Amsterdam is a city of freedom which instantly appeals on a lot of levels.
What's the point of a holiday if you don't have the freedom to go and do what you want, when you want?
If, like me, you want to wander aimlessly from coffee shop to coffee shop getting as
stoned as humanly possible whilst ogling half-naked women through dirty windows
and snacking heavily along the way, then Amsterdam is definitely the place to go...
Because the ferry terminal is on my doorstep, my first instinct was to take the
North Sea Ferries route which was a mistake from the start.
I was very disappointed to find that everything onboard closes at 1am, the prices
are sky high and the casino's odds are stacked well in favour of the house, so
what you think you save on a cheap fare you spend in the bar and casino.
And if you decide to extend your cruise and stay over in Amsterdam, P&O will charge
you a £20 supplement for every night you stay which I think is ridiculous.
The best way to get there by far is to fly from either Manchester or Liverpool
where you can usually get a return flight for the same price as a ferry ticket,
but you're there in an hour. I've done both now and I won't be getting a ferry again.
After arriving at Schiphol Airportwww.schiphol.nl and jumping on a
train we are soon at Amsterdam Central Station which is only a short walk to our
hotel in the Damrak, Amsterdam's biggest red light district.
Some of the shiftiest characters I've ever seen hang out here and I kept a very tight
grip on my bags until we were safely inside our Hotel.
"Psssst...Cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, crack?"
Walking around this area of Amsterdam you are constantly annoyed by some of
the most awful looking people offering to sell you drugs and basically trying to rip you off.
I'm not an ignorant person by nature but the only way to deal with these people is
completely blank them because once you speak to them, even a polite "no thank you"
is an open invitation.
I made that mistake once and had to lose my temper with some junkie who'd been
following us round for ten minutes.
The best advice is to ignore them and if that doesn't work, a firm "fuck off" usually does.
The Crown Hotel overlooks some canal I can't pronounce the name of and is run by a very
happy chap called Mark whose claim to fame is being in the latest issue of
Smoker's Guide, which he proudly shows us.
Mark turned out to be a bit of a cannabis connoisseur and gave us some great advice
on where to find the best gear.
So, after dumping our baggage, it's off exploring and into our first coffee-shop.
Funny People, (Mark's number 1 choice) is pretty high-tech as far as coffee-shops
go with a DVD juke box and 4 plasma TVs.
The gear here is the best I've smoked in the twice I've been to Amsterdam and
the staff are very friendly so make sure you check it out.
They also have a good selection of teas and coffees and do a great apple-strudel.
Amsterdam is definitely the place to get the munchies as there are so many snacks
available from the hundreds of street vendors and bakeries.
Buns, cakes and doughnuts, pizzas, hot-dogs and burgers and so much more...
We eventually make our minds up and with hot pizza and chocolate waffles firmly
in hand it's off to find another coffee-shop.
Places to Visit - Christmas in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka By Dave F
I hate Christmas for too many reasons to mention and the chance to get away from it
all this year it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Knowing someone with a
house in Sri Lanka which stands empty for 9 months every year definitely has its benefits.
I'm travelling with a mate and his daughter who've been here several times before
so I get some insight
Places to Visit - Skiing In Bulgaria - Part Two By Steve Rudd
Giant Christmas trees loomed as far as the eye could see below, as I marvelled
at the extraordinary engineering it must take to make a gondola a reality.
After the thirty-minute ride to the top we were immediately greeted by a
stunning panorama of the surrounding countryside which was beautiful beyond words.
So pristine and so serene.
Well, serene if you can discount the
Places to Visit - Skiing In Bulgaria - Part One By Steve Rudd
I could have thought of worst places to be, seeing in the New Year, as the last
second of 2005 ticked over into 2006. Happy New Year indeed.
For the best part of the past ten years myself and my friends have contented
ourselves with heading into the town centre of Driffield every December 31st
for one of the few nights of the year when it genuinely hustles and bustles.
Places to Visit - Walking The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path - Part One By Steve Rudd
Get out of the city and into the country, sooner rather than later.
