Hey! So I think my last post made it pretty clear that I saw the Rolling Stones, and saw them I did. So although the holiday was primarily for and focused on the Stones, we did have a spare couple of days to explore and see what the city of Amsterdam had to offer.
One thing my Grandpap said we had to do was a canal tour. He visits Amsterdam regularly and told us that it really is a different way of seeing the city. So after grabbing the tickets outside central station, roughly €16 euros a piece later, we were off to find the boat. We chose the tour with Stromma as it was a 1-hour highlights tour. It departed every 15 minutes and offered audio guides in 19 languages. We actually didn’t make the first boat that was there- knowing they were every 15 minutes, we held back to be sure we got window seats. Also like most tours, the headphones are provided so not to worry if you don’t have your own.
Fun fact: The Amsterdam canal ring has actually been given World Heritage Status by UNESCO in 2010
All that means is that the canal ring has a special/cultural significance- namely that it demonstrates so called town planning of the 17th century that went on to influence the world to this day.
So the first highlight of the tour, and one of the first things we saw was Space Centre NEMO. Located on the Oosterdok, the building is architecturely quite impressive, designed by Renzo Piano, it’s green and looks like a sinking ship. The roof of the building is a set of steps, open to everyone and anyone and gives you a nice view over the Oosterdok. Kind of similar (but also, not really) to the red steps in Times Square. We didn’t actually have chance to go in NEMO but it’s a science museum, there is no doubt tons of cool stuff in there and 100% worth a visit, if you have the time and are into science.
Also, just a sidenote, excuse the reflections in the pictures.
[A real life captain]
Okay, so it’s a thing in Amsterdam that some of the houses are tilted. Think the Leaning Tower of Pisa on a neighbourhood scale. The houses lean because of something to do with the way they were built. If you haven’t realised by now, Amsterdam has a lot of canals so the ground is in effect, quite wet- it’s more clay than it is sand. The foundations of these houses are built on piles and those built back in the day have wooden piles, which sink into the clay relatively uneven. Nowadays, the piles are drilled deeper and are often filled with cement to give them a more solid foundation. It’s something like that anyway.
So the Dancing Sisters or Dancing Houses can be found on the Damrak. I’m not entirely 100% why this particular row of houses has collared this nickname but I would guess that it is because they are all tilted and noticibly so. It is such an iconic trait of Amsterdam houses and I find the lean quite charming. I don’t know, it’s just kinda nice and unique- not something I see everyday at least.
Okay, so I wanted to mention the Stopera. To be honest, this was something I originlly dismissed. I am quite into architecture and this wasn’t something on my radar so with my audio guide telling me it was on my left, I looked at it and nodded and continued looking around. Then the captain of our boat told us a story about the building that was missing from our audio. The building combines the city hall and the opera house and when it was proposed in 1979, it was a very controversial project and received quite a bit of backlash. I find the name rather perculiar because it combines the Dutch word for city hall and opera, but in English, it’s a great pun for stop the opera. It resulted in a lot of protests and riots, many of which were apparently quite violent. I’m not actually certain why this was the case so if anyone knows, please drop it in the comments- I have had a quick scan of google and all I can find is that lots of medieval buildings had to be demolished in order for this building to be built. I just thought that was an anecdote to share because that’s something I would never have known otherwise.
The Reguliersgracht is apparently the most sought after canal in Amsterdam for photographers and amateurs alike. This canal has seven bridges and the final one we passed is apparently only one of two spots where you can see all seven bridges in align with each other.
Okay so there are nine million bicycles in Amsterdam (if u know, u know n if u dont, click the link). Poor joke aside, everyone bikes in Amerstdam, when you think Amsterdam, you think bikes (among other things, I know) but bikes, lots and lots of bikes. When you have more bikes than cars, you’re probably going to need some sort of parking, oh yes. Oh it is true. A car park for bikes. Now, if you’ve been to Oxford, a car park for bikes really isn’t that new of an idea but the Dutch have done it better. A multi storey for bikes. A multi storey. I’m not sure if I’m a bit simple or if this is as revolutionary as I think it is, but it’s pretty mental. It’s ridiculous and it’s brilliant, I love it!
Bike count: 8 (sorry, I got excited about the bikes- make that 9)
[Bike multi storey]
So there’s just a snippet of some of the highlights Amsterdam has to offer. I’ve tried to avoid including some obious stuff such as Anne Frank’s house turned museum because it really is a city with a lot to give. If you visit Amsterdam, definitely hop on a boat for an hour because you will see a lot more and you’ll see places you never would have ventured had you been on foot!
***September 2018 update: You can access this post on the GPSmyCity app, available for download here ***