Thursday, June 28, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Partly Cloudy morning and afternoon; rain early evening - 60s

Another nice day in Amsterdam

Breakfast at the hotel runs from 8 – 10 AM (late and short).  We must have been pretty tired, since we slept to 8:30 AM.  Breakfast: Raisin Bran with milk; bread and cheese; coffee.  Minimal but OK.

Our goal today to to visit more of Amsterdam working in both Dam Square and the Anne Frank House

To successfully navigate the compact city of Amsterdam, you need to worry about both cars and bicycles, the latter vastly outnumbering the number of cars in the City Center.  Bikes have their own lanes, people have their own walking lanes, and cars own the streets.  Bikes have their own signal lights, as well.  Stay in your own lane and obey your own signals and you won’t get run over.

Not all bikes are on the road (although it seems like it) – some are parked and locked (below).

 Bikes bikes and more bikes (Small)

Dam Square, the center of town, is fairly close to our Hotel.  On the way we come across a statue of Benjamin Spinoza, the Jewish Philosopher who wrote “Ethics”.  I don’t know what the birds are doing on his coat.

Benjamin Spinoza Monument (Small) 

Benjamin Spinoza Statue

Another monument, made of polished black marble, is dedicated to the Jewish Resistance Fighters (Communists that opposed the Nazis) as well as those who perished during the war.  It is very impressive.  It is so shiny that you can see our reflection on its surface.

Memorial to Jewish Resistance Fighters (Small)

 Memorial and reflection 1 (Small)

Jewish Resistance Fighters Memorial

Many residents do not live in the tightly packed buildings in the City Center.  Some live right on the beautiful canals in houseboats.

Amsterdam Canal Houseboats (Small)

Houseboats on the Canals

Dam Square is the center of the city.  It contains the Royal Palace (the original Town Hall dating back to 1655), the National Monument, and the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). 

The Royal Palace was converted from the Town Hall by Louis Bonaparte (1806).  The New Church was built around 1500 and is the  venue for the coronation of the Dutch Monarchy.  It is also used for concerts.

Dam Square Royal Palace Nieukirk (Small)

The Royal Palace (Left) and New Church

Dam Square is not immune from bicycles.  Look both ways!!

Bikes and bikes Dam Square (Small) The Royal Palace Dam Square (Small)

The Royal Palace

The National Monument was built in 1956 and commemorates the role the Dutch played in World War II.   On this day, there is machinery and fencing around the Memorial (maybe some repairs).

National Monument Dam Square (Small)

The National Monument

The building below may look very regal or governmental (and it may well have been at one time) but now it is a Shopping Mall.

Magna Shopping Center Dam Square (Small)

Magna Plaza Shopping Mall

The Anne Frank House is located in the Jordaan Section of the City.  Before arriving there, we visited the Westerkerk (Western Church).  The building – built in 1619 - is the tallest structure in Amsterdam (273 feet) and is the burial place of Rembrandt.

Westerkerk near Anne Frank house (Small)

The West Church

The Anne Frank house can easily be found by the queues waiting to enter the house and museum.  We opted not to enter but did get a picture of the structure (now certainly modernized).  There is a restaurant next door.

Anne Frank House (Small)

Anne Frank House

We headed back through the Red Light District (much tamer now, especially during the day).  Marijuana, however, is legal in Amsterdam so “Head Shops” are plentiful.  I think the Alien Shop below most like belongs in that category.

Head shop Red light District (Small)

Alien Head Shop

We met Janet and Rebecca for dinner and wound up in an Italian Restaurant near the Anne Frank House.  They wanted to charge for tap water (imagine) but changed their mind once we objected.  Once you get your order, you will never see the wait staff again.  About two hours later, we asked for our check (dinner was very pleasant).

The long walk home was made that much longer by the constant rain falling for the past hour or so.  We made it back to the hotel a little wetter than we started.

Tomorrow we are headed to the countryside to see some windmills.

Pedometer: 15,270 steps; 7.24 miles; 747 calories

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