My final day in Amsterdam was full of walking. I noticed a sign for a free guided tour at the hostel so I decided I would check it out in the afternoon.
Since Amsterdam is full of canals, I thought that a boat ride on the canals would be a nice way to start off the day (I made the incorrect assumption that an early morning boat ride would be less crowded). I made my way to the boat excursion booth and paid 9 Euro for the 75 minute ride. I hopped on the boat along with a Parisian couple. Within 5 minutes, a Chinese group of 23 decided they wanted on the boat as well. In total, there were 26 passengers and 1 driver, 23 of which spoke only Chinese, and boy could they talk. I realized then that I had gotten suckered into a tourist trap, but I decided I’d make the most of it. I learned a lot about the history of the city and seeing it from the boat provided a different perspective.
After the boat ride, I went to Vondel Park and ate a panini I bought cheaply at a deli. I soon meandered through the southern part of the city around posh shopping districts. I went to a cafe to buy some coffee and met a couple of people from the states who were also touring Europe. It was nice to talk to Americans with the same silly accent as me and who were just as excited about traveling as I was.
After leaving, I walked north to get to Dam square where the free tour was going to happen. I liked the ambiance of the city. The historic homes make the city feel like a village, and the outdoor bulb sellers made me feel as if I were walking in a postcard of Holland.
I was expecting the free tour to be mediocre, but I actually learned a lot about the city, and got a bit of a feel for the Dutch mentality. It was interesting to learn that homes there are taxed by width, and that the narrowest home is merely 1.04 meteres wide! Walking in these homes is also a bit of a challenge due to the narrow halls and steep stairways. Moving furniture up through the homes without a lift would also be a pain, so they placed pulley systems at the gables to allow for large furniture or stock items to be transported. Who knew?
By the end of all of the walking, I felt as if I had seen what I wanted to see, I ended up sitting on a park bench, ate some ice cream, and studied the map of all the places I had gone. Because the city was small, I was able to cover the inner city thoroughly. Knowing that the Amsterdam train station is complex, I headed off early to the station to make sure I was on the platform in time.
Needless to say, I made it back to Brussels happy and safe.
Here are some pictures of my adventures in Amsterdam
Now I’m off to Colmar, France for the next 4 days. I’ll try and post again soon.