Read about this trip from the start – here.
|Amstel River Amsterdam|
For the most part on this trip we saw Dutch registered boats. Our guess is about 90% of the boats on the waterways are locals. Another 9% are German owned boats And obviously the closer one gets to the German and Belgian borders the more of those boats are on the waterways. We saw very few other nationalities. Two British boats, one Swedish and one from Denmark.
Since we arrived late – and we had Internet – sort of – we caught up on comms and chores on the boat. The following morning we caught the free ferry across the Ij into Amsterdam which was heaving with humans. Hen and stag groups – or whatever the occasion – with team T-Shirts seem to be the thing in Amsterdam. I guess people come to party. We saw a good few people who over-did it on magic mushrooms, weed or strong beers and were looking more than a little worse for wear.
|Free ferry across the River Ij|
And that’s another thing I will never understand. Tourists don’t seem to venture past Damrak in Amsterdam. It’s groaning with people shuffling past each other gawking at the girls in the red light district. I get that the openness about sex and drugs is a novelty. And for sure our first trip we did the
obligatory walk past the ladies in the sex area. And we visited a kinky museum. Or two.
Nowadays we skip Damrak and head straight to the outer suburbs. Food and drinks are cheaper and it’s just a whole lot nicer. If you’re not keen on a walk then catch a tram. Even better, take short day trip by train out to Alkmaar, Haarlem, Delft, Gouda or Utrecht. They also have lovely canals with cruises, Dutch architecture, a town square, markets, yummy food and all that one expects – but minus the hoards of tourists.
|Abandoned umbrellas after the storm|
We struggle with Internet on the waterways. For four reasons. Reason One – while there is wi-fi in some marinas, a person needs to be near the modem, which is usually in the havenkantoor (harbour office). If your boat is not moored close enough, then the signal is not strong enough. Reason Two – our boat is made of steel, wi-fi signal is not able to penetrate the boat. We usually have to sit on the outer perimeter of the deck to get some signal.
Reason Three – is the sheer number of people all trying to get signal. At Compagniehaven we speculated there were around 700 boats. Sure, not all were trying to use wi-fi, but each boat has at LEAST two people – however most boats are likely to have a family or group of friends on board. There are simply too many people all trying to get on-line. Reason Four – people use wifi gobblers. I never even knew these things existed until another boater told us about them. He uses a thing called Wifi Rogue which he bought in America. Apparently they suck up available wifi signal but I really don’t understand how they work
|Eating in the dark at C Taste|
We’ve been to Amsterdam a few times now and rather than pack in museums or a canal cruise, we like to go walkabout and visit places we liked before or find new places to like. Our first day in Amsterdam we wanted to do a shop-up at our favourite store – Marqt. Everything is organic and ethically sourced. They also only accept credit cards. Which is a nice change for us. Foreign owned shops such as Zara or H and and most hotels accept credits cards but Dutch owned businesses will not take credit cards. Even large chains stores like their supermarkets are not interested. They will accept a local debit card which we don’t have.
We also booked at a place called C-Taste, more on that later, where they will accept a credits card but add the bank fee onto the bill for your account. I suspect in Amsterdam there is a bit more tolerance for credit cards but not elsewhere.
|View from Sixhaven marina|
We ended the day at a pub in De Pijp area and had a Belgian beer while watching people going about life. It never ceases to amaze us how the mix of motor vehicles, trams, bicycles, tricycles, tandem bikes, mobility vehicles and humans all manage to go about their journeys without crashing or fighting. I get scared just crossing the road with all the activity.
Before going back to the boat we had a pita at our favourite spot Maoz. For €5 you get a white or wholewheat pita pocket, 3 falafel balls and unlimited salad and sauces. Yum. Our second day in Amsterdam we wanted to go to the Albert Cuyp market. We’ve been before and it always gets a mention in the What To Do in Amsterdam guides.
|House boat in Amsterdam|
Plus the guy double-banked next to our boat from Friesland was raving about it. We thought we would give it another try. It’s lots of the same stuff really. Mostly cheap clothes and fruit and veggie stalls. The prices aren’t that much better than the supermarkets but we love the novelty of shopping at produce markets. They sometimes have things you don’t often see. Like purple carrots. We had to try those.
The weather was atrocious. Freezing cold, howling gales and horizontal rain. How does this happen in the height of the summer and holiday season? There were broken umbrellas aplenty next to rubbish bins. We decided to catch the tram back to Dam and head for one of our favourite veggie places in the Jordaan area for a bite – Bolhoed. Amazing how bad weather sends people indoors. The number of people of the streets was vastly down compared to the previous day. We were also pleased not to be boating in inclement weather.
|The captain having a break from the rain at Bolhoed|
Since we’ve discovered Happy Cow (happycow.net) we’ve visited all sorts of amazing veg friendly eateries on our travels. Bolhoed (bowler hat) have vegetarian, vegan and raw food. After a meal at Bolhoed we’d had enough of being out went back to the boat to keep warm and dry. The rain lashed down and our boat bounced for a few hours more and then just like that, the weather lifted and the sun came out. We heard the following day that the tram service was suspended due to a tree blowing over and debris on the track. That’s the Netherlands for you. Four season in one day.
This story continues – on this link.