Top Ten Travel Bucket List. Day Two- Palau and Amsterdam

Yesterday I kicked off my week long Travel Bucket List series with an intro telling you what you can expect for the next week and a look at London, United Kingdom as my #10 destination. If you didn’t read yesterday, scroll down and give it a read!

Today features another travel wish list usual suspect at #9 with Amsterdam, Netherlands, and a more unconventional choice at #8 takes a look at the Pacific islands of Palau. Let’s literally jump right into it, shall we, to a look at two destinations where water is the key to your travel plans.

9. Amsterdam, Netherlands

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No, you’re not looking a painting or a CGI image from a movie screen. That’s just some of the beautiful architecture you can expect to see when visiting Amsterdam. Known for its culture and it’s infamous Red Light District, there’s a little something for everyone whether you like to keep it low key, or get into a little bit of trouble. But since this is a PG travel series, I’ll leave the getting into trouble for you to look into 😉

The first stop in my Amsterdam vacation won’t be a stop at all, but a ride through the canals that not only contribute to the city’s character, but keep it from drowning. I know, I know… Canal boat rides are so cliche. But the canal rides in Amsterdam come with a lot of options that make them a lot more fun and worth giving a day of your trip to.

Boat tours through a famous city, in my experience, have been the worst. I pay to have someone boat me through the city, pointing out this landmark or that house, but in no time I feel bored, trapped, and regretful of wasted time. You could always choose to do a guided tour if that’s your style, but I like to roam and have options. Amsterdam offers these options while still giving you the canal experience. The first, more expensive and adventurous option is to rent a boat and do your own exploring. The second option is to hit up a company with a day pass. You receive an all day ticket and can hop on or hop off to your heart’s desire. Feeling bored? Jump off. Want to see another site? Jump back on bored. You can get the canal experience and some insight into the city, maybe even discover a stop you’d not planned on visiting, and all at you own leisure and pace.

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Next, lets take a trip to the library. Yes, I said the library. Yes, I’m serious! Amsterdam’s Central Library is a modern marvel of architecture. Ten floors, 300 computers, three restaurants, and a stunning view of the city aren’t even the main attraction.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that books are a huge hobby of mine. If you haven’t, you just learned a new fact about me. But even being the largest library in Europe and housing millions of reading options, we still aren’t even to the best part.

The modern architecture of the building is stunning even in photos. 

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The best feature of the building? Notice anything missing? All artificial light sources in the library are either invisible or hidden. The architects who designed the building wanted natural light to be the main focus, and decided to build all artificial light sources either into the design or the furniture. Maybe its just me, but I found that extremely cool. While at the library, I can’t forget to take some selfies with a stunning view of the city in the background!

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Finally, a little art- both on a canvas and in the ground. Check out the amazing art created by Dutch masters and also the amazing tulips that The Netherlands is famous for.
I’m not even going to begin to touch on all the amazing art museums that are at your disposal while in Amsterdam. For a more comprehensive list of options and description- check out this great article from The Telegraph that is a great guide to the art scene.

The two highlight museums are the Rijksmuseum (RM will be used as abbreviation) and the Van Gogh Museum. The RM features the work of Rembrandt, as well as giving you works of other artists who are apparently really renowned, but I’ve never heard of (like I said, read The Telegraph article. I’m a very casual art lover at best). The RM also is a showcase of royal furniture, clothing, and precious metals and jewelry. The Van Gogh museum offers, well, a lot of Van Gogh. Over 200 paintings as well as drawings and other pieces make this the world’s largest collection of work from one of history’s most celebrated artists.

Finally, time to check out the tulips! If you’re like me, you love flowers. Every summer, I plant as many as my 7×5 foot apartment patio will tastefully allow, and my local florist knows me by name. The Dutch take flowers to a whole new level, making living art out of their beautiful tulips.

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Been to Amsterdam? Leave a comment with your favorite stop or hidden gem. It’s never too early to start planning.

8. Palau

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On the surface, Palau looks like your everyday destination to a week of paradise. To get to the true intrigue of Palau, you have to go under the surface to find what makes this chain of over 250 islands stand out and worthy of a Bucket List.

First, a bit about Palau. Located hundreds of miles west of Indonesia and the Philippines, Palau is out of the way, and I mean out of the way. A flight from the United States will take about four layovers before even making it to the islands. Speaking of the United States, Palau is governed by the US as part of a 1947 treaty, English is its main language, and they use the dollar as currency which makes it a very American friendly destination.

What makes Palau a perfect destination for me personally is that its not only rich with experiences with nature that are extremely rare, but it gives a living look at history that any history buff go crazy over. Let’s start our vacation with a few relaxing days laying by the clear oceans with a book and some booze, but then its time to explore!

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On the surface, this looks like any ordinary tropical lake. Take a closer look. Like, really close, to the bottom corner. See those pin points of orange? Welcome to Jellyfish Lake in Palau.

Connected to the oceans by a series of underwater channels, millions of jelly fish pass through this lake everyday. The coolest part? You can go swimming with them and live to tell the tale. The golden jellyfish is a subspecies of jelly fish that, for whatever reason, does not possess the ability to sting predators.

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You can touch them, hold them, swim along them. Let’s be real- who wouldn’t want to experience this? I’ve never been diving, so a quick course in snorkeling will be a must, but its a small price to pay for the once in a lifetime experience of Jellyfish Lake.

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The next reason that Palau makes my Bucket List- it’s a living window into the history of the United States and World War II. I’m a history buff. While the Pacific conflict in WWII isn’t exactly my favorite subject of history, it’s still very cool to learn about and this is how to get a real life look at it’s history.

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To give an extremely abridged version of the history (this blog is in the middle of travel week, not history week, after all) the USA and Japan had a lot of conflicts centered in or around Palau, including the Battle of Peleliu.

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The clear waters of Palau’s oceans offer amazing views of still intact wreckage from the battles, and the jungles also provide looks at deserted tanks and crashed planes.

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I say again- who wouldn’t want to experience this? Palau is often overlooked as a travel destination, but it easily lands on my Bucket List, and after reading, hopefully yours.

Tomorrow we are coming back state side for my #7 destination, San Francisco, California, and heading down under to Sydney, Australia. If you’re enjoying the travel series, don’t forget to subscribe or bookmark me. Until tomorrow, bon voyage.

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