On Amsterdam

Figure it’s about time to share some of our recent vacation trip, which started with spending 2+ days in one of the world’s great cities – Amsterdam.

We saw a lot during our short stay – and wish we took a pedometer to determine the number of miles we walked. In other words, for those who enjoy walking, go for it because Amsterdam is very walkable.

Our 9-room hotel, a canal house build in 1652, was a great find – but meals in the city are more expensive than my normal life.

Through our strolls, we visited the Anne Frank museum (fabulous), took daytime and nighttime canal cruises (the later with wine, cheese, and nuts), visited the vibrant Red Light District and the Jordain neighborhood, toured a diamond cutting facility, took a wonderful walking tour of the city, and generally took in the ambiance of this great city.

I really enjoyed the architecture. The different tops of the buildings with their hooks for hoisting furnishings continually captured my attention – and, of course, some buildings leaning to the left or to the right.

Whether the ladies in the windows or the scent of burning marijuana, tolerance is an important word for observing Amsterdam – but we were not offended. Interestingly, the Dutch seem to be drifting to the right, so I wonder how much will change in the next 10 years.

We didn’t visit any of the great art museums because our time was short and the weather was fabulous!

There were some surprises.

  • The number of bicycles! It’s a common mode of transportation for many, so the need for a large, bicycle-only parking garage at the train station. In other words, walkers beware!
  • The beauty of many of the ladies in the windows; thus not the skanky stereotype some may expect.
  • The amount of litter, especially on Dam Square: but city workers seem to keep up with the cleaning operation.
  • The number of wind turbines located in the industrial area.

The walking tour is free – well, the guides operate on tips-only. It’s a great tour, so here’s the link. Meanwhile, enjoy a few pictures.

Hotel Brouwer

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From a Bridge of Sengal Canal near the hotel

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Street along Canal Sengal near the hotel

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Buildings along a canal

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One of the first sites that caught our attention

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A leaner

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At night, a close look will show other bridges in the distance

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The packed, multi-level bicycle garage at the main train station

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A sculpture on the street in the Red Light District

Time to get on the ship. After a day at sea, see you in Warnemunde, Germany (click to visit)

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74 thoughts on “On Amsterdam

  1. A truly great city — we visited in 1999.

    We were pretty sure between the bicycles and the fact that our 8 year old son got to drive the tour boat that we would die there.

    Have you read the Dave Barry pieces on Amsterdam? Hilarious — written just about when we were there:

    Part 1: http://www.miamiherald.com/2007/06/10/122125/smile-and-say-cheese-part-1-of.html
    Part 2: http://www.miamiherald.com/2007/06/17/128249/dave-in-nether-netherland-part.html

    My favorite part:
    As a thoughtful concession to pedestrians, the Dutch cyclists all have little bells on their handlebars that make a cute cha-CHING sound, which serves as a friendly warning that you are about to die.

    Your trip sounds like such a blast. I can’t wait to hear more!

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    • Weebs,
      We aren’t coffee drinkers … and beware of the coffee shops. Food was good .. pricey … but we didn’t dive into the local cuisines as we ate more on the run to maximize time in our short stay. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. My first night in Amsterdam was spent in the red light light district. Our travel agent said that we would be close to the train station (we were). The person at the front desk was rather surprised to see us (husband, son & me) but welcomed us with open arms. The only question he asked “were all the other hotels full?” Your photos and post bring back memories of an amazing city, filled with amazing people, history, art and culture. Thank you – I love stopping by for a visit…

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  3. I told many people if you offended easy then Amsterdamn is not for you with regard to the open culture i.e. drugs and sex. If you can take in the city as an experience and the mass historic significance …then you will be very happy with your visit to the city and enjoy all it’s beauty.

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  4. Pingback: On Amsterdam | Home Far Away From Home

    • Guapo,
      We got a great feel for the history of the city. The free tour I mentioned is very good and it helps with that. A lot of learners – no …. but enough that you notice and they are easy to spot. Glad you enjoyed my little tour and thanks for commenting.

