Amsterdam, the capital of Holland, is a remarkable city with a population of around 800,000. From its origins as a small fishing village in the late 12th century it represents the splendour and achievements of the Dutch and was once one of the most important ports in the world. Amsterdam has many canals and the houses along the canal banks are often converted warehouses which are tall but very narrow in design. The canals are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, such is the importance of this city and its history.
Amsterdam has some fine shops and great restaurants and cafes. There is a distinctly laid back atmosphere to Amsterdam. The one thing that you will notice is the abundance of bicycles. They are everywhere. Everyone owns a bicycle it seems. You have to be fairly alert to make sure you do not step out in front of them though since they often tend to whiz along at breakneck speeds but at least they have their own cycle lanes.
Amsterdam is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. From day trippers to those on long weekend breaks, it is a city with something for all tastes. With many examples of fine architecture, the House of Anne Frank, the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum to mention but a few, part of the real draw is in the drugs and sex trade that Amsterdam is so famous for. Prostitution is legal here and women ply their trade from shop windows. Coffee shops sell canabis for personal use although new laws look set to come into place in 2013 which will prevent the sale of drugs to tourists.