Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Staying in Amsterdam

When I left off, we'd departed the Westerkerk to go see more of the city. We started off by heading to the shopping streets of the city (De Negen Straatjes), where we found a couple of good deals (Em bought some pants, I bought a purse). Well, actually, first we tried to find de Negen Straatjes. We got a little lost and ended up on the edges of the red light district on our first attempt. But then we got ourselves oriented and found the shopping area. We also saw one of the street organs which are popular in the Netherlands.

In the middle, blocked by people's heads, is a scary clown face.
You're welcome.

Then we got back on our bikes and went in search of some lunch. We crossed some canals (boy are there a lot of canals to cross!), and after getting lost again (you may be sensing a theme here), we found our way to a little sandwich shop. We sat in the little upstairs loft and I drew while we ate.

The rest of the day is sort of a jumble of getting lost and seeing things, so I don't entirely know what we were doing when some of the photos were taken, but here are a couple anyway.

I loved that some bridges had these name markers, and
I meant to try to be on the lookout for more, but it just
didn't happen. Another visit, maybe.
Tiny car. And not much to keep one from driving straight
into the canal.
Eventually, after riding way too far out of our way and subsequently correcting our course, we ended up at the Waterlooplein flea market. (Just to be clear, this is where we were trying to end up.) I didn't take any photos of the market itself, but it was bustling and we spent quite a while there going through the wares at the various booths.

Blessing the market.
Days later on a train, we talked to a Dutch guy who said that riding bikes in Amsterdam takes nerve. We had to agree. There's just a lot of bike traffic, and although the bike lanes and such are pretty well marked, it's a little intimidating when you don't know exactly how all the rules work to keep the flow of traffic going. Who has the right of way at bike lane intersections? Where do you stop at a light to keep from blocking the intersecting bike lane? Merging? Is there such a thing as "yield," and who's supposed to do it if so?

Even though it was a little hard at first, bikes are a great way to see Amsterdam, especially because the only "hills" we saw were the slight inclines of the bridges over canals. We did one day with bikes and one day without, so on the morning of the next day we returned them and continued our adventures on foot.

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