Wednesday, July 16, 2008
July12th: Day Trip to Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city that is full of culture and history-- At this point in the trip, it became my favorite location. Amsterdam is a very short bus ride (about 40 minutes) away from Rotterdam. After we arrived in the Amsterdam, we were met by Herman, who gave us a bus/walking tour. He showed us the windmills, the very modern architecture, canals, house boats, the Anne Frank house, several churches, and the site of Chet Baker's death. An interesting fact about the city: Amsterdam is a very young city in Europe-- it only dates back to the 13th century!! Wow, everything over here is MUCH older than anything I have been exposed to. The city is VERY crowded and that is why people live in the house boats on the canals. Speaking of canals: the city is below sea level and the canals (which look much like Venitian canals) are the only reason the city isn't under water (these add to the charm of the city). Another charming aspect: the houses (that are built in narrow rows) are all leaning. The soil is so moist that the building tilt over time-- they are even building intentionally tilting forward to make it easier for furniture to be hoisted into the houses. Hooks and hoists are attached to every roof, because the stairs are so narrow that furniture must be lifted in through windows rather than carried up staircases. For some odd reason, i find this fascinating.
I mentioned in an earlier entry that the roads were full of bikes/absolutely chaotic in Rotterdam-- Amsterdam is much busier, even than Rotterdam. You feel as though you are in a very large city even though the buildings aren't incredibly tall (everything is dense).
The fact that Amsterdam is a walkable city is very appealing to me- I would love to ride a bike around and not have to rely on a car. (anecdote: Herman said that it is a standing joke that bottom meter of the canals is all bikes-- i would believe it). At the end of the day, i opted to stay longer than our allotted time-- it was very easy to catch a train (for 8 Euro) back to Rotterdam and walk back to the hotel. Good times