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I Finally Amsterdammed

Last month I left London on an easyJet flight, checked in at Abba Hotel, left my carry-on in my assigned room, took out my Nikon and I was ready to go. Cultivated by a vast collection of the most colorful stories, my imagination informed me I had just arrived in the ultimate haven for drugs and sex lovers. This was the hippie city of legal “sex workers” where marijuana roams free and 6% of tourists visit just to lose themselves in the unique cannabis coffeshops and the brothels of the world-famous Red Light District. Ladies and gentlemen, this was Amsterdam.

Except that it wasn’t. The crazy city filled with druggies and prostitutes was just one face of the multifaceted Amsterdam that greeted me. I first discovered some other less known faces thanks to ‘Sandemans New Europe’, a company that offers FREE tours of various cities around the continent. Aurora, our guide from Seville, volunteers for the company in exchange for tips, which fall at the discretion (and pocket power) of visitors. With her Andalusian charm, Aurora took us to blooming tulip gardens, the house of Anne Frank, some of the 1,400 bridges that link concentric circles of beautiful canals and the old customs house that served as the anatomy lab where Rembrandt found inspiration for his paintings.

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