October 23 - Day 33
23.10.2011 - 23.10.2011
Oct 23 Amsterdam - Day 33
The view from our window this morning was another boat that we were moored alongside. There are 6 tour boats clustered together 3 deep. We are somewhere near the middle of the waterways of Amsterdam. Garry went off for a cruise of the city and a visit to the flower markets. Colleen, Margy and Michael have gone bike riding. It is very cool with a cold wind but the sun is shining. Sometime today we have to gather our belongings (mostly unwashed clothes) and pack for a fairly early departure from the boat tomorrow. Our flight to Dubai leaves here at 15.30 tomorrow and we arrive at 23.50 so it's only a 6 hour flight. Our time will then be only 6 hours behind Australia.
With a population of 750,000 Amsterdam is Hollands capital and largest city. Settled as a fishing village in 12th C. on the Amstel River. Love that Amstel beer!! Construction of the concentric half circles of canals began in 1613. The main channel is as busy as a city freeway and so far I have seen tall ships, hundreds of barges of varying sizes, a row boat with 8 rowers, speed boats, tugboats, police boats, tourist day boats, river cruise ships and ferries. A bit like Venice but not quite so waterlogged or smelly. Interesting to walk around the flower markets with hash pops and marijuana starter kits on display with all the beautiful flowers and bulbs of every kind. The smell of good quality weed wafts by on a regular basis. Not sure whether passive smoking is an issue but Garry did have a headache after his walk through the markets.
The city teems with pushbikes and people. An estimated 1.5 bikes per head. During the afternoon the wind dropped and it was almost warm! Still had 4 layers on but we did unzip our jackets. The streets flowed with people. There were cafes and "coffee shops" everywhere as well as marked red light areas. The streets are dirty and littered with cigarette butts, old chewing gum spots and in the central market lots of pigeons. There was also a messy camp near the centre where protestors have set up camp to challenge capitalism. Very good people watching area and apart from having to watch out for the aggressive bike riders and trams as well as cars it was an enjoyable stroll in what has been our warmest afternoon - probably got to 12 or 13 degrees.
Our little team decided to check out the red light district after dinner. Managed to finish up in three different groups. Not sure how that happened but may have had something to do with the crowds and our rubber-necking at the girls on display. Bit sad really!! We did all manage to find our way back home safely and all around the same time.
Have now been debriefed re our exit from the boat in the morning - our next report will be from Dubai and then home which we are both looking forward to.