Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Canal Tour, Dam Square and Rembrandtplein

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I arrived at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station via a Thalys train from Brussels. I had purchased the tickets months in advance through Rail Europe. (I decided to spend a bit more and bought First Class tickets just to have the experience. My opinion is that it was worth it.) I had rented a really nice apartment in a terrific neighborhood through Airbnb.com

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… and then did a little exploring on foot because it was already getting late in the day. After a long walkabout through the area, I spent the evening enjoying some local beer and international television news programs.

The next morning, I purchased a 48-hour transport smart card and used it on the city’s tram service to get to all of the areas I wanted to explore. I started by visiting the Anne Frank House, but the line was already very long by mid-morning …

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… so I decided that I’d get up early the next day and try again. On the corner of that block, I found a ticket counter for a canal tour company, and that’s how I started my day.

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After the tour (which lasted about an hour), I took a quick walk through the city’s flower market

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… before making my way to Dam Square.

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The Royal Palace is located here, and I paid to get in and look around. It’s opulent, as one might expect, but I enjoyed picking up little bits of the country’s history and culture it offered.

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Once I was back outside on the square, I found myself in the middle of a rally supporting the recent removal of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s president.

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Amsterdam has several squares, and I stumbled across Rembrandtplein by accident. It’s surrounded by bars and cafes, and the vibe is relaxed. It became a favorite place of mine during my stay.

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Bonus photos!

One of the great things about travel is that you sometimes stumble across some really cool things. That happened during my first full day in Amsterdam. I heard a lot of loud music as I was wandering through part of the city and discovered the Thailand Grand Festival in full swing. I had visited Bangkok during summer 2012, so it was a pleasant surprise to spend a little bit of time enjoying this celebration of Thai culture.

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