So as the title mentioned, here are some photos from Amsterdam. That's in the Netherlands. It's on your bucket list. And now the photos:

View over the Rokin street and Amstel River

View over the Rokin street and Amstel River in Amsterdam, Netherlands

A street cafe at Amsterdam's university quarter

A street cafe at Amsterdam's university quarter, Netherlands

Bicycles parked at a narrow street

Bicycles parked at a narrow street in Amsterdam, Netherlands

A Dutch "coffee" shop

'A Dutch coffee shop in Amsterdam, Netherlands' class=rt-image

Cute design of a traditional house

Cute design of a traditional house in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Vintage drawbridge over a canal

Vintage drawbridge over a canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Chinesse restaurants

Chinesse restaurants in Amsterdam, Netherlands

A steak house

A steak house in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Worn out streetlight

Worn out streetlight in Amsterdam, Netherlands

One of Amsterdams "grachten" canals

One of Amsterdams

Boat party at Amsterdam's Gay Pride Parade

Boat party at Amsterdam's Gay Pride Parade

Google joining Amsterdam's Gay Pride Parade

Google joining Amsterdam's Gay Pride Parade

  HoliDaze Guide   Amsterdam's Top Offbeat Activities

Most people who live in places considered to have a 'normal climate' often long to the south. Yes, sure enough 'south' often has it all, cheap drinks, temperature, beaches, cheap food, cheap hotels, cheap flights...

But what many of these places lack is sights and adventure! And even if they have a bit of that, not too many of us normal people enjoy hiking in the mountains in 40° C (or more!) heat. Most of us at some point get a little sick of the same old thing, even if the beaches on Costa Del Sol might not be exactly like the ones on Gran Canaria, the concept is the same -- Warm, sandy and sunny. As a Norwegian, and particularly a Northern Norwegian, I know all about longing for the southern parts of the world. I may not have been to too many exotic places, but I have spent my fair share of time in Southern Europe, on the beach, flat out, frying in the heat. Now I've "re-discovered" my own country and region that I have gotten a little older.

I moved to the town of Tromso in Troms County, Norway. I moved here predominantly to study, but I fell in love with the town. The town has many positive aspects, firstly during summer time, it never gets dark due to the midnight sun, and during summer there are numerous festivals and activities going on, during the winter, the northern lights dance across the sky almost like magic. The town is located on an island, in the middle of a strait leading up to a fjord. The airport is located in the middle of the island, 5 minutes away from the city centre. The airport has daily flights to other destinations in Norway such as the capital, Oslo, but also international flights linking it to world cities such as London. During my time in Tromso, I worked for three hotels, all at a different end of the scale. The town offers everything from good value 3 star hotels, to high end 5 star hotels. There are major chains located in the city such as Scandic, Radisson BLU and Choice Hotels, yet also smaller chains and independent hotels all offering something unique to the city. As the largest city in Northern Norway. Tromso offers a vibrent night-life, a multitude of shops and leisure, as well as great sights.

The main sights are:

  • The Mountain Cable Car that takes you up to the mountain, giving a panoramic view over the city. On the top there is a restaurant serving local cuisine as well as lighter meal options.
  • The Arctic Cathedral located by the iconic Tromso Bridge, facing the city centre. The church hosts intimate concerts throughout the year yet is also a sight to see on its own.
  • City Museums are the three main museums in Tromso. The Town Museum on the southern tip of the island, which focuses on town history; the Roald Amundsen Museum, which holds a large collection from arctic expeditions and the ship Polarstjernen (an old fishing ship located next to Polaria). Other things worth visiting include: Skipsbroen Bar at the Rica Ishavshotel, the best view in the city. Gründer Bar and Café, the best night club in town. The University with its botanical garden and geological exhibition as well as the Old Town area north of the bridge, containing the largest collection of old wooden, traditional Norwegian houses north of Trondheim.
  • Polaria is part of the Fram Centre, which is a research facility focusing on the arctic. At Polaria there are exhibitions on arctic wildlife, and the centre has seals and arctic marine life on display.

Polaria, Norway and the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

My first trip to Egypt was when I was 19 on my school holidays in Britain. It was a tour package which included hotels, the famous museums, camel riding around the pyramids and Abu Hawel (Sphinx), Luxor's attractions, a falucca ride down the Nile River in Aswan, Abu Simbel, all the food and and a comfortable train ride.