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  5. Thanks so much for the tour, Frank. It’s a few years since i was there, but the bicycle population seems to have grown. How do people ever find their bikes again, amongst all the hundreds stacked up? I have quite a few relatives in Amsterdam, so maybe it’s time for another visit. 🙂

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  6. Great post, Frank. Ah, yes, the bikes [and the trams mind you!]!!!!! Also we noticed that the ladies beauty “fades” so to speak as the night progresses and by morning, well… However you did miss out by not visiting the art museums, if nothing else for Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”, and the Modiglianis and and and… Oh, well, next time, yes?!

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    • Marina,
      Oh my … yes … the trans coming around a corner! YIKES!!! Good point about the ladies – however I did see the not-so-pretty ones as well. The museums are for our next trip there because we know they offer great art! Given the weather, our first visit, and the short time … we passed on the art museums this time. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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  7. Love Amsterdam .. been the 3 times and got robbed 2 twice on the same hotel and it was 4 stars then .. now 5. They didn’t do anything to help. Just gave me the address to the police station. Still love the city and I will go back in a near future. Next spring I hope for the tulips. And of course to stay in Amsterdam it a hotel like yours … the perfect choice. Or rent an apartment. Some fantastic B&B’s. Amsterdam is one of the most expensive cities in Europe for hotel rooms – in good company with Paris. Fantastic photos, Frank and thanks for bringing me back. Love your bridge shot (night).

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    • Viveka,
      Thanks for sharing your experiences. Europeans have so many interesting cities to visit that aren’t that far away. Bummer about being robbed. BTW … we obviously recommend the hotel! Thanks for visiting.

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  8. It’s been a dream of mine to go to the Anne Frank museum. Are you talking about the museum or the actual place where she lived in hiding? That’s the place I want to go to. I would love to see some images if you have any. Such a tragic story there that is so horrifying. And to think someone turned them in to the Nazis. They must have been related to Judas. Sounds like you had a great time in that wonderful part of the world. Thanks for sharing your experiences xx

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    • Spiced,
      The museum includes the actual house … including the bookcase! Weird feelings, but wonderfully done. I didn’t realize she died in the concentration camp from illness just months before liberation. Bottom line, I recommend visiting! Thanks for commenting.

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  9. A fabulous tour! Thank You that was such a treat! :+) I’m surprised to read about the bicycles being so popular. Also seeing how tall some of the buildings are right on the canal. Beautiful Photos!

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  10. I’ve been to Amsterdam and also thoroughly enjoyed it, for many of the same reasons as you. I have an old friend who lives there now, and dedicates much time to combatting the sore underbelly of life in Amsterdam… apparently many of those window-display ladies in the Red Light District are not exactly there of their own choosing. I did not find this out until I had already been there. So many dark things happen without our noticing both at home and abroad.

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    • Twixt,
      It seems many of the readers here have been to this great city. “Underbelly” is a fitting word, and I appreciate your explanation. Just more evidence for “there’s more to the story.” Thanks for visiting and sharing.

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    • Tom,
      We loved it, so we recommend it. BTW, there are many 17th century buildings that are well kept. Interestingly, during the night-time canal cruise, we could see inside some of the housing, which seemed well kept! Thanks for commenting.

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  11. I’d love to hear more about the “leaner”‘s background. And oh yes, the bicycles! Quite a number of stories I heard from German vets, lacking gasoline and with few horses, absconded with and pedaled the Dutch bicycles from the Norman coast to the depths of Russia. Don’t fear, there’s a post hiding in that tale! 😉
    So, first we get Amsterdam. Then, Rotterdam and Givadam? 😀

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    • John,
      The reason for the leaners is simple … logs/trees served as the foundation and some have rotted. On the other hand, many buildings are actually adjacent … thus no space between the buildings. Meanwhile, so the Germans road across Europe on bicycles. Wow … news to me. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Robin,
      We were telling friends earlier today how much we enjoyed Amsterdam! Because they had already been there, it was fun to compare notes. Hope you get to see it some day as you will have a field day photographing buildings. Thanks for visiting.

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  12. Pingback: On an Autobiography: Blog Style | A Frank Angle

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