A great many people genuinely have no idea how scenically diverse and breathtaking some
swathes of countryside are in the UK, and such a fact is a great shame,
because while they might be spending all their spare time in dirty and cramped
urban environments, there's often fresh air and inspirational
Places to Visit - Thailand By Rich Mills
Expressing the experience of being here in Thailand is difficult to put into words.
The sensorial experience is so mind blowing that you begin to feel overloaded.
However it is the smallest of things that grab your attention, and stick in the mind.
We are waiting for a taxi to take us down to the ferry, so that we can go
over to the small island of Koh Maak.
This is where we will get the full
Places to Visit - Ostend Weekend By John Allbones
I needed a break. Well, you just do sometimes don't you?
The constant day to day drudge of the nine to five erodes your spirit until a
change of scene is all you crave. Nothing fancy, just a few days will do.
Preferably abroad, it just seems more of a break when you're on foreign soil.
I managed to grab a late deal on a long weekend in Ostend.
So desperate was I to get away,
Places to Visit - Eight Feet and Two Weeks On Crete Part 2 by Steve Rudd
One of the best ways of exploring the huge island of Crete is by car: in your own time, at
your own speed and in your own style.
Without the stress and cost of embarking on guided tours.
Head into any of Crete's major cities such as
Hania, Rethymno or Iraklion and you'll be bombarded by rent-a-vehicle establishments, all
of which are fiercely trying to
Places to Visit - Eight Feet and Two Weeks On Crete Part One by Steve Rudd
While I might be a massive fan of Michael Palin's epic travels, and while I do aspire to
follow him in many of his footsteps, up until now I've only ever been abroad three times.
The first time was in 2000, when I was lucky enough to accompany a work colleague for a month in Nepal.
The second time was for a holiday with some friends, last year, to the gorgeous
Places to Visit - Greetings From Amsterdam Part One By Steve Rudd
As the blazing red sunset slowly but surely cast Hull into shadow, the P&O ferry was ready,
and so were the passengers.
I'd never travelled by ferry across to the Netherlands, and thus was naturally overwhelmed
by the sheer scale of the ferry and the wealth of entertainment on board, what with
two cinemas, a kids play area, a restaurant and casino
Places to Visit - On The Pennine Way Part Two By Steve Rudd
After surviving the nightmare of Kinder Scout's mountainous bulk and getting back on track,
the next 'hill' of worth en-route along the Pennine Way is called Bleaklow.
Just like its predecessor, it could quite potentially be the death of you if
you're not careful in negotiating the peaty wastes as you go up and over and
onwards towards the tiny hamlet of
Places to Visit - On The Pennine Way Part One By Steve Rudd
Why on earth would anyone want to go walking on their week off work? That's the question that most people would routinely ask anybody who would do exactly that, as though walking - and long distance walking in particular - is something simply not to be indulged in.
I always argue that there is very little more
Places to Visit - Down South By Steve Rudd
Brighton has always been one hell of a popular place, but until one freezing cold
day in February of this year I had never before spent anytime whatsoever there
in my twenty-four years in this forever-overwhelming world.
I thought it was high time I paid the place a visit, and seeing as though
I was down in London anyway - and a return National Express coach ticket
Places to Visit - Up North By Steve Rudd
So, you look forward all week - at work - to your one or two days off... right? And what do you do on such days off? Housework, no doubt. Do you ever think you should do something more worthwhile with your sacred time off? Like travel, for instance.
County Durham isn't that far a trip from East Yorkshire, and if
Places to Visit - To Hampstead Heath and Beyond ... By Steve Rudd
So, you live in London and wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the inner city scene.
Where can you turn to? Why, the plethora of beautiful parks of course - and there are few
places nicer than Hampstead Heath, in North London, for some quality peace and quiet.
Places to Visit - On the Moors By Steve Rudd
So much for me confiding to people that I thought we were collectively out of the woods
and that Spring was just around the corner.
Clearly I spoke too soon and paid for such a misdemeanour yesterday
(13th February 2005) when I ventured up onto the