Monthly Archives: April 2015

In Search Of Tulips Near Amsterdam

Amsterdam was on the list of places that we wanted to visit before we set off on this two year trip. We even considered starting our journey here by taking the ferry from Newcastle, but in the end we decided that we wouldn’t have enough time to do it justice and get through Europe in time to make the most of the fixed start date on our Russian visas. Amsterdam stayed in the back of our minds though and when we were planning the last stage of our route northwards through Europe it felt like a logical place for our final long stay before returning to the UK. We’d booked our accommodation and train tickets before I realised that staying in the Netherlands in April meant tulips and I got very excited!

Tulip varietiesTulips come in a surprising variety of shapes and colours

Tulips are not native to the Netherlands but were first introduced from Turkey in the 16th century and immediately became popular, so popular in fact that they were responsible for the world’s first economic bubble in 1637, usually referred to as Tulip Mania. Nowadays the Netherlands produces over 50% of the world’s cut flowers and a massive 80% of the world’s bulbs. Keukenhof is the showcase for the Dutch floricultural industry and every year 800,000 visitors from around the world descend between mid-March and mid-May to marvel at the spectacle.

Tulips at KeukenhofDuring our visit in mid-April, most of the outdoor tulip beds at Keukenhof were not yet fully open. An exception was this beautiful display beside the lake

It takes about 90 minutes, but it’s straightforward to get to the Keukenhof gardens from Amsterdam – get the bus to Schipol airport, walk around the corner and board the Keukenhof Express bus straight to the main entrance. We bought the combined bus and entrance ticket from one of the Canal Company ticket offices in the city – at €28.50 it’s actually slightly cheaper than paying separately and saves time queueing at ticket offices on the day of your visit.

Tulip showSquares of tulips in the indoor tulip display

Keukenhof gardenI really liked the mixed beds with their pretty complementary colours

Each autumn seven million bulbs are planted at Keukenhof. Although tulips are the headline act, the garden focuses on a whole range of spring flowering bulbs also featuring a wide variety of daffodils, hyacinths and crown imperials. This also means that there will always be something to see as the different flowers bloom at different times. Obviously the timing is heavily dependent on the weather in the preceding months.

Spring flowers at KeukenhofKeukenhof was filled with swathes of colour (top to bottom): tulips, daffodils and crown imperials

HyacinthsThis ‘river’ of hyacinths smelt fantastic

To supplement the outdoor displays (and provide useful places to warm up on chilly spring mornings), there are three pavilions with flower shows. These change at various points through the season; when we visited one was dedicated to orchids, one to roses, and the main Willem-Alexander Pavilion had a mix of flowers including a wonderful range of tulips.

Orchid show at KeukenhofOrchid show in the Beatrix Pavilion

Multicoloured rosesThese crazy multicoloured roses were part of the rose show in the Oranje Nassau Pavilion

From the windmill at Keukenhof we got a view across a few bulb fields…

Bulb fieldsBulb fields visible from the windmill at Keukenhof

This whetted our appetite for a bit more of an exploration into the bulb growing area, and what better to tackle such an enterprise in the Netherlands than by bicycle! We found a route online (PDF booklet in Dutch but the map is easy to navigate) which started outside Leiden Centraal station.

Nodal point on the Dutch cycle networkThe Dutch bicycle network is marked by a number of junction points from where arrows point off to the neighbouring nodes. Here I am at point number 77.

The ride through the countryside along well marked cycle lanes and through pretty little towns was nice enough in itself but before long we passed through Voorhout and into the start of the bulb field area.

Cycling to the bulb fieldsCycling to the bulb fields (clockwise from top left): Some rather handsome hens beside the path; Julie passing a small windmill; bulb sculpture on a roundabout in Voorhout; Andrew cycling down the main street in Voorhout

Flower pickersIn the first fields that we came to was a group of workers picking bunches of tulips. This is quite unusual as most of the fields here are destined for bulb production not cut flowers

Tulip fieldsTulip fields in full bloom

Daffodil fieldThe yellow of the daffodils is just as striking as the tulips

Bulb plantingWe came across one field where planting was underway

There were a few Dutch people cycling the paths as well but in general it was quiet until the route took us past Keukenhof and suddenly there were lots of tourists on bicycles (it’s possible to rent bikes at Keukenhof and do both activities on the same day).

