All posts tagged: Europe

The Stuff of Storybooks

Weeks before our family’s spring trip, a battle ensued. Which city should we drop from our must-see list? We had only 21 days to spend in Europe and 25 places we wanted to see. “Take out Rome,” I said. But my sister reminded me we were flying out from there—it had the cheapest fare to Manila. “How about Salzburg?” No. Our father was joining us because of the von Trapps and their Sound of Music. We couldn’t take out London either. It was our mother’s pick, and it was her birthday, the main reason were on the Europe trip in the first place. “Paris? Edinburgh? Florence?” I asked. Cities were crossed out from the itinerary one by one, but nobody dared touch Prague. The capital city of the Czech Republic is on every bucket list: Places to See before You Die, Best Destinations for 2016, Most Charming European Cities, World’s Best-Preserved Medieval Cities… The hyperbolic lists were endless. According to Euromonitor International, Prague is the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome. …

Wholesome Amsterdam

Cannabis, canals and carnal pursuits pretty much sum up the tourist’s image of Amsterdam. And you really can’t blame them when Google serves up “Tips for Getting Stoned like a Pro” or “Best Places for Cannabis Shopping” when you type in “Amsterdam travel.” In the capital of the Netherlands, you will learn the big difference between a coffeeshop, which sells weed, and a coffee shop, which sells coffee. You will see prostitution in a different light at the, well, Red Light District, and realize how everything is strictly business in this part of the world, just as it has been hundreds of years ago when the merchant city was built. But Amsterdam has Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Anne Frank, too. If, like me, you have little interest in smoking joints, fret not—you can still experience a high in Amsterdam. The city is loaded with interesting streets, colorful flea markets, great museums and cool places to just chill and watch those happy folk go by. Despite what people might think—with Amsterdam’s anything-goes attitude—safety is not an issue …

(Just a little) Love, Actually

Sometimes, we really should listen to friends. Like when they say, “Bring an umbrella because it always rains in London,” you MUST grab an umbrella even if the sun is bright and shining when you leave the apartment to explore. Because those Londoners are right – it always rains in their corner of the Earth. Another thing that’s always in London are tourists — all 17 million of them spending £11 billion like London wasn’t the sixth most expensive city in the world. Last year, London ranked the second most visited city, after Hong Kong.     At Heathrow alone, prepare to queue an hour or two for immigration clearance. It’s nothing like that famous opening scene in “Love Actually,” when Hugh Grant says in his perfect Love-me-I’m-British accent: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that… If you look for it, I’ve got …