As the title says, this post is about Amsterdam. Had been to Amsterdam twice. Both times it was a short trip, time stolen from my busy schedule. First time I went there from Brussels on my way back during gloomy winter days. It was a Sunday. Took an early train to Amsterdam from where I had to take my flight for Mumbai. It is just an hour’s train journey. Sometimes (well.. all the time) I feel it is easier to go from one country to another in Europe than to travel from one city to another back home.
First see below the two photos of the same place, Amsterdam Central Station, one during winter & the other one taken recently in summer. How gloomy it looks in winters.
Name:- The name Amsterdam literally means Amstel dam. The meaning of Amestelledamme is dam on the river Amstel, where Amstel can be further dissected into ‘ame’ meaning water and ‘stelle’ meaning dry ground. The damming of the river Amstel gave it its name. In Dutch, their native language, Amstelredam means “Dam in the Amstel” turned into Amsterdam in the course of time.
According to legend, Amsterdam was found by two fishermen, who landed on the shores of the Amstel in a small boat with their dog. So, Amsterdam began as a fishing village. And yes, like Venice it is a city of canals. And that was my foremost reason to visit this amazing city.
The life of Amsterdam has been its aquatic locale, close as it is to the North Sea and built on myriad canals, which neatly divide the city into easily navigable districts and imbue it with a small town ambiance. It looked like there was a canal around every corner in Amsterdam – not too surprising, considering that the city is home to more canals than Venice.
Almost half of Amsterdam is below sea level so the occasional Western storm brings a lot of water at once, and all of it has to be pumped out to higher ground and to the seas around the city. These bodies of water make winter days very cloudy and damp.
Public transport in Amsterdam mainly consists of bus, trams and ferries. The above picture is of an old tram. I heard that ferries operate free of charge for pedestrians and cyclists across the IJ lake just to encourage the environment friendly modes of transport. Most main streets have bike paths. In the city centre, driving a car is discouraged. Parking fees are steep and a great number of streets are closed to cars or are one-way.
Amsterdam is also famous for its red-light area. Window prostitution is legal in the Netherlands at specific places. The red-light district is located in the centre of the city along with major canals and is clearly marked on maps.
I didn’t have time to explore much, just clicked some photos before heading to the airport. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is less than 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station. It is the biggest airport in the Netherlands, the fourth largest in Europe.
My next post is going to be on the famous garden of tulips.. Keukenhof Garden.