HyacinthsSometimes you could work out what had been planted in the field the year before as here where there are couple of lonesome tulips in amongst the hyacinths

Us in the tulip field

Cycling through the dunesOur return leg took us through the dunes which protect the Netherlands’ low lying land from the North Sea

Keukenhof was an unmissable day and it was also extremely busy, the day of cycling was fun and felt more relaxed, but we’re glad we did both.

Using the Museumkaart in Amsterdam

Many of the big cities we’ve visited on this trip have some kind of discount card which is valid for many of their attractions. They tend to be a really good deal if you want to tick off three or four big name sights during a short visit. Unfortunately for us they’re usually only valid for 1-5 days and we want to spread our sightseeing out over a fortnight or a month rather than cramming it all into just a few days.

Amsterdam has this option too, it’s called the iamsterdam card and covers public transport as well as entry to attractions for 1, 2 or 3 days. But there’s another option here. If you’re not bothered about public transport (and it is very feasible to walk everywhere in the centre), the Museumkaart (Museum Card in English) is valid for a full year and allows multiple entries to around 400 museums across the country. It costs €59.50 and can be bought from museum ticket offices (we picked ours up at the Van Gogh Museum). It easily pays for itself after 4 or 5 visits as museums here are pretty pricey. In total we used it for €121.50 worth of visits during our month in Amsterdam, saving over €60 per person. Granted we wouldn’t have visited all of these places if we hadn’t had the card but it allowed us to just have a quick look whenever we were vaguely interested.

Here are the places that we visited using the Museumkaart:

Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

You’ll never see as many Van Gogh paintings in the same place again as are in the galleries of the Van Gogh Museum. It’s laid out in chronological order and includes paintings by other artists to show how his contemporaries were working and those who were influenced by him, including Monet, Manet and Francis Bacon. We thoroughly enjoyed it and were happy to visit again with Dan, Clare, Scott and Emma.

Huis Marseille Museum of Photography

Photograph by Cor Jaring“Janus ‘the Polisher’ in café Hans en Grietje”, a 1958 photograph by Cor Jaring

Housed in two neighbouring canal houses the Huis Marseille Museum of Photography is host to a number of temporary exhibitions. When we visited one was a fascinating collection of pictures from a photographer who had visited North Korea, but over half the space was given over to a retrospective on the life’s work of local photographer Cor Jaring.

Nieuwe Kerk

World Press Photo at Nieuwe KerkI loved this series of photographs by Tomas van Houtryve taken from a drone in the US of events which are the habitual targets of drone strikes abroad – thought provoking and visually stunning

The Nieuwe Kerk (literally New Church) is a former church which is now used for art exhibitions. At the beginning of our month here it was showing a video installation by Bill Viola, and for our final week, the winning images from the 2015 World Press Photo competition. The video installations were quite hypnotic but maybe not something we would have paid to see. Whereas we knew we would enjoy the photographs as we saw the 2014 winners in Tokyo last year. Once again we were stunned by the ability of the photographers to capture the story in the images as well as often achieving something jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Museum Van Loon

The Bird Room, Museum Van Loon

After wandering beside so many of Amsterdam’s canals and admiring the architecture of the canalside buildings we wanted to have a look inside one. The Museum Van Loon is stilled lived in by the Van Loon family although nowadays they’re up in the former servants quarters and the house’s main rooms have been restored to their former splendour. It was also nice to spend some time in the small garden tucked away behind the house and entirely invisible from the street.



The Rijksmuseum is so huge that it deserved its own post.

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House is high up on many people’s to-do list when they visit Amsterdam and the length of the queue outside reflects this (seriously it winds all the way through a nearby square and around a church). We managed to avoid the queue by reserving places online the day before (timed tickets seem to be released sporadically so keep an eye on it). The museum is small but well set up for the huge flow of people, telling the tragic story of Anne’s life and how she hid with her family for over two years. It was fascinating to see the secret annexe and learn a little more about the ‘helpers’ who brought them food and news from outside, and one of whom managed to rescue and keep the diary after the arrest in the hope that it could be returned to Anne after the war.

