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summer 2016

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Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam, Netherlands
We woke up on day two, intending to wander around, grab lunch and then spend the rest of the day in the park. However, our host suggested a book market only open on Fridays. Within minutes of the suggestion, we were out the door, armed with...
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What's not to like about Museumplein? In summer, it's as chill as Vondelpark, with picnickers playing instruments and getting high on the lawn. Add more grass and the field becomes stoners' heaven as well as a magnet for art aficionados. The...
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Prinsengracht, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beyond tulips, windmills, and weed, Amsterdam's global image is entwined with water. The Canal Ring (Grachtengordel) is made up of 165 fluid channels developed during the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age. In the ensuing years, the water network has...
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Herengracht 386, 1016 CJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
During Holland's Golden Age, when spice trade with Asia and North Africa was booming, wealthy merchants built mansions along the expanding canal ring that became Amsterdam. Today the fashionable homes have been reincarnated as upscale offices,...
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Dam 3, 1012 JS Amsterdam, Netherlands
The central hub of downtown Amsterdam is Dam Square, and it’s been at the heart of the city’s history since the 13th century. Today, the open-air public space is ringed by shops and restaurants and packed with people, including street...
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1071 Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beloved by locals and popular with tourists, the Vondelpark is a 120-acre oasis of green in buzzing Amsterdam, southeast of the Leidseplein. Opened in 1865 as the Nieuwe Park, it was later renamed after 17th-century Dutch playwright Joost van den...
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Leidsestraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands
It's easy to have a love-hate relationship with Leidesplein (Leidse Square), a colorful if sometimes frenetic entertainment hub near Vondelpark, at Amsterdam's southern end. Accessible via trams 1, 2, 5, 7 and 10, the square is the stage for...
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Oudezijds Achterburgwal, 1012 Amsterdam, Netherlands
It's one of Amsterdam's prettiest districts, where swans glide on tree-shrouded canals and gabled mansions recall Holland's Golden Age: de Wallen, better known as the Red Light District (RLD). Since 2000, prostitutes have plied their trade here as...
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Singel, 1012 DH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Since 1862, fresh flowers and plants have arrived by barge from the Dutch countryside to Amsterdam. While this assemblage of flora still shows up daily, it comes by van, not boat, to the Bloemenmarkt, the world's only floating flower market. Here,...
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Herengracht 427, 1017 BR Amsterdam, Netherlands
Exploring Amsterdam aboard a canal boat is an iconic way to see the sights, with myriad tours and cruises plying the 65 miles of waterways that lattice the city. From many spots you can join simple, hour-long cruises with narrators describing...
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Begijnhof 29, 1012 WT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Escape the bustle of the city by ducking into the quiet courtyard garden of Begijnhof. Located just a few minutes on foot from the Koningsplein and the Singel canal, this tranquil oasis dates back at least as far as the 14th century. Look among...
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Amsterdam-Noord, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Once a place where convicts were hung, then a working class district for shipyard laborers, Amsterdam-Noord has evolved into a multicultural community with a creative vibe and numerous restaurants, nightclubs and cultural attractions. Officially...
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IJpromenade 1, 1031 KT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Step inside the Eye Film Institute to discover an homage to international cinema replete with interactive displays and perched like an ivory spaceship ready for launch on the northern bank of the IJ River. The striking facility, accessible via a...
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Enge Kerksteeg 3, 1012 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ever wondered how it feels to sit behind one of those curtained windows in Amsterdam's Red Light District (RLD)? Find out from women who've been there at the Prostitute Information Center (PIC), near the statue of Belle on Oudekerksplein engraved...
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Hazenstraat, 1016 Amsterdam, Netherlands
It's a single street after Amsterdam's Negen Straats (Nine Streets), but Hazenstraat, the Tiende Straatje (Tenth Street), rates a ten in serious shoppers' books. Lined with boutiques, cafés and galleries, this cobbled strip in the Bohemian-chic...
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Gabriël Metsustraat 8, 1071 EA Amsterdam, Netherlands
It has been a decade since the major museums on the Museumplein—a grassy square connecting Amsterdam’s main art centers—have all been open at the same time. Here’s what to check out at the Van Gogh Museum. Sunflowers, The...
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Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
It has been a decade since the major museums on the Museumplein—a grassy square connecting Amsterdam’s main art centers—have all been open at the same time. Here’s what to check out at Stedelijk Museum. The modern art...
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Kinkerstraat 1, 1053 DB Amsterdam, Netherlands
You know what's annoying? Biking around Amsterdam on a bike that screams I'M A TOURIST. Here at Bike4U, you can get classic black Gazelles. Prices are good, child seats are available, and the Bulgarian guys who run the place are super nice. Note...
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Dam 8, 1012 NP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Did you know that Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon once kicked butt in Amsterdam's Dampkring coffeeshop in the Hollywood blockbuster Ocean's Twelve? Or that Amsterdam has a Jewish quarter with a museum that tells the story of the Jewish...
