Our Tour of Amsterdam

Trip Start Sep 21, 2009
Trip End Oct 04, 2009

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Well, Amsterdam is a rather large city so we weren't able to see everything in one day, but we did see a lot.

After the Veteran Hostel served us a delicious breakfast, we headed out to one of the local flea markets.

Next stop was the Van Gogh Museum.  A very prolific yet sad artist from Holland who shot himself dead at age 37.  It was very interesting to read about him and see his actual work.

For lunch we stopped at a pancake house and had the traditional Dutch pancakes.  Very delicious.

Throughout Amsterdam we saw thousands of bicyclers.  It is becoming known as the city of bikes.  Every street has dedicated bike lanes that scooters and mini-mini cars can also use.

And if you didn't know, smoking marijuana is legal in Amsterdam.  You can purchase it at the establishments labeled "Coffee Shop".  You buy coffee at a cafe.

All over the city are over 100 art elephants done by various artists that are going to be auctioned off soon to raise money for a "save the Asian elephants" fund.

After lunch we hopped on board the Blue Boat for a 75 minute canal cruise.

 Along the way we saw the narrowest house in Amsterdam (5 yards wide) and many other sites including houses that tilted to one side or the other due to settling.

 Amsterdam is a city like New Orleans, built below sea level with an extensive canal system for drainage.

 Because early residents were taxed on the width of their houses, they started shrinking them to avoid taxes.  This also caused them to shrink their staircases into very tiny narrow ones as shown by the staircase in our hostel.  Because of the narrow staircases, hooks were installed at the outside top front of the buildings to allow them to move furniture up to the higher floors via a rope and pulley.

 After the boat ride we decided to tour the Heineken Brewery.  The best brewery tour we have ever taken.  We would highly recommend visiting it if you can (or just read about it at heineken.com).

 Everybody was in the mood for Indian food for supper and so on our way to the Red Light District we stopped and ate...delicious!

The Red Light District was interesting but much tamer than we expected.  Every so often there were girls in lingerie posing in first or second floor windows and very infrequently did we see a customer entering or leaving one of their establishments.

Tomorrow, it's on to Brugge, Belgium, a town we became familiar with through the very good and highly recommended Colin Ferrell movie: "In Bruges"...
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