It was a beautiful day when we docked in Amsterdam. From the ship we boarded a canal boat and were given a tour of the canals through this city of 850,000. The city is built on timber pilings like Venice, but most of the buildings have sidewalks and roads between them and the canal. Bicycles are definitely the prevalent form of transportation, although the street were very crowded with automobiles also. Parking is a huge problem—even for bicyclists ! Beside the central train tunnel there is a three story garage just for bicycles, plus underground parking at other locations.
Our tour guide explained that there are no school buses in Amsterdam. Parents or students provide the transportation, usually by bicycle. In fact, she told us the high school students often bicycle 7 or 8 miles to school!
The homes have a very narrow footprint because the people were taxed on the ground square footage. Instead, they are usually three or four stories tall. Often there is a store on the first floor and the people live on the floors above. The staircases are very steep and narrow which is why there are hoists on the top of each house so furniture can be lifted up and brought in through the windows. While we were floating past we saw a huge latter with a mechanical platform that lifted the furniture up to the 2nd and 3rd stories, a modern day addition.
The owners are the houseboats lease the dock area where they are parked and own it for life. However; no new leases are being issued. Also, the sewage from the houseboats is not attached to the city sewer which was not always the case. The canal water is much cleaner now.
After the canal boat ride we were taken on a bus ride through the city and stopped at this windmill for a photo opportunity. This is a private residence which is currently occupied.
After the boat and bus tours we came back to the ship and ate lunch. After lunch we walked seven miles to the Ruks and Rembrandt Museums and then back to the ship.
It was very crowded at the Ruksmuseum. People were climbing and planking all over the “I am Amsterdam” in the background.
The Rembrandt Museum
These cars make Smart cars look huge! There are two seats in here, but you’d have to be two slim people to ride side by side!