• Deborah Kade

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Rain, rain, go away

Come again some other day!!!

Vacation is going by so quickly. The people from Seattle must feel right at home with Amsterdam weather but coming from Scottsdale, I need some sun!!!

Amsterdam is quite congested with people and bicycles. At times, there are too many people and bikes for me. Being a pedestrian, you are always on alert for bicyclists, trams, taxi drivers and cars. It is a crazy situation!!!! I really was shocked to see people don't wear helmets while riding their bikes or on scooters. I found walking at night quite dangerous as most bikes don't have front or back lights. A bell or horn to warn pedestrians you are approaching? No, they just shout at you. At night, it is difficult to see the difference between the tiny cobblestone road and what is the bike path. Pedestrians certainly do not have the right of way. At times, you are walking through a maze of parked bicycles. Bikes are chained on any and every piece of metal. It is crazy! On the canal tour, we did learn that you have to park your bike in the bike parking structure if you are taking a train and not the fence. If you do, they remove your bike and you receive a ticket.

Last night, on the way to dinner, we stumbled upon a flower market where they sold mostly tulip bulbs. The size of the amaryllis bulbs were huge. I wish I could take bulbs home with me!!!! Maybe it is good I can't as I would probably fill a good part of a suitcase.

Some of the "coffee shops" do not sell coffee, they sell "weed". You can always grow your own, though.

There were seed packets along the side walls.

You could buy tulips at every store. They sold real and wooden ones.

This afternoon, Michael decided we should either take the canal cruise or the hop on and hop off bus tour. I opted for the canal tour. Cruising through the canals was very nice but the people on the boat drove me crazy. About one fourth slept, one half were either talking very loudly to each other or texting and the other fourth were listening to the recording and looking at the sights. I am definitely not exaggerating. Even though it was drizzling, I tried to take a few pictures. I did learn a few new things about Amsterdam and the canals. The houses at the upper floor lean out so when they are pulling up furniture by the hook, it won't hit the house. Also, learned about the new buildings being built along one of the wider canals. Also, they are not giving out any more permits for house boats and you pay a tax or fee dependent on the size of the boat. It is not free to have a boat parked on a canal. All the house boats are hooked up for electricity, sewer and water. There are 2,500 boats round Amsterdam. Even though Amsterdam is called the Venice of the North, Amsterdam only has around 250 bridges while Venice has around 4,000. The people of Holland do not like to close the curtains because of an old saying which states, "If you close the curtains, you have something to hide!" The people of Amsterdam and also Holland do not have anything to hide so most houses do not have curtains or blinds. During the dinner cruise, it was fun to look into people's homes. Surprised by the number of floor to ceiling book shelves. Many of the homes have wooden beams in the ceiling. So beautiful! The inside of some of the houseboats are quite beautiful and modern.

We also walked along the alleyways by the Dam. Many people out and about today.

Many flower stalls open. Some just selling flowers while others sell souvenirs, bulbs, plants and fresh flowers.

This cat is so content watching over this stall. My TeTe and Switzee wouldn't be this happy.

The flower arrangements were beautiful.

The amaryllis plants are so healthy. So many flowers from just one bulb!

I fell in love with this Gloriosa plant. Unfortunately, I will not be able to take the bulbs home. I will just have to search for it somewhere in the states. It is a houseplant but it also can be planted outside when there is no frost. Does anyone know where I might find a gloriosa bulb back home?

People are stopping by the bakeries and places where they only sell coffee for a little pick-me-up. This is a nut and apple tart. There is always room for a waffle. You can have it plain, with powdered sugar, with fruit or with ice cream. Yummy!!!

Amsterdam’s coat of arms is pretty prevalent sight throughout the city. At its core is the 'XXX' symbol, which is actually three vertical St. Andrew’s Crosses, not (as some people assume) shorthand for the Red Light District. For the Amsterdam coat of arms, the three crosses are in white, atop a red shield with a black pale. St. Andrew was a fisherman who was martyred on an X-shaped cross in the 1st century AD, which is relevant to Amsterdam as the city’s symbol dates back to 1505 when it was a fishing town and all ships registered in Amsterdam flew this flag. In its most official form, the coat of arms is also decorated with the Imperial Crown of Austria and two golden lions.

It's actually a complete coincidence that the St. Andrew's Crosses on Amsterdam’s 500-year-old coat of arms are also similar to the modern-day shorthand for red light district x-rated entertainment. Of course, this coincidence is also widely utilized via the producers of gimmicky city souvenirs, but it's a world away from the historic truth. As such, the 'XXX' symbol can be seen all over the city – on flags, buildings, manhole covers and even on the poles that stop cars from driving on the pavement (known locally as Amsterdammertjes).

So many stores selling Dutch cheese. You can almost find a Henri Willig store on every third block around the city.

We passed the Amsterdam Duck Store while criss-crossing the city. Of course, I had to add two more ducks to my collection. They even had a Donald Trump duck. There were Star Wars characters that changed color when put in water and a whole store more of ducks. They would only accept credit cards as they are concerned they will be robbed if they have money in the store. We have come across many stores and restaurants like this throughout Amsterdam. I am wondering if robbery is a problem.

Our friend suggested we take the dinner cruise which goes through the canals. It stopped raining so we were able to see out the windows. Excellent suggestion!!! So much fun cruising around the city!!! Quite romantic, too.

Our captain was a woman whom has only been with this company for three weeks. She only hit the side of a canal once. I would not have wanted to maneuver such a large boat.

We started with Prosecco, then wine and finally champagne.

We had three choices: meat, fish or vegetarian. We both chose meat which was the top selection for each course. The food was hot and very tasty! Quite delicious!

The potatoes and the Parma ham were so good!

Even though it is called cappuccino, it isn't. They suggested we drink it like cappuccino and not use the spoon other than to mix the cream on top. It really was a pureed soup.

Medium rare- perfect!

The cookie and the mousse had the same taste. The round mounds were tart yogurt. The long bar was carrot cake which to me had a gingerbread taste. The menu said we were to have a lemon cake. It didn't matter as this was very tasty, too.

Cookies were so tasty!

Some of the sights we saw while going through the canals.

The sailboats being towed into the harbor. They are not allowed to sail in.

The city symbol on the sailing vessel.

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel

The only spot on the canal where you can see the seven lighted bridges.

Another bridge to go under

This is the skinny bridge. Custom says the first time you go under it, you must kiss as it will bring you good luck!

Another very enjoyable day comes to a close......


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