Stadsarchief exhibit

Stadsarchief entrance

The main exhibit of the Stadsarchief (City Archive) is free to enter although it was of limited interest to us as all the captions were in Dutch only. However, the Museumkaart granted us entry to the special exhibit which was a different aspect of Cor Jaring’s work than we’d seen at the Huis Marseille Museum. When he died in 2013 he left his archive to the city, and the exhibit here focussed on his chronicling of the cultural revolution which took place in Amsterdam during the 1960s. The building itself is worth a look as it is a former bank and you can see the original vault doors as well as huge leather bound archives in the basement.

Stedelijk Modern Art Museum

Stedelijk Modern Art MuseumClockwise from top left: ‘The Parakeet and the Mermaid’ by Henri Matisse; Andrew admiring ‘Two Color Frame Painting’ by Robert Mangold; a 1920s clock by Jan Eisenloeffel in the design galleries; one gallery had dancers disguised as museum staff who took visitors by surprise when they entered

Hosting a special exhibition focussing on Henri Matisse during our visit the Stedelijk Modern Art Museum is the only museum that we had to pay a surcharge (€5) to enter with the Museumkaart. We both enjoyed the Matisse exhibition as it was well set up and liberally sprinkled with works from other major artists (Van Gogh, Picasso, etc.) to add context. The remainder of the upper floor was given over to a large number of works from the second half of the 20th century while the other half of the ground floor contained a selection from the museum’s large collection of design objects.

Our Lord in the Attic

Our Lord in the Attic church

From outside, the Museum Our Lord in the Attic looks like an unassuming canal house, but climb the stairs inside and you find the top three floors have been converted into a church! This dates from the 1660s when it was forbidden for Catholics to openly practice their faith and so secret churches like this one were built. Designed to accommodate 150 worshippers, it was used for over 200 years until the law was relaxed and a new church was built.

A family trip to the heart of Dutch culture, Amsterdam

One of the questions we ask ourselves in the summary posts is “Apart from family and friends, what are you missing most about life in the UK?” and while it’s a fun way to think about the differences we experience every day, it’s probably the toughest question because we dearly miss our family and friends back home. With that said, we’ve become quite the easy solution to our family’s holiday destination conundrums, as they just ask where we’ll be at a future point in time and they come out to travel with us!

Julie’s parents joined us for a tour of northern China, her sister and family met us in Istanbul, and our great friend and quick-draw commenter extraordinaire Jo explored Vietnam and then Uzbekistan with us – and raised the quality of our editorial content with a couple of guest posts too ;o)

As we were discussing our final couple of months’ travel plans with my brother and family on Skype, we said we’d planned April would be mostly in Amsterdam. They’d booked a week or so off work in the same month but didn’t have any plans and we ended our conversation with a mutually nonchalant “we’ll look into possibly meeting up and let you know“. 2 hours later we received an ecstatically enthusiastic email from Clare that read “we’ve bought the ferry tickets – see you in Hamsterjam!Aww yeah!

Keukenhof, Holland, Netherlands

From the overnight cross-channel ferry we arranged a proper Dutch introduction to the Netherlands by meeting up at the blooming Keukenhof tulip and flower gardens! Left to right: Julie and I, Scott, Clare, Emma and Dan

Blessed with bright but occasionally brisk spring weather throughout their visit, we spent almost every day together even though our apartment was in the centre of Amsterdam and they’d booked a nice static caravan at the closest Eurocamp about an hour away. With an eye on the weekly tulip forecast, we decided to meet up at the Keukenhof gardens which was just starting to come into season..

Keukenhof – Tulips

Julie and I, Keukenhof, Holland, Netherlands

Julie and I arrived early – just enough time for a quick selfie with the tulpen! (‘tulips’ in Dutch)

The Keukenhof gardens are one of the biggest and busiest annual attractions in Holland, and we couldn’t think of a more naturally beautiful setting for a family reunion, and a typically Dutch start to their family holiday with fields of tulips, mini canals and a windmill!

Julie and I arrived a little bit early and did a quick whirlwind of the park taking far too many photographs of the tulips covered in dew glistening in the gorgeous early morning light.

Keukenhof Collage, Holland, Netherlands

It was still about a week or so too early for the tulips outside to be at their best, but there were an inexhaustible array of colours on display inside the greenhouses and outside in the other flower beds. The immaculate gardens reminded us of the manicured Japanese gardens, especially as there was an odd cherry tree in bloom here too! Clockwise from top-left: Tulips, tulips, everywhere we looked; Grape hyacinth; More tulips!; Cherry tree in beautiful full bloom; We weren’t the only ones that couldn’t stop taking photos!

