River Cruise Day 15 Amsterdam

River Cruise Day 15         Amsterdam            Sunny and cool        top temp 12 degrees

 Holland was outside our cabin window when we woke this morning.  Atristry had moved into the Rhine Amsterdam Canal to take us the rest of our cruise into Amsterdam, arriving at about 11.00am.

To make the most of our time in Amsterdam, our Cruise Director had organised buses to pick us up as soon as we docked, so that we could go on a sightseeing tour via the canals.    We had not thought of Amsterdam as being anything like Venice, but there are some similarities, in that they do have a reasonable network of canals that are used for public transport.  The other form of transport is bicycles – we were amazed when we passed a multi level bicycle parking station – apparently big enough for 5000 bicycles.  Amsterdam has proper bicycle lanes, with traffic lights dedicated to the cycles.

There are 110 kilometres of waterways and about 2300 houseboats moored along them – they have to have licence for that particular spot and each site is connected to gas, sewage and water.

We passed the house where Anne Frank lived – The Diary of Anne Frank – and the Western Church where Rembrandt is buried.

The boats they use to show tourists around the canals are long and narrow and lie low in the water so that they can fit under the many bridges and archways.  Most of these boats have glass windows and a curved glass ceiling so that you can see all around.

Although Amsterdam is not directly on the North Sea, it is a busy port, connected to both the Rhine and the North Sea by canals.

This afternoon, we went on an optional excursion out into the Countryside.  Our first stop was Jacobs Hoeve Cheese Factory, where we were shown how they make their cheese and were able to sample several different varieties.

Then we were taken to see one of the 1150 windmills that are still working.  It is what they refer to as a Polder wind water mill, which was used to pump water out of the lowlands and into the next level up.  We all learnt at school how Holland had reclaimed land from the sea and built dykes to hold back the water from the reclaimed land, but today we were given a much better understanding of how this was done.  Dykes were built around low level areas and then the water trapped in the dykes was pumped using a series of wind water mills outside the dyke.  Once the land had become dry it was planted with a cane and burnt off after one season to further dry the ground and prepare it for farming/pastural.  The area that had been reclaimed was then known as Polder.  Interestingly, 60% of Holland is below sea level.

From inside the windmill, we were given a demonstration of how it operates.

Our next stop was Volendam, which is a tiny fishing village, on the shores of Lake Usselmeer, which was once part of the ocean and is now a fresh water lake, which is 300 kilometres in circumference.


Volendam is known for its folklore and local costumes and when we arrived, we were met by a lady in the local costume and taken into a mini theatre where we were shown a short film about how the dykes were built and how the entrance to the lake was closed off to the North Sea.

We were given some free time to wander around the village and shops.

We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon out in the countryside of Holland.

After dinner tonight, we went on an excursion to the Red Light District….. interesting!

The bus dropped us off and we had a guide who took us past some of the “windows”, down narrow streets and also showed us some of the interesting tourist sights of Amsterdam by night.  We were surprised to discover that these “activities” are legal here in Amsterdam and so is the smoking of marijuana – they even have special “coffee” houses.  We were also surprised that the “windows” are scattered over a very large area and that it is not confined to a couple of streets.  The other thing that surprised us was the thousands of young people wandering around the streets.

We also walked past the canal with the flower markets on it, as well as several other canals with dozens of swans swimming in them.

We returned to the boat and finished packing ready for our disembarkation tomorrow morning after breakfast.

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