Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A City of Contrast - Part 2.

Amsterdam is a city rich in culture and contrast.  The best way to explore is by foot, tram or go local and get yourself a bike.  I was tempted but had the feeling I would probably end up hurting myself, someone else or splashing around in one of the canals if I had taken a bike!

At least by foot you get the chance to look at all the glorious architecture that is everywhere.
Dutch Renaissance, Bavarian and a couple of Gothic buildings sit comfortably alongside modern statements in parks and squares whilst large open green spaces and boulevards are everywhere.  Amsterdam is so open and green and leafy it is hard to believe that you are in a city.
Mr M was a big fan of the tall skinny buildings wedged along the canals with the red shutters and balconies.  They are particularly striking and while I think that the facades are a lot more recent than the actual buildings, they add to the character of the city.
Acknowledgement of Amsterdam's artistic history can be found everywhere, from the recently opened Van Gough museum to the Foam photography museum and the abundance of street art.
 Ornately wrought cast iron street lamps litter the city. 

Bikes are as intrinsic to the city as the water is.  Cyclists have right of way everywhere and the sound of bells warning pedestrians to move is constant.  Bike theft is considered worse than car theft.  Bikes come in every shape and colour, with baskets and barrows.  Children ride in seats behind their parents or perched on the front while it is common to see young lovers sharing a bike through the uneven streets.
Tiny independent shops thrive, steps dipping below street level while their owners lounge in the sunshine on the pavement chairs and cushions.  Cafe Culture is a term that is often thrown around but it thrives in Amsterdam with cafe's being a hub of activity and socialisation.  Artwork is everywhere.
Culture and history is on every street corner, reminding you of Amsterdam's diverse and sometimes conflicted history.
 There are also nods to the traditional stereotypical images of the Dutch.  Clogs are in abundance.
A World Heritage Site, Amsterdam is a dynamic, lively and extremely picturesque city. 

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