We arrived in Amsterdam via train from Hamburg, Germany – a 5+ hr trip (see Rome2Rio for other forms of transport – there are numerous options).  We enjoyed the train trip and the advantage of train is that the railway station is in the centre of the city.  We were able to walk to our B&B (10 min) although, with hindsight,  it would have been better to get detailed directions from Goggle maps/B&B owners (like we often do) – crowds of people & bikes around the station when we arrived and we needed to cross a few roads before we could see the street signs.  Often we ask the hotel or B&B to pick us up from the station (often costs similar or not a lot more than a taxi) but on this occasion we didn’t.  Turned out to be all fine – I found a quiet spot to mind the luggage while Tony worked out the directions.  The place where we stayed was once a warehouse which had an interesting history.  The breakfast room (a self serve style) is on the top floor and our bedroom (quite spacious) was just below that;  fortunately, a young man helping to run the B&B carried our luggage up the steep stairs.  There’s a handrail so it felt quite safe walking up/down although we wouldn’t recommend this B&B for anyone with mobility/fitness problems.  It was also one of our more costly stays…Amsterdam is an expensive city.  The name of B&B is Crown Bed & Breakfast…the breakfast was self serve but a range of lovely fresh foods and also a stove to cook eggs etc.  The location was great – plenty of restaurants (we loved a nearby Indonesian called Max’s), bars & cafes + close to the tram stop when we wanted to explore further afield.  At the restaurant we sat next to an elderly American woman dining on her own – we struck up a conversation…she is a free lance/part time travel/food writer after having a career as a journalist.  We always enjoy it when we get to meet interesting people like that and hear about their travels too.

A photo of B&B below (circa early 1700s) – on our walk from the station we became aware that red curtains advertise places of prostitution so we were a bit uncertain when seeing the red shutters on B&B + it took a while for the owners to answer their doorbell…all turned out well as the B&B was quite lovely inside.

Amsterdam is a vibrant city with so many bikes, boats and cars…mostly smaller cars as they need to be able to manoeuvre into tight spaces as can be seen in photos above & especially below.   There are also lots of loading zone parking spots for delivery vans but it seemed that finding parking was a challenge so we’re glad we didn’t hire a car on this stay.  We took a small boat tour around the canals (about 8 passengers) – our tour guide said that on average about 1 car/week ends up in a canal but on a good year 30 or so cars/year.

We’ve been to many European cities where push bikes are the main form of transport but Amsterdam takes it to another level!  They dominate the streets especially on rush hour when it’s really important to keep your wits about you when walking along the streets as sometimes the cyclists don’t give way, even on pedestrian crossings.  The trams give way…which in some European cities doesn’t happen so it’s a good idea to read up on the road rules on first time in Amsterdam.

More tomorrow on galleries, Anne Frank’s house, restaurants, museums…so much to do in Amsterdam!

There’s a wonderful food scene developing in Amsterdam and of particular interest to us was the Indonesian influence.  Of course for hundreds of years (maybe thousands…I’ll check my history!) the Dutch explored the world;  even our homeland, Australia, was called New Holland before the British arrived in 1770.  All the names then became very Anglo!  However, we now have significant cultural sites named in English and the local Indigenous language;  for example, Uluru/Ayres Rock.  A respectful change that was long overdue in Australia.

We’ve done frequent trips to Indonesia (mostly Bali) but other places as well as we had family working at the Embassy in Jakarta a decade or so ago.  (I’ll do a post on Indonesia in the future).  On those trips we learned more about Dutch colonisation and this trip to Amsterdam has inspired us to now learn more about the influence of those colonies and cultures on the Netherlands.  It’s clearly evident in the food scene with many great Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam;  some, like Max’s (which we really enjoyed) have some fusion happening as well – a combination of Indonesian and European cuisine.

Amsterdam has many great food markets as well as local specialty shops such as in the photo below: