Amsterdam and other pretty cities of The Netherlands

My eight days long adventure in The Netherlands started with landing at 8 am in the capital city of Amsterdam, greeted by a beyond gorgeous sunrise that I witnessed from my window seat on the plane. It was worth it waking up at 4:20 am in Zurich to catch this early flight.

Sunrise over Amsterdam

From Schipol airport I took a train to Amsterdam Central Station, the journey took me around 30 minutes and costed around 10 euros.

The building of the station is quite impressive and my accommodation was a 10 minutes walk from it, right in the city center, so I headed towards it, passing beautiful canal views and observing how the city comes to life.

Amsterdam Central Station

Once I dropped my luggage I was headed to Dom Square, where my free walking tour started. I definitely recommend booking in advance a free walking tour of the city, the guide was extremely knowledgeable and I found out a lot about the history of the city and discovered sights that maybe otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered.

The tour took around two hours and a half. I made a new friend on the tour and we decided to spend the rest of the day exploring together. He made quite a good city explorer buddy. We walked along the beautiful canals, took pictures and even hang out in the red light distract, which is quite dead during the day.

One of the beautiful canals in Amsterdam

We discovered the impressive flower market and also some kinky places, such as a condomeria.

Amsterdam flower market
Condoms shop in central Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the city of freedom, sexual diversity and acceptance. The city is very vibrant, full of bikers and very open minded and excellent English speaking, tall Dutch men and women.

With my new travel companion we walked around a lot on my first day, reaching also the museums quartier, where especially the famous Rijksmuseum stands out.

Rijksmuseum

On this occasion we didn’t go into any of the museums, but on the other hand was stunned to discover that the I AmSterdam sign disappeared from the museum plaza. Nine years ago was still there, then apparently it has been removed due to some political dispute over it. I wanted to recreate my picture from nine years ago, but that couldn’t happen. Regardless, we had a nice time around there, many buildings are beautiful.

No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without mentioning the coffee shops, which here reffers to the shops that sell weed and other drugs that are legal in The Netherlands. There are plenty of them and basically any adult can try them either in form of a joint or brownie and probably in other forms as well, I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t interested in these stuff. What I do know though is that the best of them seems to be the Bulldog chain, that has a gift shop and museum too. I purchased myself some Bulldog thongs ( = flip flops ) as a memory from Amsterdam.

The most good looking Bulldog coffee shop
A random coffee shop

Apart from admiring the canals, passing by coffee shops and chilling in nice cafes, on another day I visited some museums too.

The most interesting I found to be the Moco Museum, where apart from Bansky’s art work, there’s a very beautiful and interactive light installation too.

I checked out also the Allard Pierson museum, where I learned about the Egyptian era.

In Amsterdam there’s a museum for every taste, from modern art to even the art and pleasure of sexual intercourses, hences there’s an erotic museum and also a museum of prostitution. I guess the name says it all, no need from my side to discuss what can you see in each of them.

Checking out some museums has been definitely fun and interesting, but probably even more interesting than that has been all the breakfast and brunch places that I got to eat from.

Eating places in Amsterdam are amazing and my favorite of all probably has been Mr Stacks, where you can eat the most delicious pancake stacks, which look like a tower of pancakes and are filled with fresh and delicious fruits and of course lots of chocolate. I licked all my ten fingers after eating there.

Eating at Mr Stacks

Another amazing breakfast place I’ve discovered it’s called Jacob’s Juice , where I tried the delicious avocado toast and drank a very healthy ginger,lemon,spinach,fennel juice. It’s located a short 10 min walk from Rinksmuseum. It’s small and cozy and everything on the menu sounded amazing, so the choice was quite hard.

My brekky at Jacob’s Juice

A more central brekky place, by Dom Square, is Corner House, where the salmon bagel is absolutely delicious and the hot chocolate equally amazing.

Brekky at Corner House

Too many amazing eating places in Amsterdam for sure and the list of great restaurants is just about to start.

The best dinner I had in Amsterdam was certainly at Sea Palace restaurant, which is located just by central station, it’s a massive building right on the water, impossible to miss.

