Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands as well as its largest city. The entire city lies below sea level and sits atop wooden stakes. With more than 150 canals and 1200 bridges, it is sometimes known as the "Venice of the North"
We usually do not venture out using public transportation. But Amsterdam was very easy to get around in by using the tram line. I dosn't think we used a taxi once. Amsterdam is a very "open" city. Prostitution and Marijuana use is legal and celebrated. We managed to avoid the red light district and were very careful to stay out of the cafe's where the green leaves were a key ingredient.
I enjoyed the museums in Amsterdam as much as anywhere we have traveled to. Newly opened museums dedicated to Rembrandt and van Gogh, and an excellent Navel Museum.
Of course our visit to Amsterdam co-incited with Europe's Gay Pride Celebration. It brought an extra 100,000 visitors to the city. Even with that we still had an easy time getting around the city. We watched a little of the Gay Pride flotilla. I got bored very quickly. It seemed to consist of a lot of drinking and jumping up and down while floating down the canals. Some wore matching tee-shirts.
|Public facilities, for men only. I don't know what the ladies do. The get to pee against the wall in semi privacy.|
|The Counting House. From the late 1600s.|
|Rembrandt's "Night Watch"|
|Gay Pride celebration. Taken from the Tram.|
During the late Middle Ages, the city developed from a small fishing village into a major commercial and financial center. It's Golden Age came toward the end of the 16th century when its port formed the basis of a worldwide trading network. As a result, Amsterdam became the wealthiest city in the world and established the first stock exchange. For the next two centuries, it was Europe's most important point for the shipment of goods.
We also visited the Anne Frank house. It is made famous by the "Dairy of Anne Frank" a young Jewish girl who was hid in the house from the Nazis for three years during WWII.
Final Reflections on our trip to Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
We enjoyed our visit to this part of Europe. The countries seem prosperous and the people seem happy. A lot of beautiful scenery. Many parts of the country along the Rhine have changed hands and been in control of different countries many times. Some as many as five times in a person's lifetime. As a result many of these areas are more influenced by local culture and less from a National identity. I was amazed with how much WWII has impacted and influenced the identity of every area we visited. The Germans are trying to repent for National Wrongs. They're economy is strong and they are trying to strengthen the rest of Europe. One German economist told me that they don't want to be responsible for causing problems in Europe every again.