We’d been eagerly anticipating our get-together as we hadn’t seen Dan, Clare and Scott for 25 months, and Emma, well, she’s 14 months old so for all we’d seen her on Skype, this was the first time we met. Scott ran to meet us with fantastic hugs but Emma took her time to decide if we were OK, and after about 10 minutes she’d made up her mind and started smiling!

Keukenhof Family Collage, Holland, Netherlands

Catching up amongst the tulips, and getting acquainted with my new niece! Clockwise from top-left: Playing with Emma and Scott; These clogs are big enough for 3! – Julie, Scott and I; Walking Emma with her Dad; Playing the (fake plastic) cheese drums with Scott!

Zaanse Schans – Windmills and old Dutch industry

The windmills of Zaanse Schans, Holland, Netherlands

The windmills of Zaanse Schans – the powerhouses of Dutch industry in the 18th and 19th centuries

Continuing our immersion in Dutch culture, we spent a day at Zaanse Schans which is a free, open-air museum showcasing the beginnings of the early industrial way of life from the 18th and 19th centuries. We especially liked the diversity of the windmills that have been saved from dereliction and destruction across the Netherlands and have been lovingly restored. I hadn’t really considered it before, but windmills can be used for all sorts of processes besides milling grain into flour, such as grinding spices, cutting trees up as a sawmill, stirring milk to make cheese and even making pigments for paint!

Inside the spice grinding windmill, Zaanse Schans, Holland, Netherlands

The spice grinding windmill was much bigger inside than we expected – it had space for 4 sets of crushing wheels all powered by the sails above. The ropes hanging down from the ceiling control the gears which start and stop each station – very clever. Oh, and it smelt wonderful inside!

Clog making demonstration at Zaanse Schans, Holland, Netherlands

Scott and I were fascinated by the clog making demonstration where they took a quarter chunk of tree and turned it into a shoe in about 6 or 7 minutes! We watched it twice and we took lots of photos, then Scott modelled some from the gift shop – what an adorable little poser!

While entrance to the area and the demonstrations are free, most of the space in the windmills and attached barns is given over to gift shops which usually have free samples! As we’d brought our own lunch it turned out to be quite a cheap family day out too.

Alkmaar – Cheese Market

Alkmaar wholesale cheese auction, Alkmaar, Holland, Netherlands

The start of the weekly “kaasmarkt” or cheese market in the small town of Alkmaar just north of Amsterdam. Here two members of the cheese carriers guild carry out special cheese barrows which weigh about 25kg each – later they’ll be loaded with 8 of the bright orange Gouda rounds, each weighing 13.5kg, that’s 130kg total!

Having frolicked through the tulips at Keukenhof and watched clogs being made in a windmill at Zaanse Schans, the only remaining experience on our fun-packed family friendly tour of Dutch culture was cheese – and we hit the jackpot!

The small town of Alkmaar is one of only 4 in the Netherlands that regularly reenacts the cheese auctions of yesteryear. This weekly show starts at 7am when the “kaaszetters” or cheese-setters unload the cheese from the local dairies onto pallets laid out in the Waagplein outside the Waaggebouw for inspection. “Waag” means weigh, “plein” means square and “gebouw” means house or building.

5 minutes before the cheese market opens, Alkmaar, Holland, Netherlands

Waiting for the cheese bell to toll – the guys in white with the coloured straw hats are the cheese runners, the guys in light blue to the left are cheese-setters (they handle the cheese directly), and the two men dressed in white coats to the far right are samplers who negotiate the prices

At 9:30 the “kaasvader” or cheese father calls the roll of cheese carriers and divides them up to cover the area of the market. At 10:00 on the dot the market officially opens with a toll of the bells from the Waaggebouw tower, and the traders and samplers start working their way around the orange carpet of creaminess knocking, sampling with a corkscrew-like doweling rod and finally cutting a cheese from each batch in half to check the number of eyes, or holes, present.

Cheese sampling, Alkmaar, Holland, Netherlands

Here a sampler and trader inspect a cheese chosen at random from a pallet in the market

Once each batch of cheese is inspected a ritual of hand slapping is performed – kind of like a cross between a handshake and a game of pat-a-cake, where the sampler and trader shout prices back and forth until they finally grasp hands in agreement – the wholesale price of the batch is set and must be weighed before purchase. This is where the cheese-runners come in..

