Sunday, 29 March 2015

Amsterdam - boats, canals and parks

We returned our bicycles to the hire shop, and caught the Nr. 10 tram which goes around the outer ring of the city. We got out at the Elandsgracht stop and walked the two blocks to the canal to visit the House Boat Museum (Woonbootmuseum) - The Hendrika Maria-  at Prinsengracht 296 in the Jordaan district.

Boats are an integral part of Amsterdam life, and the canals are full of these barges of various sizes, some even have gardens and garages can you believe that?
The museum was interesting to visit so we could get an idea what it's like to live inside, although this was an old boat previously used for cargo, so not the typical residential boat.

Boats, large and small dot the wider canals of Amsterdam

Entry fee to the museum is 4,50 euros, free to I'Amsterdam city card holders, the boat only opens certain days of the week, depending on the time of the year, so check their site.

I think you have to be super organized and have few possessions to be able to live in such confinement, so not for me!
Nowadays these boats are connected to the main electrical, water supply and even pay rates and taxes. What actually amazed me were crazy prices these boats fetch on the Real Estate market, some were more expensive than an apartment! 
The Hendrika-Maria houseboat

The kitchen and dining room
The sunny lounge

Check the prices of houseboats!!
This boat even has very artistic statues at both ends, a bbq and patio chairs...
Just across from the Houseboat museum on the corner of Prinsengracht and Elandsgracht is a Square unofficially named - Johnny Jordaanplein. Johnny was a folk singer who lived in the Jordaan district, and upon his death money was raised to honour him with a statue (1991). Later the statues of 4 other musicians were added. 

We cross two canals towards the city to visit the Museum of the Canals (Het Grachtenhuis). This museum housed in a beautiful 17th century building that belonged to a wealthy merchant, at Hereengracht 386, brings to life in 40 minutes the story of the canals around the city, where trading has taken place, festivals are celebrated and life is lived inside the boats from 1600 until recent times.

Entry costs 12 Euros, free to City card holders, and the museum is opened from 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday and is worthwhile a visit!

The huge entrance door and impressive hall
Houses built on pylons driven into the canals
Replica of a house and garden where you could see inside the furnished rooms
The city and it's canals in 3D

Very fancy high ceiling rooms with fireplaces, chandeliers and lots of wide windows
The visitors bathroom had a tile freeze depicting Hereengracht buildings

At this stage our daughter joined us and we walked back to Prinsengracht (where we had visited the house boat museum) as we would like to visit the Anne Frank House at nr. 263. Apparently you can buy tickets online and avoid the the huge queues, but we hadn't done that. The wait period was over an hour and a half and we decided we wouldn't wait and went to buy lunch from food caravans on the Westerkerk square, close to Anne Frank's house.
Westerkerk - a Protestant church built in the 17th century, where Rembrandt is buried

The lamps by the Westerkerk also have the blue crown at the top matching the Church

By the Westermarket, there is a memorial dedicated to Niek Engelschman, a Dutch actor, resistance fighter in WWII and a gay activist, who was born in Amsterdam in 1913 and died in 1988.
The monument honours all gay and lesbians subjected to persecution due to their homosexuality.

It was a sunny day and decided to walk for about 30min until Vondelpark, the largest park in Amsterdam which received 10 million visitors a year.
It's a lovely park with ponds, statues, kids play areas, etc and we found a lovely coffee shop and sat down with some drinks enjoying the sun and the birds.
This area also houses high-end shops and expensive old apartment buildings.

On the way there we went past a lovely square where hundreds of people enjoyed the sunshine at the outdoor cafes.
Enjoying the  sunshine
One of the Vondelpark's lakes
The outdoor tables and a fireplace in the Coffee shop we went to
After our coffee break we walked to the Rijksmuseum nearby. 
It's probably one of the most important museums and the most popular too, but my husband had enough of museums by now. 
So we just went past to take photos of the "IAmsterdam" sign in front of the museum, which proved to be as popular as the Museum, with people jumping on the letters and doing all sorts of poses. We still took photos, but can hardly be seen among the crowd!

