Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Canals & Cobblestone in Amsterdam

I'm not sure where I got my idea of Amsterdam as a calm, slow moving city.
But who knows where I get most of my ideas. 
I pictured strolling along quiet canals and stopping in at a cafe for traditional Dutch apple pie.
And we did both of those things. (More on the apple pie later this week.)

But Amsterdam is certainly not quiet and definitely not slow moving.  
It was a bustling city full of colorful characters and tourist from all over the world.  
It's a city that can both shock and awe (more on that later, too).

We stayed at the Eden Amsterdam American Hotel which was perfectly acceptable, clean and comfy. 
However, it's best perk is its location, location, location.

It's located next to the Leidseplein which is a bustling square at the Southern end of the central canal ring.
It's a perfect spot for people watching.  (Stayed tuned for I Spy Friday this week.)

A great choice of restaurants and shopping is close by (Pandora, yay!).
The Leidseplein has a fun, festive atmosphere.  

We purchased weekend passes and used the trams to venture around Amsterdam, 
but this was the perfect home base for the weekend.  

The trams can get pretty crowded, so be prepared to stand.
(Someday I'm going to write a post about personal space issues in Europe.)

The gorgeous Vondelpark was just a few minutes walk from the hotel.  
Being new to this running thing, I wanted to stick to the plan and not miss my run.  
So on Saturday, I headed over to the park to join the hundreds of other bikers and runners. 
It was so pleasant.  I wish I could run there every week.
(Who am I? I'm supposed to hate running!)

Amsterdam is such an interesting, beautiful and unusual city.
The 17th Century houses are all snuggled in tightly together, leaning every which way.  

The first thing you notice is how narrow the buildings are.  
Property owners used to be taxed based on frontage, so the lots became very narrow.  
The most narrow is just as wide as a door. 

You'll also notice that all of the houses have  pulley hooks on the gables.
Because the stairways and halls are so steep and narrow,
they get furniture into the house through the windows using these pulley systems.  

 We actually didn't visit any of the art museums the city has to offer.  
The line for the Van Gogh Museum was probably an hour long and the admittance fee was a little steep.
We've become spoiled by the many wonderful and free museums that London has to offer.

Although this one was pretty tempting.

 I couldn't convince the Englishman to go for it.  

However, we did visit a very special history museum.  The house on the left is the Anne Frank House.
We were actually able to explore the rooms where she and seven other Jews hid from the Nazis for two years.
It's superbly done and an extremely moving experience.
It's hard to believe the horrors they and so many others experienced were less than a lifetime ago.

The picture on the right is the spire of the Westerkerk.
It is just around the corner and can be seen from the attic of the Anne Frank House.
In her diary, she mentions the spire and the chiming of the clock tower, 
which you can hear today, as a source of comfort to her.

We waited in the cold and rain for over an hour and it was worth it,
but you can purchase advance tickets online to avoid the wait. 

We also took a canal tour.  It's a great way to see more of the city and the canals.
However, I would suggest that you put a little effort into selecting which vendor to go with.
Ours just had simple descriptions of sights along the route (Gray Line 1 hour tour).
It was pre-recorded, repeated in four languages and not terribly informative.

Pick one that has live, interactive commentary for a more interesting experience.
The dinner cruises also get pretty good reviews.  

Here are some more pictures of beautiful Amsterdam.  

I have several more Amsterdam posts planned for this week... 
stay tuned for more about bicycles, flowers, food, drinks
and of course we can't leave out the Red Light District.  Yikes!


Thanks for joining me on our Amsterdam Adventure!  More to come. 


p.s.  Mental Note:  Ballet flats, while cute, are not the best choice for a five hour walking tour on cobblestones.   

All pictures were taken by me with the Nikon.  


  1. What a great post and great photos!! You absolutely have me lusting a little bit over Amsterdam now. I haven't visited since I was four years old! I would like to visit the Anne Frank house and other important WW2 locations.

  2. You told a great story, with both words and pictures. I have been to the Anne Frank museum aswell - it was a really moving experience.

  3. The houses, the history, the sunshine and the colour - all fabulous! I'm intrigued to read the next installments.

    A terrific addition to this month's "Post Of The Month" Club.

    Happy day!

  4. I loved this post. I went to Amsterdam three years ago and thought Vondelpark was absolutely beautiful. Thanks for writing and posting all the lovely photos. Made me reminiscent of my trip. A great addition to POTM Club.

    Erin x

  5. So beautiful! I've long wanted to go to Amsterdam, and this just makes me even more determined.

  6. I discovered you on the Post of the Month club via Gifts of Serendipity. I am expat American, married to a Frenchman, living in Switzerland. Your photos of Amsterdam are fabulous. I was especially interested in the Anne Frank house for we are reading the book in my freshman H.S. English class. I have been to Amsterdam, but have yet to visit the historic hideaway of the Frank family. Look forward to following, Oh the places we will go.

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