The price was very reasonable, but I saved even more when I booked my own flight to Cairo, using Tarom Romanian Airlines, via Bucharest. (Romania was still under socialism then and prices for those kinds of airlines were a bargain.)

I am much older now and this time came to Cairo by myself, avoiding the tourist scene almost completely and really discovering intimately a taste of "real" Cairo.

Able to struggle again using my broken Arabic, travelling by using public transport (Cairo has an excellent and cheap Metro!- The young sporty guys who were on the train were giving hungry looks making the train like a big cruising place! ), wandering around back roads and alleyways, an Cairo neighbourhood called Old Islamic Darassa, and elsewhere- I fell in love with Cairo, and love the relationships I made with the gracious people (sitting and talking together over tea/qahwa) and discovering that not everyone wants "baksheesh", but lovingly hold your hand and guide you through their (frustrating but rewarding) system of things in their city. My short but sweet experience put Cairo in my heart and now I want to return and discover it again and again!

I wandered out from my guest house in Darassa's old back streets hoping to find some sweets to nibble on before trying to go to bed when a bunch of older men were playing cards and watching a game on the telly. One of the men shouted for me but I gestured and pointed in a direction suggesting that I wanted to continue walking on, but they insisted I come in to their man den and join them all for some tea and conversation, smoke filled the room as the sports programme on the TV competed with our small conversations. I also saw a small shop with a showcase of Hummus beans. The guy behind the counter was flirting with me and the other men in the shop were smiling with him. I didn't get any hummus but I do remember all those smiles!

These small encounters and are precious to me and the feelings are unforgettable. Moments like these are the highlights of visiting Cairo and other cities in Egypt and not just the pyramids and tourist saturated places like that. I hope on another trip to Cairo I will be invited to a home and experience Egyptian hospitality like I have in other places in the world.

  Featured photo by Ronald Woan via Flickr.

Freshly made kesong puti (native cheese) for breakfast is one of the perks whenever I travel to Laguna and Tagaytay. Paired with pandesal that is still hot from the oven or pugon with kapeng barako will surely perk me up even amidst chilly air. My trip to Cavite City introduced me to another version of kesong puti. Caviteños call it quesillo. This raw cheese made from carabao’s milk and wrapped in fresh banana leaves has a creamy texture just like the kesong puti I have been accustomed to. I was able to buy quesillo at P. Burgos Street in Cavite City just a block away from the Mercado del Ciudad de Cavite (Cavite City Public Market). To my dismay, I have forgotten how much it costs as I was too eager when buying. This article was initially published at my food blog Eat To Your Heart's Content

