What better way to orient yourself in this city of canals than to take a boat trip? We queued for our ticket shortly after arriving in the city, having to wait only about ten minutes for the boat to arrive, the previous tourists to disembark, and us to start finding a seat. Don’t agonise over which side of the boat to sit on, because you will get decent views of the city from either side. After we’d settled, the captain had to make a series of delicate maneuvers to turn the boat facing the right direction. It was hard to hold back the spontaneous applause, despite the fact that the guy had done this several hundreds of times before.
The guided tour offered a commentary of the major sights in an unhurried and not overly intrusive manner. The boat weaves its way up and down the Amsterdam canals, cautiously proceeding over the many junctions. After a time, it gets a little difficult to decide whether or not you’ve passed down a canal earlier, as even the waterside houses take on a very similar appearance. Many exude wealth and would be able to tell fantastic stories of the days when Amsterdam was a thriving trading port. Marvel at the amazingly high windows as posh houses rub shoulders with grand warehouses and gaze on the extravagant façades of many of the houses.
There are so many bridges (over 1,200 in total), and their design features differ greatly. The "standard" arched is by far the most common and I guess the most inconvenient, as it prohibits two boats passing under at the same time. I’m not sure what the protocol is, but I did detect that the "driver" of one other vessel incurred the wrath of ours. The grand ornately carved multi-arched bridge that stands proudly over the canal and the utilitarian specimen under which we could hear the rushing of tyres as cyclists pedalled furiously over them. We glimpsed the famous Magere Grug ("skinny bridge"), and I was moderately disappointed to hear that this was a 1960’s replica
of the 1670s bridge. Realistically, I knew it couldn’t be the original, but I would have like it to be. It is fascinating to watch the raising mechanism at work, if you get the chance.
At one point we ventured out to sea—the water became much choppier and there were signs of industrial Amsterdam. We sailed past "The Amsterdam," a colourful replica of an 1854 clipper. This is part of one of Amsterdam’s many museums but we were just happy to view and photograph it from our boat. Quite close to here was the impressive liner like building that is NEMO, an interactive science museum. What inspiration to integrate a building into the watery surrounds!
We enjoyed the trip but not sure how it helped orient us. It seems to me Amsterdam is confusing to sail through and to walk round. We were constantly lost!