While the wind is and has been blowing hard here for the last couple of days and rain and hail have been falling vertically and horizontally from all directions it seemed, while branches of trees and Spring blossoms are being scattered all over the streets and Spring flowers are having a very hard time holding on to their petals let alone not having their stems broken, I'd like to take you all with me back in time to a lovely day of gentle and beautiful weather we spent in Holland in April. There could not be a bigger difference between the weather here now and there then.
It really was a beautiful Spring day when we visited Amsterdam. Getting off the metro at central station and finding our way into the city, walking along Damrak for a while, Amsterdam immediately felt good, colourful, friendly and welcoming. Our short trip to Holland was a bit of a spur of the moment thing and therefore not really planned, so once in Amsterdam, we first just went with the flow until we took a right turn where the streets weren't as busy anymore and it felt like being in a village instead of a city. Amsterdam really doesn't feel like a big city. It is busy, especially with bikes everywhere, but with the city canals it has something un-city-like I think. Nature is never far off it seems. In between the grachten (city canals), you have small connecting streets. You'd think you'd get lost in them but I think it's almost impossible to get lost in Amsterdam, and if you do, enjoy getting lost and take a lot of pictures while you're at it ;) I certainly took quite a few pictures, so without any further ado, here they are, Amsterdam as we experienced it, just walking around and enjoying whatever we happened to stumble upon.
After we took that right turn, we eventually ended up at a church, and saw a long row of people waiting in line to enter somewhere. We learned all those people were waiting to visit the Anne Frank house and the church is the Westerkerk, the church she talked about a lot in her diary.
Can you imagine living on a boat along one of the many canals in Amsterdam?
Or would you prefer to live in one of the canal houses?
The houses are leaning forward so it would be easier to bring goods and furniture to the windows above without damaging the house or the goods. That would be much harder and often impossible to do by the steps inside the narrow and tall houses. The houses have a hook sticking out on top to be able to bring things up to the higher floors of the house. Coincidentally, we saw that hook being used to bring things up a canal house while walking along one of the canals. I tried to capture it on photo.
Strolling along 'grachten', crossing bridges.....
.....admiring the houses and soaking up the athmosphere of a beautiful early Spring day in Amsterdam....
A lot of bicycles everywhere ....
And why not, an armchair on the corner of a street,...
Walking in and out of the small streets we somehow ended up following a sign that said 'Begijnhof'. I didn't even know there was a begijnhof in Amsterdam, right in the middle of the city. When I think of the Begijnhoven I already saw in Belgium, the one in Amsterdam is totally different. The begijnhof may not be that large, the houses are very elegant, large and high, often with beautiful decorations, not something I'd expect to find in a Begijnhof.
The Begijnhof in Amsterdam has one wooden house you can see on the left in the above picture.
From the Begijnhof, it's not that far to the flower market, along Singel gracht.
See the stalls floating on the canal in the picture below? In there is the flower market.
I thought I'd find stalls full of fresh cut flowers but was I wrong about that. There were some cut flowers but we mainly saw flower bulbs, especially tulip bulbs. I had no idea those were for sale year round. Seems strange buying tulip bulbs in Spring. One thing is for sure, everyone wants to vist the flower market. It's a crowded place.
Really loved these real tulips! Wish I could have taken some home.
Probably why there are a lot of wooden tulips for sale at the flower market.
Those are easier to be taken home by tourists from all over the world than real tulips are.
Colourful display of wooden tulips but I prefer the real ones....
Felt strange to see all these tulip bulbs for sale. Isn't it far too late to still plant these now?
Dutch souvenirs, colourful tulips and clogs,
and a Chrismas tree decorated in Delft blue.
The flower market is very colourful and if you're on a souvenir hunt, it's the place to be.
A gorgeous day as it was, we decided to take a boat tour on the canals.
It gave us a chance to see other features and parts of Amsterdam we wouldn't have seen otherwise,
like the lockkeeper's house you see in the picture above. It's totally crooked as many houses in Amsterdam are because Amsterdam was built on long wooden poles of 13 to 20 metres long. Those wooden poles had to be under water to keep them from rotting.When the water level dropped, part of the beams wasn't under water anymore which caused them to rot and so the house or part of the house would start to sink into the soil . That's also what happened to this cute little crooked house. It was built in 1695 as a lockkeeper's house but is now a cosy Amsterdam café overlooking the canal. I quite love the combination of the old and crooked next to the modern and straight here.
More of Amsterdam's modern architecture.
And back to the nostalgia. This is Amsterdam's famous Skinny bridge.
The Dutch West India Company warehouse.
(in Dutch: Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie or GWC)
Love those blue shutters.
And that was it for our daytrip to Amsterdam we enjoyed very much.
I hope, looking back, you could enjoy it a little bit with us now.
What better way to finish this post than with this beautiful sight.
Lovely Spring flowers in baskets in front of some canal houses.
Love the flowers, love the houses, love Amsterdam.