Program 374: What's New in Amsterdam; Swiss Mix; Adventure Sports in Spain

Release Date: 08-09-2014

On Air Description

On this week's Travel with Rick Steves, find out what's new in Amsterdam, including what you'll find at the city's newly-renovated art museums.   

Hear how Switzerland pulls European cultures together into a uniquely Swiss identity, that stands apart from its surrounding neighbors in Europe. 

And discover the variety of outdoor recreation you can enjoy in Spain, from mountain hiking to ocean kayaking and paddle boarding. 

Get an insider's taste of Europe, on the next Travel with Rick Steves.


  • Nica Johnson, tour guide based in Amsterdam
  • Martin Minich, Swiss guide
  • Donald White, tour guide based in Lake Como, Italy
  • Agustín Ciriza, director of Gorilla-Trip Tours in San Sebastian, Spain

Related Links


  • Caller is traveling to Amsterdam and is concerned about possible criminal encounters due to relaxed drug enforcement policies in the Netherlands. "With the liberal drug policies there, are there any safety issues that we must know?"  (Joe in Silver Lake, Ohio)
  • "Headed to Amsterdam soon.  Have tickets to Anne Frank House already. What other 'top attractions' do we need to pre-book to avoid lines? Which early a.m. flower market is the best to visit?"  (Caroline in Dunwoody, Georgia)
  • "Culturally, what distinguishes the German Swiss from the Germans next door in Germany?  Same question for the Swiss French and Swiss Italians."  (Joan in Scottsdale, Arizona)
  • "By pure accident, my husband and I met a Swiss farmer and his wife on the Oregon coast. We became friends and eventually visited them in Switzerland. We were overwhelmed by their kindness.  I found out that we were distantly related! They shared many special Swiss customs and foods with us during our time with them."  (April in Roseville, California)
  • "For people in our 60s who are fit, suggest the best option for adventure sports in Spain."  (Joan in Miami, Florida)
  • "We would like to take a bike tour in the Barcelona or Andalusia area.  We enjoy beautiful scenery, good food, visiting medieval towns, and tasting wine.  Can you suggest a route?"   (Nino in Northridge, California)
  • Caller asks about different guided sporting activities available at the Costa del Sol.  (Gordy in Oceanside, California)

Incidental Music

  • Les Armaillis du Gran Muveran, "Ranz des vaches des Ormonts,"  Folk Music from Western and Southern Switzerland (compilation) / Swiss Radio International
  • Jean-Luc Ponty, ”Elephants in Love,” Fables / Atlantic
  • Ralph Rousseau, "La montguichet," Chansons d’amour / Challenge Classics
  • Erik Visser, “The Canals of Amsterdam,” One Man Parade / Flairck
  • Werner Oh, “Tulpen uit Amsterdam,” Authentic Holland Folk Songs / Legacy Int’l
  • * Soho Travelers, "Elements of Nature (Light of the Bar Mix)," Indian Chill Lounge  (collection) / 4 Elements Records
  • Kammerensemble Arco Musicale, Matthias Kofmehl, Alphorn, "Konzert Für Alphorn In F Und Streicher: Rondo," Virtuoses Alphorn / MDS Records
  • La Brante (musique villageoise de Mernex), "Noces a St Gervais," Folk Music from Western and Southern Switzerland (compilation) / Swiss Radio International
  • La Mousicqua deinsses, "Galop," Folk Music from Western and Southern Switzerland (compilation) / Swiss Radio International
  • Jolimont Project, "Uncertainty Principle," Tillman and Ambient Groove Artists:  Lingo / SRI Enterprises:  Musica Helvetica
  • Zurich Boys Choir, "Le vieux chalet," The Most Beautiful Swiss Folk Songs and Tunes / SRI Enterprises:  Musica Helvetica
  • Ludus Ensemble, "A g'he dent ul füm en ca (traditional Swiss melody)," Zurich Boys Choir:  The Most Beautiful Swiss Folk Songs and Tunes / SRI Musica Helvetica
  • * Duo di Barbengo, "Polca brillante,"  Folk Music from Western and Southern Switzerland (compilation) / Swiss Radio International
  • Gotan Project, "Diferente," Lunático / XL Recordings
  • David Shostac, "Le Basque," The Romantic Flute, vol. 1 / Resort Music
  • Songhai, "Pozo del deseo," Songhai 2 / Hannibal Records
  • Christopher Parkening, "Spanish Dance No. 1 from 'La Vida Breve' (Falla)," The Great Recordings / EMI Classics
  • Joxan Goikoetxea and Juan Mari Beltran, "Egurraren Kanta," The Big Bang (collection) / Ellipsis Arts
  • Enrique Morente, "Tangos de la Plaza," Duende:  disc 1 - Passion (collection) / Ellipses Arts

Dated References

  • Segment A covers recent updates for tourists to Amsterdam, including renovations at the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.
  • In comparing the Dutch and American drugs policy at 11: 06, Rick mentions that Colorado and Washington State are the two states where marijuana is legal in the U.S., while policies in the Netherlands are under debate.   Nica says less than 5 grams is considered a recreational use of cannabis, which is not technically legal but also not criminalized in the Netherlands.
  • At 14:00, Rick notes that the Dutch are renting prison cell space to Belgium.
  • At 22:14, Donald White says the German Swiss are two-thirds of the country's population,  and repeatedly vote to remain separate from the European Union, contrary to the desires of the French and Italian-speaking Swiss.  Martin adds that more than 60% of the Swiss speak German, about 25% speak French, and less than 10% speak Italian as their primary language.  They add that about 60,000 people in Eastern Switzerland also speak Romansh. 
  • Starting at 26:09, Martin and Donald report listening to the Italian-language Radio Svizzera Classica for classical music and the most accurate weather reports for the Alps. 
  • At 34:10, Rick and guests discuss the August 1 national holiday in Switzerland, which Martin says includes a half-day off work
  • At 36:00 Donald and Martin talk about the Council that governs Switzerland, and how it decides who will be in charge each year, as an example of the Swiss art of compromise. 
  • At 45:47, Agustín says it costs around €10 a night to sleep in one of the typical refugios on the Pyrenees trails.
  • Agustín says at 52:44 that the Mediterranean is quiet in spring and summer, making it ideal for paddle boarding and sea kayaking.  He adds there is a nice sea breeze in the summer along the northern coast of Spain, compared to the hot summer weather in the south.   At 54:17 he notes there are consistent sea swells for surfing on the Basque Country coast from September through April.

Program Extras

More with Nica - Rick concludes his interview with Netherlands-based tour guide Nica Johnson by asking her about the impact of global warming on Holland, where much of the land lies below sea level. (runs :48)