** Day 1 ** Day 2 ** Day 3 ** Day 4 **


It was a wonderful night’s sleep as I listened to the rain land on the skylight above us and ripple the canal outside the portholes. The night rain made way for a slightly overcast morning – perfect for urban exploration. As usual, we had no plans and no goal. We decided to head for the Flower Market and slowly made our way in that direction.

Tattoo Convention poster

Wine shop

Tree-lined canal

There are a lot of Elm trees lining the canals and the city is very careful in the management of these trees. Many years ago, Dutch Elm disease struck the city, causing the death of many of the trees. These days, Arborists immediately cut down any tree showing symptoms of the disease but replant again, using a strain of Elm that is more resistant. The Elm tree is a prime choice for lining the canals, as they have a narrow root structure that tends to go down rather than spread, thereby reducing damage to the canal walls.

Kayaks and the canal side of the Flower Market

Street side of the flower market

Most of the stalls had bags of tulip bulbs on display. There were other flowering plants as well, giving a festive and colorful look to the area. Naturally, tucked among the bulbs were some tacky fridge magnets and solar-powered plastic flowers. I would have loved to have bought some Dutch tulips, but I don’t have a proper place to store them and I’m not sure where I could plant them, anyway. When we reached the far end of the market stalls, we spied the Delft pottery shop. It brought back memories for me, as my childhood home had a fireplace with a frame of Delft tiles. I’d always loved those tiles, with their timeless blue and white scenes. The pottery shop stood in a brick building at the base of the Munt Tower and we went inside to see what was there. I finally knew what souvenir I would bring home with me from this visit.

Check out that price tag

Hand painting

One Delft-painted kitty later, we strolled out of the factory shop and headed further into the heart of Amsterdam. It was a holiday weekend throughout Europe, so the streets were crowded with people from all over. The most frequently heard language was from England, but there was no shortage of German and French as well. And, of course, Dutch.

I love the variety of floor height on each building

Dam Square, the main square in Amsterdam

Camera and computer, all in one!

We sat with some chips (fries) in the main square while the scent of burning marijuana wafted through the air. We smelled it often, but it was much more tolerable than cigarette smoke. And everywhere we went we saw “coffee shops”, but never went inside. Maybe on our next trip (pun intended).

Famous Art Deco theater – amazing interior shots!!

Self-vending food stops were everywhere, perhaps to counter the munchies?

Source of the munchies

Harpist in Rembrandt Square

Rembrandt Square

Grebes taking advantage of debris in the canals

Dan and I had been speculating about the houseboats since we arrived. Who lived on them? How old were they? How did houseboat living come about? What limitations are there in living on one? Than we saw David. David was sitting on his houseboat with a tin of paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. We approached him and asked him about his boat. He was very friendly and outgoing and did not hesitate to tell us about the boats and the lifestyle. The cargo ships that most canal boats were made from were heavily used early in the 20th century, but in the ’50s, a new way of shipping cargo came about. This left a lot of empty boats sitting around which was convenient for the many people who needed housing after World War II. Cargo boats were remodeled without rules or laws until the 1970s, when the government stepped in and began to regulate. There were 2,500 houseboat at that time and there are 2,500 houseboats now. It is not allowed to add a new boat to the list, nor remove one. That isn’t to say that you can’t replace the one you own, but there has to be a house boat at the mooring.

David painting his boat

The family replacing the bricks in the street themselves

A park where children can practice riding “on the streets”

This was a long day and we spent most of it walking around. We saw a lot of things and all of it was interesting. I wanted to capture everything so I could share with my family and friends, but really, how much of an attention span do they really have? I kept snapping pictures, in the hope that I’d end up with something worth sharing.

Walking through the Albert Cuypmarkt

An advantage of Amsterdam’s layout is that it is easy to start in one place, walk along a street for a day, and then end up almost where you came from. The crescent shape of the canals and the central location of our house boat meant that we were very likely to return home whether we intended to or not. Sure enough we found a late lunch just a few blocks from our boat. Restaurant Orloff offered outside seating and a limited menu full of tasty options.

As you can see, the sun came out

Not all boats are loved

We were now near the Maritime Museum, a place that we were both interested in seeing, but not today. Instead, we visited the ARCAM, the Centre for Architecture and then off to the roof of NEMO, Amsterdam’s Science Center.

NEMO Science Center

View from the top of NEMO

I was tired and didn’t want to walk any more. We headed back to the boat for a break before we went out again for our dinner reservation.

The big black boat is ours

Chinese army bike near the boat

Dinner was at Hemelse Modder, just a block away and owned by a Michelin chef. The food wasn’t bad, but I didn’t think that it rated anything from Michelin. Probably the best thing they served us was a creamy white asparagus soup. And we were highly entertained by the people that passed by. Probably the strangest thing we saw was a man walking his small dog. The dog stopped to pee and had barely finished when the man stooped down, pulled out a square of material from his pocket and dabbed his dog’s butt. They then proceeded to continue their walk down the street.

** Day 1 ** Day 2 ** Day 3 ** Day 4 **

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