Exploring with Friends: Amsterdam

After our day exploring Den Haag, we settled in for a good night’s sleep. Because the next day we decided to explore Amsterdam!

And look at what greeted us as we exited Amsterdam Centraal Station!

Yeah, that’s a lot of bikes…
I wouldn’t want to drive a car in Amsterdam… there are far too many pedestrians and cyclists to make it a comfortable drive!

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The first thing we did upon arriving in Amsterdam was take a tour on a canal boat. It was a good day for it!

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Just a guy in his boat. He had a lot of beer when I peaked into the hold. I think he was having a good day, haha.

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Another guy hanging out on his house boat reading the newspaper. These house boats are just that – houses that float on water like a boat! There’s a lot of them in Amsterdam, and they look very comfortable and cozy!

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Looking out the back of the boat. I went outside (there was a little area at the back of the boat that was open to the air) part way through the tour – the boat had glass all around inside, so it was harder to take pictures.

On the left is the Westerkerk. On the right there are several more house boats!
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I really love the architecture in Amsterdam. There’s so much character to the buildings!
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Another awesome houseboat that Elisabeth managed to get a picture of – I really like this one!

After our boat tour along the canal, we tried to find somewhere to sit so we could eat our sandwiches. We just couldn’t find a bench anywhere! We ended up sitting on the curb eating our sandwiches… with the smell of marijuana reaching us every once and a while. I don’t know why people like it. It smells like skunk!

We continued our walk through the narrow streets looking for a place to have coffee. We passed several houses that were leaning rather precariously towards the road. This one was one of the worst.

Elisabeth took this shot. See how the house with the red shutters is leaning towards the ground? It was pretty incredible to see in person. It really looked like it was going to fall over!

We found a café called Toastable, which happened to be right next to a business space for prostitutes. At one point I did overhear David exclaim, as I was inside the shop with Elisabeth, “So – oh my! Well… okay.” Apparently one of the clients next door was leaving the building and David got a glimpse of inside. Other than that particular building, it was actually a pretty nice area!

This picture was taken by some Scottish tourists who were drinking coffee next to us.
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Thanks for this great picture, Elisabeth! David and I excited for coffee!

After we sat down, relaxed, and drank some coffee we walked around and explored Amsterdam for a bit. We stopped at this awesome cheese store!

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Yep, definitely a lot of cheese. I think some of them must have been for decoration, though.
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YUM! PS: For those of you who may not know – the different colours is just the wrapping/wax. Although there was a cheese that was actually green – it was pesto cheese!
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Did someone say yoghurt?!
It was very good yoghurt! I put lots of fruit, jam, and granola in ours too.
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The Royal Palace

We walked through the square outside The Royal Palace, which is still used by the Dutch Royal House! There were a lot of performers. We saw people dressed up as the grim reaper, Darth Vader, and a guy sitting on an invisible chair with his skin, hair, and clothing all painted gold.

And then there was, of course, this lady. Because you know, you’re in Amsterdam.

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Body art.

There were little children invited up to paint on her legs, which I actually thought was kind of cute. She smiled for everyone’s pictures and overall seemed entirely comfortable.

The sign in front of her said that she was a local artist and collected money this way for her art supplies.

A really awesome bicycle!

There are a fair number of bicycles like this in Holland. I saw one person with their dog in the sort-of wheelbarrow part, tongue-hanging out and utterly content. Other people use them for their kids, or even for their groceries!

Soon, it was time for supper! We ate out at JUN Indonesian Cuisine. It was great! I highly recommend them on your next trip to Amsterdam!

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If you do end up visiting them for a meal, don’t forget to make a reservation! We were really happy we made a reservation – we got the best seats in the place and it did get busy as the evening went on. We ate inside. It was a really nice day, but a bit chilly!

Cheers!
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Elisabeth taking pictures of our drinks.

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It was a great meal! We ate every last bit of food.

We walked pretty slowly on our way home. The sun was setting, we were in a really quiet and relaxed part of the city, and it was just beautiful.

Take a look at these pictures to see for yourself!

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Westerkerk again!

This church is pretty magnificent from the outside. We didn’t actually go inside, but it was beautiful to look at from across the canal.

I love these lamp posts (they remind me of Chronicles of Narnia). I also love the shutters on some of the houses – can you see the red shutters on the house in the background?

Flowers decorating a houseboat. I loved all the flowers in this part of the city!

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I’m not sure in front of which building this picture was taken. I just really liked the doors.

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Amazing flowers that really struck me on our walk. They were at times so black, like velvet, and other times a deep purple. Beautiful.

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We headed back to Amsterdam Centraal Station to get back home, and walked through the red light district (aptly named because of the red lights – and curtains – that highlight the windows of the brothels) on our way there. It was like being transported into another world. It’s both fascinating and heartbreaking all at once. It’s gut-wrenching to think that these types of “services” still exist. I don’t have much else to say about it other than what I had posted on my Facebook page the night we got home:

Today we went to Amsterdam.

We went on a scenic boat tour along the canal. We also walked along very quiet roads outside the center of Amsterdam where different-coloured flowers decorated doorways and tall green trees swayed in the wind. The light reflected off the water of the canal, and houses with deep green shutters towered (and leaned precariously!) along the side of the cobble-stone road. It was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful.

But on our way back to Amsterdam Centraal Station, as the sun was setting, we also walked through part of the red light district. And the saddest faces stared back at us through clean, bright windows.

Amsterdam is able to depict, better than anywhere else I’ve ever been, how the world is filled with both indescribable beauty and horrific depravity.

Overall, Amsterdam really is a beautiful city. I really like it – and in some ways, a lot more than Paris!

It’s sad to think that it’s best known for its liberal atmosphere; there’s a lot more to Amsterdam than prostitution and marijuana.

But once you’re there, and you spend some time walking through some of the quieter streets, you’ll see just how beautiful it really is.

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*Pictures in the post were taken either by myself of my friend, Elisabeth. Thanks Elisabeth for sharing your pictures with me!

 

 

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