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Holiday Destinations #10: Amsterdam

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There are few things in this world more tiresome than innuendo, which makes it a tremendous shame that Amsterdam has been the source of many a sniggering remark over the years from – usually – teenage boys who prize it as a holiday destination for the ideas it gives them, of free love and soft drugs. While it is true that Amsterdam has a more liberated approach to these concepts than some places, they do not define it.

Amsterdam is, for most people, the real jewel in the crown of Holland. One of two capitals – the other is the Hague – it is certainly the Dutch city that most people visit on a yearly basis. Its wide variation of architecture spans centuries and many different schools of architecture, including its own style influenced by the art deco era – the Amsterdamse School.

The “liberal” attitude to matters such as drugs and sex should not be taken on the word of giggling frat boys. Amsterdam as a city is an easy-going place, although the political liberalism which many associate with the city is greatly exaggerated. People expecting to take drugs or fornicate openly in the streets will find their hopes dashed – Amsterdam is not exhibitionist even if it is tolerant.

It is worth exploring a little deeper into Amsterdam – yes, beyond the red light district – because the museums of modern and classical art are well worth seeing, including the work of Rembrandt and Vermeer. Sports fans can go to see the local soccer team, Ajax, whose influence upon the modern game is perhaps unparalleled by any single team, and whose three consecutive European Cup triumphs mark them out as a club unlike others.

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