A World Class Walking City
Amsterdam is a world class walking city. It’s right up there with Paris, Kyoto, and Venice, but with a bit of a different flavor. You could spend days exploring the cobblestone streets, winding back alleys, crooked homes, and canals here. We would have definitely rented bikes, but it rained for almost the entire duration of our stay, plus Annie is a little bicycle shy after our forays into Phuket International Hospital. Nonetheless, the rain didn’t dampen our parade at all. We were fully geared up to hike Kilimanjaro, so a little rain was just fine with us.
We started with just a short list of attractions, but we just happened across most of our favorite spots. Admittedly, it was a bit surprising when we came across our first prostitute’s booth along a canal just a block away from our Airbnb in Jordaan. The first gay & lesbian marriages globally took place in Amsterdam in 2001!
The Netherlands and more specifically Holland has become known for the tulip. Tulips originated in parts of Asia/Russia/the Middle East. We happened upon this museum in our stroll around the city, and it was easily one of our favorite spots. Aside from the history, there are tons and tons of beautiful tulips on display.
Tulipmania gets a brief call out in Wall Street 2, but that was the extent of our knowledge about this wild epidemic that inflicted the Dutch economy in the 1600s. There was a period of time from 1636 to 1637 when the prices for tulips became astronomically high (1-3 tulip bulbs cost the same as a house!!). It coincided with the peak of the Netherlands “Golden Age”.
The Lord in the Attic
There was a period during the Reformation when Catholicism was outlawed in Amsterdam. This required a lot of Catholics to worship in secret. We happened upon this museum during one of our walks in the city. It was a very old style Amsterdam home, clearly lived in by someone wealthy in the neighborhood. On the top floor, there is a small chapel that could seat about 70 people. It was surprising that such an elaborate worship venue was located, literally, in the attic of this old house. This is a great stop for tourists because it’s a bit off the beaten path, and there aren’t any big lines to wait in.
A City on Stilts
Amsterdam was built below sea level, so builders needed to find a way to raise the city to prevent flooding. Today’s city is built on wooden piles that have been driven into the earth. Some of the pillars holding the city today are the same ones driven into the ground over 400 years ago. We thought that was really cool, but it also made us pretty nervous.