Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Dam in the River Amstel

Yesterday evening, Peter and I bought our flights for Barcelona-Amsterdam, two months before our travel date.
Amsterdam was named very literally for the fact that a dam was built on the river Amstel circa the year 1200.  The city is criss-crossed by 165 canals, which total over 75km of waterway.  The majority of these canals are lined by railings to which hundreds of bikes are locked.  Bicycles, which can be seen all across the city, are inextricably linked to Amsterdam; in 2006 there were approximately 465 000 bicycles in Amsterdam.

Peter has been to the Netherlands before while touring with Siskiou, but he has not ever really had the time to visit. As I have already been to Amsterdam, I would like to give priority to the things Peter wants to do and see.  Peter would like to wander about the city, eat friets, and go to a particular bar he liked that he had stopped in while on tour.

One of the things I would like to do in Amsterdam is go on a bike tour.  Neither Peter nor I are very experienced cyclists--in fact, Peter had forgotten how to ride a bike until he re-learned this last summer!  Another thing that makes me nervous is that Europeans tend to not wear helmets when they ride.  I would be interested in going on some practice rides so that we can get more comfortable riding.  This city bike tour (offered by the same company with which I have taken free walking tours of Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague) looks good, if only we were in Amsterdam on a Saturday or Sunday.  I would be especially interested in riding by the De Gooyer Windmill, as I have never seen one and they seem very Dutch.

Sitting next to this painting in a bar in Amsterdam is the closest I have been to a Dutch windmill.
The other thing I would like to do while in Amsterdam is to have a picnic in either Oosterpark or Vondelpark--something that it was much too cold to do when I visited last year in March--and go on a canal boat ride either the first night we are there or the next morning.

Other than that, we are considering whether to visit the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, both of which I have visited but wouldn't mind going to again as they were both so amazing.  We have also tossed around the idea of taking a day trip to Utrecht--a town Peter found very pretty.

Have you been to the Netherlands before? Do you have any recommendations on how we should spend our two-and-a-half days in Amsterdam?  Have you been to any other museums in Amsterdam?  I'm particularly curious about the Anne Frank House and Rembrandthuis.

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