Our river cruise ended in Amsterdam, and instead of hopping into a plane right away, we stayed four additional days to explore this fascinating city.
Before I continue, here are a few things (straight out of Wikipedia) that you should know about this “stad”.
“Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous municipality of the Netherlands. It has a population of 854,047 within the city proper, 1,357,675 in the urban area and 2,410,960 in the metropolitan area.
Amsterdam’s name derives from Amstelredamme, (around a dam in the river Amstel.) The city has more than one hundred kilometers of grachten (canals), about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges.
Famous Amsterdam residents include Anne Frank, Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, and philosopher Baruch Spinoza.”
When you visit this city, you cannot miss the distinctive architectural style of the canal’s houses. They all display a Dutch Gable and if you pay attention, you will see a hook underneath. When you attach a pulley and a rope to it, you have a manual elevator to bring up any heavy or bulky item to the floor you choose.
“The Netherlands are wet, flat and full of stoned people.” John Entwistle
This sounds malicious but I found it to be partially true. The smell of pot is everywhere and on the Rembrandtplein square, many boisterous kids are obviously high.
In Holland, you will see no hills. The land is as flat as a pancake. One saying goes: “The land is so flat that you can see your dog running for three kilometers.”
So, this topography is ideal for bicyclists… and they are everywhere. They are also hazardous, especially for tourists. The bike riders appear silently from nowhere and show no intention of ever stopping. Some wear headphones, and some (horror) are using their phones while riding. Last but not least, nobody wears a helmet in Amseltown. Those things, everybody knows, are for American sissies.
When crossing any street, you better look (twice) right and left before venturing on the no Dutch man’s land know.
In Amsterdam, everybody (including cats and dogs) speaks English. The Dutch have always been seafarers and merchants and they will speak any language to sell their goods. And they are good at it. They put to shame pitiful monolingual Amerikanen.
While mingling with the natives, Tamara spotted a lot of well-heeled Russians. They are the Americans of yesteryear, spending money like drunken sailors. Nothing is too good or too expensive for them. Caviar and vodka days are here again.
Thank you, comrade Putin!
Amsterdam is above all a city of beer, boats, and bikes. If you have stamina and if you enjoy any of those things, this is the place for you.
A word of caution though: like any celebrated city, it is mobbed by hordes of tourists, especially in the summer.
On this edition, you will get 2 photo albums for the price of one. Enjoy!