We spent three days in Amsterdam prior to our river cruise, and wish we had planned a few more—it is a beautiful city with friendly people, great food, and picturesque canals. The Netherlands, of which Amsterdam is the capital, is the the home of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and many other Dutch masters; there are spectacular museums displaying their art in Amsterdam—notably the Rijks and the Van Gogh.
Our “home-away-from-home was a beautiful, modern apartment along a canal. In a neighborhood with many local shoppes and restaurants, it was walking distance to the city center. During our all too short time there, we rode the on-and-off bus to get acquainted with points of interest; spent several hours at the Rijksmuseum (unfortunately we could not get tickets to the Van Gogh); walked about the neighborhood, a took a canal boat tour. We found a favorite little restaurant with a very friendly innkeeper and patrons. And discovered what was described as the “hash and pot” street by a vendor—really! We knew that marijuana was legal in Amsterdam, but did not expect to see the number of stores that that sold it and related paraphernalia, never mind a whole street dedicated to it.
Amsterdam is the home of hundreds of thousands of bicycles, reportedly more than the number of residents. There are many more bikes than cars on the streets, so much so that there are dedicated lanes everywhere and signs that read “Beware of the Bikes!” And, unlike cars, they do not stop for pedestrians so it is sometimes a challenge to cross the street.
Unfortunately, we did not get out to the countryside to see windmills (missed the bus by about five minutes!), but did see the only authentic remaining one in Central Amsterdam. While on a canal cruise, we also saw some houses that were tilted. This is not uncommon and is very expensive to repair, so many stay like that.
Our stay in Amsterdam was wonderful and we were sorry to see it end so soon. However, the next step of our adventure was about to begin: a 15-day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. After over a year of planning, it was finally here! Stay posted for stories and pictures about it….