Amsterdam – Bikes, Canals

We were a bit late arriving in Amsterdam this morning – there was just a bit of fog.

the river on the way in

the river on the way in

For a while, it was so thick that you could not even see the banks. But it started to clear at 0900 and was decent with significant absence of rain (which makes sense since I am hauling along the weight of my umbrella in my backpack.

the city as seen from the ship

the city as seen from the ship

Amsterdam is all about bikes. Not the fancy mountain bikes or commuter bikes seen in the US but your standards one speed bike with a basket, or two. Or a container on the front and saddle bags on the back. All dependent on what you need. It makes a lot of sense. This is not the world of “steal the other guys bike” = this is the land of flatness and bike sections along all the major city roads. All those extra gears would not be a help and might just get in the way especially on your way home from grocery shopping.

A group of us bailed off as early as we could manage and took a tour on one of the dozens of canal boats. Being driven along in comfort, we heard a version of the history of the city and saw canal after canal lined with houses some of which have been standing since the 1400s or early. Of note – the guide slid over the foreign trading, did not mention the premier role of the Dutch in the slave trade nor the settlement of South Afrika (except to mention that there were a lot of diamond merchants). He did cover the various changes in time/religion to his credit.

We exited the boat at the Anne Frank Huis/Museum where everyone sort of wandered off in their own direction. I headed to some shops (not yarn) and toward the Scheepvaart Museum since I didn’t get a chance to see it the last time I was here.

Now, there were a few of the group who had an interest in the Red Light District. Not for the sex, I suspect but for the cafes. If they had been worried about how difficult to find they were – believe me, they were obvious. There were some streets where it was safer to walk over a few blocks than to take a chance on getting high just breathing the air outside. Too many years in the military. I forget that we are the babyboom generation reaching adulthood in the late 1960s….

Anyway – there were signs for the “Good for You – Vitamins, weed, seeds…..” and dozens of hemp/MJ cafes. I was passing a bit early for the lights to be on and the women to be out, but there were an abundance of erotic shops, toy displays in the window and stores specializing in various fetish wears.

Instead of perusing those, I found the magnets, the sports shops and ended at lunch back at Noah’s Arq after visiting the museum. It is a good museum for adults and a fantastic one for children. Fabulous exhibits, models and a restored ship in harbor over which everyone seemed to be crawling. And then there was the wonderful 3-d surround video which started with a helicopter out to one of the container ships and then the point of view followed what turned out to be the contents of one container all the way through to the store.

So now I am finishing up and heading back to the ship. Tomorrow is at sea. Friday is Copenhagen and home. Yes, my home.

Pictures to follow when I can upload them. Seems like I need a cord to them from the camera…..

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