Destination: Netherlands

Travel Song of the Day: ‘Amsterdam’ by Peter Bjorn and John

Parking Fees Around the World

The Economist has a great chart on parking fees around the globe. Among the highlights from its report: “European cities have some of the highest daily parking rates, with Amsterdam and London coming out on top. Tokyo is the most expensive place to leave your car outside Europe.”

Cheap travel tip: You’ll find great rates in Chennai, India. Um, road trip!

(Via the Idea of the Day blog)

What’s Become of the World’s Red-Light Districts?

red-light district Photo by FaceMePLS, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by FaceMePLS, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Wallpaper slideshow looks at how red-light districts in Amsterdam, Singapore, Sydney and seven other major world cities have been cleaned up. Or, as the story’s intro describes the transformation of Times Square in New York City, how they’ve reacted after after being given an “urban colonic.”

My Worst Hotel Rooms

My Worst Hotel Rooms Photo by Pear Biter via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Pear Biter via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Lists are in the air lately, so I decided to get in on the action. Herewith, my four worst hotel rooms, lifetime. I won’t name names, because I’m a gentleman. And also, because the parties in question might hunt me down and throw tiny bottles of shampoo at me.

Singapore: I was at the edge of Singapore’s Chinatown, which, as it turns out, is also the edge of Singapore’s red light district. Not that I caught on—I thought all the scantily-clad women peering out from cracked front doors were zealous about saving the environment and keeping that AC indoors. My hotel room here was easily the darkest I’ve ever stayed in: a deep red and purple color scheme lit by one dirty window overlooking an airshaft. The only outlet was in the middle of the wall above the bed. 

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Looking Back at the Bed-In

This week marks the 40th anniversary of John and Yoko’s first bed-in, at the Amsterdam Hilton. The couple spent their honeymoon, from March 26 to 31, 1969, inviting the press to visit them in their hotel room, where they sat in bed and talked peace. (A second, more famous bed-in took place in Montreal in May of ’69 and resulted in the recording of “Give Peace a Chance.”)

If you happen to be in Amsterdam this weekend, check out a few ongoing commemorative events there, or—for a virtual commemoration—head over to Yoko Ono’s for photos, video and reminiscences. You can also follow Yoko on Twitter; she’s had the anniversary on her mind. Yesterday she wrote: “I never liked ringing the service bell because it often made me realize that there was nobody at the other end.”

Five Great Pod Hotels

Five Great Pod Hotels Photo courtesy of The Pod Hotel

Travelers can save big bucks at pocket-sized pod hotels. Jennifer Plum Auvil offers her top picks.

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Best Cities to Drink Coffee

coffee cafe REUTERS

Terry Ward takes a look at seven of the best cities in the world to sit and sip

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Travel Nostalgia: The World in Vintage Posters

I’ve confessed to my abiding love of postcards before, and now I have another confession: I am a total sucker for the vintage travel poster and all its varied (fridge magnet, notebook, calendar, tote bag) incarnations. There’s something so refreshing about those old Cunard posters, or the early advertisements for transcontinental passenger rail. They have a guileless wonder to them, and a total lack of cynicism or irony—because they come from an era when nobody thought they had already seen it all. So I was thrilled to read on the Shoretrips blog about a major vintage poster auction being held in New York.

The auction’s already come and gone, but the entire collection is still viewable online. There are more than 400 posters in the sale, though, and only some of them are travel-related—so for all my fellow vintage-travel-poster-lovers (and I know you’re out there) I’ve put together a list of my favorites, and a cheat sheet for the rest.

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Morning Links: Venice Cokes Up, an Epic (Paper) Plane Video and More

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‘Who Would Ever Want to Invite You Into Their Home?’

Ramon Stoppelenberg asked the world to let him stay for a day. The world said, "Come on over."

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Amsterdam Cracks Down on ‘Cannabis Cafés’

Amsterdam Cracks Down on ‘Cannabis Cafés’ Photo by shelleylyn via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Photo by shelleylyn via Flickr (Creative Commons).

While we’ve covered the growing conservative tide in this notoriously liberal town, it now seems that mood has yielded the decision to close nearly one-fifth of Amsterdam’s marijuana-selling coffee shops—specifically those deemed too close to city schools. The decision has—not surprisingly—stirred controversy. “We don’t think it’s very useful,” said one school principal. “Children will get their drugs if they want to anyway.”

Sesame Street, Global Edition

Photo by u07ch via Flickr (Creative Commons).

When I heard Big Bird and South Africa’s muppet Zikwe talking to NPR about Putumayo Kids’ “Sesame Street Playground” album this weekend, I couldn’t help feeling jealous that I hadn’t grown up hearing songs like “Rubber Duckie” in Mandarin. The 40-year-old dean of all children’s shows now airs in 120 countries, and the new album showcases its worldwide reach.

There are songs from Israel, Palestine, Tanzania, South Africa, France, China, Russia, Mexico, the Netherlands, India and the United States. Concierge is especially fond of the “Pollution Song” from South Africa: a ditty about cleaning up after yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in the world sang along to that?

Exploring the Library at Amsterdam’s Ambassade Hotel

Photo by phault via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

Novelist and blogger Mark Sarvas offers an “achingly amateur” video tour of the historic library at the Ambassade Hotel, which he calls “the literary hotel of Amsterdam.” The library is packed with thousands of books written by authors who’ve stayed there over the years.


Windmills on the Rise in the Netherlands

Interestingly, among the many reasons cited for the phenomenon in this International Herald Tribune story: globalization. “As immigration changes the face of Dutch cities and globalization spreads its veil of uniformity over life in the Netherlands, many among the Dutch are looking for their roots.” And according to some, those roots also happen to produce better tasting flour than newer grinding methods. No word on whether tilting at windmills is also on the rise.

Related on World Hum:
* Sex, Drugs and Changing Times in Amsterdam

Photo by Porcelaingirl via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

Anne Frank Postcard Discovered

Remarkable: A teacher poking around his father’s antique shop in Holland discovered a postcard mailed by Anne Frank to a friend in 1937, seven years before her death. She’d written, “Good luck for the new year.”

Related on World Hum:
* Anne Frank’s Beloved Chestnut Tree to Fall