Amsterdam

I took hundreds of photos in Amsterdam, because there’s just so much to see and do there. I already put up a few pictures of the locals celebrating the Euro 2012 championships, so I’ll leave those out here.   I’ve selected twenty-seven photos out of the hundreds that I took, and I’ll just talk about the individual photos in lieu of a “first we went here, then we went there” styled trip-report.

Ready? Go!

This first picture was taken in front of a store on Damrak, the big street that spins out in front of the Centraal train station.   The street is very touristy-  lots of tour offices, a slew of restaurants including a McDonald’s and a KFC.  This is the street where one of the two sex museums in Amsterdam resides. (For the record, I found the sex museum to be pretty tame, but I’m a hard man to shock.)  In any case, the wooden clogs are a traditional thing for the Netherlands, so they’re everywhere.  The tour we took even had a ‘Tip Clog.’  Seeing this rack of wooden shoes in a touristy shop was like a big warm “welcome to Amsterdam” sign.

Speaking of the Centraal train station, I took a bunch of pictures of it, but this is the best one.  Most of the trip was overcast and rainy, but the sun and blue skies came out in force on the last day, as we were walking toward the train station to head back to Deutschland.

This is Dam Square.  The building on the left with the copper-green dome is the Royal Palace, and the building on the right is the Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th century church that is used for royal coronations.  The tents in front?  They put out a bunch of sand and there was some sort of beach volleyball competition.  I’m not really sure what the event was, but it seemed wildly out of place next to the ancient buildings.

This was our hotel on the Damstraat.  The bottom level of the hotel was a pizza joint and a wok restaurant.  This entire street was at least sixty or seventy percent restaurants, since it was adjacent to Dam square and was convenient to all the tram lines.  I would stay there again, if I visited, because the location is incredibly good for a tourist- right in the middle of everything.

The hotel was very very small, especially the bathroom.  In fact, every bathroom I saw in Amsterdam was tiny, with tiny sinks.  However, I can see how this might be a useful feature if you came back to the hotel after a really bad night of partying.  After all, that tile is awfully cool on your forehead, and it’s in the right place for leaning…

Meanwhile, back in the city, there are lots and lots of available tours.  One of the more interesting ways to see the town is via a boat tour.  These generally last about an hour, and they travel through a selection of the city’s huge number of man-made canals and under some of the more than 1400 bridges in the city.

The buildings are sometimes referred to as the “dancing houses” because they are often leaning on one another, or have shifted so they aren’t entirely straight.  We even saw one apartment that was only a meter wide because it had simply been built to use existing space between two other buildings.  These are mild examples; there were other buildings that were much more slanty.

I also found it interesting that every one of these buildings has a big hook near the top of the facade, because whenever someone moves in or out, they have to use ropes and pulleys to get the furniture up.

Amsterdam has some other things it’s known for besides wooden shoes and canals.  They do some pretty decent beer- Amstel is brewed here, on the river Amstel, and Heineken is brewed and bottled in Holland.  In fact, there’s a tourist trap here called the Heineken experience.  It’s an interactive museum and attraction in their former brewery.  We didn’t go to the Heineken Experience, but we did see their advertising horsecart.  We also passed by lots of places that sold that other product that Amsterdam is well known for.

Did I mention there’s more than one sex museum?

And now for something completely different- a silly moment in the Sex Museum.

One of my personal favorite things to see in Amsterdam was the windmill that Rembrandt made famous in his painting.  The structure is still standing, and is visited by tour groups often.  In the park nearby, there’s a statue of Rembrandt.

Next up, we have the Bloemenmarkt, generally regarded as the world’s only floating flower market.  Each of these structures is attached to the street on the other side, but the stores themselves are over the water, making this a floating flower market.

The Bloemenmarkt isn’t the only place that Amsterdam has used the canals to extend their space.  In a lot of places, there are boats that are permantly docked to become parking lots for bicycles.

Speaking of bicycles, I have never in my life seen as many bikes as their are in Amsterdam.  When you walk out of the Centraal train station and turn right, you’ll find yourself facing a two story parking garage that is just for bikes.  It holds 2500 of them.

I heard one tour guide say that there are about 700,000 bicycle thefts each year in Amsterdam. That seems a bit hard to believe, since the city has a population of just under 800,000 people.  Another tour guide said that a third of the canal floor was bicycles though, and I do believe that.  Many times throughout the trip, I saw bikes dangling precariously over the canals, holding on only by their bike locks.  Here’s an example.

I mentioned earlier the high number of bridges in the city.  What I didn’t mention was that they all seem to have names, with little signs on them.  This one is among the most well known- the Magere Brug, also known as The Skinny Bridge.  The Magere Brug is still a functional drawbridge, although the tourboats pictured earlier are low enough to go underneath it when closed.

One of the most common snack foods in Amsterdam is fresh french fries with a wide variety of interesting sauces.  Frankly, it reminded me of Thrasher’s French Fries in Ocean City, Maryland.  In the morning, it was not uncommon to see a delivery truck bringing bags upon bags of whole potatoes to be used in the french fries.  This picture was taken on the Damstraat in the morning, around breakfast time.  The truck is parked in front of a french fry shop.

There is a Madame Tussaud’s in Amsterdam, right on the corner of Damrak and Damstraat on Dam Square.  This is the view from a window in the Tussaud’s looking up Damrak towards Amsterdam Centraal.

I’ve been to Tussaud’s wax museums all over the US, but this is the first one I’ve been to in Europe.  The best part about being in a Tussauds?   The hilariously great thing about Tussaud’s is that it provides endless opportunities for people like me to tap into their inner goofball.  For example…

I’ll probably skip the Tussaud’s when I go to London next month, but not because I don’t love it.

Another well known attraction in Amsterdam is the Anne Franke House.   Here’s the Anne Frank statue.  This place is extremely crowded and busy, and for good reason.  Also, there’s a really great cafe just a few doors down from it called Dialoog that made some really great food and drinks.

There were also a lot of cheese shops.

I never did get to try one of these automat places, but I absolutely love the idea of being able to get more of your food through coin operated machines.  There were people on the other side of the slots refilling the foood as it was eaten.  Fantastic!

And lastly, here’s a picture that it seems like everyone takes when they visit Amsterdam.  What can I say, I am a slave to touristy frivolity!

One thought on “Amsterdam

  1. gorthx

    All these Amsterdam photos and the thing that really leaps out at me is “Thrasher’s Fries” 🙂

    Love the wooden shoe pic.

    Like

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