Biking around Amsterdam

We arrived in Amsterdam in the rain…one of only a few rainy days of travel! Luckily, the next day was clear, so we hired bikes from our hostel and set off to explore. Amsterdam is perfect for biking – flat and lots of bike lanes. It was the first time I (Karen) had biked in traffic in years though so I was a bit nervous at times!

 

Riding my orange bike
Riding my orange bike

 

Our first stop was the Sloten windmill, located right near our hostel.We then headed down through a little courtyard, past the zoo, Botanic gardens, and over the Magere Brug (the “Skinny Bridge”). This wooden bridge is right by some of the canal locks and opens and closes at times.  After biking across that, we went past Museumsplein and to the Vondelpark (a lovely, big park area).

 

Our first windmill!
Our first windmill!

 

Biking past the zoo
Biking past the zoo

 

Magere Brug
Magere Brug
Vondelpark
Vondelpark

After biking through the Vondelpark, we went to see the floating flower markets. Disappointingly, winter is not really the season for tulips, so we saw lots of bulbs and only a few flowers. We did manage to find stores with free cheese samples, so that was good!

Floating flower markets
Floating flower markets

 

Mmm, free cheese samples
Mmm, free cheese samples

Our next stop was the Begijnhof.  This enclosed square was a collection of houses where women lived who wanted to live lives of devotion to God (but unlike a nunnery, they could leave and marry if they wished). It was a lovely, serene area in the middle of town.  After this we headed to the bustling Dam square before walking around the red light district.  We finished our ride by biking by central station and onto an island before heading back to our hostel.  If you want to visualise our route you can check it out here. 

 

Begijnhof
Begijnhof

 

In Dam Square
In Dam Square

 

We had bought a “Holland Pass” as it saved us a little money on the things we most wanted to see in Amsterdam.  Included in this was a free city tour, which we did on our second day in Amsterdam. What a let down! The tour was mostly advertising for the other tours available in Amsterdam, and included a compulsory stop at a diamond factory. I would recommend people get the pass and skip the tour – definitely one of those free things that is not worth the saving!  We then visited the Old Church, which was nice, but the highlight was the illustrated choir stalls which had pictures of local proverbs. These were hilarious!

 

In the diamond factory
In the diamond factory

 

"Money doesn't fall out of my arse"
“Money doesn’t fall out of my arse”

 

"It's like trying to outyawn an oven door"
“It’s like trying to outyawn an oven door”

 

 

In the afternoon, we visited the Anne Frank house. This house was the actual hiding place where she and her family lived for two years during World War II before being betrayed to the Nazis.  It was amazing and very moving to see where they hid, especially after I had read her diary years ago. We weren’t able to take photos but you can see here what it looked like inside (including the secret bookshelf that hid the entrance to the rooms).

 

Anne Frank Huis
Anne Frank Huis

 

 

We took another walk through the red light district that night.  It’s interesting – Amsterdam has a reputation for being very sleazy, and there is certainly an aspect of that, but the red light district was not as big as we had expected and was certainly not as dominant in the city as we had thought. During our time in Amsterdam, we were much more impressed by the culture and beauty of the city than we were overwhelmed by the seediness – a great surprise for us!  

 

Red light district
Red light district

 

Hilarious store we found!
Hilarious store we found!

 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. hayley says:

    But did you do what you thought you might try while in Amsterdam? 🙂

    Like

  2. Kate says:

    Lol, those proverbs are awesome!

    Like

  3. Mum Bunn says:

    Your cycle tour looks great — and the map was appreciated!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s