Our last full day in Amsterdam, as we would leave early the next morning to catch our flight back to Basel. The morning started out with the sounds of a policeman rapping on a car window parked next to the boat. Apparently the occupants of the car had slept there overnight, an obvious no-no in this city. I couldn’t hear most of the conversation so I don’t know how it turned out, other than the police were gone and the car people were still there when we left a short while later.
Bad news: my camera battery was dead. I was at the mercy of Dan to catch pictures with his iPhone today. Some of the photos below were by him, some by me, and I snuck in a couple that I had taken earlier
We started our day by going to the main cruise boat docks just across from Central Station. The first boat wasn’t until 10:30 and it was only 9:30 – breakfast time! We wandered near Herenmarkt and found some good pastries to munch on.
See the small, reddish building in the lower right? Yeah, the owner refused to sell
The morning sun was brilliant and the constant stream of elm flower petals floating through the air gave a sense of fluffy snow flakes. Our boat tour was through Eco Tours, chosen primarily because they offer small, open boats. But the bonus was that it was an electric motor, so we trolled through the canals silently. It was a greatly appreciated feature.
Our captain and guide for the next 75 minutes
There aren’t many rules on the canals, but this one is enforced
The captain of our boat (whose name I have no idea how to spell, but it sounded like “Pow”) was great. He had stories and tidbits to share with us, as well as being open to questions. We learned that the leaning buildings were sometimes built that way on purpose – if they were leaning forward. By leaning forward, it was easier to use the pulley system at the top of each building to haul large and heavy objects to the upper floors, where the original merchantmen kept their cargo and wares.
Buildings that leaned to the side were victim to settling, although any settling that happened, happened long ago and would not continue.
We also learned that each year the canals are dredged and anywhere from 10,000 to 11,000 bicycles are pulled out of the water. Even more surprising is that each year 10-12 bodies are also pulled from the canals. Pow said that most of them were young British men with the flies still open. The theory is that they stand at the edge of the canal to pee, lose their balance and then are too drunk to get back out. After watching the activities in the evenings we were there, I can easily see how this number is realistic. Dutch children are taught to swim at age 4; I’m not sure what the drinking age is.
Seven consecutive bridges
So much knowledge was gained today! There are many Teslas and other electric/hybrid vehicles throughout Amsterdam, and many of them hooked up to public charging stations. The city of Amsterdam encourages the move away from gas-powered cars and provides these charging stations free to the landowners who make the move to electric. I’m actually surprised that the city isn’t encouraging electric boats as well.
Electric charging station
The flag of Amsterdam is one of the best designed flag there is. A bold field of red cut in half by a black stripe, in which three X’s (St Andrews crosses) are set. The X’s are supposed to protect the city from harm it was struck by in the past: Fire, water and the black plague. It is a readily identifiable flag and one that lends itself to many placements and uses.
We had noticed the amount of floating debris in the canals, yet no obvious work to clean it up. Pow cleared this up by telling us how each night, on a three-day rotation, various sets of locks were closed and then reopened in order to “flush” out the canals. This ensured that the water was refreshed on a regular basis and debris was pushed into an area that could be easily cleaned. And even with this movement of water, the water level never changed more than 20cm.
More nesting grebes
Our boat tour was finally at an end. We thanks Pow for his time and enthusiasm for his job, leaving the central station area to explore a different area of town, trying to see sights that we hadn’t come across before. We eventually found P96 Cafe, a very small bar that provided seating in their building as well as across the street on a houseboat. It was another beautiful day and we enjoyed watching the minimal boat traffic on this out-of-the-way canal. Dan enjoyed his “Funky Falcon” beer crafted locally by Two Chefs Brewing.
Dreaming of potatoes
By the time evening came around we were hungry for dinner. Dan had looked up the reviews on local Thai restaurants and found that the Little Thai Prince was highly rated. We walked over to the restaurant only to find that it was a tiny place and packed. But the hostess said that if we waited five minutes, we would have a seat. We waited, and it was worth it. The flavors were rich and the ingredients fresh. While we ate we watched the circus of people asking to be seated; some rejected outright and others told to wait five minutes. I couldn’t determine what measurement the hostess used to determine who got to eat and who was sent away. We were just happy to have our table and our food.
We found the Dam police station!
We were tired. After dinner we went back to the boat and relaxed, knowing full well that we had an early flight in the morning and a long day ahead of us after that.
It was a great time in Amsterdam and it was easy to do what the grafitti asked us to do. We’ll be back to visit again.