Published: July 20th 2010July 20th 2010
Today was our first of two forays into Amsterdam. We bought a 48 hour canal boat pass which allows us to hop on and off at all the major attractions. Our first stop today was NEMO which was kind of like Ontario Science Centre only 100% of the exhibits were hands-on. It was a bonus that every exhibit/activity had Dutch AND English instructions! We've purchased a Netherlands Museum Card (at the first museum we went to - the Railway Museum). This gives free entrance to 400+ museums in Holland! We've saved a ton of money so far. Today, when we went to NEMO, the card also got us 4 snack vouchers (worth 22 euros) that we cashed in for 4 big slices of apple tart cake and 4 drinks!
We also managed to have a brief walk through of the Marine Museum (in its temporary state) as well as a walk though the Rembrandt museum and saw the famous Night Watch! Tomorrow we'll take in Anne Frank's House.
The homes along the canals were nice to look at. The narrated tour let you know which famous people used to live where. The architecture in some areas was appealing and (given the dates of construction of 1650) impressive. The area around the downtown core, though, where the Central Station and Red Light District are located was not so nice. Everything was quite dirty and full of youths clearly looking to get into a bit of trouble (or already on their way there). Our neighbours here told us that while weed is legal, smoking it in public is considered inappropriate, something only a tourist would consider doing. Sure enough, that was plainly in evidence downtown Amsterdam. It is entirely possible we've missed the charming bits of Amsterdam and we are going back tomorrow for more (fingers crossed) but compared to the small villages where we are the only tourists around, we didn't find the big city any more appealing than any other major city centre.
The camera batteries are dead at the moment so 1) we didn't get a lot of photos today and 2) we are unable to download what we did get. So, will have to wait till tomorrow for pictures. One picture you will see is of the multi-level parking garage for bikes only at the Central Station (CS). It holds 2500 bikes but it is about to be expanded as each day around 9000 bikes park at the Amsterdam CS!
Today was also a very HOT one so we enjoyed the indoor exhibits! It got quite hot on the canal bus and the other public transit we took (a bus, train and a car...). Luckily tomorrow we will know our way around so it will make things easier. There are 4 different canal bus routes so you have to know which one to get on.