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  • Day840

    Amsterdam! Day 2

    October 14, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    Considering we were so close to the heart of a capital, City Camp Amsterdam provided a relatively peaceful night's sleep and we woke ready to explore. On today's agenda was the Western Canal Ring. The centre of Amsterdam is surrounded on 3 sides by 4 concentric canals, bending round the core. The Western Ring is said to be the most photogenic so we once again took the tandem on the ferry and navigated our way in. It was another bright, warm day, the sun cutting the streets in half by shining a spotlight on one side whilst casting the other into shadow. We spent the morning wandering along the canalsides, stopping to admire the eclectic collections of houseboats moored on their vertical banks, crisscrossing quaint, arched stone bridges and noticing the oranges and reds as they began to show in the corridors of trees. We made a point of visiting Reguliersgracht, a canal that linked two of the radial waterways and was reputedly the prettiest. It was smaller and the trees more mature than on the main canals and although it was beautiful, we would only have put it on a par with the Western Ring.

    Our tummies were beginning to rumble so we made a beeline for Dam Square, the place where this great settlement was founded and whose title is combined with that of the River Amstel to produce the name Amsterdam. We needed to get back to Poppy so opted for a takeaway cone of frites and a hotdog for Will from Chipsy King. The chips were advertised as Belgian but the Dutch cut them thicker. They went down a treat as we sat on the cool stone seating behind the white stone obelisk at the eastern end of Dam Square. As we ate we took in the sights and people watched. The old Royal Palace, originally the town hall, stood at the western end, its large stone bricks dulled with time and exposure to pollutants. The 15th century gothic style New Church sat beside it with tall stained glass windows, its facia similarly muted. All of the tall stately buildings surrounding the open cobbled space were impressive, although their appearance would have been enhanced by a little TLC. When we first started our journey around Europe we'd been shocked to hear so much English spoken in the cities we visited. It has become something we now expect to a certain extent but in Amsterdam there was a particularly high number of English speaking voices.

    Our appetites satiated we peddled back to central station and caught the ferry over the River IJ for the last time. We'd been able to see so much more on the bike than we ever would have on foot and after spending some time with Poppy we had enough energy to take a walk around the NDSM neighbourhood close to where we were staying. An old shipyard transformed into a cultural and creative hub, the streets and buildings had a rough but vibrant feel to them. Tentatively setting foot inside a huge manufacturing warehouse we found it had been populated with shipping containers used as artist studios. Upstairs was a free exhibition showing a range of disciplines from cut paper designs, to welded iron, conceptual art and painting. Outside, walls were covered in grafitti; a mix of hastily sprayed tags and incredible murals with most things in between. We were particularly drawn to a huge painting of a child's multicoloured face with the title 'Let me be myself'. After researching it, we learned it was a 240 square metre representation of Anne Frank painted by world famous Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra in his signature style. The house where Anne hid from German troops for 2 years is located in central Amsterdam and now exists as a museum.

    Flagging slightly, we made our way to Noorderlicht café; an arched greenhouse turned trendy venue. The outdoor picnic tables by the river were packed but we found a spare place to sit inside where there was a grassroots duo singing and playing keyboard and saxophone. We ordered a couple of shots of Jenever (Dutch gin), some local beers and sat back to enjoy the hip atmosphere and performance. The walls were strung with heavy bohemian style curtains in rich colours and we could imagine that when the sun went down the place would be transformed from a light and airy space to something cosy and snug, with warm lights twinkling.

    We really enjoyed our two days in the Netherlands' capital. As always there was plenty more to see and do but we felt we'd picked up a flavour of the city. We are glad we didn't visit mid summer because even this time of year it was very busy with tourists. We loved the free ferries and how easy it was to get around by bike. The beautiful canals gave Amsterdam individuality and the enjoyable coffeehouse experience wasn't one we could have had in many other cities. The NDSM neighbourhood had real character not to mention colour from its many murals, but there is more to a country than its capital and it was time to move on.
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  • Day6

    Mit der Fähre zurück ins Zentrum

    April 15 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    Nachdem wir auf dem Turm waren hatten wir im Norden von Amsterdam nichts mehr vor. Auch nach etwas ausgiebiger Nachforschung habe ich nichts gefunden, dass uns noch interessiert hat. Mit der Fähre sind wir wieder zurück ins Zentrum & dann mit der Tram Richtung Albert Cuyp Markt.

  • Day4

    Hello Europe, we have arrived

    July 7, 2017 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Where - Amsterdam (Hilton Doubletree Centraal hotel)
    Weather - Fine / light clouds - max 24°C (much more comfortable than Abu Dhabi)
    Steps - 14,850 or 9.4km (not bad considering 7 hours was spent sitting in a plane)

    It's been a long day - up before 6am, airport by 7.30am, flight at 9am and arrived in Amsterdam at 3pm. We caught the train from the airport to Centraal Station (much more economical than a taxi) and from there it was only about 500m walk to our hotel. We have a room on the top (10 th) floor with a great view over the river.

    As is our usual custom we went for an orientation walk down to the cruise ship terminal where we join our cruise on Sunday. It is only about 15 mins walk but to do it with luggage is probably not a good idea as it is mostly paving stones and would probably wreck or bags... so taxi it is! Then we wandered back to central Amsterdam where Brad wanted to take some (what he believes to be) iconic photos of Amsterdam. So we have a picture of Centraal station (yes it does have a double a) and agreed, this is iconic architecture of Amsterdam as are the ba-zillion pushbikes parked near the station. However he insisted that shops selling wacky-tobaccy seeds and smoking implements was also iconic Amsterdam but I have my doubts. Anyway, tomorrow we shall do the hop-on hop-off bus tour so hopefully get some typical Amsterdam photos then.

    Might call it an early night tonight - it's about 9.30pm and the sun still hasn't set but our body clocks say it is 11.30pm Abu Dhabi time)
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  • Day5

    Big day out in Amsterdam

    July 8, 2017 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Where - Amsterdam Hop on, hop off bus
    Weather - mild / warm - 22°C
    Steps - 24,000 or 15.3km (Wow, no wonder my feet are tired)

    It has been a very busy day exploring the main sights of Amsterdam , particularly the ones we didn't get to see last thing we were in Amsterdam about 5 years ago. Starting with the first HOHO bus at around 9am we did the loop first (about an hour), before visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum, Rijksmuseum, the I amsterdam sign and Vondelpark plus a couple of other things. We wanted to visit the Anne Frank museum but when we got there the queue had to be 250-300m long to get in so we decided to give it a miss.

    The Dutch Resistance Museum was very interesting and dealt with how the Dutch Resistance assisted the Jews during the Second World War. The Rijksmuseum had some fabulous artifacts and reknowned artists such as Rembrandt and van Gogh but we were intrigued with some of the furniture there like writing desks. Outside the Rijksmuseum is the much photographed I Amsterdam sign, although today there were so many people in front of or climbing all over it, that it was difficult to get a good photo. Finally we wandered around Vondelpark with about a million other people before getting back to the hotel at around 6.30pm.

    We leave Amsterdam tomorrow on our cruise and this may be the last blog for a couple of weeks depending on Internet charges (usually very expensive at sea) or whether I can pick up WiFi in port.
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  • Day5

    Rijksmuseum pics

    July 8, 2017 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Just a few extra photos from the Rijksmuseum including a Rembrandt and van Gogh and some of the intricate furniture.

    Also, our cruise ship arrived into port this morning- sailed right past our window.

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