The canal’s curve

Venice is a maze of canals, navigating the curved waterways can be a daunting experience for the weary traveller.

That’s half the fun of Venice though, getting lost in her labyrinth of multiple pathways. Some paths might be a shortcut whilst others might double your journey.

More than red lights in Amsterdam

Yes, Amsterdam is yet another ‘Venice of the North‘. How many times do we hear this, all cities with canals are second to Venice wherever they may be.

What I have learned from my travels is that there are many many cities with canals, beautiful cities. From what I could see about Amsterdam, its distinguishing factor was that it is massive. A massive city with canals. All of the other ‘Venices‘ that I have been to so far are quite small in comparison.

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As a photographer that enjoys wandering small streets – or in this case canals – taking in the architecture of Amsterdam was quite satisfying. I particularly enjoyed the buildings that look set to fall over, but I imagine they have been standing for longer than I could guess and still have many years still to come.

I often found it quite difficult to take my photos with a straight horizon as some of the crooked architectural lines could be confusing. Not all buildings are straight in Amsterdam.

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I should probably start with the first thing you encounter in Amsterdam – if flying – the Schipol airport. I don’t generally talk about airports, but if you find yourself transiting through Europe and Amsterdam is an option I would recommend taking it. The Schipol airport is fantastic, more like a mini city rather than the standard airport of endless lounges with the same duty free shops and the same merchandise. Schipol is a great welcome to the city for visitors and those just transiting.

Did I mention how large Amsterdam is?

We had managed to book a great AirBnB apartment in the suburbs of the inner west. And whilst on first arrival it seemed quite far from the centre of the city it turned out to be a great location. The local cafes were lovely for people watching and enjoying a nice wake up coffee.

It was always a nice tram journey into the city from the apartment each day.

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The standout story for me probably could have taken place in any city, not just in Amsterdam. But for us Amsterdam is where it happened. On my husbands shopping list was a fancy pair of headphones – I had been hearing about them the whole way through Spain. I couldn’t care less about headphones but knew more about this particular pair than I needed to.

Anyway, the plan was to pick them up in Amsterdam on our way home, having found a great deal in an audio store there. Upon arrival in Amsterdam and after checking into our apartment we discovered that the audio store was only open until 4.30pm that day and was closed all other days that we would be in Amsterdam. It was just after 3.00pm.

I said if you want them we’re going to have to leave right now and make no mistakes, a quick google search and journey instructions stored to our phone memory – we only had wifi in the apartment at this stage – and we were off. A 45 minute journey in just 45 minutes in a city we’d never been to before.

We made it!! Minutes to spare and some very obliging sales assistants – impressed by our story let us in and they made a great last minute sale.

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Thank you Amsterdam, it took us 2.5 hours to find our way back to the apartment with a series of cancelled trams and protests blocking roads. I guess we were just meant to have the headphones!

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Bruges – Belgium

Bruges was one of those destinations that we stumbled upon, we had no real plans of visiting Bruges during our trip – our major destination was Spain. But when searching for the most economical way to get back to Amsterdam from the south of Spain to meet our return flight the train proved to be the best option. Well partially by train anyway.

Our train passed through Brussels rather than Bruges, but after doing some research we decided that we would rather stop by Bruges than Brussels – so one more train trip was on the agenda.

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A worthwhile journey it proved to be.

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We managed to miss the massive crowds of summer, visiting in October where the weather was still mild – although much cooler than the south of Spain. An impromptu purchase of winter woolies was essential.

The highlights of visiting Bruges in Autumn were the foggy mornings and misty days, this was in stark contrast to the dry weather in Spain.

Bruges is quite a small city but was very picturesque, I felt like Bruges provided everything that I was hoping to find in Amsterdam but did not. Bruges too has canals, but the quaintness of the city for me made it a more enjoyable city to wander around.

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All George Brown photography is available for purchase, contact us to discuss our purchase options.