Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centers in Europe. The street pattern has been largely unchanged since the 19th century as there was no major bombing during World War II. The center consists of 90 islands linked by 400 bridges, some of them beautifully lit at night. Amsterdam's center is fairly small, and almost abnormally flat, so you can easily get to most tourist destinations on foot from the train station, within half an hour.
We were really excited when we knew that we will be heading to Amsterdam in the first leg of our tour. Amsterdam is one of our favorite destinations and I know everywhere is like my favorite destination right… I want to be everywhere, anywhere except than in Australia. Don’t get us wrong, we love Australia. Australia is our homeland but the weather right now is killing me. Sometimes we love being away because it means getting away from everything, taking a short break to enjoy life. We love spending time alone to read, drink, travel and etc, simply because it is peaceful.
Amsterdam. Its city center is compact, almost cozy and despite bicycles whizzing by at every turn it still manages to emit a laid back vibe. The city’s red lights and “green” smoke make it one of a kind. A canal cruise, however, will prove that there is so much more to Amsterdam than that.
Everywhere you go, Amsterdam has rows of skinny houses, baskets of colorful Spring tulips and scads of bicycles, all near its canals. Looming overhead and leaning toward the water, the tall and skinny houses that line its canals are as much a part of Amsterdam as bicycles and canal boats. As nice and neat as they might look from the sidewalk, they don’t look quite as tidy near the roof line. The perspective changes at water level, where you can see how jumbled and messy they are at the top, sticking out every which way
The canal cruise in Amsterdam is officially the most popular attraction and the reason why is simple: there are 165 canals in Amsterdam with the most beautiful architecture along the sides and the best way to experience Amsterdam and see these Amsterdam canal houses is from the water. The canals were not created for pleasure reasons but to stimulate trade and transport. Nowadays, they canals define the city..
Many of the canals we passed had houseboats moored on their banks. Our tour guide told us that many have been around for more than a century. Most are residential homes, but not all. Some houseboats have been converted to hotels, others are available as short-term rentals, and there is even a Houseboat Museum if you just want to see what one looks like inside.
Our last stop in the canal cruise was a guided tour of Gassan Diamonds. We found out how rough diamonds were turned into dazzling exquisitely stones. During a guided tour we admired the diamond polishers at work while our tour guide explained where diamonds are found and what stages a diamond goes through before it is transformed into a brilliant cut diamond. We experienced the optimal reflection of the Gassan 121, a cut developed in this diamond house and worldwide patented. Subsequently an explanation is given to determine the quality of diamonds and their related value. Loose polished diamonds are shown in various sizes and qualities.
The weather in Amsterdam was a little overcast, but awesome. We took a walk down the picturesque canal streets, immersing ourselves in the gorgeous weather. Our first impressions of the Dutch is they are very friendly and smiley. They speak fluent English so communication wasn’t a problem here. We randomly went into a souvenir shop and even the sales assistant in the shop was extremely helpful.
We strolled down the Bloemenmarkt flower market which is the only floating market in the world. There are 15 stalls in this block-long flower market and you can shop for flower bulbs, seeds, accessories, souvenir, and everything else that is related to the flower trade. One of the places you must go in the Netherlands during spring is Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden to see the tulip bloom season.
Don’t come with a set-in-stone bucket list of tourist attractions that leaves no time to roam the city’s historic canals and Golden Age mansions. Amsterdam’s Grachtengordel (canal belt) was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2010, making it a free outdoor museum. Make sure you have some idea of the geography and history of where you are and what you’d like to see. Beyond its tacky tourist facade, peep shows, cannabis cafés and mischievous reputation, Amsterdam boasts extraordinary art, history and music. Learning about its culture before you arrive will heighten your appreciation of the city.
CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO ON AMSTERDAM HERE;