After spending a few days in Amsterdam I have some impressions of the city and the Netherlands in general. My son Owen asked me, “Do they speak Hamster in Hamsterdam?”
The biggest impression upon me was the number of bicycles! They were everywhere. At every bus or train station hundreds were parked and as you can see from above, they were also parked in front of buildings and streets. Everyone rode bikes, from grandmothers, to school children. I guess with over 16 million people squeezed in such a small area, bikes are an efficient manner of moving around. I rented a bike and rode for hours both Friday and Saturday evening. They literally have bike paths on every road and canal in Amsterdam.
The Dutch did display that famous tolerant temperament. They were friendly and were willing to help me when I got lost. I was surprised to see a large Islamic population as well as many blacks from Surinam. The canals and old buildings were absolutely stunning. The Dutch themselves look Scandanavian with a British flavor. They are very tall and light skinned. There are beautiful views almost everywhere one looks. I did see a bit of the tourist “red light” district and some of the famous cafes and prostitutes in the window. That part turned me off. I heard that in the warmer months there are many more tourists, although I did see and hear quite a few American college kids around the city.
I would like to go back again solely for the biking! I would like to go on a longer bike ride between cities with my family. I would also like to visit the International Court of Justice in the Hague. I also learned the official name of the country is the Netherlands. Holland is the name of two provinces, not the entire country. It was difficult to take good pictures as I was biking around and the light was not great.