Amster dam dam dam

 

They should have gone to Amsterdam.

They should have gone to Amsterdam.

Amster, amster, dam, dam, dam.

Amster, amster, dam, dam, dam.

They should have gone to Amsterdam.

There is still a kid inside of me that feels a little naughty when I sing this song. Maybe coming to Amsterdam was influenced a bit by this feeling of being a kid again. Not only is there a silly song about this city, but everyone rides around on bicycles. They say there are three bikes per person in Amsterdam: one to get stolen, one in the canal, and one to ride to work on. The one that you got stolen can be bought back the next day at the flea market for 20 euros. 

The minute we step out of Amsterdam’s ornate Centraal Station we  feel like we have traveled into a storybook. Every building looks like a fancy doll house.

Cobblestone streets lead across literally thousands of bridges criss crossing miles of canals. 

The first thing we have to do of course is hitch a ride on a canal boat. We get one that we can hop on and off of through out the day, but we find it so relaxing. We sit back, enjoy  the views, learn some history, soaking up the ambiance.

 Most of the canal houses tend to be narrow and deep, unless the owner had been extremely wealthy. The narrowest one we saw was only  about six feet wide. The canal boat captain said he saw it for sale a few years back for 900,000 euros.  To make up for size the houses are gorgeously trimmed out as though in their Sunday best. Each wearing a gable crown on it’s roof. Interestingly they are built to lean forward to fool the viewer into thinking they are even taller than they are.

On a more somber note our boat docked in front of the house that Anne Frank  hid in writing her diary  until she became a victim to the Holocaust. You have to buy tickets to the museum online ahead of time, so like tourists we snapped selfies and then walked on. What that says about us as people and the fate of the world I don’t know.

I think our cute little bridge house along a canal was the most special part of our stay. We could have chosen a flower be-decked canal house or maybe even a windmill, but we went with something more unusual. Built in the 1930’s for the bridgemen to raise and lower the bridge for passing boats our 2 night home had been converted to an adorable tiny abode. It seemed like our own house because we never saw the owners. We let ourselves in using a phone app. Oh, this modern world!

We had a great time on our second day. In the morning we toured the recreated 18th/19th century village of Zaanse Schans located on the picturesque river Zaan.

Now only a few windmills stand where there used to be hundreds thanks to the Industrial Revolution. We  watched the mills grinding, cog churning, and the long blades somersaulting in the wind. I would’ve liked to have taken some of the paint pigment home being ground at one mill. The Dutch became  great ship builders because of mills like these making the planks for the boats.

There was a lot going on in Zaanse Schans. We learned how Gouda cheese is made, and did some taste testing. A shoemaker demonstrated how wooden clogs are made, and that there are several types for different purposes. There was a pewter smith, chocolate maker, an early grocery store, etc.. We even saw where the paper for the Declaration of Independence was made.  I wished we had more time to explore, and bigger suitcases.

The afternoon took us out of town again, but this time by bicycle. It was easier attempting to navigate countryside bike paths, than the wild streets of Amsterdam. It was nice to have a guide to point out the do’s and don’t’s of cycling here without being yelled at by the locals for being a green horn. 

We actually started in Amsterdam, but took a ferry, for bicyclists, to a path that led out of town. It is so flat here. No wonder everyone bikes. We saw  two bikes with large yellow buckets in front holding about ten preschoolers each. I wish we’d gotten a picture, but by the time we were done being amazed they had already flown by.

It didn’t take long before we were surrounded by fields. The land was open with very few fences. Even out in the countryside  canals weave around the land.

The water must be deep enough to keep the cows, sheep, and goats from crossing. A couple of swans and ducks clapped their wings as we passed. Sadly we left that idealized world behind and   re-entered the madhouse of Netherland’s capital at rush hour.

We were so happy to be greeted by our snug little bridge house at the end of the day where we could shut the door and watch the world pass by.

3 thoughts on “Amster dam dam dam

  1. Grace Richter

    I just caught up with your trip. There are loads of new photos.
    I love your writing about the photos too
    Keep on having fun#

    Aunt Grace

    Reply

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