We went looking for the cruise ship dock after we checked into the correct hotel. We wanted to make sure we know where we are going tomorrow morning when we board our ship. We didn’t find it initially although we did see all the river cruise ships getting ready to depart on their cruises. We will be back here next year in April to do a 15 day Grand European river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. We did some scouting on this trip on possible hotels to stay at and excursions to take next year to view the tulips which will be in full season next year when we visit. If anyone wants to join us on this river cruise next year, please let us know. We have another 7 couples already booked on this cruise with us! Although we didn’t see the cruise ship terminal for the Celebrity Silhouette we felt we knew where it was at after our initial walk. We later confirmed the exact location right before we headed back to our hotel later just to be sure.
Free walking tours (provide a tip at the end of the walk) are often a great way to see a new city. We had arranged to take one first thing in the afternoon and we enjoyed getting a quick walk through some of the main sights and getting a little extra knowledge about what we were seeing. We learned about the initial creation of Amsterdam and how it was built on swamp land very similar to Venice’s origin. Like Venice, Amsterdam has a series of canals that go in and around the city that allows a great way to see the city. Because of how the land was constructed, the buildings on this land are in many cases leaning in various directions giving the city a unique appearance. The architecture is very unique and the buildings are all of similar height with very nice design style. Amsterdam was once a world dominant power because many rich merchants created a city of great wealth. It was a major player in the discovery and development of the New World and many of you might remember that Holland built New York (originally called New Amsterdam) and sold it to England. How Amsterdam has changed over the years! World War II took a great toll on the city and you can now visit Anne Frank’s house to learn about some of the atrocities that the Nazis did to the Jewish community. We have tickets to see this house on one of our other visits to this city over the next month as we come back here from our cruises. Today the city is very unique. The city has legalized marijuana and you will see people smoking it throughout the city as you walk around. Coffee shops have been created to sell it and allow people to smoke it inside. What is unusual is that the coffee shops can’t legally grow it or buy it but they can sell it??? How they get it is a mystery evidently, but obviously the police don’t care and there are no arrests because of this business. Amsterdam also has legalized prostitution in the Red Light District where you can see partially clad women in windows as you walk along some of the streets trying to coax men into coming inside to have sex with them in a tiny little room. Evidently the prostitutes rent these tiny rooms for $150 for an 8 hour period and can make $750 which is a pretty good earning rate. Based on what these women look like in the windows it is pretty amazing that they can get 15 men to come in and visit them! We learned a lot about the city, the history and the culture during this walking tour.
After the tour we walked over to the flower market and marveled at all the tulips and other flowers they have on sale there. Primarily the tulip bulbs are sold at this time because it is currently not tulip season. They also sell a lot of wooden carved tulips which are very unique. The market consists of 10 to 15 shops that are located under tents in a flea market environment. You see these various flea markets throughout the city selling many different things. After a visit to the flower market we decided to have a snack and tried out one of the many French fry shops in the area where they give you a large container of fries with various different toppings. We tried ours with mayo, satay and onions. It was very good and very filling. We continued to walk around the city looking at the canals, flowers, architecture and unique shops. We had gone in several cheese shops to sample the cheese which is really very good here. We decided we were going to buy some cheese and a bottle of wine to take on the ship for our first cruise. We did that right before we boarded the ship. As we continued to walk we saw this very unique little cheese shop with a balcony over top one of the canals where they had 3 small tables set up. We stopped and drank a bottle of wine with a cheese snack (pesto cheese mixed with Garlic/spiced cheese along with a little bread). As we ate and drank our little snack we watched all the boats going down the canal.
All in all this is a really nice city with a lot to see. We look forward to coming back and seeing this city again in our future cruises. We will be back here again in 2 weeks for a day stay in between our back to back cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette and then we will be back again for an overnight stay before taking a train to Rotterdam to pick up our 3rd cruise on the Caribbean Princess. We will also come back again next April for our river cruise and may spend 2 or 3 days here during tulip season to travel around the area. We look forward to coming back and seeing more of this city.
We did some walking today! We broke our old “step” record and walked just over 34,000 steps (15 miles. Our previous high was 26,000 which means we walked more than 30% more than that! Not bad since the 2 of us hadn’t slept for over 30 hours.