For an introduction to the canal system and an overview of the city often called the Venice of the North, we hopped on one of the many tour boats for a guided cruise.
The boat took us through the harbor, among the cargo barges and ferries crossing over to what the locals call the "opposite side."
Eye, Amsterdam's film museum
Nemo, the children's science center
On our way to the Amstel River we passed the old city watchtower and many of the old warehouses from the Dutch Golden Age, including the one for the Dutch East India Company.
Dutch East India Company warehouse
When we left the river, we enter the canals in what is known as the Canal Ring.
These three waterways were dug in the early sixteen hundreds, and form a semicircle around the city center.
This allowed for expansion as Holland was entering that Golden Age. Dutch ships and merchants spanned the globe over the next century and Amsterdam grew into one of the world's great cities.
Sooooo many bridges!
That's some wonky stuff!
One thing we couldn't help but notice, both from the boat and while we were walking around, is the propensity for the older buildings to slant every which way.
The land is very soft, so in order to build wooden pilings had to be set deep into the soil to reach more solid ground. But these have settled over time and left some crazy crooked structures!
There is a definite style to the houses built along the canals, tall and skinny.
Since space along the waterways is limited, builders chose to make narrow, deep houses that are two or three times as long as they are wide, and stand at least three or four stories high.
The design makes it hard to get furnishings in and out, so almost every house has hoisting beams attached above the highest windows.
This way furniture or heavy repair materials can be pulled up and brought inside through a large window.
Think piano movers in an old silent movie, that's the idea.
A fantastic overview of Amsterdam
Houseboats line the canals - there are about 2,400 of these semi-seafaring gems docked along the walls of the city.
Anne Frank House was at the top of our list of places to visit when we arrived.
The house is the actual building where the Anne and her family --and four others -- hid before they were betrayed and captured by the Nazis.
The cruise took us by this and many other places on our list, helping us orient ourselves with the city.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
See where we stayed in Amsterdam - hint - it's a houseboat!
Find out how it feels to visit Anne Frank House
Experience the must-do cruise of Amsterdam's canals
Follow us into the oldest building in Amsterdam - Oude Kerk (Old Church)
|Did you enjoy what you just read? Then you'll LOVE our book!
GoingGypsyBook.com - See how it all began!