Sunday, June 5, 2011

Amsterdam in April

The weather was beautiful one Sunday in early April (yes, I recognize this is not exactly breaking news), so we rode our bikes to the train station in Voorschoten, hopped on the train and went to Amsterdam.  Although Amsterdam has world class museums the real beauty lies in its many rings of canals.  It's a great place to simply walk around, view the architecture and relax at a cafe.  On a warm spring day in a city like Amsterdam there will always be something interesting to see and our trip was no exception.

All aboard!  Actually, this is the inside of Amsterdam Central Train Station

The exterior of the train station is beautiful.  Unfortunately, these power lines ruin the photo.  The left hand tower has a weather vane disguised as a clock.   

As you can see, a few other people were enjoying the nice weather.

We got ourselves oriented by taking a boat tour.

One of Amsterdam's Canals

When you combine tourists on paddle boats and long canal cruisers, accidents happen.  Luckily this paddle boat pinch didn't cause any injuries. 

There are about 2500 houseboats moored in the canals of Amsterdam.  They are actually just floating houses; I don't think there is any boating involved. 

Examples of the decorated gables in the homes along a canal.

More gables.

Amsterdam was built on a swamp and is only 6 ft above sea level.  The homes are built on pilings, many of which shift or rot over time.  Consequently, not all the buildings line up. 
The name says it all.  These guys were having a great time pedaling this wagon while drinking a never-ending glass of beer.  The guy in the back was steering (and presumedly not drinking).  I'm sure these rides are available in other cities as well, but with its flat landscape and open culture, nowhere is it more appropriate than Amsterdam.  Maybe we'll book this for Grant's 16th birthday. 

You'll notice a number of folks in this photo with pink or purple ruffled shirts.  I wonder if this is a high-class tour group that kept together with fancy clothes as opposed to the normal ball cap or t-shirt. 

Amsterdamers got tired of people urinating into the canals.  So they installed these....outdoor urinals (sorry, men or very brave women only).   Best of all, they're free.   They probably still just drain into the nearby canal. 

Cafe 't Smalle, where Pieter Hoppe began his famous genever distillery in 1780.  Genever, or Dutch Gin, is so named because Juniper berries are added to the process to mask the flavor.  

Of more interest to me than gin is apple tart.  The guide book said that this cafe, Winkle, had the best in town.  It was outstanding. 

In case this posting has inspired you to take a boat tour of Amsterdam, there are plenty available. 


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