We had a mixed flight John sleeping well and Ann not so well and after a John details stuff up regarding access to the apartment got sorted we got the taxi to Amsterdam and met Jute at the apartment.
It was on the 4th floor up lots of steps ( top left pic in the gable ) in a really nice part of town just outside the old centre on The Single canal and it was spacious light and bright but fairly average but nice and warm. We had a rest before deciding which direction to go, checked the forecast, rugged up and hit the stairs.
We ventured out and the sun was shining despite the 12 deg temps and took a walk up town towards Dam Square via the Flower Markets wandering over bridges, canals and cobbled street always on the look out for bikes and Trams, both silent but deadly.
The amount of bikes defies description and according to one source there are over 10,000 stolen each year off the streets.
The old Town is full of Architectural gems from varied periods from 1500’s to early 20th century. The grand Old Post Office above and below left is now a shopping mall but one of my favourites is the Art Nouveau gem below right.
This amazing Art Deco Theatre below left is on our must see inside agenda when we return in 4 weeks.
Lunch was beckoning so we stopped at a nice cafe that served organic and vegan meals and had a lovely soup and salad combo that really hit the spot especially as we had a nice warm sun on us. John scored a pair of Ecco shoes at 2/3 the cost back home and with so much more variety to choose from.
We loved the narrow buildings with the Dutch gables, many sloping precariously date back to the 16th century and after many years of fire destruction from 1550 they all had to be built of brick or stone so the extra weight sitting n timber piles in the mud has had an effect over time, slowly sinking.
There is so much character in the Architecture and they are all very well looked after but the streets and canals are very dirty,rubbish and flotsam and jetsam every where.
There are cafes and restaurants in abundance, more than any city we have visited so after a time wandering the streets we went back up the stairs for a rest before John went exploring along the ring of canals to check out a few Restaurants the owners of the apartment had recommended .
We had a lovely meal and then wandered around the still very light evening watching the many locals zipping around the canals on various forms of water transport but the best was a party boat that was jam packed with students out for a big night, it looked like the local version of a stretched limo.
There are plenty of Museums on Amsterdam so we visited the city museum that had an excellent exhibition on the local history and development of the city over the ages and it was a very enlightening experience. We also visited the oddly beautiful courtyarded community of refuge for single women of the 16 th century who held onto their Catholic faith to do good in the community but did not take the Nuns vows, and they were left alone by The Protestant community around them.
Lunch at a sushi joint and onto a canal excursion that all tourists must do for a ring around the city which was very entertaining with a very dry Dutch Captain who had a special touch of irony in all his stories and kept us very amused.
Oh yeah, watch out for those low flying bridges they can sneak up on the unwary. The tour really gave us an excellent insight into the way Amsterdam has developed and changed over the centuries.
The flower show was next on the Agenda after a night at a funky little Transit hotel at the Airport called Citizen M, watch out for this brand it is a very low cost, clever, comfortable and efficient Virgin style fully computerized operation that is very popular with Hipsters and Business travelers looking for a low cost overnighter at the Airport.
It was only a short 20 min bus ride through the tulip fields and canals to arrive at Keukenhof Gardens.
The place is huge a full on Botanical gardens with tulip gardens of every variety and color and Pavilion Green Houses everywhere with all kinds of Orchards, Bromeliads and you name it they had it.
It was a wonderful experience and the weather behaved mostly apart from 10 mins of sleet, hail and rain.
Next stop adjacent to the Gardens was The Kasteel Keukenhof just a 200 m walk into a Sculpture Garden around the Grounds of what was really an early 19th Century Napoleonic Chateau .
But they call it a Castle. We couldn’t see inside as a private function was on but the grounds, farm house and special exhibits were well worth the visit.
there was a giant blow up Mole hidden in the Forest, a giant Spider in a tree and various other animals scattered around the grounds.
It was time to head back to the Citizen M to pick up our bags and walk to the Airport ready for our Vienna flight. We will be back in Amsterdam in 4 weeks for a couple of nights.