Day 54

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Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam
July 11th 2015
Published: July 12th 2015
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Today we set off to Amsterdam for a day trip from Belgium.

It was a long day, as the bus ride is about two and half hours each way..

Arriving at Amsterdam, we learn that it sits 2 to 3 metres below sea level. A series of canals and lochs controls the water level and avoids flooding.

They close off the lochs a couple of times per week and flush them with fresh water from the hills, to stop any smell build up. They can only do this with fresh water not sea water.

We start the with a boat tour around the canals which were busy with Saturday traffic as the locals all cruise around in party mode on a nice day. There is a lot of eating and drinking on private boats.

Some of the old buildings are leaning a bit as their foundations are rotting over time.

Most have a hook system at the top which allows for a block and tackle system to hoist bulky goods up to the top floors. It is also this reason some were built on a slight lean towards the street to clear the buildings when hoisting up.

Next our guide takes us around the red light district. If you come to Amsterdam it is something to see, with girls on display in tiny windows and alleys, we stroll through as a group and keep walking.

We are told the Mayor has cleaned the area up a bit, allowing a few pubs and restaurants to open.

We then have a look at the original marajuana cafe established in 1975.

They call these cafes coffee shops and it is all legal, but only in Amsterdam. Our guide tells us that you are allowed 5 grams of "soft drugs on you" if you are searched.

Before setting off on our own, we are warned to take care as the bicycles make there own rules and there are thousands of them. With the overcrowded streets it is easy to end up in the path of a bike.

Stolling around we discover more weed cafes, the flower market and many cheese shops.

The flower market is just seeds and bulbs, but it is something the Dutch are famous for.

On the way home, we stop at a dairy farm where the farmer also makes the cheese. He gives the group a short talk on the process which was quiet interesting. The samples were better than we get at home.

Someone on the farm also makes many clogs and there is a little gift shop.

A big day as we arrive back around 8.30 and both agree that one day in overcrowded Amsterdam was enough.

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