Cheese runners at full pelt, Alkmaar, Holland, Netherlands

Having transported the cheese to the Waaggebouw for weighing, the cheese-runners then run it back through the market to be loaded onto the trader’s cart. Photo credit: Scott Freemantle

After all the excitement of hand slapping and running cheeses hither and thither we wandered the narrow cobbled pedestrian streets of Alkmaar, which felt like a mini Amsterdam with its narrower canals and leaning narrow houses.

We ended another lovely day together with Scott’s favourite lunch: cheese sandwiches – what else!

Street Art Museum Amsterdam

There are a lot of tourists in Amsterdam and it’s hard to feel like you’re not somewhere that thousands of people have been before (or actually are right now, standing in front of you, with their cameraphones at the ready), but we think we managed it at least once. Amsterdam’s Street Art Museum is in the Nieuw West district at almost the westernmost point of Amsterdam’s tram lines, in any case at the very end of line 13. And that’s where we met up with our guide Anna and the Dutch couple who were also on the tour.

'Dimension' by BtoyThis striking mural was the first that we visited – ‘Dimension’ by Btoy

Anna has an interesting biography, she grew up in the Ukraine under the Soviet Union, left at 18 to live in London before moving onto Amsterdam, Brussels and New York before settling again in Amsterdam nine years ago. A few years later she quit corporate life to found a Street Art Museum…

Van Gogh and Johan Cruyff, by UriginalRight across the street from ‘Dimension’ are a couple of familiar faces, Johan Cruyff and Van Gogh, by Uriginal

If you have a read about on the museum website you’ll find something saying ‘No we don’t have a map. We have tours’. We initially thought, OK fair enough, but in the end, stunning as the art on the walls is, it was Anna’s stories that really brought them to life. Talking essentially non-stop for three hours (and just try to get a word in!) she told us what the paintings mean (to her, to the artist, to the community), about the artists themselves and their often atypical lives, and about the difficulty of bringing the works into being.

'Safety' by AlanizNot all of the walls are bold and bright, take for example the delicately beautiful ‘Safety’ by Alaniz

'Fatherhood' by StinkfishThe paint was only just dry on ‘Fatherhood’ by Stinkfish as it was completed the day before our tour

The most shocking aspect to me was the funding, the typical amount received per wall seemed to be about €2000, seems reasonable I thought, then Anna told us that the lift rental is €800, the paint cost €600, and the artists’ plane tickets were €400 meaning that there is barely any money left over for the artist, never mind for Anna and her tireless efforts at chasing through the bureaucracy. Oh, and while they’re in Amsterdam, the artist stays in Anna’s spare room!

'Destiny' by Skount‘Destiny’ by Skount has a very sad story hidden in its details but you’ll have to join a tour to find out what it is

Having seen Johannes Vermeer’s famous ‘The Milkmaid’ in the Rijksmuseum we loved ‘Glory’ by El Pez and Danny Recall.

Old and new MilkmaidVermeer’s ‘The Milkmaid’ in the Rijksmuseum and the Street Art Museum version showing a cheeky bit of leg and surrounded by colourful parrots!

The timelapse video of the creation of ‘Glory’ is jaw-dropping… (video credit: Anna Stolyarova)

'Altruism' by Spok with 'Fertility' by Skount in the backgroundAnna in front of ‘Altruism’ by Spok with ‘Fertility’ by Skount in the background. These pieces will soon be lost as this housing estate is slated for demolition.

Detail of 'Altruism' by SpokDetail of ‘Altruism’ by Spok. His technical skill is really obvious here, this is all done with spraycans, just look at the depth and range of colour that he’s managed to achieve

'Pain and Relief' by Bastardilla‘Pain and Relief’ by Bastardilla was the museum’s first work

Dutch weather clockWhen a 60 year old professional mural painter approached her to contribute a work to the museum, Anna was keen to see what he would do. This version of a traditional Dutch weather clock took longer to complete than any of the museum’s other walls – notice how meticulously measured all the bricks on the painted telecoms box are!

'Industrialisation' by La IraNote how the two pipes sticking out of the top of the building have been cleverly incorporated into ‘Industrialisation’ by La Ira

Towards the end of the tour was an area with some smaller works, all by different artists and very diverse. I love ‘Let Her Be Free’ with a woman in a headscarf of birds by Iranian duo Icy and Sot, she’s the new lock screen on my iPad (bottom left on the collage below).