When I think of Antipolo, I think of mostly these three things, suman (glutinous rice), mangga (mangoes) and kasuy (cashew nuts). Although these three are not native to Antipolo City in the province of Rizal - where suman and kasuy may come in other areas, while mangoes usually brought from Pangasinan or Zambales, Antipolo is still one of the best choices to getting your fix of suman-mangoes-kasuy with just about an hour or so away from Metro Manila. After a visit to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje) a number of stalls lined near the entrance of the church await every visitor. Piles of suman (glutinous rice usually cooked in coconut milk and sugar then wrapped in coconut leaves) and mounds of roasted kasuy (cashew nuts) were somehow shouting at me as I could not decide how much to buy. The lady vendor at the Nimfa Cora Mestiza Special Pasalubong even enticed my friend Michelle to try eating the suman after dipping into a jar of coconut jam. After taking the photos I needed, I bought suman and lots of cashew nuts. Other pasalubong (take home treats) goodies and delicacies available were broas, peanut brittle, polvoron, turrones de mani, lengua, uraro and glazed peanuts. This article was initially published at my food blog Eat To Your Heart's Content
I was fortunate to return to the Philippines' City of Smiles during the first week of October 2011. The streets of Bacolod City was vibrant with the upcoming celebration of the MassKara Festival. During my four-day work for a television coverage, an all-day and night shoot was scheduled during the first day of my arrival. During the day, our local / regional staff based in Bacolod City toured us to some of the sights and must-see landmarks of this charming city. We went to the Bacolod Public Plaza where some stalls were offering some snacks and quick meals. As much as we wanted to grab a bite, my crew and I were rushing before the sun goes down but vowed to return by night time and enjoy some grilled dishes available at the Bacolod Public Plaza. Night time comes, we strolled the Bacolod Public Plaza dazzling with night lights and in the mood to party all-night with dance music playing aloud. There were several MassKara Festival items from accessories and a variety of MassKara designs. But the food lover in me passed up the opportunity to buy any MassKara accessory and looked for something to satisfy my palate. A few steps from the San Sebastian Cathedral, the sight of this yellow-colored thin concoction caught my attention. I asked the two male vendors if what they were selling was crepe and both were looking for answers to my query. My colleague and friend Ate GG blurted, "anak pancake lang yan" (loosely translated : child it's a pancake). It seems to be funny now as why would I thought that crepes will be sold as a street food but the thinness and was very similar to a crepe though it was cooked in a waffle-designed pan. The pancake was vibrant yellow and with very simple ingredients - flour, evaporated milk, sugar and margarine. Will the latter help in making me taller? Not really, but it sure satisfied my curiosity of how it tasted. Just a piece would do for me as the margarine was over-powering in flavor. This article was initially published at my food blog Eat To Your Heart's Content
I cannot express my fondness for Davao City. Even before I met my Dabawenyo beau five years ago, I have heard wonderful news about this paradise in Mindanao. My mom would often tell me that celebrities like Margie Moran and Dawn Zulueta resides in Davao City and one of my favorite fruits, pomelo (suha) are locally produced in Asia's largest city. One of my trips to Davao City brought me to one of the wonderful reasons to be (moreso to live) in Davao City. As a food columnist for an internationally published magazine, my editor-in-chief at 7107 Island Travel Magazine gave me a go signal to produce an article about the king of fruits - Durian. Rich and creamy in texture, Durian will always have a love-hate relationship with anyone who takes a bite at this exotic fruit. Quoting the author of Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain, "it's taste can only be described as... indescribable, something you will love or despise... your breath will smell as if you've been French-kissing your dead grandmother." Repugnant to many, but for those who appreciate its heavenly taste, despite possessing a striking scent, the Durian fruit is probably one of God's precious creations. In 1856, a British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace wrote that "to eat Durian is a new sensation worth a voyage to the east to experience... as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed." The abundance of Durian fruit in Davao City is truly amazing. What you can buy in Manila for Php250 per piece (USD6.25 approx conversion at Php40 per $1), I actually bought it for only Php45 (USD1.125). When Durian is in season (from August to October), this fruit can be bought for Php30 (USD0.75) to Php45 (USD1.125) per kilo. Durian, the king of fruits, is one of the reasons you would keep coming back to Davao region. I know I would, as there are numerous concoctions that Dabawenyos have made from this magnificent exotic fruit. This article was initially published at
During the last day on one of my trips in Davao City, my beau brought me to what the locals call the Seawall. I have almost forgotten this place (my previous executive producer for a TV reality cooking show first brought me in 2006) located at the Times Beach and what locals also refer to as Baywalk. It resembles a small Roxas Boulevard (in Manila) where the open water is at arms-length and a magnificent sunset can be witnessed (only the sunset here is at the right side whereas as in Manila's Roxas Boulevard it's fronting the seawall). But the similarity ends there as Davao City's Seawall has so much more to offer - to locals and tourists alike. It's quite an infamous place for conservative locals as a naked statue stands towering at about 30 feet. To some who have seen this erection (pun intended) as vulgar and indecent, for generations this statue has been regarded as one of Italy's greatest masterpiece. The original statue I am referring to is David, created by Italian artist Michaelangelo and was unveiled in September 1504. What stands at Davao City's Seawall is obviously a replica of the original statue of David in the Renaissance era. The replica has been painted and shimmering in gold. In front of the statue is a structured body of water surround by plants and has live baby sharks swimming, as if guarding the statue. I honestly do not see why some locals would maliciously tag the statue of David as indecent when in fact, it is quite a blessing for the locals to see such an art, without going to Florence in Italy where the actual statue is displayed for over 500 years. Two other replicas where built around the globe - one is in London and the other in Brisbane, Australia. Another statue was created on the shallow waters at the left side of the Seawall. I'm sure you are all familiar with Copenhagen's Little Mermaid. The legenday statue has been used in many location shootings in Hollywood films. The Little Mermaid sits on a rock at the Churchill Park in Copenhagen, Denmark for about 100 years and for Dabawenyos, they do not have to fly to Denmark just to see something like this. A replica of the Little Mermaid, facing the sea, can be found at the Seawall. Apart from these two world-renowed replicas, at another part of the Seawall are caged animals - a number of ducks and elegant ostriches roam around. My beau and I just enjoyed these international statues and a breathtaking sunset while some locals prefer to catch some fresh fish. Davao City's Seawall is just one of the many reasons why you should visit Davao City and the entire Mindanao region. What are you waiting for? Isn't it more fun in the Philippines? DAVAO CITY'S SEAWALL Ecoland, Times Beach Matina Aplaya, Davao City Philippines *The Seawall in Ecoland is near SM City and Queensland Motel This article was initially published at

