Amsterdam 2016

We went to Amsterdam October 26 – November 2, 2016.  Great trip.  In 1970 we remember it as dirty and not tourist friendly.  We stopped briefly in 2012 and realized it had become a clean, convenient, and tourist friendly city, with lots of museums and attractions.  We had to go back for a full week in 2016.

nH Barbizon Palace Hotel
We love the nH hotel chain. We stayed at the nH Barbizon Palace hotel, near the Centraal Train Station, and close to everything. This picture is from a canal boat, with the hotel on the right. The basilica of St. Nicholas (the city’s major catholic church) is just left of the hotel.
Amsterdam bicycles
The bicycle lanes in Amsterdam are far larger than the pedestrian “sidewalks.” They provide a significant threat to people on foot.

Amsterdam is often compared to Venice Italy. In central Venice there are no cars (or bicycles). The houses come directly up to the water, and on the back side are pedestrian streets with stairs that climb the 409 bridges over the canals.

Amsterdam canals
In Amsterdam most of the streets are between the houses and the canals, and there are private backyards. There are at least 1281 bridges (some references give a higher number) over Amsterdam’s 165 canals.
Many of the houses were owned by rich merchants centuries ago, who conducted retail sales on the ground floor, “lived above the store,” and had warehouse space on the upper floors. Note the support for pulleys on the top floor, with delivery doors below. As these old business buildings have become very expensive homes, the protective doors now act as shutters on picture windows.

There are many house boats on the canals that are permanent residences – connected to city water, sewer, gas, and electric.  We visited a house boat museum.

Amsterdam house boat
It was a real house boat, but since it became a museum nobody is allowed to live on it now. This is a true sailboat, with the mast, rudder, and other accessories still in tact. As a steel hull boat, it has to be taken to a shipyard every 5 years to refurbish the hull. (Residents can remain on board in the week or so in the shipyard). The fancy houseboats are now concrete and are not required to be examined in the shipyard periodically.
Is it expensive to live on a house boat? This one, 65 x 16 feet, is offered for sale for €749,000 (US$824,000) with an annual mooring fee of about US$1,000. Utilities are similar to a land-based house, with regular water, gas, sewer, and electricity. There are no more mooring spaces available, so you buy a houseboat with it’s mooring space.

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Author: Charlie Plesums

Retired from a teaching and consulting career in computer science, to build custom furniture and travel

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