Amsterdam, Part I: The City

We arrived in Amsterdam around noon, and immediately dropped off our things at our AirBnB room and went exploring!

We were starving, so our first stop was to the Albert Cuyp market since it was just a few minutes walk from where we were staying. After devouring our stroopwafels (I didn’t take a picture because we were so hungry they didn’t last long enough), we went to the Heineken Brewery for the Heineken Experience (to read about that, see my last post!)

To orient ourselves to where everything was in the city, we took a bus tour around town (In reality, we took the tour partially because it was soooo cold that we just didn’t want to be outside for any length of time).

Compared to London, Amsterdam is a teensy tiny city, so the bus tour did not take as long as I thought, since it only had 11 stops that were all fairly close together.

The city was so beautiful! I was so disappointed by how cold it was because I would have loved to have walked around more.

“Amsterdam has more than 150 canals and 1,200 bridges, but it never seems crowded nor bent and bitter from fleecing the tourist” -Julie Burchill

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When I first looked at the rows of houses we passed, I thought I was going crazy, since they all looked crooked to me! The guide told us that apparently the buildings were built leaning forward and slightly bent on purpose. Because the homes are so narrow, and the stairs inside so steep, it is extremely difficult to move furniture inside, so they bring it through the windows instead.

Outside every home, a big metal hook is placed at the top of the building, and is used to hang a wheel and rope to pull things up. When this method is used to get big things in/out of top floors, it is helpful to have the building leaning forward a bit to avoid the object hitting the building.

OthersΒ said that the buildings lean because of the unstable foundations they were built upon due to their location on the canals, OR that the houses are narrow because they are taxed based on the area of the ground floor, so they build the first floor narrow and expand as they get taller. I figure it’s somewhat of a combo of all three.

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Either way, my OCD made me really want to straighten them a bit, although I did feel a bit better knowing that they weren’t going to collapse at any second!

I knew that Amsterdam was a biking city, but I did not realize just how many people biked everywhere! I never worried about being hit by a car while crossing the street, but I was terrified of being hit by a bike!

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“My experience in Amsterdam is that cyclists ride where the hell they like and aim in a state of rage at all pedestrians while ringing the bell loudly, the concept of avoiding people being foreign to them” -Terry Pratchett

I was amazed at how successful the bikers appeared to be at multitasking. I saw cyclists talking on the phone, eating food, drinking coffee, putting on jackets, and riding while drinking beer (do they had BUIs [biking while intoxicated] here?). And no one wore a helmet. Not the adults, not the kids, not the tiny babies. I did not see one helmet during our entire stay! They’re riding in the streets and through busy traffic! It made me so nervous, especially when I saw little kids with no protection.

Apparently one of the top petty crimes in Amsterdam is bike theft. I could believe it, since I saw bicycles propped up everywhere, and I rarely saw them locked or tied to anything. If I go again, I’ll have to rent one, although I’ll need to stick to side streets and less crowded areas. I would definitely be hit by a car, or I’d hit a person…

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After the bus tour, we stopped for dinner. The best things I ordered this week were the dutch pancakes! I’m obsessed!

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Once we finished dinner, it was beginning to get dark outside. We visited the Red Lights Secrets: Museum of Prostitution, which was fascinating, and walked around the Red Light district for a bit.

Our lack of sleep caught up with us, so we headed back for an early night.

The next morning we walked to the museum plaza for some more dutch pancakes! When we bought tickets for the bus tour, we also bought the combo canal cruise. We spent the rest of the afternoon cruising along, seeing the city from a different view.

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The architecture was so beautiful all over! I loved passing the old buildings.

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I grew up on a lake, so I’m used to seeing house boats. The house boats in Amsterdam are an entirely different story! Some of the ones we passed looked like mini mansions and were elaborately decorated. Some had sun rooms and porches and even had stairs leading up to a second story floor! I was impressed. They were nicer than most homes I’ve seen.

A few even had decorations outside, and some of the people living on the boats were on their porches enjoying a cup of coffee. They were all so friendly and waved as we drifted by, and encouraged us to take pictures of them.

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We ran out of time and weren’t able to finish the entire canal tour because we had tickets for 5:30 at the Anne Frank House.

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**Check out my next post to read more about the Anne Frank House, Vincent Van Gogh Museum, the I AMsterdam Β sign, and my last day in the city!

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