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Travel to Amsterdam and Experience These Top Five Sites!

Amsterdam is such a unique city that truly is unlike any other place.  Since I’ve been there a few times, I thought I’d give you my top five sites.

  • Museums – Amsterdam is home to many museums (I believe there are at least 37!).  So truly, you could spend your entire trip traipsing through amazing museums.  Visit Museum Quarter where you’ll find three of the main museums, – Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and the Van Gogh Museum.
  • Historic Sites – Amsterdam also has many historic sites worth viewing.  My favorite is Anne Frankhuis.  You get an opportunity to visit the actual building where Anne Frank, her family and friends hid during the German Occupation.  It is a somber place where you can see the once hidden rooms that contain memorabilia and the presence of these special people who spent two years of their lives hidden behind the walls.
  • Dam Square – When you travel to Amsterdam, a great starting place is Dam Square that lies in the centre of Amsterdam.  You will see locals and tourists all intermingling around the terrific shops, market stalls, cafes, bars and restaurants.  When in Dam Square, make sure you visit the Koninkliik Palace – this is where the Dutch royal family used to live and can be found on the west side of Dam Square.
  • Amsterdam By Canal – If you are taking the time to travel to Amsterdam, then you must explore the city from its unique canals.  The canals truly are one of Amsterdam’s most famous attributes.  Three main canals surround the inner city: Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht.
  • Artis Zoo – Well, I’m a bit of a zoo fanatic and I had to visit the oldest zoo in the country.  Founded in 1838, Artis Zoo features an amazing aquarium (complete with a salt-water section and fresh water tank), a wonderful Planetarium, botanical garden, Zoological Museum and Geological Museum.  A really fascinating way to spend a day!

I hope you get the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam in the near future.  It is a wonderfully compact city (consider traveling around by bicycle as the city is very bike friendly) and there are many things to see and do!

Hidden Travel Locations To Consider

Hope you get to travel to some places off the beaten track this year!

Jura Region, France – Located in eastern France, about an hour or so drive from Geneva is the Jura Region. Described on one website as ‘like Wisconsin crossed with Switzerland’, this is an ideal place to visit if you love all things cheese. Amazingly, there are close to 200 creameries making cheese in this region and tourist counts are low. Wine shops also abound making this a food lover’s paradise. You will also love the landscapes varying from mountains, forests, rivers, immense lakes and picturesque grottos!

Wroclaw, Poland – Around five hours drive from Warsaw, lists the city of Wroclaw (pronounced vrot-swav) described by some as having the prettiest plaza in central Europe. This city is a haven for people who love handcrafted items like linens, jewelry, clothing and more. Tourist numbers are low and you can get a true sense of how the Polish live.

Sangkhia Buri, Thailand – This village located around 220 miles northwest of Bangkok has been described as incredibly relaxing and calming. With a mixture of cultures, the town is on the banks of a lake flanked by two amazing temples. An interesting thing to do is to rent a canoe and paddle the lake to visit the various temples. If you like places that are off the beaten track and where the locals don’t depend on tourism, then you’ll love this village. You’ll find authentic cuisine and friendly people in a relaxed atmosphere!

Oftentimes we get caught up visiting touristy countries and then complain about how many tourists there were. If you want a vacation that’s more authentic and will give you a real sense of the local people, consider a trip to one of these three destinations. It’s sure to be a unique trip of a lifetime!

Visit Northeastern Switzerland – The Forgotten Hinterland!

Anyone who goes to visit Switzerland tends to visit the popular spots, Geneva, Zurich, Lucerne, Bern – you get the picture. But, I would like to suggest you consider Northeastern Switzerland for your next trip.

This picture book pretty area offers unique cultural experiences along with some of the best cheese in the country. Located on the northern border where Switzerland meets Germany, you’ll find a relatively flat landscape, castles lining the shores of Lake Constance and the Rhine River, and an abundance of things to see and do.

When in this area, you’ll want to be sure to visit Europe’s largest waterfall. Rhine Falls are truly a spectacle with 600 cubic meters of water per second pounding by. Consider taking a river cruise along the Rhine between Schaffhausen and Lake Constance for a great experience and amazing vistas at every turn. The 45km boat trip is considered to be one of the Rhine’s most beautiful stretches – worth every penny.

If you are a cyclist, northeastern Switzerland will become your new favorite vacation destination. In Schaffhausen Canton you’ll find relatively cheap accommodations (be careful to book ahead if you will be visiting during the weekend as rooms book up rather quickly). Schaffhausen is a charming medieval town you might expect to find in Germany. What makes it even more beautiful is the fact that it is a pedestrian only city. You can also see the city’s signature fortress, the circular Munot. If you want to visit, admission is free and you can enjoy a drink while enjoying the views over Schaffhausen’s rooftops.

If you are a writer or reader, you might want to plan a trip to St. Gallen Canton. With history as the ‘writing room of Europe’ – the main attraction is the ornate library of its Catholic Abbey. In addition to the amazing library, the town is ideal for wandering and enjoying the vibe. The Old Town is pedestrian only.

Appenzellerland might be up your alley if you are interested in seeing what some local Swiss call ‘country bumpkins’. This area is charming and is best known for its strong smelling cheese. If you like stinky cheeses then come here and enjoy these cheeses, which make for amazing fondues! The local restaurants also serve the cheese in the form of Kaseschnitte (cheese on toast), Chashoornli (cheese dumplings with friend onions) or Chaasmageroone (macaroni and cheese).  If you are a cheese lover, I highly recommend a trip to this area.

If you are planning a trip to Switzerland – be sure to make the trek – you’ll be happy you did!

Things To Do When In Cannes

The South of France is a wonderful area to visit. With pleasant weather, ocean views and plenty of things to do, it is a great trip for anyone. Here are a few of my favorite things to do when in Cannes!

  • Musee de la Castre – This museum is renowned for its amazing collection of musical instruments from around the world. You’ll also enjoy the prints of old Cannes and the archeology section.
  • La Croisette – La Croisette gets its name from a small cross that used to stand east of the bay. Today it is the long boulevard along the seafront. On one side is the ritzy hotels and designer boutiques and on the other the private beaches and great views of the Mediterranean. The private beaches are owned by the super deluxe hotels.
  • Forville Market – If you enjoy picking up your own food for a picnic lunch be sure to visit this unique market full of French delicacies.
  • Les Îles de Lerin – While not technically in Cannes, these islands are only a 15-minute boat ride away. The largest of the Lerin Islands, Île de Sainte-Marguerite is worth the trip to see the seventeenth century fort housing the Maritime Museum (free admission).
  • Festival international d’art pyrotechnique –  This festival brings together the most accomplished fireworks designers worldwide. Find yourself a great spot to view the Bay of Cannes and witness the most amazing fireworks reflected off the water. Arrive early because this is a popular festival! Admission is free!

Cannes is a great place to spend a few days or even a week. You’ll love strolling the quaint streets, enjoying the beaches and taking in some of the local sites!

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