We had an early train to catch to Amsterdam where we somehow managed to purchase first class tickets for second class prices which was a bonus! So we got our own little cabin until Hannover where Ronnie and Phil from New Mexico joined the party. They were a lovely couple who travelled a lot and had kids about our age and we had a really great train ride with them. It made the six hours fly by.
We had scored a great apartment one train stop from central Amsterdam in a commercial area. Not the most happening place but the location was great to get into central Amsterdam and the apartment was huge!
It was late afternoon by the time we headed into town and right off the train it was a bombardment on the senses. For starters the bikes! Lines and lines of bikes all chained up out of the station and bike lanes every which way. I knew Amsterdam was a biking city but I suppose I never quite comprehended what a city with more bikes then cars would look like, but it blew my mind. Then there were the canals and bridges with the beautiful gingerbread houses all squished together lining the sides. So pretty!
After a few arrival drinks we soon found ourselves wandering the alleyways of the red light district. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam so the girls hire these little booths with glass frontages where they sit so you can see what you are buying. It’s pretty fascinating to see and interestingly seems to take away the sleaziness of a typical red light district. But we were there at about 8pm with all the other tourists doing the walk through. I wander what it would be like later.
The other legal drug here is weed. There are coffee shops selling it everywhere in the central tourist area but what I found the best was that to cater for all the smokers who get hungry there are shops selling every kind of sweet treat or fast food imaginable.
The next day we headed in after a delicious sleep in and went for another walk around the city. Out of the crazy centre the streets get a little more subdued but no less pretty. Another really cool thing about Amsterdam is that most of the time everyone’s blinds are open. So if you chose to you could look into people’s homes and lives. But because everyone does it you don’t really look. We walked passed heaps of kindergardens and preschools where you can see the kids just playing. Alternatively they can see what is going on outside in the world.
We walked past Anne Frank’s house but didn’t go in. I think we have seen enough holocaust scenes to last a life time. I can remember reading her diary many many moons ago but didn’t remember it all happened in Germany occupied Amsterdam.
We wandered into Vondelpark which was lovely with duck ponds everywhere which were just staring to freeze. Obviously there were bike paths dissecting the park so there were people everywhere. There seem to be some lovely big parks in the centre so if you were rising your bike you would get some lovely scenic rides to and from the city. It was also here where we got to try the famous smoked Herring. It didn’t look like much but was surprisingly delicious served with onions and pickles.
I must admit that I am quite taken by Amsterdam. I can imagine it would be a very fun city to live in and it has a really alternate vibe/view. And I am not talking about a hippie lifestyle due to the legalization of marijuana. It’s the bikes and the view to a more sustainable lifestyle I think that drive the atmosphere. Petrol and Diesel cars are going to be completely banned by 2025 and cars are third priority after bikes and walkers in the council plans.
It’s just great so great to experience a city that seems to be trying to sort out our world rather than make excuses. S
Some typical shots of the streets and canals around Amsterdam. What you see is what you get!
Lots of parks to walk around in the city, while we were walking there were plenty of people riding around.
Houseboats on the outskirts of the town centre.
We have nevertheless seen so many bicycles!
A bicycle (car) park.
Truly a fantastic city to walk around.
Typical lunch, herring, onions and pickles…delicious.
Certainly one of the most beautiful red light districts in the world.