Dans le port d’Amsterdam …

There are sailors who sing if Jacques Brel is to be believed. There are many other types of people too, but I didn’t get to see any of them as I didn’t go to the port in my brief 72 hours in the city.

DSC_0027One thing I did do though was take a canal tour, a wonderful way to see the city. My first trip to the Dutch capital was a drunken affair with three friends, this time though, older, no wiser but with less alcohol capacity, I was determined to see slightly more than the few streets I’d frequented nearly 30 years previously.

DSC_0047After a few (?) beers with my sister the night before and a healthy breakfast we headed into the centre to find a suitable vessel to show us the waterborne sights.

DSC_0032Martin, the captain, was the perfect choice. €18 for 90 minutes around the waterways was excellent value, the pace was just right, his knowledge was good and interjected at just the right tempo, not too much that you cant take it all in but not a silent mute either.

DSC_0055We were shown the map at the start, he indicated the route we were going to take but as an Amsterdam canal virgin I really had no idea of where we went.

A little gem of information Martin provided was that back in the day, houses in Amsterdam didnt have numbers so the postman’s job wasn’t the easiest. One way to help him was for the houseowner to paint a picture onto the house, which the sender then did his best to replicate.

DSC_0084I don’t know how true this is (although have no reason to doubt him) but it’s a good job I didn’t live in the city at the time, nothing would ever have gone to the correct house.

The canals pervade the whole of the old city and are still a major transportation system.

DSC_0042They are alive, being used as both commerce and pleasure, it was a warm weekend when we were there and we passed and were passed by boats of all different shapes and sizes.

DSC_0034As all canals they were originally used for transportation of goods, over the centurys that the city has existed they’ve been chopped and changed, blocked up and directions rerouted and yet still seem to be lifeblood of the place. The previous evening we’d walked through the throngs of stag and hen parties, thick suspicious smelling clouds passing all around us with the accompanying boisterous alcohol fuelled behaviour without really noticing the beauty surrounding us.

DSC_0043The canal allows you to see it, to properly look at your environment and take in the fantastic architecture,

DSC_0075the mishmash of old and new, whilst watching people eating just a few feet away from you in a multitude of waterside restaurants.

The price of a permanent berth here is akin to a flat in most European capitals, so its not a cheap way to live but it surely cant be the worst place to be. In winter I’m sure there are downsides and tourists must be a plague in the summer but life on a canal seems to have a pleasant feel to it, a gentle, calm way of life that I think I’d like to try for a while.

DSC_0081Even on a canal cruise it’s impossible to ignore the bicycle. The only (it appears) way to travel the streets of Amsterdam.

As a Breton the Laydee of the House was delighted to see a boat flying this flag. The Gwenn ha Du, the flag of Brittany. The owner was a long way from home and we didnt find out who it was but it warmed her little cockles to see it nonetheless.

DSC_0036If you come to Amsterdam as a youngster (or even a not so youngster) intent on a hedonistic few days then a canal cruise may not be top of your priorities, anyone else though… give it a try, a relaxing and enjoyable way to see parts of the city you’d probably miss otherwise.

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About bobleponge216

Elderly rotund toothless male seeks wilderness to travel to.
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2 Responses to Dans le port d’Amsterdam …

  1. Nikki says:

    Thanks for a fabulous mini-tour of a city I’ve always wanted to visit. A canal tour sounds like the perfect way to enjoy the city when one is mobility-impaired like I am.

    Liked by 1 person

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