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Tesselschadestraat 1E, 1054 ET Amsterdam, Netherlands
When in Amsterdam, do as the Dutch do and rent a bike. There are half a million bikes in the city, so be sure to look both ways before crossing the street! Bike rates average 12 Euro/day or 50 Euro/week. Mike's Bike Tours...
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Zaanse Schans, 1509 Zaandam, Netherlands
On the banks of the river Zaan, time stopped three centuries ago at Zaanse Schans. In this recreation of a Dutch village in the 17th–18th centuries, stroll down streets lined with typical green wooden houses, manicured gardens and graceful...
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2961 Kinderdijk, Netherlands
"God made the world but the Dutch created the Netherlands" goes an old saying, popular in Holland. For proof, visit Kinderdijk—19 spinning windmills in a stunning natural landscape that would be underwater were it not for Dutch ingenuity. Built in...
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Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
One powerful and emotional experience in Amsterdam that shouldn’t be missed is a visit to the Anne Frank House. This home, where Anne Frank wrote in her diary while she, her family, and four others hid from the Nazis during World War II, has...
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No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a stop in one of the bruine kroeg, or brown cafés. These are the Dutch equivalent of Irish pubs, cozy spaces where people gather to relax over beers and comfort food. And Café Papeneiland is a...
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Poelaertplein 1, 1000 Brussel, Belgium
Visiting a country's Supreme Court may not rank high on your list of things to do, particularly when the building in question has been covered in scaffolding for almost 10 years. Brussels' Palace of Justice (Palais du Justice) has been mired in...
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1000 Brussels, Belgium
Are you ever short of time when you visit a new city or destination? Do you always feel exhausted walking for miles seeing the sights and sounds? Are you rushed by your tour group? Well, every year we take a trip and we rent bikes. Each route is...
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Rue des Francs 5, 1040 Bruxelles, Belgium
Thanks in part to Baron Victor Horta, Brussels was a leading center of the Art Nouveau movement starting in the 1890s and ending just before the Great War. This private house, open to the public once a month, wasn't a Horta creation but one by the...
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Avenue Léo Errera 41, 1180 Uccle, Belgium
The Musee David et Alice van Buuren is a house and garden planned, built, and decorated in the late 1920s by art lovers David Van Buuren and wife Alice in the Art Deco style. It was their home until 1960 and became a museum in 1975. The...
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Waterloo, Belgium
No guide book will ever to tell you this, but be sure to bring along a great pair of walking shoes when planning your visit to the town of Waterloo, home to the historical 'Butte de Lion', built in 1823-1826 on the site of the Allied front line at...
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Buizingen, 1501 Halle, Belgium
Hallerbos (Flemish) or Bois de Halle (French) is a beech forest just south of Brussels. It's a popular spot for walking, cycling and horseback-riding. Every spring, for a few short weeks, the forest makes a magical transformation into a blue...
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Kasteelstraat 40, 1750 Lennik, Belgium
A short train or car ride from central Brussels will get you to the village of Gaasbeek, home of the beautiful Gaasbeek Castle (Kasteel Van Gaasbeek in Flemish). This 16th-century chateau looks like something out of your favourite fairy tale. But...
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Groot-Bijgaarden, 1702 Dilbeek, Belgium
Most garden-lovers have heard of the Dutch tulip garden, Keukenhof, a few hours north of Belgium. Few, however, have heard of Belgium's own wonderful spring tulip garden at Groot-Bijgaarden Castle. Also called Grand Bigard (in French), the castle...
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Nieuwelaan 38, 1860 Meise, Belgium
I love the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. We went there last summer when the daisies were in bloom and it looked so beautiful. This year I am looking forward to the Magnolia walk which takes place from March 30th till April 30th. It's a...
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Square de l'Atomium, 1020 Bruxelles, Belgium
I wasn't sure what to think when I first saw a picture of the Atomium in a Belgium guidebook, but it turned out to be one of the coolest kitschy tourist attractions I've ever visited. The Atomium was built for the World's Fair hosted by Brussels...
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Kasteleinsstraat 49, 1050 Elsene, Belgium
The Contemporary Art scene in Brussels is thriving, but it can also be intimidating to newcomers. Many galleries can feel cold or stuffy, and visitors can be put off by the high prices of the works on display. Maison Particulière is a different...
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Sint-Katelijneplein 50, 1000 Brussel, Belgium
One of my favorite European habits that I can never get enough of is the café culture. It is the first day this spring where it is warm enough to sit outside, and every café table is filled. There must be some unwritten rule that says if it is...
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Brussels, Belgium
Brussels has a vibrant art scene with hundreds of small galleries scattered throughout the city. It can be hard to know where to begin and can feel intimidating if you aren't an art expert. Enter Brussels Art Walks—guided tours of several of the...
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Rue de France 40, 1060 Bruxelles, Belgium
Sunday Market at Gare du Midi is a must. It is a nice stroll through the different neighborhoods when coming out of the city centre. I enjoyed seeing locals pulling their market carts behind them, the concentration of market carts grew when I was...
