It hardly gets more touristy than this, right?
Because I usually prefer to tick off a handful of landmarks off my proverbial bucket list and then set off to discover the city’s cool, more authentic neighborhoods, hopping on a canal cruise was of course never part of my master plan in Amsterdam. Not that there’s anything wrong with it – it’s just not something I would normally do (mostly because I’m cheap and dislike paying for attractions).
Amsterdam was the 7th city on my grand Northern Europe Eurail trip, and at that point I had been battling the flu for a few days. I didn’t have it in me to explore the city on my own two feet, but I couldn’t bare the idea of sleeping it off in my hotel room. What a waste that would have been! The cruise was exactly what I needed. And bonus points for the very entertaining guide on board!
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
This is one of the unique perspectives that only canal cruises offer: the Seven Bridges point. It’s the only spot in the whole city where you can see seven bridges line up behind the other in the distance. Sure, you sort of need a magnifying glass to actually see the said bridges, but still. Pretty awesome.
One of the biggest problems with the canals is what goes in and on it – on purpose or by accident. Up until a few years ago, there were no railings around the canal, meaning that anything with a set of wheels could simply roll into the canal overnight and disappear in the dark waters forever. Incidentally, over 75,000 bikes are found in the canals of Amsterdam every year! Insurance companies eventually decided that enough was enough, and that they were no longer going to pay for incidents involving canals. This had to be about money right? Because Netherlands.
Speaking of dirt… Rumor has it that the Heineken brewery uses canal water for its beer production – but only for international client! Locals can drink regular, pollution-free Heineken. Urban legend, I hope?
Another interesting fact that I learned during the canal cruise was about Anne Frank’s House – did you know that the renovations were made possible because Steven Spielberg donated the profits generated by The Schindler’s List to the museum? The Anne Frank House Museum is one of the most interesting, oddly fascinating and moving museums I have ever visited.
This is the legendary bicycle-park near Amsterdam Centraal station – more than 10,000 bikes park there daily, and it’s not even close to what the real demand is. Our guide estimated that around 15,000 more spaces would be necessary to accommodate everybody, in this section of the city only. Amsterdam does not kid with its bikes – more than just a lethal danger to lunatic tourists, they’re an intrinsic part of the city’s identity, just as the canals.