Sunday, 22 March 2015

Amsterdam - Tulips, Bycicles and History

Decked out for the cold we rode our bikes into the city and left them chained to a bridge near the Flower Market, as we didn't want to risk not recognizing them, hence not finding them again if we left the bikes parked near Central Station.

The Flower market or Bloemenmarkt has been held on the Singel Canal, on floating barges, since 1862. It's open from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5,30pm and on Sundays from 11am to 5,30pm.
Here you can find tulips of every colour but also a lot of other plants and flowers, as well as souvenirs. The Cannabis starter kits were a surprise, but then marijuana is highly tolerated and even available in "Coffee shops" in many forms.

I didn't buy any bulbs as I would be unable to bring them to Australia who has strict rules on plants and seeds.
As you can see in this next photo, on the left side of the canal, there are mountains of bikes chained to the railings as well as a boat to store bicycles just like a parking garage.

At Central Station it's 10 times worse...don't know how anyone finds their bike at the end of their working day!
Singel Canal with the back of the stall of the Flower Market seen on the right and a boat for bicycle parking
Bulbs, flowers and souvenirs

Cannabis starter kits next to Bonsais
Here, you'll also find the Christmas Palace shop, which is open the whole year around where you can find a huge selection of Christmas decorations. The Christmas music playing all year long would drive me crazy though!

It was only 304 days till Christmas...
The Munttoren - Coin Tower, stands in Muntplein Square, where the Singel canal meets the Amstel River, near the Flower Market and the eastern end of Kalverstraat.


We picked our bikes and rode into Kalverstraat, or should I say walked with our bikes, as this is a very busy pedestrian only shopping street. Kalverstraat  has the highest shop rentals in Holland per square metre!

A cheese shop in Kalverstraat

We stopped for lunch at a Spanish Tapas restaurant. The food was good and the Spanish waitresses were friendly. Across from it was a Headshop selling smoking paraphernalia. 

At the end of Kalverstraat turning right onto Dam Square, we came across the Royal Palace, one of the 3 palaces that the Royal family can use.

Opposite the square is the National Monument to the war. 
To the right of the Palace is the Niewe Kerk (New Church), a 600 year old building no longer used as a church, now only used as an exhibition space, for organ recitals and royal wedding ceremonies.
The Royal Palace on Dam Square
National War Monument on Dam Square

Niewe Kerk, with a "living statue" in the Dam Square

Just south of Kalverstraat (Kalver street) is the Spui, where you can find a free attraction - a quiet oasis in the middle of the city - Begijnhof, (Bee-guy-n-hof) opening daily from 8am to 5pm. It's worthwhile a visit!

A sign at the entrance requests visitors to be quiet and not take photos in respect to the residents, but I saw everyone taking photos, so I also took some.
From the street it looks just like any other building, so be on the lookout for the American bookshop, and go through the wooden door next to it - Begijnhof 30. 

30 Begijnhot, Spui

Lovely corridor leading to the courtyard and houses
The courtyard houses about 47 well kept houses built around a garden, during the 14th century. The houses were inhabited by a Catholic order of unmarried or widowed women - the Beguines - who cared for the elderly and lived a religious life without taking monastic vows.

Inside there is also a small Chapel, Begijnhof Kapel, where the Beguines were forced to worship after their Gothic church was taken by the Calvinists. Another church in the courtyard is the Engelse Kerk (English Church) built in 1392, which now serves the Presbyterian community.
House nr. 34 is thought to date from around 1465 and is considered the oldest preserved wooden house in the country.
The garden surrounded by the houses
The English Church to the left on the corner
House 34 -  the wooden house from the 15th century, is the black one

This visit done, it was time to ride our bikes home after a full day of sightseeing.

This is the "artwork" outside the tram station close to where my daughter lives - Rietlandpark - 3 wooden tables on top of each other.

Monday 23 February 2015


  1. Wow, Christmas music all year.... that would drive me nuts, too!
    I admit, though, that my Christmas.tree (8 cm high) and some other Christmas decorations are "on display" all year long...
    The living statue must be tough, standing still in that cold!
    Seems like you really had fun :-)

    1. Yes I don't know if I could stand there all day long, but maybe he gets enough money to warrant that!

  2. Enjoying your Amsterdam shots Sami.. had to smile when I saw the cannabis starter kits, amazing :) looks like it was pretty co!d by the way you were dressed. Hoping for a really cold winter here so I can wear my coat and gloves :)

    1. Yes Grace, pretty cold at around 3 to 7 degrees most mornings. My daughter lent me one of her feather jackets that was really warm. Oh no, I don't want to wear gloves in Perth...

  3. Hi Sami
    Good to have you back safe and sound in Oz, I had to laugh at the Cannibis Starter kit, could you imagine having the drug sniffer dogs at the airport onto you just because you'd picked up such a package in wonder?! Your photos are lovely, you bring back happy memories of my last visit to Amsterdam, although I don't remember being brave enough to cycle around Amsterdam I seem to remember rather a lot of cobble streets!!
    Enjoy the warmth!
    Wren x

    1. The cannabis kit also amazed me, I could hardly believe they would sell such a thing in the flower market. I also think we were brave cycling around, we were like "turtles" compared to the Dutch.

  4. Lovely photos Sami,
    It looks as though you had a great time. That cheese shop is amazing - it goes up and up. I have a friend here, also from South Africa and she is heading out to Amsterdam to see her brand new Grandaughter. I sent her a link - there might be something new here for her. I love reading about your travels, and welcome home.

    1. Thanks Gill, we made the best of it despite the cold weather! We came across so many cheese shops it's amazing. I hope your friend enjoys her visit and her new Granddaughter. If her daughter needs any friends or support let me know by email and I'll give you my daughter's contact there.


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