4-20-19 Amsterdam – Touring on our own

Did you know that more than 25% of the country of Netherlands is below sea level and more than 50% of the country lies less than three feet below sea level?   Well I didn’t, but it is something that is very apparent when you see all the dikes and waterways around the country.

A large large lake was created by placing a dam across the Amstel  river

Amsterdam, the capital city, is built entirely on poles driven almost 11 meters into the soil made up of clay and fen (fen is a type of wetland dominated by peat). Furthermore, today’s Amsterdam rests atop 10 layers of ruins (or at least one source I read states).

More modern buildings along the canals too.

Our first river cruise of this trip started here but we didn’t do much touring in city  as the first off-boat excursion was to the Keukenhof gardens (see 4-8-19 Holland at Tulip Time for more info). This time, we are here a full week prior to our second river cruise so we are booked into the Hilton Hotel and just doing whatever we want.

Our first day, after getting all settled into our room, we walked to the Hop on Hop off Bus/Boat tour of Amsterdam.

Here we are on our canal boat tour.

There are two different boat tours of the canals, each lasting over an hour. It seems this ‘Venice’ of the north has over 165 canals and more than 1,200 bridges.

The buildings all have changed occupancies over the years – warehouses became apartments, apartments became stores, never staying the same.

The canals are lined with trees and very typical canal houses or old warehouses from the Golden Age (17th century). Along the way the commentary points out various historic or iconic buildings and generally it was a sunny, relaxing time on the water.

The facades of the buildings were all different
These buildings are called the Dancing houses – they seem to lean – well they don’t have many vertical lines that is for sure.
More shots of the Dancing houses

With all the canals, there are approximately 2,500 houseboats.  Residents occupy most of them but some are available for rent by visitors.

There are a variety of different styles of houseboats for sure.

Plus there is one houseboat just for cats, another that is a Museum about Houseboats. These houseboats are not cheap.

The houseboat on the right is actually on a concrete ‘boat’ much less maintenance.

A recent sale of one in good condition one was over a million euros!

Bicycles – there are LOTS of bicycles in Amsterdam and beware the riders.

OK, there are a lot of bicycles in Amsterdam

Current estimates indicated there are something like 880,000 of them in the city – and in a city with about 800,00 people. Some estimates say around 60,000 bicycles are stolen each year and literally thousands of them end up in the canals each year.

Whole families use these things – take your kids to school or go shopping.

You really have to watch where you are walking or you will end up in a bike roadway and in deep trouble .

Within the City there are a number of museums, but we haven’t ventured into any of them yet – several are part of our upcoming River Cruise agenda and at least one, Rikjs Museum, we are doing when our friends Gloria and Jerry arrive on Sunday and on Monday we are going to the Hermitage. Of course one of the most well known museums is the hidden room of Anne Frank – yes, Diary of Anne Frank fame. This place is by reservation only and it books 2 months in advance – so no chance of that for a visit (although, I admit it wasn’t on my to do list anyway). The Van Gough museum was also sold out for the week.

Over the centuries, many religious buildings have been built in Amsterdam, including a number of important and stunning churches that are still standing today.

The Westerkerk Church was built between 1620 and 1631 in Renaissance style
The tower of the Westerkerk is the highest church tower in Amsterdam, at 87 meters (±286 feet). It is crowned with the Imperial crown of Austria of Maximilian.

Several of these incredible churches rank among the oldest surviving buildings in the city, whereas others were completed in response to the Reformation in the 17th century.

The Oude Kerk Church is the oldest building and oldest parish church founded circa 1213.

Once we finished the water tour we stopped at the Central station to buy a metro pass.

Central Station – a major hub for buses, trains and on the water side boats.

This pass  is good for all buses, trams and even ferry boats, and can be used for outlying areas as well, if you pay extra. We have tried out the 2 5, 7, 12 and 24 tramlines, so far.

We also got a recommendation from the front desk for Janeen to schedule a pedicure and manicure to last through mid-May. While in the nail salon neighborhood, David discovered the “hidden” post offices of Amsterdam, and found postal workers to be informative, happy to help, and the source for most stationery store products.

Just sitting by the canal having a cold one.
And yes, there is a windmill in Amsterdam

In our strolls out for breakfast coffee, we see green space everywhere, required by the city since the 16th century. The 21st century city plants a tulip bulb for every single citizen of Amsterdam! Add to that, pots of tulips in front of every hotel, parkways planted with daffodils and narcissus, blooming rhododendron, hyacinth, camellia as well as tulips at every flower shop with residential flower boxes spruced up for spring, and Easter will be filled with flowers.  All in all a very pretty city.





One Reply to “4-20-19 Amsterdam – Touring on our own”

  1. Enjoying your journal and photos from another of our treasured cities. Jim goes in for Spine Surgery on Tuesday (4/23) good thoughts, prayers and toasts to his complete recovery are appreciated. You and J are in Holland at such a beautiful time of year. We know her gardening heart is full. B

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