setting at the Spaarnwoude nature reserve. There's usually about 30,000 revellers enjoying nine tents of house, techno, trance, drum & bass, big beat and garage.

International Documentary Film Festival November

This annual event usually screens up to 200 documentary films, attracting industry insiders and the public, as well as personal appearances by the filmmakers.

Crossing Border Spoken Word Festival


Blurring boundaries between music, film and spoken word events, this festival has previously featured Super Furry Animals, Kinky Friedman, Dave Eggers and Asian Dub Foundation. Expect a similar mix this year.

I Further details for all events available from the Amsterdam Tourist Office, Stationsplein 10, 1012 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands, tel +31 20 551 2525, email infocamsterdamtouristnl !

x. r‘ I

streets and canals which has become a much sought after area to Backbeat Records on Egelantiersstraat where the proprietor gave us the benefit of his extensive knowledge ofjazz, blues and soul music, and recommended one of the city’s many ‘brown cafés’ to go and have a smoke in. Smoking marijuana in Amsterdam is great, because it’s no big deal. It’s as it should be: chilled and natural. Only lads on stag weekends go mad on reefer. Post spliff, we adjourned to the city’s oldest café for some lunch. Café ‘t Smalle on Egelantiersgracht is the definition of cosy: tiny with dark wood and candles. As I munched a local speciality raw, peppered meat in a roll and slurped piping hot coffee looking out at the frozen canal, it occurred to me, life doesn’t get more relaxed than this.

Our Amsterdam run was coming to an end so we finished up with a visit to the Movies, a lovingly restored l9205 picture house on Haarlemmerdijk in the Shipping Quarter. This cinema has the kind of impossibly plush interior that would leave you happy sitting in the auditorium for 90 minutes without watching a film. It’s also got a great bar for hanging out in, complete with an old- fashioned juke box full of classic blues 45s.

Our walk through the Old Town to Central Station, where we caught a train back to Schipol Airport, reminded us of the city’s sleazy side. But don’t let the dodgy dealers and pimps put you off, there’s so much more to Amsterdam than sex and drugs.

Oh, and we got our hats.

The List flew to Amsterdam with Easyjet ( for details).

Excess baggage

Festivals, flights and fabulous fares

IF YOU'RE PLANNING a holiday in Canada this summer it's worth checking out current deals at STA Travel. Students and under 265 can fly to Toronto or Montreal from only £273 (inc tax), and if you don‘t fall into that category you can still get a good fare at £297 (inc tax). Fares valid from 1 May to 31 October flying from Glasgow, call 0131 226 7747 or log onto www.statrave| for details.

THOMAS COOK HAS just launched updated versions of its Independent Traveller’s Guides, including Greek Island Hopping 2007, Europe 2001: The Inter- Rai/er's and Eurai/er’s Guide and a new title, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore 2001: The Budget Travel Guide. Available now priced £12.99 from most booksellers.

IT'S ALWAYS BEEN a popular destination for lovers, but now you can get to Paris in time for Valentine's Day for only £33



return. Eurolines coaches has these Apex fares available, along with accommodation- inclusive packages from £65 per person. Details on and 08705 143219.

ROUGH GUIDES HAS published a huge selection of new gwdes and new editions, bringing its running total to 200 titles. The Rough Guide To Southeast Asia is the big new title, covering Brunei, Cambodia, Thailand and eight other countries. Other new additions include Argentina, Ecuador and Croatia. Available at all good bookshops and check out wwwroughguidescom for further info.

TAKE ADVANTAGE 0F the low-cost airlines prices to Madrid and coincide with the Caja de Madrid Flamenco Festival later this month. Running from 25 February to 11 March, the festival features singers and dancers from the old and new schools. Further info from the Madrid Tourist Office on +34 91 588 29 00 or email on infomadrid©munimad

New York Walks (Penguin

£10.99) “0H,

Walking forms a big part of any holiday in New York, whether you're shopping,

doing galleries. fame

spotting or gawping at the architecture. Lots of schemes exist to help you plan your

route like the Big Apple

Greeters where you get your own, extremely friendly personal guide to the city to

New York Walks

take you on an itinerary of

your choice or theirs.

However, if you don’t feel suited to the personal approach but you don’t want to waste precious time wandering aimlessly, then Time Out's Book Of New York Walks is the guide for you. The walks are planned by people with opinions like fashion designer Anna Sui's Rock And Roll Shopping Spree or transvestite Lady Bunny's Bunny Hop, her tour of gay Manhattan. The walks also take you off the island into the other boroughs - try native Brooklynite Phillip Lopate's tour for an insider's insight and fabulous views. And for the lazy, handy subway short cuts take in all the major sights without wearing out the footwear. (Betty Offerman)

1-15 Feb 2001 THE U3T123