Destination: The Netherlands: Amsterdam
Admittedly, the image of the Amsterdammer on a bicycle is as clichéd as that of the Gouda girl in a tulip field, but the capital’s citizen are serious about their two-wheel drives. Walking down a street at times, all you hear is the squeaking of pedals being pushed vigorously. Dutch even has numerous cycling-related idioms: Op een oude fiets moet je het leren (“You must learn it on an old bike”), for instance, means that someone older is the best instructor, while Oh, op die fiets! (“Ah, on that bike!”) indicates comprehension, and the simple Ga toch fietsen (“Go biking!”) conveys in rather strong language that the speaker wants to be left alone. Perhaps because of this less hurried (and polluting) way of getting around or because they know they live in one of the most pristine, culturally active metropolises in Europe, Amsterdammers are a thoroughly laid-back bunch, and visiting there often feels as if you’re joining a cool, city-wide party. There’s a ton to see in terms of art and history, with such compelling museums as the Rembrandt House, the Anne Frank Huis and the Van Gogh Museum (the renowned Rijksmusem is closed until at least 2010), but you’ll have the most fun blending in to the local scene, whether by soaking up the vibe at one of the canal-side cafés (not all are of the ganja variety) or by exploring on foot, bike and boat.
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