Friday, January 10, 2014

Amsterdam: A city of canals, bikes, and no curtains

Ah, Amsterdam. It's an interesting place. In some ways, it is very much as my Dutch grandmother described it-"Cold, grey, and...weird." On the other hand, it's also vibrant, quirky, and fun. We loved getting to explore this city of contrasts for a few days this past December.

We met Fionn's parents in Amsterdam a week before Christmas. It was great seeing them, and the incredible Air BnB apartment we rented right on the canal made the trip even better. Fionn and I both have Dutch ancestry and extended family living in Holland, so in some ways it was kind of homey being in the land of our ancestors. I knew I loved Gouda cheese for a reason... ;)

Amsterdam can be summed up in three words-canals, bikes, and curtains (or lack thereof). As you wander along the canals and through the streets you have to be constantly vigilant so to avoid getting hit by a bike or tumbling off a bridge that's been raised to allow a boat through. Paying attention is doubly difficult because hardly any of the Dutch apartments you pass will have curtains on their large, open windows, and the nosy neighbor inside of me can't help but catch a glimpse into someone's living room. Maybe that's the Dutch girl in me?

Everywhere you go, you'll find bikes. Bikes chained to lampposts, bikes whizzing past, bikes stacked together in a huge mass of metal and plastic and color. Once, one of my Dutch relatives who lived through the Nazi occupation said bitterly of the Germans, "They confiscated our BIKES! Can you imagine?!"

I'm an awful Dutch girl. I don't even an own a bicycle anymore.

Amsterdam's churches were pretty in a classic Dutch Protestant subdued kind of way. Another one of Amsterdam's quirks!

My Dutch grandmother was wrong-the sun DID come out in Amsterdam while we were there. Not for very long, but it warmed us up while we explored the cute little stores near the city center. We were even lucky enough to see some of my relatives while we were in town! 

If you're visiting from Found Love, Now What, I'm so glad to have you here! I hope you'll have a look around and leave a comment. :)

What do you think of Amsterdam? Have you ever been?

More travel posts are on the way! We hit Copenhagen, Croatia, and Montenegro on our go get ready for travel mania on the blog :)

We Took the Road Less Traveled


  1. Amsterdam was our first trip when we moved to Germany. One of my favorites too. We plan to go one more time before we leave.

  2. It looks a whole lot better than the idea I had of it... my picture of Amsterdam is from Le Clezio's book "La Chute" which just made it sound like hell.
    Thanks for clarifying that ;) :)

  3. I find your description of Amsterdam pretty accurate. I'm comfortable riding a bike, but I think twice about doing so in Amsterdam - there's just so much traffic and other things to pay attention to. And I'm also peeking into people's windows.
    Love the pictures - you got some really nice shots!

  4. wow, I'm so glad I found your blog and I'm stoked to be following along now! :)

  5. I need a bike with a heineken beer basket!