What’s not to like about a city that feels like a big town where everyone goes about their business on a bike? As soon as we stepped out of the Central railway Station in Amsterdam there were bikes flying past us. The young being transported by their parents, office workers in smart clothes, people on their way out in their heels and people of all ages. Plenty of oldies on bikes in Amsterdam. Loved that.
We got lost looking for restaurants but what a joy it was. A sneaky peek into the living rooms of those tall, slim houses that seem to be the defining image of Amsterdam. They were lit by lamps and lined with books. Cultured and elegant spaces that spoke of old Europe. Owners peering out across the views of canals that must be amongst the loveliest views in Europe.
There are plenty of places to eat and drink – check prices first to make sure you know where you’re up to. And the back streets along the canals are beautiful. There are bric a brac markets, the famous flower markets, museums, cafes and a relaxed atmosphere that can be accessed by walking. Lots to absorb and a people watcher’s paradise.
Get to North Amsterdam for a quieter scene on the seriously frequent and free ferry.
We stayed on a boat called the Cabin. Friendly and basic with the possibility of steep stairs to the bedrooms. But a fab breakfast outside on the deck in the morning with a view of the activity on the canals and the rich skyline was a treat.
If all that fun is too much take a train – about £7 return – to the traditional Dutch Windmills of Zaanse Schans about half an hour away. Even I hired a bike to get myself around the streets lined with delightful merchant’s houses and charming shops. The windmills, many of which are still working and will let you in for a few quid, are lovely and their stories are very interesting. A lovely aside to the city that makes you feel as though you’ve done Holland a bit more justice than just glancing at its capital city. I’m saving up for my next trip and truly can’t wait.