Archive for July, 2010

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Amsterdam? Is it the Red Light District, the canals, parties, or coffee shops? Seemingly known around the world for it’s liberal marijuana laws, Amsterdam is a haven for both pot-smokers and those who are curious about this green drug.

It’s actually quite impressive how this city is so well-run with weed as being a main attraction for many young travellers, just an example though for other countries to take it easy.

There are more than 150 coffee shops in Amsterdam alone, most of which are in the city centre near the Red Light District and Centraal Station. Many of them have a green and white flag outside of them, indicating that there is weed to be found and smoked inside, so wander on in and take a look. Atmosphere and style vary greatly but the basics are the same.

  • Ask to see the menu, since many shops are not allowed to openly advertise that they sell weed.
  • Weed is sold by the gram, price varies depending on quality, variety, falvour,e tc. You’ll find it anywhere from 7-12€.
  • There is a regulation concerting quantity, coffee shops can sell only 5g per person per day, so no bulk buying.
  • You can buy either a pre-rolled joint or roll it yourself, ask for some papers at the bar.
  • Order a coffee (either espresso or a cappuccino) and sit down.
  • If you need help rolling ,ask but make sure you leave a tip (one Euro is cool).
  • Light up and enjoy.

It isn’t hard to find a coffee shop, and very well part of the appeal is walking around exploring and wandering from one place to the next. Here are just a few addresses I’ve collected from other sites with recommendations and it’s a good place to start:

De Rokerij – Lange Leidsedwarstraat 41, near Leidseplein

Baba – Warmoesstraat 64, Red Light District

Hill Street Blues – Warmoesstraat 52a, Red Light District

Coffeeshop Tops – Prinsengracht 480, near Leiseplein

Hunter’s Café – Warmoesstraat 24

Café ‘t Arendsnest – Herengracht 90

DampKring – Handboogstraat 29

Amsterdam has a lot to be discovered, not just coffee shops but since it’s such a prominent attraction for young travellers, I thought I’d cover the topic a little before my own trip to Amsterdam at the end of the summer. I’m looking now to find a cheap flight to Amsterdam, hopefully for the end of the summer so I too can experience this part of Dutch culture for myself.

Have you been to Amsterdam? What was your coffee shop experience like?

FYI: Amsterdam recently passed a ban for smoking tobacco indoors, which put a damper on things but some places either have a designated tobacco area or have herbal tobacco substitutes you can smoke.


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For a long time I’ve been attracted to destinations in Earnest Hemingway‘s novels and poetry. He isn’t considered a travel writer but he has a way of presenting a destination and really being able to show what it’s like to the reader without neglecting character development or plot. His characters actually add to the destination itself, making me believe that I would meet people like the characters in his books in those places. But seriously, this isn’t English Literature Class, so I will stop right there.

The point of it all is that I’m reading Islands in the Stream right now by Hemingway and I am very close to just outright buying some cheap flights to Cuba so that I can walk in his footsteps and see the places he describes in this novel with my own eyes.

One destination in particular has my attention, Bimini Island, the smallest island in the Bahamas. In the novel the main character has a delightful little beach house there where he paints all day, goes fishing with his three sons, drinking like a rummy and really just enjoys life. (I’ll admit it, I’m a romantic… especially when it comes to sitting around and making art all day) It’s just 50 miles from Miami, Florida and is arguably the most beautiful island in the stream.

Of course when Hemingway was living there, it wasn’t that popular but today it’s full of tourist resorts offering flashy fishing packages. This is an angler’s paradise! The island’s history though doesn’t begin or end with Hemingway. If you cosy up to the bar at one of the locals joints, you’re sure to hear stories of pirates, rum runs and other famous folk that have been here at some point or another.

Some interesting facts about Bimini:

  • Ponce de Leon believed that the “Fountain of Youth” was located somewhere on the island
  • Plato believed the lost city of Atlantis was hidden somewhere beneath Bimini’s North Island in 300 BC
  • There is a path off the coast underwater made of 8×2 foot solid rock slabs, called the Bimini Road, and no one knows when or how it got there (although most date it back at least 8000 years)
  • In 1933 someone caught a 502 lb. blue marlin off the coast of Bimini
  • Hemingway is responsible for bringing the sport of boxing to the island

BY THE WAY, I finally updated the “About Eva” section of the blog, check it out when you have a chance!

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From beach-front to mountain top, Gran Canaria is my first choice for a summer holiday destination. Long popular for its white sandy beaches, laid back lifestyle, rowdy night life, landscapes, blue waters and Spanish hospitality, the Canary Islands are packed when summer hits with Dutch, British and German tourists. Is this any reason to steer clear of the Canary Islands this summer? No way!

It’s the third largest out of the Canary islands  but definitely boasts the largest population. One of the most stunning parts of it can be found in the middle, far away from the sandy shores. You’ll find spectacular mountains, almost like from the Himalayas, unbelievable considering how small Gran Canaria actually is. it’s the perfect place to get the best of both worlds: hit the beach, get a tan and perfect their sand castle building skills but also have a chance to travel inland and explore the islands other natural beauties.

Las Palmas is the biggest city on the island and it attracts a mix of people from around Europe. It can get to be a bit much sometimes though and if you’ve had enough then head to the smaller villages along the coast. Arucas is the perfect solution. It’s completely laid back  and even has a few architectural sights worthy of a few pictures. Teror is also pretty and has great farmer’s markets.

The beach front resorts and hotels are what Gran Canaria is famous for (I’m not sure whether I love it or hate it) but if it’s not your scene there is plenty of horse back riding, hiking, trekking and other activities to do while on holiday. There are dozens of quaint towns with beautiful churches and especially historical old towns.

More than this, Gran Canaria is very easy to get to from the UK. There are cheap flights from Bristol to Las Palmas with both low cost and regular airlines. Once you arrive, hire a car and see the island at your own pace. You can take the bus around, but it’s time consuming and costly. Have any more ideas of things to do in Gran Canaria?

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