Walking Tour of Amsterdam

Taking walking tours of a city can be a great way to learn interesting facts about a city as well as see important landmarks. The walking tour that we took in Amsterdam was interesting as it was a free tour where participants are asked to pay the tour guide what they felt was a fair price for the tour that they received. In some ways it forces the tour guide to be more creative, informative, and lively. We are sure that most people pay the same prices as the other paid tours, but you aren’t obligated.

IMGP2114

Our Tour Guide

IMGP2123

Crossing a Canal

IMG_4475

Us on the Tour

The tour that we took combined information about the “coffee houses”, the red light district, the history of Amsterdam in World War II, as well as just the general history of the city. We heard many interesting facts and folklore about this city that was built on swampland so many years ago. According to folklore, the first settlers in the area that is now the city of Amsterdam did so as the result of a bet. The first couple of attempts to populate the area failed as the buildings sank into the marsh land. In order to finally build the city, they pounded poles made from trees that are up to 100 feet tall into the moist ground to stabilize the buildings. Eventually they used wind mills to pump the water out and create the canals that crisscross the city.

IMGP2087

The Palace Sits on Thousands of Wooden Poles

IMGP2107

Our Meeting Place

IMGP2142

Learning about the Family Plaques

As for the coffee houses and the history of pot or Marijuana in Amsterdam. We were actually surprised to hear that marijuana is not actually legal in Amsterdam, but they issue permits for the coffee houses to sell marijuana, kind of an odd arrangement. Because it not actually legal, you won’t see any signs specifically saying that they sell marijuana and hence the reason that they are considered and marketed as coffee houses. The story we were told of the first coffee house in the seventies was that the police knew that the owner was selling marijuana, but that heroin use and addicts were a much bigger problem, so they turned a blind-eye to the coffee house and it spread from there. We were also told that  Amsterdam took a unique approach to combating heroin as they house the addicts and provide them food, clean lodging, and heroin, which keeps them off of the streets. In fact we did not see anyone begging for food or money on the streets of Amsterdam during our time there. Unfortunately, because it is not legal, but tolerated, the coffee houses have to purchase their marijuana from typical drug cartels, which is not helpful for society in general.

IMGP2082

Canal with Boat Tours

IMGP2117

First Autopsies Conducted Here, Which is Now a Restaurant

IMG_4433

The Start of Our Tour

As for the red light district, we just did a quick pass through the streets and wandered passed a couple of the famous windows. It is another unique approach to a controversial topic, but the people of Amsterdam have a live and let live attitude in general, so they are far more tolerant than people in other parts of Europe or the world. The local prostitution union even offers classes for aspiring prostitutes, but the number of windows available for them to use is shrinking as gentrification has started to modify the area. Another interesting fact was that the church in the red light district used to have the sailors pay for their sins before they spent a night of debauchery. Since they wouldn’t have time to go to church prior to having to return to their ships, they would confess what they intended to do with their free time in the red light district, pay for their sins, and then were absolved allowing them to have comfort if they should die during their next voyage.

IMGP2125

Church in the Red Light District

IMGP2141

Family Plaques

IMGP2127

Leaning Buildings

Other interesting places that we saw were the smallest house in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House, and learned about the leaning houses that line the canal. Each of the buildings that line the canals have hooks near the roof and the buildings lean slightly forward so that they could use pulleys to raise heavy objects to the upper floors since the stairs are so narrow. If buildings are leaning left or right, that is due to them sinking slightly and it is not intentional. About the only thing that we don’t like about the walking tours is that they almost always bring to a store or two to try some local favorites, like cheese, with the hope that you will buy items from that particular store, most likely producing a kickback to the tour company.

IMGP2155

The Red House is the Smallest House in Amsterdam

IMG_4490

Anne Frank House in the Distance

IMGP2161

Notice the Hooks

If you get a chance to go to Amsterdam, we would highly recommend taking a walking tour, you will enjoy it. In fact, we would recommend taking walking tours in many cities, even cities in your own local area or the city that you live in. You might be surprised by the things that you learn about a place you thought you already knew.

IMGP2159

Canal that Anne Frank Saw Daily

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Netherlands, Travel Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Walking Tour of Amsterdam

  1. dinkytravels says:

    Thanks for this , doing a quick visit in three weeks time and looking forward!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We went to Amsterdam a few years ago and visited the Anne Frank house, Van Gogh Museum, Cheese factory, wooden thong factory and the diamond factory. We rode the boat on the river. It was a fun trip. Your wonderful photos remind me of our trip. Thank you for sharing. Miriam
    Anyway, I have a new site link – https://theshowerofblessings.wordpress.com

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Loved this post! Good to hear about the history of Amsterdam!! A lot of people seem to ignore it

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ling Ling says:

    Naww a lovely summary! Can’t wait to go..good tip about noticing the nooks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Helette says:

    Absolutely LOVE Amsterdam and it’s the best city for walking x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Leen says:

    Great post! We visited Amsterdam last year and loved everything about it! The bikes, canals, houses…
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Walking Tour of Amsterdam – Trrvel

  8. zaelysuk says:

    Hope you hd a nice time in my city!!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s