucked out from the local population, they have very good English and come across very professional. They know so much about the area and showed us the remnants of a US bomb from the Vietnamese war. There’s a lot of Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) in the park left over from American bombing campaigns so the porters ask you not to stray too far from the path you’re walking!

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After the 12km trek, that although was exhilarating and so special, felt like an eternity, you capture your first glimpse of the massive cave opening above the tall grass. This huge opening is a 120m high and was formed due to rock falls that created the opening, but also blocked most of it off! Once you clear the 12ft high grass, you wade through a small river to a discrete opening in the rock to the right of the big opening, this is your entrance to Hang En.

Hard hats with lights on and gloves are passed out to the group before entering. You walk into the opening and enter a low-ceilinged part of the cave that is pitch black in all directions, your head lights barely lighting the way in front. The river that is outside also enters this part of the cave with you and you need to cross it again on your journey.

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After climbing a few rocks you literally start to see light at the end of the tunnel. This is the main cave hall. I’ll let the next three pictures show how you follow the river and enter the cave hall.

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The porters who trek ahead of you set up camp before you get there. There are tents for individuals or couples and the food for dinner is already cooking. As you settle into your tent you have a chance to marvel at the beauty you are surrounded by. The cave is 2km long and up to 160m high and you feel like an ant in its vastness. The tents are set up along the shoreline of two small bodies of water. The one that is fed by the river from outside is warm as the water has been heated by the sun, whilst the one that is next to it is cold as it is fed by ground water. Hopping between the two and relaxing in the warm water is a must after you settle in.

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After you settle in there’s a chance to hike further up into the cave and look at your campsite from above which truly shows you the size of this cave. The cave is so special that it’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique structure and ecosystem. The cave was also featured in the 2015 version of Peter Pan due to its fairy tale credentials!

After you have eaten a traditional Vietnamese dinner, which isn’t deep fried sparrows, you can sit by the fire with your fellow trekkers and watch the cave come alive with thousands of bats that have been sleeping during the day. These bats nest in the roof of the cave and you can watch them whizz around above your head for hours. When the cave became dark we had some fun with our head lights and long exposure photography!

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After you finally decide it’s time to sleep, you do so in the belly of a beast. Hang En is so big yet so beautiful, you will go to sleep with the sound of a thousand bats flying above you, ready for the hike back to HQ the next day.

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The Top 4 Luxury Hotels in London

London is known for having some of the world’s oldest and most iconic luxury hotels. It’s not surprising, considering it’s one of the world’s oldest cities. It was founded by the Romans back around 50 AD, and the concept of letting a guest stay in one’s house, or accommodation so to speak, actually dates back to Biblical times.

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This is The Ultimate Packing List For A Backpacker.

Don’t you just hate it when you get to your destination and realise you forgot your toothbrush? I know right? Even if you have packed everything and cant think of anything else, you always leave the house thinking you have left something behind and you wont realise until you arrive at your destination! Well luckily for you, to avoid any packing based mishaps or anxiety,  I’ve compiled this list for y’all so you don’t forget anything on your travels. So print this off, tick off the items below and you’ll have sparkly teeth and charged up electricals for your whole journey!

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