Amsterdam a world of bikes, tulips, and windmills

bike parking lot in amsterdam, the netherlands

Central Station, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

After landing at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, Bob and I boarded a train for a 25-minute ride into Amsterdam.  At the downtown railway station, we inquired about catching a cab to our hotel but were told that it was located nearby.  And so, with bags in hand, we set off through the streets on our short walk!  We needed to stretch our legs in any case.

hotel nadia, amsterdam, the netherlands

The walk turned out to be about a kilometer before we arrived at our hotel, the Hotel Nadia.


Bob and I soon saw firsthand the numbers of canals in Amsterdam.  No wonder it is called the “Venice of the North”.

Keizersgracht Canal in Amsterdam

Hotel Nadia is located on the Keizersgracht Canal in Amsterdam, which is one canal over from the Prinsengracht (Prince’s) Canal.

Prinsengracht Canal in Amsterdam

The Prinsengracht (Prince’s) Canal is the longest main canal in Amsterdam, and it was named after The Prince of Orange.  In this photo that we took from the top of the Westerkerk (West Church), you can see a street corner on the left.  Across from this corner, on the other side of the canal, is 263 Prinsengracht.

263 Prinsengracht, anne frank home, amsterdam

263 Prinsengracht is the building with the massive green doors in the center of the photograph.

anne frank home on prinsengracht canal, amsterdam, the netherlands

It was in this building that Anne Frank and her family came to hide on July 9, 1942.

Anne’s uncle, Otto Frank, ran a business at 263 Prinsengracht, and it was at the back of this building that Anne would write her famous diary.

On July 11, 1942, Anne wrote this about her new home on the Prinsengracht, “It may be damp and lopsided, but there’s probably not a more comfortable hiding place in all Amsterdam.  No, in all of Holland”.

chestnut tree growing at anne frank home, the netherlands

In the courtyard behind Anne’s hiding place is a large garden with a massive chestnut tree.  The tree was in full bloom when this photo was taken.  Anne spent much time staring out a small window at the sky, birds and this chestnut tree.  This tree is mentioned three times in her diary, the last time being on May 13, 1944.  She wrote, “Our chestnut tree is in full bloom.  It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.”  Today, “Anne’s” tree is protected by the Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation.

row house along canal in amsterdam

Just as Anne described the building she hid in, many of Amsterdam’s other buildings also exhibit distinct lists or leans to one side or the other.

various builds along the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam

Much of this is due to the nature of the wet land upon which they are built.

canal in Amsterdam on a cloudy day, the netherlands

The four main canals, which were built in the 1600’s, still flow into the Amstel River.  Much like in Venice, rising water and flooding is constantly eroding the soil beneath the houses.  And with climate change, the higher sea levels now have two out of three people in the Netherlands living below sea level.

skyline in amsterdam, the netherlands

The other outstanding feature of Amsterdam’s downtown core is the variety of stately towers on all the old buildings.

magna plaza, amsterdam, the netherlands

These impressive towers sit atop the Magna Plaza, Amsterdam’s main Post Office building back in 1900.  Today, it is a shopping center, but shopping center aside, the beautiful building features excellent examples of neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance designs.

jean standing on a canal bridge in amsterdam

As we strolled along and over the many canals that flow through Amsterdam, one bridge afforded a view of the tower of Oude Kerk (Old Church).

church steeple in Amsterdam

This church, the oldest in Amsterdam, was built in the 14th century.  The tower was built in 1325.

westerkerk, west church in amsterdam, the netherlands

Across from our hotel was Westerkerk (West Church), and it is here that Rembrandt is buried in a pauper’s grave.

westerkerk, west church, amsterdam, the netherlands

Today, fittingly, the surrounding community is home to many musicians, writers, and artists.

bikes on a canal bridge in amsterdam the netherlands

Beyond the old architecture that surrounds you in Amsterdam, another big standout is, of course, the bicycle culture.  Bikes line the fences and walls everywhere.

bikes on a bridge in amsterdam, the netherlands

There is no doubt that Amsterdam is “The City of Bikes”.  In fact, we learned that there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam…881,000 bikes and only 780,000 people.

bikes on a canal bridge , amsterdam, the netherlands

Bike riding in Amsterdam is a truly Dutch experience, and given the tight roadways, cycling is the most popular means of getting around.

bikes in a bike parking lot in amsterdam, the netherlands

But Amsterdam is an intimidating place to ride a bike with a confusion of people, bikes, and traffic, so Bob and I delayed our bike riding experience in Holland until we were out in the countryside.

people riding bikes in amsterdam, the netherlands

Bikers in Amsterdam have a reputation of being very proud of owning the road, a fact that has caused a few problems with cars.  Inevitably, the cars have learned to get out of the way.

bikes and flowers on a canal bridge in amsterdam, the netherlands

A few bikes fight for space next to a flower vendor.

green colored bike with toys in amsterdam, the netherlands

Bike theft in Amsterdam is also a big problem, and even the best lock will not necessarily stop the clever bike thieves.  Many bike owners, therefore, decorate their bikes outlandishly, all in an effort to make their bikes standout, and also to make them less attractive to the thieves.

orange colored bike in amsterdam, the netherlands

This tightly locked up bike was painted in the official state colour of the Netherlands, the colour Orange.

bob and jean at heineken brewery, amsterdam

After a couple of Heineken Beers, a ride on this vintage bike seemed a logical thing to do….Just kidding.

young girl on unicycle, amsterdam, the netherlands

Even single-wheeled bikes, like this unicycle, were not uncommon.

bike parking lot in amsterdam, the netherlands

This is a typical bicycle parking lot, much like our parking lots filled with automobiles.  Our day of exploring Amsterdam had been a huge success!


Keukenhof Gardens, Our Visit To Holland’s World Of Tulips

Our travels from Domburg to Queen’s Day in Amsterdam

Our visit to Delft the Dutch city of Orange and Blue

Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands Most Famous Museum

Windmills At Zaanse Schans In The Netherlands

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

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