Amsterdam canals (Or: Living on the waves)

During the first summer that I spent in the Netherlands, we did the expected canal ride in Amsterdam. It’s sort of like being a first time tourist in NYC and visiting the Statue of Liberty. I’ve managed to avoid going up to the top of Rockefeller and the Empire State building… somehow.

But I was definitely looking forward to the 1 hour canal ride. I went with Marco, his mother, and our friend Roger (the die hard NY Rangers fan… Let’s go Rangers!). Luckily we managed to be one of the first ones on the boat, so we had the pick of what seats we wanted.

As we entered the boat, the operators took a picture of each of us. An individual portrait. Let’s just say that mine was rather horrid looking, so we left it there rather than purchasing it (4 euros, I think). But I still have Marco’s photo on my fridge. It was the first “real” photo I had of him that wasn’t just sitting on my computer in digital form. It was nice to have something to look at all throughout the day. It’s still there, along with a lot of other knickknacks on my fridge — mostly magnets from the various trips Marco has taken throughout the States.

One of the first thing I noticed was the house boats. Yes, people live in these! Remember, the Netherlands is a small country and they really do try to use every square …kilometer (metric system, see?). I am also intrigued by the total lack of curtains. Maybe they were just open since it was a lovely summer day. But considering how many tours go through there, I would start to feel like I was in a psychological experiment – on the wrong side of the glass.

Wave hi to the other tour boat! Just watch out for the waves in their wake.

Above is a very pretty image of the buildings’ architecture. Also notice how since the canal boats are generally for tourists, you do get some English on the side of it, rather than Dutch. Which reminds me… I think the tour boat we were on explained everything in three languages (Dutch, English, and… French?). Since Dutch was the first language spoken for everything, it got a bit annoying to have to wait a bit for a good translation. Although sometimes my fellow passengers were nice enough to explain what the speakers were saying in advance.

I wonder how many cars fall into the canal each year accidentally.

There’s a lot of things to notice with this image. The first is… where are the guard rails again? Those poor cars if they manage to fall in. As usual, you do have a few bike riders to the right, and just a splash of green from the trees.

One of the most intriguing things about Amsterdam is how narrow the buildings are. The occupants used to have to pay a tax based on the width of the building… so naturally people started to build upwards rather than out. One sacrifice from this was the ability to easily get furniture in because the stairs were very narrow themselves as well. If you look at the very top of the building behind the white and blue van, you will see that the middle section has a hook protruding from it. They would attach their furniture to a rope and haul them upwards and in through a window. Generally the window was designed to easily be taken out and put back in.

For further reading, check out TripAdvisor.

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