Tuesday, July 1, 2014

#655 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Have spent the day in Amsterdam - what a great city! Historic and picturesque canals, but a living modern city at the same time. A plane full of bachelor party-goers, many shops filled with raunchy sex images and strong red light district contrasted with hundreds of toddler bicycle seats, children enjoying ice creams everywhere and child-friendliness and safety being the vibe.

One of my favorite thing were the buildings, or more precisely the very apparent age of the buildings - many tilting over! I love all of the crane hooks at the top of the buildings because so many were used as warehouses.
I've had a whole evening filled with glorious Dutch cheeses, and of course I had to try the Dutch Meatballs (Gehaktballen).

Other attractions include the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, Anne France House, the Hermitage Museum, the Amsterdam Museum, the Stedelijk Museum and of course its infamous red-light district.

The Netherlands is known for their flowers, especially the tulips, and this flower market was full of bulbs and seeds for everything from azaleas to geraniums to dahlias. There are even special 'For the USA' packages.

Don't forget the cannabis shops! It's even available in your corner shop.

Deriving its name from Amstelredamme, literally a dam of the river Amstel, it began as a fishing village in the 12th century, and reached a peak during the Dutch Golden Age (of trade) in the 17th Century, where it was a hub for diamonds and finance; in fact, it has the world's oldest stock exchange. The floods of 1170 and 1173 brought about the damming, but compared to other cities in the Netherlands like Nijmegen, Utrecht and Rotterdam, it is relatively younger, and its city rights were not granted until 1300.
The canal district surrounding the old city is a UNESCO World Heritage monument, which was built to expand Amsterdam's port city at the end of the 16th Century, and involved moving the city's fortified walls (the Singelgracht), draining the swamps and building an intricate system of canals and filling the spaces with gabled houses and monuments. Contrary to expectation, it was not built from the centre outwards, but from west to east. The three canals residential canals known as the Grachtengordel can be translated as 'canal of the ruling lords' (Herengracht), 'emperor's canal' (Keizersgracht), and the 'prince's canal' (Prinsengracht). Singel is the oldest inner canal, but the collective name for all the canals is Singelgracht, which is also the name of the fourth and outermost canal. What a great way to meet the needs of defense, water management and transport all at once, and the city did not grow outside this structure/these borders for two centuries.

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