Having been up so late the night before, we had a lie in, then Henri directed us in making a delushuz cooked breakfast. The sun was (mostly out), so we ate on the rooftop patio in the sun. Absolutely lovely.
Sunday afternoon we headed on the bikes, to a cheese tasting. We were supplied with the correct wine for each cheese, and we were supplied with several varieties. We learned to cut it thinly with a little cheese guillotine, and then how to smell and taste like a proper connoisseur. It was all very yum.
As part of the cheese tasting, we also got to ride a canal boat, which was a very enjoyable meander through the canals. The sun even came out a few times, and it was all very pleasant. The cheese and canal tour all up was 22 euro, which I feel was a pretty good deal, considering the amount of cheese I ate, along with a glass of red and white wine, and a glass of port.
After the cheese and wine and boats, we wandered back through town, and did Rick Steve’s Audio tour of the Red light district, and right to the start of the town. I honestly don’t have a lot to write about the day, so here are a bunch of photos of canals, boats, and crooked houses! It was just very enjoyable and relaxing, biking around, wandering, and the boat trip was definitely fun, a good way to see a lot of the city from a different view.
Henrietta made us another lovely dinner, mostly cheese and potato, but with a few colourful veges thrown in. After dinner, we took the cameras out and biked around in the dark, which was actually very fun, if a little chilly. Did some night photos, and the main thing I realised is that I need a tripod!
Breakfasted on more bread and cheese. Europe can be a hard country to dine in. Stepped outside to chilly weather, had been raining overnight. Was quite chilly. We headed off on our bikes to the Rejikmuseum. Bike to it, then through the little archway, parked our bikes with the hundreds that were already parked, and headed in. Stayed till about 1pm, lots to see.
It was a lovely building, very pretty, both inside and out. Lots of amazing paintings. Lots of people too.
Went to burgermeester for lunch, quite good. They sell ‘mini burgers’, so you can buy three of those, in different flavours, instead of one big one. Very good. Burgers.
Then went and saw a windmill, The Grooyer. It has a brewery/bar next to it, with tons of people lunching. It was built in the 1600’s, was moved around a bit, and renovated a few times. It was used to grind corn during WWII, when there was no power. It is apparently the tallest wooden mill in Amsterdam. The blades still work well, but it no longer grinds anything.
Biked around a bit, went to an island via some bridges, and admired the lovely bike lanes everywhere. Missed the rain, as we were in the supermarket (buying more bread and cheese). Went home about 5pm and had a nap.
Set out about 8.30pm to go find dinner. A very pleasant bike ride across town, to a restaurant called Seasons. Overall, a very good experience. A little pricey, but the food was scrumptious, and the service excellent. Food came out in a timely manner, and they were happy to cater to special requests.
After dinner, which ended just after 11pm, we headed over to the red light district for a wander. It was definitely interesting. There were a lot of people., though the general crowd had changed from tourist groups and a few families, to rowdier people out for the nightlife, and a few simply curious tourists like us.
Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, so it is all out in the open..as in, literally the girls will lounge around in front of their shop front full-length windows, winking and smiling to entice people over. There is a lot oc skin showing, but somehow all the important bits are covered. Even if only with suspenders.
Most windows are basically a full length glass door, usually with thick and heavy curtains, a stool or chair, and a red light above. Not much else. A display window, if you will. When the woman is looking for customers, her light is on, and curtains are open. They don’t let just anyone into the door, I saw a few talking to them, and then the door closing and them moving on their way. If you’re rude or rough, they call security on you.
It was a little surreal biking home, through the outskirts of the red light district.. There were still plenty of locals biking around, lots of people out in the streets, and windows with red lights and girls. No pictures though, they don’t appreciate pictures!
We woke up kind of late, as we were all a bit tired, we had gone to bed late, and we had gone forward a timezone.
We wandered off down the canals until we found a Lidl supermarket, where we bought many yummy things, and went back to eat breakfast. Pastries, cheese, bread and butter. The best sultana bread rolls I’ve ever had.
After breakfast we headed, wandered through town, enjoyed some canals, and watched one of the bridges go up and down, including pigeons getting almost stuck in them. We ended up at Max’s Bikes, where we rented 4 bikes for the weekend. They are much like all the other Amsterdam bikes, they are upright, one gear, and pedal brakes. We spent the day biking around, enjoying the not rain.
We went to Vondelpark, which is a lovely green park. Apparently, Central Park, in NYC, was based on this park. It was pretty, we saw some herons, and we found a bunch of green parakeets, who were flapping around, and arguing over who got to sit in the hole in the tree. Dale and I found an adventure playground where we clambered and climbed, and then watched the local doggies run and bark. Lots of people wandering through, and spring flowers were poking up everywhere. Mostly bluebells and daffodils though, and not many tulips yet.
After the park, we visited our first windmill. Though it no longer looks like they use it, is a bit run down. Pretty, nonetheless.
We headed into the main part of Amsterdam city, to Dam Square. So many bikes. It was a little intimidating, especially if you are not used to pedal brakes and driving on the right hand side. There were a million people on bikes, and all the locals are fast and zippy; where we would stop and look both ways, they would just continue at the same pace, and zip across the road between traffic.
There were also a few cars, mostly taxis, and a millions tourist pedestrians, all walking, meandering, and stopping in random places. Very exciting.
It seems the best way to bike around is to act like the locals do – ring your bell a lot, and zip through all the people. Don’t bother to wait for the pedestrians, just go around them. Be confident, and just keep biking.
Biking was good, we got to cover a large area in a shorter time. When it wasn’t too busy, it was very pleasant to pootle down the little cobbled streets. It was very busy at dam square, a million bikes, and probably that many people. Another billboard sign, warning everyone not to buy cocaine from people on the street, as a few tourists have died from being sold white heroin instead, without knowing.
When people used to move into buildings, they would use a rope pulley over a hook at the top of the building. Most buildings seem to still have them. This is because the staircases in most canal houses are too steep and narrow to get anything up. Nowdays, it seems they use a platform conveyer belt thing.
Rain didn’t dampen biking much, everyone still seemed to be out. Quite a range of people: old guys with long white hair, middle aged and younger, going to the supermarket or park, parents with a kid in a seat on both the front and the back, many with a simple crate tied on the front, for carrying anything from bread and groceries, to the family dog, who sits peacefully, watching the world zip by.
Later on, people in their work clothes, people in nice dresses and heels, heading out for dinner.
Also, nobody in Amsterdam wears helmets!
We caught a short afternoon flight over to Amsterdam for the Easter weekend. We flew with British Airways, which was different to our usual EasyJet, and we actually got given a drink and a snack! Lots of nice views out the windows, of the English countryside, and of general smoggyness. Saw a whole bunch of wind turbines in the ocean. An offshore windfarm. It looked quite surreal.
A easy trip in to town via the railway then the subway, to our adorable air b n b apartment, on one of the canals.
We wandered the canals in the dusk, past cute, cute little houses, and many bicycles.
I know that bicycles are a thing here, but knowing and seeing are different. There are tons of cycle lanes, which is cool. Roundabouts have a dedicated separate cycle lane around the outside. There are cycles locked up everywhere. There are plenty of cycle parks, but still, not enough. Cycles on all the front fences, cycles lined up on the footpath.
We went out to dinner at a restaurant recommended to us by our host. It was quite cool. It was well known for it’s cocktails, so we had to try, and they were delishuz. I had a ginger and pear one, and it was the most gingery drink I had ever had. Fiery as!
Dinner was delishuz, though service got exceptionally slow after our mains, and it took forever to get dessert then the bill. They also called meringue pavlova, which turned out to be very disappointing for me.