So - Amsterdam!
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and spent five hours seeing the city by three different modes of transport.
"We" incidentally are a bus-load of 48 travellers, mostly Americans and Australians with about four from Canada, and four or five of us from New Zealand. Our Tour Director Graham was born and grew up in New Zealand before taking himself off to settle in UK. Many of the Americans have been to New Zealand (Queenstown) and all have a good impression of it/us. Not so much of our neighbours across the Tassy. But we're a pleasant group. They are nice people! It seems a relaxing way to holiday around foreign countries!
So firstly, we went on an orientation drive around the city. Sunday afternoon, sunny, families out biking, dining, groups out shopping, smoking, dining, hanging out. Tall thin houses, busy, crowded, cyclists have their own paths, but there are cyclists EVERYWHERE!! On their paths, the road, the footpath... Looks like a great place to meet up with people.
Then we went for a walk around the city. Oh my days! At ground level this place is CHAOTIC!! Although there are cycling paths, and roads, there are pedestrians and cyclists all over the place - walking around, there seems to be no clear delineation between street/traffic/bikes. Cyclists do have their own traffic system alongside that of other vehicles.
My city, Hastings, New Zealand has introduced cycle lanes on the road between the car parking and driving lanes. Holland is often quoted as being the example. But over here, the cyclist has kudos. Dedicated traffic system. Not just lanes, but in many places separate cycling roads.
Part of the walk took us through the Red Light District. Now we were warned, I need to say that. But hey, I'm mature, I know about stuff, you know, I'm not very shockable. And I was shocked. These were real people, displaying their attractions in their ground-floor windows just a metre from us. From people passing by. The streets here are very very narrow. We were told no cameras but the Americans among us couldn't resist. Not all - I must say that a couple of them pronounced their moral righteousness and declined to take part in this section of the walk. But it was sad to see these young women degrading themselves in public on a Sunday afternoon with children playing nearby and tourists gawking.
For the rest of it - at ground level I found Dam Square and the area around to be noisy, dirty, crowded, and dangerous with the mix of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. Did test the frites - hot chips with a mayonnaise like (but different-tasting). Was pleased to move on to the next part, the canal cruise.
Ah the waterways! Best told by photos! Lovely! Quiet, busy, just delightful and the perfect antidote to Amsterdam on foot.