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Venice of the North

There can be little doubt about the canal credentials of Amsterdam, "the Dam on the River Amstel" - the city had lots of them. It has been coined the Venice of the North, but I dare say, not quite as beautiful or romantic.

But a great city nonetheless and a great place for a city break.

We had less than 24 hours to take a look around, so naturally didn't stray too far from the Centraal Station and the heart of the old town, and it gave us some great images to share.

When you arrive in Amsterdam by train you arrive at the Centraal Station, a magnificent building, full of craftsmanship and ornate construction skills.

Centraal Station, Amsterdam

Immediately as you exit the front entrance, you are greeted by water - one of the many canals that help give the place its nickname.

The bridge leads you over from the station to hotels and museums, cafes and restaurants in the old town.

the Canals of Amsterdam

We were hungry when we arrived and spotted a very well-known eatery, The Grasshopper, so headed straight there - bright green signs on the outside of a traditional building, but the inside was just wow!

the interior of The Grasshopper in Amsterdam

The food was decent too, given where we were, so after that, it was time to explore some canals and we boarded one of the many small tourist boats moored nearby.

Pretty soon we were out onto the canal system.

One-way canals, two-way canals, narrow canals, busy canals - the city has them all, and as you will see they also have lots and lots of bicycles.

the canals of Amsterdam

You can be cruising down the canal and all along the walls above are parked up bicycles, it is quite an amazing sight really.

bicycles parked next to the canal in Amsterdam

It is not all narrow tall walled canals through.

There are large basins of water every so often, and this allows you to get a view of some of the different bridges that span the canals and connect people.

the cantilever canl bridge in Amsterdam

And of course, people also live on the water.

There are houseboats and working boats side by side on the water's edge.

boats on the canal in Amsterdam

We hopped off our boat as we reached close to the city centre again after completing a large loop and discovering all sorts of interesting things.

We thought a coffee stop on a bench would be a good place to people-watch and discover more about what makes the city work so well.

Architecture is amazing, and of course, more and more bicycles - all neatly parked up, some appearing to have been there for months, if not years, but all untouched and largely undamaged.

bikes in the city centre of Amsterdam

Of course, the city is also famous for its liberal approach to sex and drugs, and the famous "red light" district is housed right next to the Oude Kerk (the old church) which seemed really odd at the time.

De Oude Kerk in Amsterdam

Our final stop was for something a little more substantial and being a big fan of the obscure European beers, we found this little place to be just about perfect.

the beers of Amsterdam

We barely scratched the surface with our whistle-stop tour, but hopefully, we have given you a flavour of the place and what you can expect.


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