Daily Escape

Amsterdam Canal

Photo by Mark Lewis/ Aurora Photos

Amsterdam Canal

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The residents of Amsterdam love traversing their beautiful city in all sorts of creative ways. Act like a local and skip the traffic, opting instead for a peaceful paddle. Known as the Venice of the North, there’s plenty of room for romance and history while cruising down the city’s 17th-century canals.


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Alleged burial site of Vlad the Impaler
Snagov Monastery

Snagov Monastery

On a tiny islet, surrounded by a lake, stands Snagov Monastery. Vlad enthusiasts have been claiming since the 19th century that Vlad himself is buried inside this monastery, more than 300 miles from Bucharest. While there’s no definitive proof of it, it sure makes for an intriguing story. 960 1280

fusion-of-horizons, flickr  

Count Dracula Club

Count Dracula Club

Inside this 19th-century house in Bucharest, visitors encounter a Dracula-inspired restaurant with some, um, newfangled twists. Dine on menu options like “Count Dracula’s Beefsteak” and the “Van Helsing Plate,” in honor of Dracula’s biggest enemy. But beware -- someone might sneak up on you, and take a bite out of your tasty neck! 960 1280

Count Dracula Club   

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

The medieval fortress, about 100 miles from Bucharest, was invaded by Vlad back in the day. Perched atop a 200-foot-tall rock, overlooking the village of Bran, Bran Castle yields panoramic views of the village below. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Poenari Fortress

Poenari Fortress

This weathered, cliff-side castle was Vlad’s main fortress. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries in south-central Romania by the rulers of Wallachia (a principality in what is now Romania), the castle was later abandoned and fell into ruin, until Vlad stepped in and oversaw its repairs. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com  

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

This military tower, in the Romanian city of Targoviste, was built by Vlad in the 15th century. Construction began during Vlad’s second reign (his first reign had been interrupted by a political coup and subsequent exile). Vlad came back strong with Chindia Tower, which stands at more than 88 feet. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com
  

Vlad's Old Princely Court

Vlad's Old Princely Court

This place of residence, located in Bucharest’s historic center, was built during the rule of Vlad III. But don’t let its regal arches and (1 remaining) Corinthian column fool you; the princely court was also likely a house of horrors. Local lore has it that Vlad kept his political enemies in dungeons beneath the court’s grounds. 960 1280

Nicubunu, Wikimedia Commons  

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Vlad’s gory legend was born in the Transylvania city of Sibiu. In 1459, thousands of people were impaled in the city, at Vlad’s orders, on St. Bartholomew’s Day. Vlad’s victims included women and children, along with merchants and the local aristocracy. While some justify Vlad’s gruesome acts as a defense of nationalism (many of his victims were German Saxons), his detractors note that many of his victims were also from his native Wallachia. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

See where Vlad III was born. In the winter of 1431, the future Prince of Wallachia was born in the present-day city of Sighisoara -- this yellow building is his supposed birthplace. Vlad’s father was Vlad II Dracul, who went on to become the voivode (warlord) of the area. No one really knows who Vlad III’s mother was; some speculate it was a princess from Moldavia, but Vlad’s father had several mistresses. 960 1280

Aleksandar Cocek, flickr  

Borgo Pass

Borgo Pass

This high mountain pass, roughly 309 miles northwest of Bucharest, is actually known as the Tihuta Pass. Located in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, the area was made famous by Bram Stoker’s Dracula -- in the novel, he rechristened the area, “Borgo Pass,” depicting it as the gateway to Count Dracula’s lair of horrors.

