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Amsterdam
Amsterdam

Amsterdam Explored

It’s been a while since I’ve visited Europe so it was with some excitement that we departed Cape Town for Amsterdam via Dubai. Flying business class on Emirates does take away some of the pain of flying long distance though, I’m not going to lie to you. A very long layover in Dubai was probably the worst aspect, but the Emirates Lounges in Dubai are in a class of their own and make it more than bearable. We were pleased to see that Emirates now has a lounge at Cape Town International Airport, what a pleasure that is, there isn’t even one in Amsterdam yet.

Fly Emirates
Emirates at Cape Town International Airport

To Air B&B or Not to Air B&B?

We opted to go the Air B&B route in Amsterdam, to be honest it’s not for me, while our apartment was very comfortable, if a little small, living in somebody else’s house doesn’t work for me. But anyway the apartment we chose was really conveniently located, and it overlooked a canal. We walked everywhere, the city centre was maybe 20 minutes away and there were loads of spots to eat or drink nearby.

Amsterdam Air B&B Apartment
View From Our Apartment

Amsterdam and it’s Canals

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Amsterdam is it’s canals, and they are there in abundance. From canals that you could almost jump over to wide waterways, they’re such a part of the city, I think maybe locals don’t even notice them, they are just an integral feature of daily life, but for a visitor they are a wonderful and unique sight to see. Well it was for me anyway!

You may click on the images below for the larger version.

Amsterdam Canals
Narrow Canals
Larger Waterways of Amsterdam
Larger Waterways
Amsterdam Skyline
Huge Canals

Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll

OK I added the rock & roll bit for effect – but one thing that Amsterdam is famous for is it’s liberal approach to both prostitution and to soft drugs like cannabis. Neither are of interest to me but they are certainly a part of everyday life to which locals seem oblivious. The shops and coffee shops selling cannabis paraphernalia are all over and the sweetish smell of the drug is everywhere. As is the likelihood of spotting a scantily clad young, (and sometimes not so young), lady sitting in a window advertising her wares.

Cannabis Beer
Beer Anyone?

Those “Skew”Buildings

One thing that really fascinated me, perhaps more than anything else, was the leaning or “skew”buildings. It’s like a row of dominos, if one falls they all will. I have to wonder, could those builders of old not see that they weren’t straight? Or perhaps that cannabis isn’t such a modern phenomenon after all and has been around the city for much longer than we think 😉 Whatever the reason, they are an incredibly awesome aspect of Amsterdam, which I really love.

You may click on the images below for the larger version.

Skew Buildings of Amsterdam
Skew Buildings of Amsterdam 1
Skew Buildings of Amsterdam
Skew Buildings of Amsterdam 2
Skew Buildings of Amsterdam
Skew Buildings of Amsterdam 3

City of 800 000 Bicycles

Amsterdam is famous for it’s bicycles as much as it is for canals, cannabis and leaning buildings.There are apparently over 800 000 bicycles in the city, which I can well believe, they are everywhere. Every type of person can be seen riding around the city; mothers with kids in tow, business people in suits, families riding together and folk with dogs either in tow or riding in a basket on the handle bars or pilion. There are cycle lanes on every street, and the wonderful thing is that cyclists obey the rules of the road. I think it’s great, it means that there is far less traffic than there would be in another city of similar size, and it seems to make the people more tolerant, less agro, and generally really nice people.

You may click on the images below for the larger version.

Bicycle City 1
Bicycle City 1
Amsterdam
Bicycle City 2
Amsterdam Canal
Bicycle City 3

Recommended

We spent 2 days, you really need more than that. I particularly want to return to a certain little pub called The Old Church Lounge, sit watching life pass by and drink another large Heineken, watched over by an enormous portrait of the late, great Bob Marley.

Bob Marley
Bob Marley

If you want a really good meal, you won’t go wrong with a little restaurant called Foodism, not far from the city centre. They have an awesome menu and great vibes, I can highly recommend it.

To see the city from the water, City Sightseeing has hop-on / hop-off canal boats that roam the canals, it’s a great way to see a lot without too much effort. It goes past all the main tourist attractions, if something grabs your attention simply hop off and hop on again when you are done.

City Sightseeing Amsterdam
City Sightseeing

Next Time: definitely the Heineken Experience and Van Gough museum.

Oh yes, I will definitely be back.

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