Travel Highlight – Amsterdam

When we joined the Europe tour, our first stop was London and the second stop was Amsterdam.

The tour guide told us that Amsterdam is below sea level. This capital city of Netherlands has a Canal Ring of one hundred kilometers (62 miles) with 1,500 bridges.  Amy at The World Is a Book has a post on “Life on the Water in Amsterdam.” She says there are about 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam. Some boat owners have transformed their boats into Bed and Breakfast. You can read her post here. We took a boat ride to tour the Canal.

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The first thing impressed me was the number of bicycles. It was mind-boggling to find out there are 881,000 bicycles and one of the parking structures accommodates 7,000 bicycles. When we arrived at a location and the tour members got off the coach, I almost got hit by a bicycle because I didn’t realize that the riders have the right-of-way. I saw one lady with the business skirt suit carrying a backpack and paddling the bicycle with the tennis shoes. It must be a common practice to change shoes when people arrive at their offices.

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We visited the Anne Frank House. When I was teaching, my second-grade class read The Diary of Anne Frank. It was intriguing to find out more about the family’s hiding place. During World War II, Anne and her family hid from Nazi persecution in a hidden room at the rear of the 17th-century canal house. The room was hidden behind a movable bookcase. Anne Frank didn’t survive the war, but her wartime diary was published in 1947. The diary has been translated into 70 languages. We saw the original diary in the exhibit case on the ground floor.

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One night we walked around in the Red-Light District. This area has the red neon lighted windows that display barely dressed prostitutes advertising their services; it’s acceptable when it stays inside this designated area of the city.

As we walked on the street in the same area, I saw a shop that has a potted plant display in the window. I made a comment to my husband on the nice look of the plant. He told me it was marijuana. We went inside the shop and found different sizes of packaging that looked like snack items.

It was a great experience to visit the diamond factory and learn about the different grades of the diamond. The factory guide explained that the value of the diamond goes higher with the increased facets of the diamond. She also pointed out that when reflecting the colors of the diamond, the blue color is more expensive. After she said that, the ladies moved their rings under the light to check on the reflecting colors.

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Our other visits included a tour of the wooden thong factory, the cheese factory and the ceramic painting factory.

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The last day of the tour we had a free afternoon. My husband and I wanted to walk around but there was pouring rain. We then took the free trolley to the Van Gogh Museum. It was an educational visit to learn about how Van Gogh developed his style of painting.

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It was a great vacation in Amsterdam!

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