The splendorous, white-washed center nestled within Vienna’s Ring Road is home to the city’s oldest and most important sights. Here you can visit the Hofburg Palace, wander through the Spanish Riding School, or spend hours perusing the impressive works at the Museum of Fine Arts. But in my experience, the most interesting activities are hidden amongst the lesser-known streets in the Innere Stadt district.
For me, the mention of Amsterdam has always conjured up images of winding canals, old boat houses, plumes of smoke curling out of mysterious coffee shops, and dim red lights cast on dark streets. When I first stepped off the tram in the heart of the city, that picture wasn’t too far from reality. But the sleepy haze that I expected to find over a city steeped in so much history was completely absent. In its place was a vibrant hum of energy. Energy carried by all manner of activities. People were riding bikes throughout the entire city, boats passed underfoot as we crossed over old bridges, people talked animatedly to their lunch companions. There was a tangible sense of vitality that I didn’t expect. As the first stop on our journey, it was exciting. Continue reading Amsterdam