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5/20/15

The Netherlands: Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall: Amsterdam Is the Place! - by Marie Ohanesian Nardin

"Mom, there's more to Amsterdam than cannabis coffee shops," said my twenty something year old daughter as she boarded her plane for The Netherlands. She, a professional contemporary dancer and choreographer, would be working in Amsterdam for the next two months. "Its canals make it similar to Venice, only it's colder," she added with a flash of her beautiful smile.

I'm a loyal kind of person, even when it comes to favorite cities. So, let me be clear, no European city can surpass the love I feel for Venice, Italy--an affair that reaches back 30 years when I fell fast for a handsome gondolier and his city. Soon, I married my gondolier and began calling the Serenissima, home. However, recently, our daughter's contract to teach at The Theatre School in Amsterdam gave me the push I needed to visit the Venice of the North. That's when I fell fast in love, again, with another European city.

Organized and easy to get around in, Amsterdam buzzes with pleasant souls who smile at lost tourists and point them in the right direction. Even when the winter temperatures drop below freezing and the North Sea wind turns the sky a darker shade of grey, everything seems easier in Amsterdam. Everyone, from tram conductors to hotel housekeepers, speaks English, making a stay in Amsterdam easy to navigate, too.

Walking the cobblestone streets comes second only to riding a bicycle. Set out on foot from Dam Square, Amsterdam's main plaza, down Kalverstraat, a shop lined pedestrian-only street which is baby-stroller and wheelchair accessible. At the end, cross the canal to the Bloemenmarkt--the world's only floating flower market--where rows of yellow, purple, pink and orange blossoms wading in buckets beneath sprawling white canopies tug at the senses.

Got tired feet? Step into a pub or café. Try an imported beer on draught, a delicious hamburger, and hand-cut French fries that are so delicious they should be called Dutch fries. I, especially, liked those served at Café Berkhout. A, half old-west half flower-child, wood paneled eatery which sits on a busy street corner between the Riksjmuseum and the Heineken Experience. http://www.cafeberkhout.nl/

Read more: Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall: Amsterdam Is the Place! | Marie Ohanesian Nardin

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