Cool, mellow, surreal, seductive: they're all words that describe Amsterdam, my adopted city. Come explore the hidden gems, sexy secrets and colorful culture of this global village with me—an American expat in Holland.

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A Dutch village with (almost) no cars

No Cars

There’s not much that goes fast in Giethoorn, a mostly car-free village of just over 2,600 residents in Holland’s northeastern Overijssel province. Here, boats move along at a snail’s pace. Waterside dining is anything but rushed. Pedestrians amble along wooden footpaths, idly browsing in shops that line the canals. Sure, an aggressive seagull might swoop down to grab a hot French fry from an unsuspecting tourist. Or communal birdsong and the symphony of ducks quacking may disrupt the peace on a particularly noisy day. But overall, the pace is exceedingly chill in this idyllic fairyland less than two hours from Amsterdam by car but worlds away in spirit.

Some 90 kilometers of waterways replace paved roads in Giethoorn. In this watery landscape, whisper boats glide noiselessly over a labyrinth of canals, through tall forests and under 180 wooden bridges that connect to well-manicured houses on islands formed of peat.

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