Sea Palace restaurant

It’s a Chinese restaurant, where we were lucky to get a table without booking in advance. The food is amazing and deserts are wonderful too. If I ever visit again, I’ll make sure I’ll check it out again.

My dessert at Sea Palace

T’Stuiverte has good food in a stylish ambiance, you have the feeling that you are in art gallery. Amazing food, very delicious desert.

Fish with veggies at T’Stuviertje

The Yeti – for finger licking Nepalese and Indian cuisine, go with confidence to this little restaurant, located in the red light district, it’s wonderful and service is very good too.

There have been a few other restaurants that I checked out, but I didn’t find them so amazing to mention them.

On the other hand, there’s a few bars with a view that I’d mention.

Skylounge

Luckily we got there right in time for the sunset.

Sunset view of Amsterdam

A’dam lookout bar

This one is great for the views, especially after swinging above Amsterdam.

Cocktail with a view
Swinging above Amsterdam

Apart from swinging above the city, I can proudly say that I also biked around Amsterdam, with a local, like a local and the only incident that happened was that I nearly took off the mirror of a truck that drove too close to me. It was a fun, but little stressful experience , however I don’t regret any second of it.

Although Amsterdam is a wonderful city, I also traveled a bit further and checked out some other places in The Netherlands.

Bergen Aan Zee

For a daytrip I ventured out to the see and to my amazement I witnessed a gorgeous sunset, walked four kilometers on the beach to catch a bus and ate a delicious onion soup and drank a refreshing smoothie while listening to the waves. It was a fun day!

Bergen Aan Zee sunset
My smoothie and I

Oh, and also saw very cute and friendly cats along the way.

Cat love ❤️

Rotterdam

Just around 30 min by train from Amsterdam, there’s the modern, also vibrant city of Rotterdam, where I spent threee days, out of which two were rainy and gloomy, but still enjoyable.

Rotterdam is beautiful, very different from Amsterdam. We took a canal tour that took us around the port and could see huge ships there.

Checked out also the Maritime Museum, where we could learn about ships, boats and the importance of Rotterdam port.

A trip to Rotterdam would g be complete without visiting the iconic cube houses, that look like they would be out of a fairytale. Apparently people also live in them and one of them can even be rented out on Airbnb.

Posing at Rotterdam Cube Houses

Due to the rain we kept most of our exploring indoors, which was just fine when it came to eating .

Markthalle, the food court of Rotterdam was just a short tram ride from the accommodation and was the perfect place to start the day. A massive location full of all kind of specialities. My favorite of course was the waffle and the Brazilian juice.

Eating a waffle at Markthalle
My delicious

At Markthalle apart from food, one can buy different spices, cheese and so on.

Also in Rotterdam I’ve discovered some good restaurants, one of them is Ayla, an afghani restaurant where the oysters and frog legs where absolutely delicious, but also the cocktails are remarkable.

Frog legs at Ayla
Cocktail at Ayla

Speaking of cocktails, there’s one bar in Rotterdam that I liked in particular, it’s called Spikizi, it’s cozy, little and the cocktails were very good.

Spikizi bar from outside
Spikizi bar from inside
Cocktail at Spikizi

I love views, hences I dragged my friend, Jay, who joined me for the Rotterdam part of my Netherlands trip, to Euromast and we ,also him, were impressed of the views. Rotterdam is truly magnificent at night. I let the pictures speak for themselves.

Euromast tower
Rotterdam at night from Euromast

The Hague

Another place that I dragged my friend , Jay was The Hague, which I heard about a lot, everybody saying how beautiful it is. Well, it’s quite nice, true, but on a rainy day it was just so and so.

We checked out the Peace Palace, but with the Covid restrictions in place, we were not allowed to visit the actual palace, just did an audio tour in a separate building and saw the palace from distance.

Peace Palace

Although it was raining, we still went to the beach and saw even people bungee jumping there.

The beach in The Hague

We wondered around the city a bit and eventually ended up at another drinks with a view place.