Be careful if saying that exotic things are the prerogative of remote from Europe lands, somewhere in Asia or in Latin America. The Portuguese can be truly offended and, in particular, will be right to remind you of Madeira, nicknamed by many "The Passion Fruits Island." The idea itself reflects this fruit is widely grown and used over the area, and if surfing over the internet pages or talking to locals, it is very likely to learn about passion fruit wine, passion fruit pudding, passion fruit liquor, etc. Doesn't it sound exotic? Yet, it is not the only cracy thing Madeira can offer to visitors. To enjoy special and contrasting Old World nature and culture one should definitely head to the island, one of the top places to go in Portugal.

Besides passion fruits in their pure form, so to say, cultivated on other corners of the world as well, it is quite possible to get alike yet no less interesting gifts of Mother Nature on Madeira markets. On Mercado dos Lavradores in Fucnhal, for instance, crowds of tourists are usually excited with the variety of fruits and vegetables, although their taste often does not suit each and every. Among the extraordinary "exhibits" one can notice passion fruit bananas: they resemble bananas in shape, but under thick green cover one will discover juicy passion fruit seeds! The view is indeed very amazing!

Passion fruits

Enthusiastically, people also turn their heads to passion fruit tomatoes: they are very alike to common tomatoes, but, being cut, hit with saturated magenta color and a characteristic, rather sour, taste. Passion fruit melon is another story. It is the biggest of all, carries lemon yellow color, gets huge in sizes and its taste is in very deed delicious. The row of passion fruit fancies might be finished up with ananas (known as pineapples). They are treated as the most exotic on the island of Madeira. Outwardly, it is hard to find a matching fruit to describe, as this one does not look like any. This is a green bump of right cylindrical shape and about 20 centimeters at length. It is important to add that no hybrid fruits are sold on Madeira food markets, as skeptics can think. The fruits were not scientifically designed, although the merchants cannot but use this myth to attract buyers!


The idea of exotic fruits might be followed with the other one associated with various vivid flowers and trees, also grown on Madeira. Local guides, as well as those working in Madeira botanical gardens, will tell you that since Portuguese island discovery in 1419, sailors started to bring various unique species from abroad. Local villagers have been eagerly cultivating them for centuries and tried their best to make plants adapt to climate and weather of the neighborhood. The results might be examined at present, especially if attending Montepalace Tropical Garden, Madeira National Reserve, Orchid Garden and many others. Furthermore, you'll be really lucky to arrange your visit during Madeira Flower Festival, usually held right after Easter celebrations. Well, as of today you have a couple weeks to consider this idea and realize it. Frankly, Madeira is really worth it!

The title of the most romantic city in the world without a doubt belongs to Paris. The atmosphere oozes love and passion as it is home to many wonderful and picturesque places as well as lots of wonderful bars and restaurants to enjoy with a loved one.

Many people visit Paris on mini breaks with their partner and quite often to pop the question. Where better to propose than in the romance capital of the world. Here are some of the best places to get down on one knee, all within easy reach of top quality Paris hotels.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame is one of the most romantic spots in Paris and the cathedral is simply stunning. The best time to propose here is on a clear night as the building is lit up beautifully and you can see stars in the sky.

The Louvre

For art lovers there is no more perfect proposal spot than the Louvre. Depending on your prospective spouse, choose from either inside one of the galleries, or outside by the glass pyramid made famous in recent years by the film The Da Vinci Code.

Eiffel Tower

There are very few people on Earth who would not recognise the Eiffel Tower and its position overlooking Paris makes it a great place to pop the question. Travel up to the top and ask when in up high for maximum effect.

Arc de Triomphe

Another monument you can go to the top of is the Arc de Triomphe. This is often the first thing you see that let’s you know you have arrived in Paris, and the view from the roof is spectacular.Proposals are something you both will remember for the rest of your lives. Make it spectacular by taking your loved one to Paris to say those four magic words. For added wow factor try visiting one of these places at sunset in the summer. Book a hotel now and start practicing delivering that all-important line.

Arc de Triomphe photo courtesy of thausj on Flickr.

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