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Rue Royale 2, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
When it comes to guided tours, you often get what you pay for. Luckily, this is not the case with the Brussels Greeters. This talented, passionate group of volunteers is ready to show you every nook and cranny of the city, absolutely free. The...
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Rue Vandenbussche 54, 1030 Bruxelles, Belgium
Brussels has plenty of green spaces to choose from. One of my favourites is in a neighbourhood often overlooked by tourists, but is well worth a visit. Parc Josaphat, in the commune of Schaerbeek, is 20 hectares of green parkland, filled with...
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Rue au Beurre 46, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Brussels’ Grand Place is home to many festivals of all different themes: flowers, beer, international cultures, music, and seasonal holidays. But one festival, the Ommegang, full of colour and pageantry, has been taking place here since 1549. The...
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Bruges, Belgium
Brugge is a fairy tale come true, with all those walkable streets and beautiful canal waterways. You're guaranteed to love this town. Yes, boat excursions aimed to tourists can be unbearably cheesy, but the five small companies that operate these...
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Bruges, Belgium
The Markt ("Market Square") of Brugge is located in the heart of the city and is really impressive due to its incredible architecture. Two of the most amazing structures are the Provincial Court and the Belfry of Brugge. The center is also full of...
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Bruges, Belgium
I love this view of Brugges taken from my climb up the Belfry. The entire city is like a fairytale city. Yes there are a lot of tourists, but go for the lace, chocolates, beer. I've never seen such a pretty city before. It's an easy train ride...
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Burg 13, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
These people claim to have a vial of Christ's blood that was given to them during or after the crusades.
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Dijver 12, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
The Groeningemuseum is a compact and concise gallery in the heart of Bruges. The visual overview of Dutch art and some spectacular pieces make this museum worth the visit. The highlight of the collection is Jan van Eyck's "The Madonna and Child...
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Brugge, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Across the street from the Sint-Salvatorskathedraal (St. Salvator Cathedral) you'll find this little shop that serves traditional belgian fries, brochettes, croquettes, fish sandwiches, and grilled meats on a stick. Grab your food and a Belgian...
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6 Rue de la Grange Batelière, 75009 Paris, France
Passages were designed in the 19th century to give Parisians protection from muddy streets and horse-drawn vehicles. Some 20 of these covered walkways remain today, including the Passage Verdeau; they are an excellent way to journey back into...
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8 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France
This beautiful courtyard, modern art installations, hundreds of Corinthian columned walkways and perfectly placed fountains and gardens, make the Palais Royal a photographer's playground. Personally, I can never get enough of the reflection...
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35 Boulevard de Courcelles, 75008 Paris, France
I've been to Parc Monceau only once and loved it right away. Maybe because it has a homey, neighborhood feeling, (a public park situated in the 8th arrondissement of Paris) maybe because of the classical colonnade in the middle of it, or maybe...
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Île Saint-Louis, 75004 Paris, France
Just east of the magnificent buttresses of the Cathédrale Notre Dame, across the Pont Saint-Louis, lies an island sanctuary in the middle of this chic, bustling city: Île Saint-Louis. The one-way streets are narrow, with views of the Seine River...
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Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Nothing is a more powerful symbol of the City of Light than the Eiffel Tower. Designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Exposition, it's one of the world's most-visited monuments, with nearly 7 million people ascending the 1,062-foot...
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Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
This former royal palace is one of the largest museums in the world, and its art collection is considered one of the most comprehensive. It contains around 400,000 works, although—mercifully, perhaps—not all are on display at any one...
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43 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, France
Cafe La Palette is one of the iconic cafes in the Latin Quarter in Paris, located in the gallery and art district of Saint Germain. The cafe is known for its large terrace overlooking rue Jacques-Callot and is popular among Fine Arts students and...
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Père-Lachaise, 75020 Paris, France
We don't know if Chopin, Molière, Colette, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and other famous denizens of Père Lachaise were disturbed by the keening sounds of Bruce Ackley's soprano saxophone on this cold January afternoon. But a security...
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Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris, France
While "haughty" may be be a little extreme, this imposing building, Paris's City Hall, stands very proudly, indeed, in the heart of the 4th arrondissement's Marais district. Not only does Hotel de Ville serve as seat of Paris's government, but,...
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8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France
Sainte Chapelle is a true Gothic masterpiece located on Île de la Cité. Sainte Chapelle was founded by King Louis IX as a chapel for the royal palace. Sainte Chapelle houses a small chapel downstairs that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The...
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35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
Even though Paris is one of the most visited cities in Europe, it is still possible to feel like you have the place to yourself...that is if you don't mind setting an alarm. Want beautiful tourist free photos of Paris sites like Sacre Coeur - then...
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44 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris, France
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We had only a few nights in Paris, and on the last, we followed Jim Mayer's lead, which he culled from a guidebook that called Restaurant Chez Astier's cheese plate the best in the city. Dinner was great; very traditional. And I remember the wines...