I traveled to Amsterdam to experience the culture of the city. Amsterdam is so liberated in more ways than one. Drinking in Amsterdam is but a business and homosexuals are very welcome and accepted. But what I like the most is its free spirited attitude. I like the cozy atmosphere. Travelling the canal gave me peace of mind, while bike riding got me energized to face more endeavors.
Touring the Canal
Touring the Amsterdam waterways was fascinating. Amsterdam’s canals stretch a hundred kilometers: the Venice of the north with three main canals, the Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht. Most of these canals serve as residential areas. It was awesome to ride the boat and feel the water be so calm. As we strolled around the waterway, we saw the small houses, only five to six meters wide.
It was appealing to me when the boat crossed the canal under the bridge; seeing the inside of many abandoned warehouses was quite historic for me. Much of these abandoned warehouses were converted into dwelling units. As I explored more of these warehouses, I saw artisans living in the water banks of the warehouses. These artisans make model ships, dresses, arts, and even model restaurants.
Amsterdam is a large bicycle friendly city. About 60% of the population uses bikes in the inner city alone, ranging from the traditional omafeits bike, to city bikes, mountains bikes, road, and recumbent bikes. I rode the multi-seater bike with my friend as we strolled around Amsterdam; seeing the Westerker – a western church, and the Noorderker – a northern church. The cargo bike is one that really caught my attention. I have been riding bicycles since I was a child, but seeing a bike with a compartment is very unique. I saw people carrying packages with these bikes and putting babies on a cargo bike as it moves from point to point in Amsterdam.
Iconic Fast Food
There are lots of foods unique to Amsterdam. Some are the Fricandel and Shwarma, but what I liked best was the Kroketten. I loved buying kroketten from a FEBO automat store. Automats are fastfoods that serve food through coin-operated and bill-operated vending machines. The most fascinating thing about these machines is the fact that they are hassle-free for both the cashier’s and the customers’ standpoint. I bought kroketten from the automat several times, especially during night time because it’s open almost 24 hours a day and one can buy without having to interact with anyone just to get the food he or she likes. It also avoids me the burden of communicating with locals that don’t speak English. These automats are iconic because rarely can we see this kind of fast foods nowadays.
As I said earlier, Amsterdam has many unique delicacies. One thing that stands out most is the Haring. Eating a Haring is quite the liberating experience. A Haring is just a whole raw uncooked herring fish that may or may not be seasoned with salt; just salt, no other spices or seasonings applied. I found it fun to see people eating haring just like eating sushi. Eating Haring makes me feel like I’m in the wild.
Site and Sounds
What I was also fascinated about Amsterdam is the variety of house boats. These house boats cater to the masses, including the tourists. They are available for rent to serve as dwelling spaces. There are three types based on the classes of boats: the House-ship, House-vessel, and the Ark. They only differ on the design of the hull of the ship. On another note, I was also able to see the house where the painter Rembrandt and philosopher Spinoza lived.
Amsterdam has indeed made quite a unique fame for itself. Regardless of how anyone perceives this very open city, it is undeniably a treat to all senses.
Photo by _dchris on Flickr