Skybar – beautiful views of The Hague at night and delicious mocktailes in a romantic ambiance.

The Hague at night from Skybar

Our day in The Hague could have been nicer if there was sun and no Covid restrictions, but I guess nowadays that’s the new normal…

After spending those few days in Rotterdam, by I said goodbye to Jay and continued my trip solo to another beautiful town.

Utrecht

Utrecht has been recommended to me by many Dutch people I met and I was excited to check it out. Everybody was saying that it’s the smaller version of Amsterdam, but maybe slightly more pretty. I must say I found it in a way even nicer and definitely more calm than Amsterdam. I was also very lucky with a sunny day in Utrecht. I walked around the canals, visited some parks and admired the beautiful autumn colors.

Autumn in Utrecht

Also in Utrecht, of course I went to eat yummy food and ended up at this cozy, little cafe in the center and had my pancake fix.

Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the cafe, but in case I’ll ever visit Utrecht again I know where I need to go.

On the other hand with the restaurant I dined at I have more memory, it was called Springhaver and it’s right next to the cinema with the same name.

Dinner at Springhaver
Dessert at Springhaver

I had so many waffles, pancakes and desserts every day of my trip that now, as a conclusion I can say The Netherlands is awesome for anyone who has a sweet tooth.

But, it’s not only food and desserts that made me enjoy it so much, it’s also the diversity and the kindness of people.

In Utrecht I had a Turkish – German fellow travelled that joined me in exploring. We walked around the town the whole day, doing also a little shopping along the way, but mainly just checking out various landmarks, a beautiful church and a little bar too.

In beautiful Utrecht

For my last day I returned to Amsterdam and with the same travel companion that I had in Utrecht we went to Upside down Amsterdam, a fun place, where you can’t be upset or side. This place for sure will cheer you up.

Upside down Amsterdam
Chilling at Upside down Amsterdam

Determined to find waffle places back home, I left the country satisfied and happy with how I spent the last 8 days. Dutch people and their country impressed me and left me with great memories that I’ll carry around for long. I might even bike more often from now on…

Nice cities to visit in Romania

Most people that I met while traveling made big eyes and funny, Dracula related jokes when they heard I’m coming from Romania. It’s because the world doesn’t really know anything else about this Eastern European country other than the legend of Dracula. While that’s impressive already that people have heard at least this, I’m here to tell you: Romania is not all about Dracula, as the matter of fact for locals the spooky story doesn’t represent much anymore. On the other hand the beautiful medieval towns and the nature can always be a good reason to visit.
Timisoara
One of my dearest Romanian towns is Timisoara. Timisoara is located in the western part of the country, only two hours away from the Hungarian border and it’s considered the Little Vienna due to it’s similar architecture to the Austrian capital. It’s the city where the revolution started, but it’s also the city where nowdays the western culture finds its way into the Romanian society. Very laidback university town, Timisoara is lively and  rich in cultural events and festivals, being chosen as the European Culture Capital for 2021.
The city center is a great spot not only for shopping, strolling, people watching but also relaxation, because right next to the dominant cathedral there is plenty of green space and on both sides of  the Bega river serve as jogging or walking locations.
It’s considered also the town of flowers and as the name suggests springs is a great season to notice the numerous flowers planted all over the place. In front of the opera house kids and adults feed the pigeons, which are already so acostumed to people that it’s common the have them on your shoulders if you’ve got some food for them. A few steps from the city center there is Unirii Square, another nice place to hang out at. The church and buidings around the square offer a diverse view and for architecture lovers a good opportunity to notice the beauty of the baroccan style. While it’s the oldest square in town, it’s vibe is not at all outdated. The big number of terraces, where one can taste the typical Romanian food or enjoy a glass of wine, sometimes offer also live music and definitely a lively atmosphere. 
Sighisoara
From the west let’s travel to central Romania a bit and discover one of the prettiest medieval towns I’ve visited. Sighisoara has a unique charm that touched my heart instantly as I walked around a bit. Surrounded by the old walls and the towers of the Citadel, the town is listed by Unesco as World Heritage Site and it’s a definitely must visit place if you are in Transylvania and especially if history interests you. The defence towers of the town served as defense during the wars and were hollow and contained elevators inside.
In Sighisoara you will found also a few churches , the most significant being the Church on the Hill, which is right next to one of the oldest schools from Transylvania, to which also nowdays pupils walk through the covered stairs that have been built as a protection.  From the hill the sights are beautiful and peaceful. Locals are friendly and keen on sharing their own life experiences and stories in an outstanding English.
Brasov
If you’ve made your way to Sighisoara you can’t miss out on Brasov, another medieval town, much bigger an noisier, but with more options for the curious tourist. In winter it’s perfect for sports lovers, having well maintained ski resorts, in spring it has been good for hiking.
Tampa mountain is just a few minutes walk from the main square and in less than one hour hike you are on the top and can admire the stunning view. 
If one hour hike sounds like a lot, the easier version is to just walk at the base of the mountain or to one of the fortresses that are located on the hills surrounding the city. The views are still nice and very little physical effort is required to reach them.
In Brasov there are already plenty of signs of the German influences, one main example being the Black Church, which is the main gothic style monument in the country and it has the biggest six-ton bell.
Sibiu
In Sibiu the German influences are even more obvious than in Brasov, but the inviting atmosphere on a sunny day is the same pleasant. The typical big square with churches and shops around, lots of pigeons and relaxing people are a reminder that you are still in Transylvania.
Walking around I’ve discovered also the most beautiful street of Sibiu according to the sign and I can tell that it was indeed nice with all the colorful houses and flowers in front of them.
Romania’s oldest castiron bridge is called the Bridge of Lies and it’s right here, in Sibiu and it’s the pride of the town.
I haven’t met Dracula while being in Romania and shame on me, but I didn’t even go to the castle. On the other hand spending a little time in the towns and noticing the differences between them, probably was something I needed to do. Romania has its beauty, sometimes hard to see it, but it’s there. 

