Our last day of the river cruise is ending in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It has been a wonderful trip and there is still so much to see in this great city. Amsterdam is among the most livable cities in the world due to its numerous cultural institutions, modern architecture, and diverse variety of ethnic restaurants as well as its liberal policies on everything from euthanasia to drugs and prostitution. As we got off the boat our first site was of the train station where you get a sense of how the residents of Amsterdam get around; there were thousands of bicycles at the commuter rail station.
Our accommodations are at a nice small hotel called the Die Port van Cleve hotel, in the heart of downtown Amsterdam. Our room overlooked De Nieuwe Kerk Museum, one of the many museums in Amsterdam. The Die Port van Cleve is the original site for the first Heineken brewery.
Our first tour of the city was on a canal tour. Amsterdam has over 150 canals and 1,200 bridges and is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North”. The boat took us down many of the canals that make up the city of Amsterdam. Some residents of Amsterdam choose to have their home on a houseboat. We saw some that looked very livable while others looked as if they may not stay afloat. Along the canals were many beautiful buildings and tree lined streets.
Next we were onto the hop on hop off bus tour of Amsterdam. This is a great way to see any city and get acclimated to where everything is. Our first stop was near the Heineken museum where you can do the Heineken Experience which takes you through the history of Heineken Beer. We had lunch in a great pub that sat on a corner of a busy intersection. While at the pub I took a video of the street light changing with all of the bicycle riders. It is truly was a great city to people watch. You would see one person on a bike, then two on a bike with one on the front and one on the back. Then there were the woman in their high heels, skirts and long wool coats riding to work. Also the mother would be riding the bicycle with one child on the front and one child on the back. Nearly every resident in the city owns a bicycle since drive is discouraged. No matter what the season, the residents of Amsterdam are always riding their bicycles.
After a great lunch we went to the Van Gogh Museum. The museum shares a beautiful park like area with the Rijksmuseum. Between the two museums you could spend a whole day viewing all both have to offer.
During the evening we walked down to the famous Red Light District. This was a very interesting area where there where many food shops, coffee houses and many other types of shops that are well known in Amsterdam. One thing we noticed was that there were many vacant windows in the Red light District, all with for rent signs. We wondered if this was a sign of the economy in the city.
Amsterdam is a great city with so much to see and do, you can easily spend several days there. I cannot wait to go back to spend more time in the city. In the morning we will board our flight back to Boston but not before we get to shop at the Schiphol Amsterdam Airport.
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