Amsterdam

During the last week of May 2006, Becky and I took a week holiday in Amsterdam: I’d been through Schiphol airport many times on the way to and from various labs for my research, but never been to Amsterdam itself. This page shows the pick of the photos from our trip.

One of the incredible things about Amsterdam (and Holland in general) is the massive amount of bikes. It seems everyone uses one and the photo below is a panorama montage of the multi-storey bike park at Amsterdam Central train station. I’d never seen anything like it before in my life!

Multi Storey Bike Park

Clogs are a major part of Dutch culture and it seems that shops everywhere sell them, but this is the first time I’ve seen a floating one. Its obviously not very big and I didn’t get a close look: it probably only takes one person as I can imagine having two in a small space like that would be pretty unstable.

A boat shaped like a clog!

On the subject of canals, Amsterdam has a plentiful supply, and no trip there would be complete without a tour or two. The photo on the right is very typical of a sunny day in an Amsterdam canal.

Canal view Under the bridge

As well as going on tour boats, you can also hire ‘Canal Bikes’ for very reasonable prices. Think oversize four-seater pedalo and you’re on the right track. These are great fun as well as pretty good exercise, although you have to ‘drive’ on the right. We ‘biked’ from the moorings at Leidseplein around the Anne Frank House and back in an hour which gave us our exercise for the week! I’m sure people thought we were crazy, as we had our photos taken quite a lot. Its surprisingly difficult to take photos from a canal bike, as its moving all the time, which can be interesting to contend with to say the least. Occasionally though the effort in taking the photo can be worth it, as in the case of this houseboat that was moored near the Anne Frank House. This was the most decorated houseboat we saw - at first we thought it was a museum or similar…

Pretty Houseboat

Having mentioned the Anne Frank House several times its about time I showed a photo. This is stitched together from two separate images as it wasn’t possible to get the whole building in one shot, which is why its a little curved. As you are probably well aware, Anne Frank with her family and friends hid here from the Nazis during World War II. They almost held out for the duration of the war but were betrayed a few months before it was finally over. The museum in the Anne Frank House is a place of pilgrimage in modern times for all those who have been persecuted or alienated in some way from society. Its quite a humbling place and is another must-see for any visitor to Amsterdam, regardless of status.

Anne Frank House

Whilst in Amsterdam we tried to take in some of the other traditional cultural bits too, visiting the Rijksmuseum (National Museum) amongst other places.

Fruit, by Rembrandt

The Rijksmuseum contained a large display of Rembrandt’s artwork, including the meal table with fruit and cheese painting here on the left. We also saw the Night Watch, a famous painting by Rembrandt which is several metres wide and high to the extent that I couldn’t get a decent photo. Nearby, at the Rembrandtplein, is a group of statues depicting the Night Watch.

The Night Watch, Rembrandt Plein

The Rijksmuseum also had on display this warship which caught my eye for its fantastic detail, although I can’t remember its name. I’m not that cultured really you see, as my Dad often reminds me…

Warship sculpture

Now for another sort of culture, that which only (legally) exists in Amsterdam. I don’t smoke but it would have been a shame to leave without trying a little cannabis, just for the experience. What a better place to go than the Bulldog Coffeeshop, the first of its kind in Amsterdam (and also in the middle of the red-light district!). Its a very relaxed, open hearted place and far less intimidating than some English pubs filled with football fans! We tried space hot-chocolates and I had a space-cake (on different days…) which carried the following warnings, amongst others:

This spacecake contains 0,20 grams of Zero Zero.
[…]
A little goes a long way!

The warning isn’t wrong, although I didn’t suffer badly despite having never taken any before. Think a little bit tipsy as you would be from a few glasses of wine and/or beer, but without the hangover and the dicky stomach.

The Bulldog Coffeeshop

The weather in Amsterdam can be a bit British as we found out to our cost for a few days, but the sun came out and made up for it by the end of the holiday.

I’d go there again…