Walking Tour of Amsterdam

A walking tour was the ideal way to get briefly acquainted with Amsterdam after a long bus ride from Paris. I was surprised to find out that Amsterdam was so small that a bike ride across the city only takes 45 minutes! This was a change from the huge, sprawled-out cities of London and Paris where I metroed everywhere just days ago. But the great thing about walking is that I get to see a city more closely, so here’s what I saw on an afternoon walk around Amsterdam:

An intense game of chess took place on the giant chessboard outside the Hard Rock Cafe:

Giant Chess Board Amsterdam

Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam theatre, which was formerly home to the National Ballet and Opera:

Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam
Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam

Ok, so I always knew that Venice was famous for its canals, but I had no idea that Amsterdam had canals too! If I remember correctly, most of these canals were man-made.

Amsterdam canals

Love Locks Canal Amsterdam
Those love-locks again. They’ve been practically on every bridge I’ve seen so far!

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I took note of this local coffee chain should I ever be in the mood for one:

Coffee Company Amsterdam
Coffee Company on Leidsestraat

Canals everywhere!

Amsterdam Canals Boats

Amsterdam Flower on Motorcycle

Those tents in the back are Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market. Of course I had to check it out another day – stay tuned for that post!

Amsterdam Bloemenmarkt

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam, where the queen abdicated a couple of years ago. Interestingly enough, it was in full view of the public where regular citizens (like my tour guide) gathered in the square below and watched.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam
Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Next to the Royal Palace was De Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th century church that is no longer used for church services but as an exhibition space.

Royal Palace De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam
Royal Palace and De Nieuwe Kerk

The palace and church were both located in Dam Square, where the National Monument serves as a frequent meeting point. It was erected in 1956 to memorialize the victims of World War II.

Amsterdam National Monument Dam Square
National Monument in Dam Square

That triangular “dock” in the back of this picture below is Homomonument. It commemorates all gay men and women who have been subjected to persecution by the Nazis because of their homosexuality.

Amsterdam Homomonument

I heard of this for the first time in Amsterdam: house boats. These floating houses are fully equipped with water, electricity, etc. so that anyone could live in them!

Amsterdam House Boats

…If you have a half mil to spend, that is.

Amsterdam Boats

I am super intrigued by this way of living! I mean, do they sail their boat around the canals? Where do they go? Man, I wish I met someone who lived in one of these things!

Amsterdam House Boats

Some folks even had their own little house-garden:

Amsterdam House Boat

Amsterdam House Boat Garden

Even more canals! I was lucky with the bit of sunshine we had that day – the next day was FREEZING and cloudy. If there’s anything that I learned on this trip, it’s to pack layers!

Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam Canals

Here’s a question that’s begging to be asked since I visited Amsterdam: did you see the red light district? Yes! But that was on a separate tour where photos were not allowed for obvious reasons. It definitely wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t in some shady, dark neighborhood, but actually in close proximity to a bunch of businesses and restaurants. Also, the girls at the windows aren’t nude, they have to rent their “office space” (the window), and also have to pay taxes to the government. Like I said, it wasn’t what I expected, and it was better to be educated than to leave with presumptions.

Have you been to Amsterdam? Where were your favorite places to hang out?

Thanks for reading!