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Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East

A Break Away In Spectacular Amsterdam, Netherlands
By:Roberta Stuart

If you are looking for a great few days of sightseeing based around an equally great city hotel, Amsterdam is worthy of serious consideration. Because of its proximity to the UK, Amsterdam is sometimes overlooked as a destination for a short break and exploration type holiday. You can get there by car and ferry or air within a very few hours of leaving home and, unlike some European destinations, English is widely spoken in the Netherlands as a second language.

Of course, Amsterdam has a lot more to offer than just convenience. It is a very beautiful, ancient city with a fascinating history. The city gets its name from the Amstel River and the dam that was built across it in the medieval period (literally Amstel-damme). For reasons relating to geography, the Dutch rapidly became great seafarers and traders. In fact, by the 17th century, Amsterdam had become the world's greatest financial and trading centre.

Although much of this pre-eminence moved to London in the 18th century, Amsterdam nevertheless continued to be an extremely wealthy and affluent city right up until the Napoleonic period in the earlier part of the 19th century. It should also be remembered that Amsterdam was at the centre of a great Dutch maritime and colonial empire that stretched around the globe, and which led to a lasting legacy in places such as the USA, South Africa and Indonesia.

This is, of course, just a very brief flavour of the history of the city and you may be wondering what exactly this all means for today's traveller? If you are based in a centre city hotel, Amsterdam has a wealth of sightseeing right on your doorstep.

Its canals are legendary and it is possible to spend many hours walking along them and taking in the incredibly intricate and unique Dutch architecture. Much of this is incredibly beautiful and you can enjoy it absolutely for free!

Amsterdam has consistently led the way in trying to make city centre living green, so it makes far more sense to hire a bicycle to help you get around on your sightseeing, than to try and drive. The public transport system is also excellent and very modestly priced.

You can also take a boat trip along the canals, a few of which actually cross some of the major port areas. Looking at the older merchants' houses from the canals will allow you to feel as though you are back in 17th or 18th century Amsterdam.

Of course, if you are in a centre city hotel, Amsterdam also offers the world-famous Anne Frank Museum. Although the story of this young girl during the terrible years of the Nazi occupation is now well known, the sheer emotion of seeing the house itself and the associated displays, is something not to be missed.

If you enjoy intellectual pursuits, there are an incredible 50+ museums in Amsterdam, including the world-renowned Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough Museum, where you will be able to see old masters a-plenty.

As a final tip, you may find that the Amsterdam coffee houses will be able to deliver to you the best coffee and apple cake that you are likely to find anywhere in the world. It also goes without saying that, because of its global history, this city offers a fantastic array of restaurants and cuisines to choose from - particularly those from what was once called the Dutch East Indies.

So although you may be exceptionally comfortable in your luxury city hotel, Amsterdam will do its best to tempt you out and about!

Roberta Stuart is the Travel Manager for World Hotels, a company offering holidays in a selection of unique four and five star hotels worldwide. Looking for a quality city hotel Amsterdam World Hotels can provide you with your ideal accommodation in a city hotel Amsterdam and many other destinations around the world http://www.worldhotels.com/.

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