Amsterdam, Holland of June 2004, Log 01

     
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Em takes the driver seat and gives us a ride through to Amsterdam! The ride from Brussels to Amsterdam took about 4 hours (211km) and Em is an amazing lady driver!

Something about Amsterdam as we were to discover: Just about everyone speaks English in Amsterdam, and is proud of the fact. Many speak German and French too.

Need a map to Amsterdam? Here it is. Another good site is the Tourism website here.

     
 

One of the main things we had to see was the all-time favourite - the windmill! Ever since the 16th century, hundreds of thousands of Dutch people have been living on the bottom of former lakes. In order to make this possible, many windmills were used to drain the land and keep it dry. Windmills still form an important element of water management in these low lands. Hundreds of windmills were used in the timber, paper and coloring industry and created the world’s first industrial zones.

There are also modern windmill farms.

     
 

This is the central station for trains to convenge. Huge amount of activity and many folks here take the bicycle, not unlike that in China. What stood out was a 3 storey building for parking bicycles and they were packed like sardines!

The harbor of Amsterdam is at the back of the station, and there are canals on the sides, too. In fact, you can't help but notice there is a lot of water in Amsterdam.

     
 

We figured we had to try some unique food rather than the conventional ones (don't forget what a big glutton I am and Jen can attest to that!) and so we end up trying this Em recommended rice filled crusted fritter. Tasted really interesting and we had for lunch: falafel!

It's a middle eastern specialty consisting of small, deep-fried CROQUETTES or balls made of highly spiced, ground CHICKPEAS. They're generally tucked inside PITA bread, sandwich-style, but can also be served as appetizers.

     
 

One of the most famous sights of the city includes Van Gogh Musuem where the arts is pretty alive. Famous for artistic culture, there are 42 museums and 141 galleries, ranging from important attractions from the internationally renowned Rijksmuseum to the lesser known Kattenkabinet There's also Anne Frank's Museum but we didn't manage to get to either one.

We walked along much of the shops, going pass many a shops where porn goes along with everything, as with a PORNO SUPERMARKET here that has got everything!

I found this website that had a fantastic panoramic VR of places in Amsterdam and placed it here. You will need Apple's Quicktime player to view this.

We started walking from the central station into the old center.

     
 

The Old Center, which is bordered by Prins Hendrikkade to the north, Oudeschans and Waterlooplein to the east, the Amstel River to the south and Singel to the west, is where Amsterdam began.

Crammed with historic buildings, thriving bars and fun seekers, here the city's main concentration of coffee shops coexists happily with the international diamond trade and the notorious red light district, creating a unique atmosphere not to be missed.

     
 

We then wandered along the Flower Market which is at Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein. This is the only floating flower market in the world, and one of the most fragrant places of interest of Amsterdam - in all seasons. The flower stalls stand on the houseboats. You will find there all sorts of tulips, narcissus and other bulbs and flowers. The bulbs are ready for export, so you can enjoy them at home too.

     
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