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Bicycles, Canals, and Heineken

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, though The Hague is the seat of government. As a dam on the river Amstel, Amsterdam grew from a simple village into one of the most important trading cities by the dawn of the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. At one point the city was the wealthiest in the world, and Amsterdam is still a major shipping city.

Due to the unique location of Amsterdam, the city is full of canals and it sits below sea level. Furthermore, many houseboats can be found all over the city, more out of necessity than anything else. The city has effectively been divided into ninety units because of these canals and there are 1,200 bridges connecting the whole of the city.

Amsterdam also has excellent food that any visitor would be happy to eat. The Dutch are quite fond of serving French Fries with mayonnaise, which is often loaded with garlic and is completely delicious. Local favorites include stroopwafels, which are thin crisped waffles with caramel in between, and Appeltaart, which is an apple cake. Thanks to a large influx of immigration after the war, there are many international influences on Dutch cuisine, most notably the ubiquitous doner kebab, as well as Indonesian and Surinamese food, since both were former colonies of the Netherlands.

Amsterdam is a very walkable city, with trams, busses, and ferries to cover further distances. The Netherlands is also well connected by its rail system, and getting out of the city is relatively simple. Travel to neighboring countries is also easy enough by rail, or by plane through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Notably, however, the preferred way of getting around the cities in the Netherlands is by bicycle, and renting or buying one is not particularly difficult!