The museum opens daily from 9am to 5pm and entry costs 17,50 euros and the City card only gives you a 2,50 euro discount.
On the Museum Square (Museumplein) a man-made pond was transformed into an ice-rink and lots of kids were enjoying themselves.
My husband and I standing in front of the S

The ice-rink in front of the Museum
The other side of the Rijksmuseum
From the Museum we walked south along the canal until we reached Holland's largest street market with 260 market stands -  the Albert Cuyp market in the Pijp District.
Here you can buy fruit and vegetables, flowers and other plants, cheese, fish, bread and cakes, fabrics, clothing, leather goods and jewellery.
We bought some strawberries and a packet of stroopwafel (syrup waffle) a typical Dutch biscuit. I couldn't help notice the fish was very good and well priced and the fruit was very cheap compared to our Australian prices.
Market stands
Fish, fruit & vegetables and cheese
Shoe shop
It was time to go home, and while my husband and I caught the tram home, my daughter went to hire a rental car so that she could drive us to a lovely village the next day.

Later that night we went to dinner at Odessa Restaurant, housed in a boat which is moored on the canal just metres from my daughter's apartment building in Rietlandpark, in Amsterdam's east.
A lovely experience once again, and it was nice to know that the young owner is half-Portuguese, and actually spoke the language relatively well for someone who was born and bred in Amsterdam.

Odessa interior - photo from the net


  1. As an Amsterdam native, I loved to see your pictures of Amsterdam. I am surprised how much places you visited in one day and the detailed comments to it. It is so nice to see the city through the eyes of a foreigner.
    Greetings, Marianne

    1. Thanks for your visit Marianne. My husband would agree with you, but I want to be able to visit as many places as possible during our day, although we do try to do some people watching during our food breaks.

  2. I agree with Marianne - soooo many things in one day, wow!
    The houseboats... weird prices for so little space! And beautiful houses, though heating must be awfully expensive! Just why is the link to Anne Frank House in Amsterdam in German, I wondered...
    Beautiful lamp with that crown and lovely pics of you and your husband :-)
    Strawberries in winter?! Love the shoe-sops shoe. Guess you really made the most possible of the day!

    1. Thanks Iris. Strange, when I open the link it's English, I wonder if maybe it changes language depending on the country coming from? That clog in the shoe shop was quite an attraction. I found strawberries in the supermarket too, but can't remember if they were Dutch or imported.

  3. Loved seeing the interiors of the houseboats, very compact. Be perfect for a holiday exploring the canals. Did you manage to get to Anne Frank House?

  4. No, Grace, we didn't have time to return and the wait was too great unfortunately. Next time I'll book ahead, then you can just walk in.

  5. What a great time you had in Amsterdam (I just read all posts about it)!! It's a very special city and you are very lucky for having your daughter there. I remember quite well the science museum as it might have been the best science themed museum I have visited.

    1. Thanks Sara, even though I think it's probably more aimed at kids, the Science museum is awesome and very informative.

    2. It's true that the museum is for kids, but when I was there it was almost empty and I played with everything, just like a little kid ;)

    3. Lucky you, it was school holidays, so not much chance of playing, unless we waited for scores of kids...still it was fun!

  6. Dearest Sami,
    What a nice surprise for visiting your blog and traveling back to my country of birth; The Netherlands! Great photos in front of the S!
    I agree fully with you on those houseboats and what high price indeed for the one you showed us.
    Glad that you too love felines!

    1. Thanks Mariette, it's a lovely country!

  7. I so desperately want to visit Amsterdam, and after seeing this post I want to visit even more, loved the photos!

  8. Obrigada por este passeio virtual. Que maravilha! Isto é resultado de muita energia ou o dia bem planeado? Gostei imenso de tudo que vi. <3

    1. Obrigada Bebe. Muita energia, lol, quando me ponho a andar nao paro ate ver tudo que tinha a ver!


I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment.