When it comes to experiencing a city like Amsterdam, built as it is on a tightly-knit web of interlocking canals that wind around like a maze, finding someone who can row/steer, and persuading them to let you onto a boat, is just a necessity!
My friends and I felt it was hightime for a waterborne adventure. So, when we found out our friend Stefan was willing to take his boat out on trips, we jumped at the chance!
We met Stefan (‘Captain Stefan’) with the boat at Bloemgracht, not far from the centre of town, and climbed in.
Stefan piled us with blankets, as it gets suprisingly cold being on the water
But as soon as we were moving it was smiles all round!
It was SO relaxing to lie back and watch Amsterdam pass by as we sailed blissfully along, listening to music and chatting.
…just hoping our driver didn’t let us crash!
…Only joking, he was a great captain!
We started our journey at the top of the Jordaan canals.
Oude Kerk is Amsterdam’s oldest building, at an amazing 800 years old, and is a notable landmark.
We passed a lot of tourist boats, which are the typical way to experience Amsterdam by water. I have been on them twice, and although it is a nice thing to do for sure, you do feel very enclosed, and the boat itself is very loud. We definitely felt pleased to be with Captain Stefan!
We enjoyed the reflections on the water..
And looking at the varied designs of the canal houses. Usually you just zip by on your bicycle, or speed along without really looking.
We did see a transport option that we would have considered over our boat….
And the variety amongst the canal boats was cool too- I loved this blue one
But a few of them need a lick of a paint (and some)
We came out of “canal land” (as I like to call it) and emerged through the dock to Amstel river.
Now out in the open air, the wind was blowing like mad and the temperature had dropped further, but it looked Dam (hoho) beautiful!
Stefan offered us the chance to drive, and Anna bravely took him up!
As we directed out of the river and towards the centre of town, we passed groups of people hanging out on their boats with some beers. A charming sight!
We passed the ballet house and museums by the water
And quirky restaraunts on the edges of the narrow canals as we came through to the Red Light District.
Eventually we came round to Centraal Station, which looked beautiful and glittering gold in the early evening light.
As the sun went down, we sailed back towards the Bloemgracht through the Jordaan via the Herengracht.
Herengracht literally means Gentleman’s canal, and it is where Amsterdam’s wealth is historically centered, in it’s grand warehouses, banks, company HQ’s, etc. It really has a very distinct feel of tradition and hereditary positioning, quite apart from the diversity you find everywhere else.
We sailed back onto Prinsengracht, passing the long queue to the Anne Frank house….
And an on-canal cat sanctuary!
It is a completely unique sanctuary for stray and abandoned cats, and its unique status has made it a world-famous tourist destination!
The sun was setting as we arrived back at the boat’s resting place
And our 2 hour jaunt on the water was over!
l would really recommend taking a trip around the canals (and the river too) to anyone visiting Amsterdam. Although you definitely don’t see the whole city and it’s sights- far from it- you get a real sense of the chilled out atmosphere that Amsterdam embodies. It is the complete opposite experience you get from biking around the city, and that is what makes it feel so special!
Stefan is also happy for me to give his details to any interested boat-trippers!
That’s all for now,