Zürich in winter

Winter may not be warm, but it’s still beautiful and pleasant to a certain extent, especially in places such as Switzerland. The postcard perfect country is a great getaway destination, although far away from being cheap, it’s enjoyable on a modest budget too.

Zürich, the largest of the swiss cities, still small on an international scale, with just above 400 thousand inhabitants, is the main hub for visitors and expats. With its international airport located just 10 minutes train ride out of the center, Zürich is a cosmopolitan city that offers everything that any other city may have to offer. From shopping malls to cinemas, local and international couisine, a lake, two rivers, a hill that swiss people like to call mountain and a lot of delicious chocolate and cheese, Zürich has it all.

A dayticket for the local transport costs Chf 8,80 and it’s valid 24 hours. With such a ticket you’re good to go on bus, train, boat and tram, but make sure you limit yourself to the city only, which is zone 110, for further than that you’ll need an additional ticket.

The main train station is walkable distance from most attractions, however the cold winter temperatures will most likely force you into a tram.

Bahnhofstrasse is the central shopping street, where, if you’re on a budget you’ll be only window shopping, because stores like Louis Vuitton and Prada, won’t be inviting.

On the other hand, Zurich is a great spot for outdoors lovers, even in winter, the panoramic viewing points being for free and available for everyone that wishes to have a look at the city from above.

By tram 3 from Central to Römerhof station and from there by the Dolderbahn you’ll reach the gorgeous castle that serves as a posh hotel, called Dolder Grand. The viewing point from next to the hotel is amazing and the surrounding forest is great for strolling around in the snow.

Grossmünster, the church with the two tours, visible from everywhere in the center area, is a great place to go for a view. The ticket costs Chf5 to climb up to the tower, but it definitely does worth it.

You can’t leave Zurich without strolling around the lake, which on a good day, when the sky is blue will be looking amazing, with the mountains in the far backdrop .

Walking around in Zurich is tempting in any weather and the old town is charming and pretty. Lots of boutiques, cafes and sweet local shops, it’s a nice place to visit.

Although the coldness of people and the general rigid and formal atmosphere, Zürich is nice to visit for a few days.