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Amsterdam in the throes of soccer fever adds to its allure

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The Netherlands soccer team, fresh from its victory snatched in an overtime shoot out with Costa Rica and headed for a showdown this week with powerhouse Argentina, has fueled intense soccer fever in the streets of the country's capital where soccer ball banners and gala decorations drape every brew house, tavern, pub and hostelry. Old stone houses, bridges, bikes, and canal houses retain their demeanor, but elsewhere things are soccer centric with flags, mottoes and soccer balls festooned from rooftops and doorways.

This week especially, with the semi-finals on tap, a high number of the city’s 800,000 bicyclists will likely be ferrying themselves to their favorite sidewalk establishments to view the match of the decade. And hopefully there’s more to come.

Holding the record for the most second place finishes (1974, 1978, 2010, West Germany, Argentina and Spain, respectively,) tiny Holland is looking to even the score from its 1978 loss to Argentina and take on either Germany or Brazil in the Finals.

For tourists, the Soccer madness offers a unique glimpse into the deep Dutch spirit and pride, a pride so justifiably evident in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Museum and the Van Gogh Museum to cite just three of the more than 80 housed within the city. Amsterdam was home in the 1700s to a thriving Burgher class and dominions that stretched to colonies in the Far East.

Walking alongside the canals still provides a restful and tranquil counterpoint to 'soccer madness' and allows visitors a different view of the Dutch spirit every bit as genuine as that of the country’s devoted soccer fans. Neighborhood restaurants featuring al fresco canal-side dining offer a prime perch from which to watch the lighted bridges come to life, sip a native beer and dine on fine food.

Ongoing through October 5, the Rijksmuseum’s new ‘outdoor gallery’ displays about 20 monumental sculptures and mobiles by American sculptor Alexander Calder. You can learn much more about the museum and its collection of some of the world’s finest masterpieces by downloading the free multimedia tour app, available for iOS and Android: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rijksmuseum/id621307961?mt=8

With this official resource, you can browse through the museum’s collection and research the artworks at your leisure. Or you can follow one of the selected tours, guided by a narrator to a selection of the museum's highlights. When you visit, bring your own headphones so you can, with the app, enjoy the full 3D audio experience.

Explore all that Holland has to offer and plan your trip to Amsterdam with the resources found on www.holland.com

View more than 100 of Lee's local and international travel articles here.

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