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Make a difference while you travel. Travel has the power to not only be a transformative experience for you, but also for the communities and destinations that you visit. By making sustainable choices, seeking meaningful experiences and minimizing your travel footprint, you can be part of this global force for good.

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Amsterdam Calling

Amsterdam, It’s the capital and most populous municipality of the Netherlands. Its status as the capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands, although it is not the seat of the government, which is The Hague. Amsterdam has a population of 851,373 within the city proper, 1,351,587 in the urban area, and 2,410,960 in the Amsterdam metropolitan area. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country but is not its capital, which is Haarlem. The metropolitan area comprises much of the northern part of the Randstad, one of the larger conurbations in Europe, with a population of approximately 8 million.

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Most people in The Netherlands own a bicycle because it’s a pretty easy way to get around this generally flat country. Even when cars came within the reach of most people, the bicycle remained popular and city planners have made the cars fit around the bikes, not the other way around. But for the visitor unaccustomed to so many bikes it presents a few hazards to being a pedestrian. There’s another reason why people ride bikes a lot in the Netherlands, fuel is expensive and there is a general urging to stop relying on cars in certain areas.

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Otherwise, getting around the Netherlands should be fairly easy. It’s a small country, so trips are short and public transportation like buses and rail are well maintained and easy to navigate. Lines run frequently and pre-arranged tickets are rarely needed. The entire country is governed by one-fare system to make things simple. In June 2011 they phased out the old strippenkaart, literally a strip of cards you stamped onboard a tram  and replaced them with a credit card-style smart card called the OV-chipkaart. It’s an electronic card with a built-in chip for use on all public transport in Amsterdam including buses, trams and metros. The card can be topped up with credit in euros. You can get unimited travel throughout Amsterdam on its trams, trains and buses for 24 hours from as little as 7 Euros. Or use the card to travel for a week, or a whole season.

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Like in any major city, rogue locals will try to scam an unsuspecting tourist in Amsterdam. If you remain smart, wary and alert, you should have a trouble-free visit.

Visitors to the Netherlands posting on a popular travel forum say some individuals may pretend to be police officers and question you over drug possession or counterfeit currency.

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This is preying on a widespread fear in Europe that the central currency, the Euro, is easily forged and put into circulation. There was a flood of fake 100Euro notes in the Netherlands in 2004 and many businesses in smaller towns stopped accepting them – you may still find some reluctance.

Here’re some tips on spotting a fake Euro note:

  • Euro notes are made of 100% cotton material, making them hard, stiff and firm when touched; not flimsy.
  • Hold the note against plain light and look for the whole denomination number on all corners on both sides of the bank note. The number should be perfectly printed. There should be a dark security stripe across the note.
  • The hologram image changes from the value to a window or to a door symbol when turned in the light. The denomination number on the back should also change from purple to a green.
  • You can carry small battery-operated ultra violet lights to check notes. Under the UV light you should see the signature of the president of the European Central Bank and the flag symbols turn green, the star symbols turn orange.

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Amsterdam can seem like a wonderland for adult pleasure, depending on what you are into. From the liberal drug policy to the sex for sale in the windows, you can find a party here if you want to. Amsterdam, known for its Red Light District planned to ban foreigners from its (in) famous coffee shops, where you can order dope straight up or cloaked in a milkshake. Just as the new “locals only” laws came into effect there was a change of government. Although technically speaking you need a weed pass to purchase, the government has ordered that the police not enforce the law. Drugs and scantily clad prostitutes can make for an interesting environment. Never take pictures of women posing or doing other activities in the red windows unless you want your camera taken from you. Also don’t focus on drugs at the expense of monitoring your alcohol. Travellers to Amsterdam and other cities in the Netherlands have reported possibly being drugged at hotel bars and nightclubs. Many of these drugs are colourless and odourless, but produce fatigue, nausea and confusion. Do not leave your drink unattended or let a stranger buy you a drink.

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There is a major scam surrounding accommodation booking which is big in Amsterdam, but you usually get taken before you arrive. It is possible to find short-term rentals and other housing opportunities using sites like Craigslist and Gumtree, but criminals are now posting bogus properties with a cheap price. You can narrow down which accommodations are suspect by simply reading the ad. Often, a scammer will use poor language, pictures that look too good to be true, and web sites with bad designs. These web sites often have very similar URLs to other rental ads. Asking the ad poster to inspect the accommodation or having a friend in the area inspect it will usually be met with a “no” if the ad is indeed a fake. The good thing with scams on the more popular listing sites is that savvy community members will often start forum threads saying which ads are scams or are suspected of being scams.

Young,Wild and Free

CitizenM Amsterdam, This unique hotel offers modern rooms with mood lighting, free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV with free on-demand moviesCitizenM Amsterdam includes designer lounges and is just under half a kilometer from the RAI Conference Centre.

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Each room at citizenM Amsterdam has wall-to-wall windows and an extra-large bed with luxurious linen. With the Ipad minis, guest can modify room color, climate control, control the smart-TV and also adapt the blinds and black-out curtains. Guest can also bring and connect their own device. The bathroom facilities include a transparent pod with a rain shower in the room.

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Amsterdam Zuid Train Station is a 5-minute walk from citizenM hotel. The Prinses Irenestraat tram stop is only 130 m from the hotel. It offers direct services to the center of the city including Dam Square in 25 minutes and Central Train Station in 30 minutes.

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In the many living rooms at the hotel guests can use iMac computers and free printing facilities. Each of these rooms features a different atmosphere suitable for working, relaxing or meeting with friends.

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Sandwiches, sushi and warm meals are available at canteenM. Freshly prepared coffee is also served by the in-house baristas. During the evening, guests can enjoy exotic cocktails, draft beers and champagne at the bar.

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Zuideramstel is a great choice for travelers interested in convenient public transportationshopping and old-town exploration.

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Smart Stay

As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own. People wonder why so many writers and bloggers come to live and visit Paris. I’ve visited Paris for more than seven times and the answer seems simple to me, because it’s the best place to pick ideas. Just like Italy, Spain or Iran are the best places to pick saffron. If you want to pick opium poppies you go to Burma or South-East Asia. And if you want to pick novel ideas, you go to Paris.

Parisian Collection

The citizenM Paris Gare de Lyon is set in the 12th district of Paris. It offers breath taking views on the Seine and is located near to Gare de Lyon train station. Located close to Metro (Gare de Lyon) and two major train stations. Also, several cafes and restaurants in the area to choose from. Very clean, and a modern interior design. The CitizenM’s beds are the most comfortable hotel beds I’ve ever experienced. Have also stayed at New York property and had the same experience there. The staff is friendly and the hotel is run efficiently. Hotel location directly across from Gare de Lyon also is extremely convenient for airport transport and for getting around Paris.

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Each room is fitted with large beds, a power rain shower, free movies and Ipad that control the entire room. Rooms are also equipped with a mini fridge, hairdryers and custom made amenities. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel. There is a 24 hour desk and food and beverage area, canteenM, that offers draft beers, barista made coffees and the best cocktails in town.

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Within walking distance guests can find Opera Bastille is 900 m away, while Notre Dame Cathedral is 1.3 km from the property. The nearest airport is Paris – Orly Airport, 13 km away and Charles de Gaulle is a 30-minute train ride away with the direct RER B train from Chattel. 12th arr. is a great choice for travelers interested in historycathedrals and architecture. It’s guests’ favorite part of Paris, according to independent reviews.

Paris Minimalist Cityscape Postcard

A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.

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