Street Art Museum, Amsterdam

The last wall that we visited was ‘Tolerance’ by Alaniz, a nice nod to the multicultural diversity of Nieuw West. Anna sees the community as an essential part of the museum’s work and actively looks to include residents in the process. She explained how before any work begins they go door-to-door to speak to all of the building’s residents and get their approval of the plans, as well as encouraging them to visit during the work and inviting them to a completion party.

'Tolerance' by Alaniz‘Tolerance’ by Alaniz

You can book a tour of the Street Art Museum Amsterdam through the website, we highly recommend it.

The Canals and Architecture of Amsterdam

Often called the Venice of the north, a subtitle claimed by other notable European cities such as St. Petersberg, Bruges, and er, Manchester, Amsterdam is famously known for its canals – it has more than any other city in the world – 60 miles of them in total!

Amsterdam canal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

As I’m sure we’ve written about before, one of the first things we like to do when we arrive in a new place is to wander the streets nearby to get our bearings, scope out the local amenities and to get a feel for the neighbourhood. Even better if there are self-guided walks, which for European cities are easier to find, and we’ve particularly enjoyed Rick Steve’s audio tours.

Amsterdam canal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

We started with his guided walk through the city which includes a nice overview of Dutch history and took us to some of the quieter areas just off the main canals and streets. In our apartment we also found a canals walk in the DK Eyewitness Travel book that starts in the central Dam Square, takes a counterclockwise route through the main circular rings of canals: the Singel, Keizersgracht, Herengracht, Reguliersgracht and ends where Prinsengracht meets the Amstel.

Dam Square, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The centre of the city, Dam Square. The white sculpture is the National Monument – dedicated to the memory of the casualties of World War II and subsequent armed conflicts. Thankfully there weren’t any casualties of the armed conflict taking place here on the 4th of April, as it was International Pillow Fight Day!

After a couple of years of bad floods at the start of the 12th century, the locals built a dam across the Amstel river, and the area became known as “Aemstelredamme” – literally “Dam on the Amstel” – which over time and use was shortened to “Amsterdam”. The Dam Square is the location of this original dam and remains to this day the centre of the city.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The start of the Canals walk in the DK Eyewitness Travel guide.

Keizersgracht, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Keizersgracht means “emperor’s canal”, the white building in the middle (no. 319) was constructed in 1639 and has a beautifully ornate façade of scrolls, vases and garlands. The building to the left of it is reportedly where Russian Czar Peter the Great stopped on his first trip to Amsterdam and got drunk with friends, while the mayor waited at a civic reception further down the canal!

345a Keizersgracht, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam’s tall, narrow houses are part necessity, part practicality and part financial, some of which are really narrow – like 345a Keizersgracht.. it even has two front doors so it’s actually 2 separate apartments!

As the city is built on reclaimed marshland, the topsoil is pretty unstable which limits the weight of the buildings. This means they’re all pretty uniform in height and generally constructed of lighter materials (sandstone and brick) and feature large windows to keep the overall weight down.

Keizersgracht, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Houses were taxed on their width, with canal-facing ones attracting the highest rents. It was said that the richest were those that lived on the inside of the canal bend – they’d pay the highest taxes but have the least amount of living space!

The majority date from the Dutch Golden Age of trading and were built by merchants who also wanted to use some of the space for storage, so the roofline includes a beam and pulley for hoisting goods and furniture. To prevent damaging the expensive façade as they were moved up and down, the buildings also lean into the street.

Roof pulleys, Amsterdam, Netherlands

It was rare to find a house without the pulley and wheel in the roof, and we passed a few houses being renovated that had ropes attached so they’re very much still in use

39 Reguliersgracht, Amsterdam, Netherlands

39 Reguliersgracht looks like it’s preparing to dive head-first into the canal!

No two houses are the same, even neighbouring ones built at the same time differ in features or decoration as the owners sought to display their individuality. We especially liked the different shaped gables, and marvelled that some of the really crooked corner buildings were still standing!

Canal boats, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Certain designated wider canals are lined with an equally diverse collection of semi-permanent house boats. Ranging from canal-boats to modified commercial vessels, simple floating boxes to elaborate two-storey houses, they all have addresses and most are hooked up to the city’s water and electricity supplies