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Richard Mortel, flickr  

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Once you’ve checked out the Borgo Pass, settle down for the night at Hotel Coroana de Aur. The property comprises 109 rooms and 4 suites, with air-conditioning, mini-bars and free Wi-Fi among the amenities, making for a clean, streamlined environment to kick back and read up on Vlad and Dracula’s bloody exploits. 960 1280

Iván Vieito  

Red Light District
Red Light District

Red Light District

The Red Light District, also known as 'De Wallen', is arguably the biggest tourist attraction in Amsterdam. Although it is known mainly for its adult entertainment, it houses many medical and law practices, restaurants, coffee shops, museums and more. 960 1280

Kiril Stanchev, Getty Images  

Bicycle Path Symbol

Bicycle Path Symbol

Although helmets are rarely worn, Amsterdam is known by many as the most bike-friendly city in the world. They even have specialized traffic lights with bicycle symbols. 960 1280

Petek ARICI, Getty Images  

Smoking, Yes. Drinking, No.

Smoking, Yes. Drinking, No.

In Amsterdam there are plenty of places to smoke. However, drinking is allocated to designated areas. Sorry. 960 1280

ictor, Getty Images  

For Sale (Te Koop)

For Sale (Te Koop)

This "Te Koop" sign indicates that a property is for sale in a suburb of Amsterdam. 960 1280

Webeye, Getty Images  

Airport Sign: Odd-Size Luggage

Airport Sign: Odd-Size Luggage

A sign for odd-size luggage in the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Schipol is the Netherlands main international airport. 960 1280

Lya_Cattel, Getty Images  

Amsterdam Sex Shop

Amsterdam Sex Shop

Lighted sex-shop signs can be found all over the Red Light District in Amsterdam. 960 1280

FrankvandenBergh, Getty Images  

Amsterdam Sex Cinema

Amsterdam Sex Cinema

Sex Cinema sign in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. 960 1280

Tashka, Getty Images  

Amsterdam Youth Hostels

Amsterdam Youth Hostels

Amsterdam boasts a large number of youth hostels, which make lodging more affordable to younger visitors. 960 1280

Martin Moos, Getty Images  

Amsterdam Playground Entrance

Amsterdam Playground Entrance

A sign at the entrance of a playground. 960 1280

Designalicious, Getty Images  

Anne Frank House and Museum

Anne Frank House and Museum

A sign on the building where Anne Frank lived while she was in hiding during WWII. The house, now a museum, is where her world-famous diary was written. 960 1280

pidjoe, Getty Images  

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

The entrance to the museum of high profile celebrity wax figures, known as Madame Tussaud's, located on Dam Square. 960 1280

W. Meier, Getty Images  

Bulldog Coffeeshop

Bulldog Coffeeshop

The 'Bulldog Coffeeshop,' in the heart of the Red Light District, is a place where the sale and consumption of marijuana and hashish is tolerated. It claims to be the first coffee shop in Amsterdam. 960 1280

VanWyckExpress, Getty Images  

No Dog Poop Allowed

No Dog Poop Allowed

A "please clean up after your pets" sign located in parks and recreation zones. 960 1280

Timur Kulgarin, Getty Images  

Dismemberment Warning

Dismemberment Warning

A caution sign in Amsterdam depicts a man walking with one leg missing. 960 1280

ACMPhoto, Getty Images  

Abundantly Clear Bathroom Messaging

Abundantly Clear Bathroom Messaging

This street sign in the red light district of Amsterdam indicates the direction of the nearest restroom. 960 1280

ictor, Getty Images  

XXX Marks the Spot

XXX Marks the Spot

Known for its adult entertainment, XXX marks the spot on a nearby bench in the Red Light District. 960 1280

michel de nijs, iStock  

Coffee Shops: They're Not Just for Coffee Anymore

Coffee Shops: They're Not Just for Coffee Anymore

Coffeeshop Smokey on Rembrandt Square is one of hundreds of coffee shops in Amsterdam. In most coffee shops, the sale and consumption of cannabis is accepted. 960 1280

sbostock, Getty Images  

Iamsterdam

Iamsterdam

The Iamsterdam sign, the city motto, with the Rijksmuseum, the Museum of Art and History, in the background. 960 1280

Andres Balcazar, Getty Images  

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