Even though I live in London, England, and therefore do not have much contact with America, I like to read the New York Times. As travelling the world would be the first thing I’d do if I won the lottery, I LOVE the NYT book “36 Hours In…” which offers itineraries for weekend stays in various places. Naturally, the most interesting one for me is “36 Hours In Europe”, which was published in 2012.
Reading its publisher Taschen’s description of the book makes me want it even more:
Culture, history, natural beauty, fine cuisine, artistic masterpieces, cutting-edge architecture and style—Europe overflows with so many riches that a lifetime seems too short to appreciate them. But with the right guidance, you can go far in a single weekend. Stylishly written and carefully researched, this updated and expanded collection of the popular New York Times 36 Hours feature offers you 125 well-crafted itineraries for quick but memorable European trips, accompanied by hundreds of color photographs to fire your imagination. Explore the expected: the Renaissance in Florence, surfing in Biarritz, flamenco in Seville. And discover the unexpected: Sicilian mummies dressed in their Sunday best, a dry-land toboggan ride on Madeira, a hotel in Tallinn with a KGB spies’ nest on the penthouse floor. World capitals, ancient nations that once ruled wide domains, tiny countries with big personalities—it’s all Europe, and all fun to read about (whether you actually go or not) in this handsomely designed and illustrated book.
All I need now is lots and lots of money, and I’m off. (The book has also inspired me to invent my own 36 Hours In London… for teenagers)
If you’re in Amsterdam and want somewhere to have lunch, go to blue°. It’s a café/restaurant at the top of the Kalvertoren shopping centre (on Kalverstraat), and it has panoramic views of the city. If you’re on a limited budget, don’t go for a full lunch: get drinks and share a plate of tortilla chips and guacamole. It overlooks the flower market, and it’s pretty special to be sitting having your lunch looking at the top of the canal houses of Amsterdam. The canals are what make the city so amazing – wandering around, you completely take it for granted, but it’s a beauty you just don’t get in a city like London. Blue° is open 7 days a week, so go when the weather’s good to make the most out of the floor to ceiling windows and amazing views (although it still looks good in the rain). www.blue–amsterdam.nl
Koninginnedag, also known as Queens Day, is an annual celebration in Holland that all Dutch citizens, as well as many foreigners, clubs, bars, and beer vendors, look forward to. Celebrated on the 30th of April (besides the one off 29th, which happens when the 30th is on a Sunday), everyone dresses in their bright orange attire and heads out onto the streets.
The tradition first was first celebrated on the 31st of August 1885, as Princess’s Day. This was to celebrate the popular Princess Wilhelmina’s 5th birthday. When she inherited the throne in 1980 it was named Queen’s Day. When her daughter, Queen Juliana, took the throne, the day was moved to the 30th of April, her birthday. The next generation of the royal family, Queen Beatrix, kept the current Queens Day as a tribute to her mother. This year, 2013, will be the last Queens Day for a while, as Queen Beatrix will be abdicating from her throne and passing it on to her son, the first king of The Netherlands in over 100 years, King Willem-Alexander. Therefore, from now on Kings Day shall be celebrated on the 27th of April, his birthday.
The celebrations start off with Koninginnenacht, or Queen’s Night. This is basically a pre-party to Queens Day where many nightclubs and bars have special events going on. After a long night of partying, many head out and try to sell, or buy, junk on the free market. This is the only day where people are allowed to sell on the street without a permit and having to pay the extremely high tax rates. Others go to one of the many concerts organised throughout the country. In the capital, it is also common to find the canals filled with long queues of boats trying to get into the city centre. Miraculously, despite all the terrible weather forecasts, Queens Day always seems to turn out like a sunny and warm summer’s day; but maybe it’s just because everyone is dressed in the bright national colour: orange.
By many, Queen’s Day is no longer seen as a celebration of the Dutch monarchy, but more a day to unite, drink, have fun, be loud, and just have one massive national party.
– Michelle, Amsterdam