Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Amsterdam Boat Tour

They call it the 100 Highlights Cruise, and it lives up to its name. John and I really enjoyed ourselves. We were warned that it always rains in Amsterdam, and I love the rain. Well, it's been hot and humid here, but no rain, so it was great being out on the water. It cooled us down. Even without that bonus, though, the sights were great. We had at least a hundred highlights.

I would have loved to have all the buildings identified (and be able to remember the names, of course) but that wasn't going to happen. The guide gave brief descriptions in about five languages, one of which was English. By the time we got to English I wasn't really listening carefully enough. I was just enjoying the sights enough that I didn't feel like I had to know it all.

So here I present to you some beautiful and mostly unidentified buildings as seen through the roof or side sliding window of the boat. They're snapshots at best, but give you an idea of what we saw from the canal boat. After we got off we walked around the city for about an hour, had lunch and walked about an hour more before taking a tram and a bus to get back to Ben and Ruth's home in Amstelveen.

I couldn't help but love the artwork at the top of some of the buildings. Some of it was big and obvious. Others were tucked away by the eaves or just at the ends of middle of a perfectly normal home. This, of course, was far grander than the usual building art.

The big building is expected, I guess, but the juxtaposition with the little tee-pee was great. That's why I took the photo. Also, even the large building has unusual aspects to it, if you really look at the top and bottom.

This is part of a boat that's been reconstructed from the days when Holland ruled the seas (yes, they did) and it's now open for visitors to tour. The sun was in an awful spot, so all my photos of the tall masts were too dark from being back-lit. Maybe next year?

Another gorgious building. They don't build like this anymore. This is probably 17th century, but I'm not sure.

It's hard to tell in a little photo, but from this spot on the canal you can look out and see through seven bridges.

This is the oldest Protestant church in Amsterdam, and the tallest spire in the city. It is called Westerkirk, which means New Church. It was built in 1638, and is the largest Protestant church in the Netherlands. Rembrandt is said to have been buried somewhere in the church in 1669.

This is not the sort of thing you'll ever see in the USA. It's a parking garage—for bicycles. Peer on into the photo. It's got three levels, plus space behind and to the sides that you can't see. It's packed full. I wouldn't want to be trying to find my bike in there...

This is a photo of the Central Station. It's for trains, buses and trams. It's a huge and beautiful building, but it's also interesting, built on pontoons and such. Go figure.

Tomorrow we head out for our four day Anniversary Trip.
We'll be reachable only through European Cell Phone, which means call Ben & Ruth before they leave to join us on Friday morning. Other than that, we'll be back at Ben's home late Saturday night and back on line by Sunday, tired but happy, I'm sure.

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