Amsterdam and its exciting and turbulent history

Amsterdam, Netherland, Boat ride, Krachten

A couple years back we decided to drive to Amsterdam. I booked a hotel three days ahead online and got a good deal for three nights. This was our first time to this vibrant city, and it turned out to be a wonderful short trip, We immediately noticed the beautiful river “Amstel”, which runs through the city, therefore Amsterdam is often compared to Venice

I found out that there are flights, bus tours or trains for transportation that run from most German and other European cities. From Cologne for example, it’s only 3 hours train ride to Amsterdam Central Station, and you don’t have to switch trains. While there, I found out that the hotel parking was $35. per day (or $5 an hour on the street), therefore, I do not recommend to drive into Amsterdam by car.

While there, the best way to explore the capital of the Netherlands is on foot or by bike, if not taking a boat. It is much easier way to discover the small and popular streets and corners of the city.

I suggest you purchase an Amsterdam City Card for the couple days you there, depending on your preferences. Ours included the boat ride and museums.

Amsterdam central train station
Amsterdam central station

The city center of Amsterdam is surrounded by a so-called canal belt (Krachten), which consists of the four canal systems Heren, Keizers and Prinsen and Singelgracht. We were walking along the Prinsengracht, because it had the most beautiful houses in the baroque style.

I noticed the typical hooked gables at the front of the houses. Since the beautiful little doors are too narrow to let furniture through, hooks are attached to the houses with which the furniture can be pulled up and transported through the windows.

The waterways that run through Amsterdam are called “Krachten. Almost everybody who lives in Amsterdam owns a boat, their main transportation besides the bike. Most cars are parked outside of the city. Parking in Amsterdam is almost impossible

Amsterdam Boat ride at night

A canal cruise was worthwhile to see the picturesque city from the water. We started our canal cruise at the main train station, because there we could choose providers with different conditions.

Amsterdam History

In the year 1250 the first farmers and fishermen settled in the area of today’s urban area of ​​Amsterdam. The Gilded Age, Beer, Wonders and Tulip mania – Amsterdam had a turbulent history.

Archaeological finds from the city center, around 1900, indicates that even in Roman times people lived in today’s urban area. They had a hard fight with mud and swamp in 1250 a.D. All in all, the area was very difficult to cultivate. The people had to struggle with piles and wrestled with building land from the damp ground. Amstel and Dam will be Amsterdam. It owes its name to a dam (formerly called “Dam”) on the Amstel (the Amstel, that is a large river that flows through. Amsterdam means as much as “Damm an der Amstel”. Incidentally, the “Dam” still exists – right in the center. Today, on the spot where the eponymous dam once stood, there is a large square called “Dam”.

Amsterdam is known for its delicacies at the markets. Of course we did not want to miss the Bloemenmarkt, where fresh and, above all, many tulips are sold on the river. We walked away from the tourism and visited the food halls, there we found international and regional dishes in a lot of space. Only street food is served in the former industrial hall.

Cannabis Coffee Shops

The Netherland, also called Holland, has a history with Cannabis/Marijuana since the 1920’s when the plant was legal in the Dutch East Indies Colony. Since the 1970’s the famous Dutch coffee shops began to open. There are now 1500 of those in the Netherlands. We stopped for some Cannabis ice cream

The city center “Ouden” is also beautiful, but it is very touristy and overcrowded with party-goers, so we decided not to stay there too long. We quickly walked to the hipster district of Jordaan or Negen Straatjes, there we found the original Amsterdam far away from mass tourism. In the past it was only considered a workers’ and craftsmen’s quarter, but today it impresses with colorful cafés, small shops and boutiques and, above all, winding markets.

We enjoyed your breakfast in peace at a canal and watched the locals on their beloved bicycles.

The Negen Straatjes (in English, the 9 streets) are particularly known for their ingenious decoration shops, hip pop-up stores and second-hand stores. We were enchanted by the colorful signs of the shops and the wonderful colorful house walls.

Amsterdam waterfront townhomes

The former Amsterdam Post office, now a Magna Plaza Mall

The Amsterdam city center offers no space for a modern shopping mall, but the Magna Plaza is the exception and only emerged when the 100-year-old main post office became vacant. The monumental brick building immediately catches the eye. The central hall is spread over three floors with several fashion store that has international labels, sportswear, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.

At the Rijksmuseum

The third day, after we’ve done our boat tour on the canals (Krachten), we planned on visiting the Rijksmuseum with many original Rembrand’s and Van Gogh paintings. The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square, also across from the Van Gogh museum.

Tip: Plan your visit early, as the museum only allows a certain number of visitors and you can find yourself in front of closed doors. Therefore, you should buy a ticket online for a certain time slot before your visit.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Below you see the “The Night Watch”, which is a 1642 painting by Rembrandt van Rijn

Amsterdam Rijksmuseum Rembrandt, Night watch
Amsterdam Rijksmuseum Rembrandt, Night Watch

Amsterdam offers you many beautiful museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum. These impressions of the visit will probably not be forgotten for a lifetime.

Anne Frank Haus, Statue, Amsterdam

The Anne Frank House

I took a picture of the Anne Frank’s statue. We were only there for a short time, and will go again to see the Anne Frank House. The family lived here until 1944 when they were discovered by the Nazi’s and deported. Many objects are in their original condition. The famous house is located at Prinsengracht 263-267

We walked about a mile back to our hotel. I picked up a sandwich filled with delicious seafood on the way. It was time to check out from our hotel and drive back to the Rhineland, which was a four hour trip.

Amsterdam, eating shrimp sandwich
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