A tale of two cities, Amsterdam

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June 22nd 2011
Published: August 16th 2011
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Dutch arcitectureDutch arcitectureDutch arcitecture

Me thinks the builders were trying some of the local weed
Again we crisscross Germany and enter Belgium, the weather is fine until we hit Antwerp. We are absolutely drenched getting from our car into the hotel.

Why Antwerp, you ask??

You may well remember I mentioned a couple we met in Venice, Jan & Peggy. Well it seems that they are heading Down under, with their good friends (Chrystal and Sanders) and their boys, Jef and Silas

Well we had arranged to meet up with them at their home, in Antwerp, for dinner and give them some information on Oz and then Bali. (By the time I finish this blog they’ll probably be back home). What a wonderful evening, we are very fortunate to have met two warm, fantastic families.

We stayed at the Sir Plantin a lovely, friendly hotel, in a dodgy area yet close to the railway station and quite convenient.

The time has come for us to return our Peugeot, so will drive down into France to the city of Lille, deliver the car and then catch the return train back to Antwerp.

From Antwerp we catch the train to Amsterdam.

The largest city of the Netherlands and also its capital,
Budding artists'Budding artists'Budding artists'

Maybe a new Van Gough
Amsterdam sees around 4 million international visitors a year.

We have chosen to purchase an “I Amsterdam” city card, which is a smart card enabling free public transport, access to 50 free museums and tours and discounts at about 60 other venues. We will certainly get our money’s worth here.

About 20 minutes north of the city, by train, we will call the Casa 400 hotel home for the next couple of days. To date the most expensive place we have stayed, but Amsterdam is an expensive city. I’m guessing this will be the norm from now on.

Culturally rich, we decide not to dally around and quickly get into the sights of this fascinating city.

Over the next couple of days we are able to explore such places as;

The Anne Frank House, both enlightening and very moving. To refresh some old brain cells, one might remember the story of the young Jewish girl (Anne Frank and her family) that hid themselves in a make shift hide within a warehouse, during the Second World War. Here they will hide for nearly two years until being betrayed by an anonymous informant and then being deported to a prison camp where only the father survived (to make things just that more depressing, Anne died two weeks before the prison camp was liberated). During their period of hiding, Ann Frank kept a dairy which was subsequently published, it is now available in over 50 languages. More than one tear was shed during this self-guided tour.

The Van Gough Museum, Rembrandt House, a Canal Boat House museum (you get to visit someone’s houseboat), the Diamond Museum, the Museum Van Loon (a majestic old canal mansion opened to the public to help restore it) are some of the many worthwhile venues we visited. We also spent a couple of hours on a canal cruise, taking in the sights and history of this multifaceted city.

A trip to Amsterdam cannot be undertaken without the ever present reminder of the many cannabis cafes that plague inner Amsterdam. The smell of “pot” lingers around every corner and on every street. There is a very real threat to this culture as The Dutch authorities try to clamp down on these establishments, it would appear that a cannabis café cannot operate within a certain radius of any school and there is a
House BoatHouse BoatHouse Boat

The banks of the canals are covered in them
big push for the introduction of new schools.

And one cannot escape the infamous “Red Light District” (well we did have to look for it) this was certainly a bit a jaw dropper for Michelle.

All in all we enjoyed our brief yet enjoyable stay in this vibrant city.

Once again time has beaten us and we need to move on.

Back to Belgium and this time the city of Brugge

Additional photos below
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Has anyone seen my push bikeHas anyone seen my push bike
Has anyone seen my push bike

A weekly canal cleanup

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