Amsterdam

The focus of this post isn’t an amazing landscape or a beautiful castle, but a quaint city located in the Netherlands.  This was my second time in Amsterdam, and I had forgotten how scenic it actually is.  When thinking of Amsterdam, some things that might come to mind are the “coffee shops” and Red Light District, but there is also a lot to take in from the city if you aren’t there to party.  The beautiful canals, lined with boats, trees, and cars, are one of the main charms of the city (I especially like the Jordaan neighborhood near the Anne Frank House).  I had previously visited Amsterdam in February and was determined this year to go in the fall so I could see the trees with their foliage.  It was definitely worth the trip as you will see in my pictures that the trees were just starting to change color when I arrived in late October.  During my time there, I fell in love with the city, especially from an urban design standpoint, and promised myself that I would live or study there for at least a year during my life.

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Trees starting to display their fall foliage in the Jordaan neighborhood.

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The canal streets are so quaint, yet contain an incredible amount of detail.  The building facades, cars, benches, lamp posts, and boats all contribute to the charm of the city.

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The variety of  boats was interesting as well – ranging from small row boats to modest houseboats.

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The building on the corner caught my eye – not many places will you find buildings constructed with acute angles.

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Because Amsterdam is located in Northern Europe, you need to always be prepared for not-so-ideal weather.  In this photo a storm is beginning to form over one of the larger canals.

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 I really was interested in the perspective of this photo, with the curved/sloped foreground of the street and the rigid grid-like canal in the background.

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An example of the interesting architecture of Amsterdam – every building is different in some way, but they all work well together.

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My favorite aspect of Amsterdam is definitely the biking culture of the city.  The streets are not only expertly designed with generous bike lanes to accommodate a large amount of bicycle traffic, but also allow for other forms of transportation including trams, cars, and buses.  While there I rented a bike for around 10 euros a day (Yellow Bike), and I am convinced that this is the only way to see the city.  As long as you are aware of what’s going on around you, biking is completely safe and will get you exactly where you need to go at all times of the day.  When you see something interesting and want to stop, all you have to do is hop off and lock the bike up, rather than searching for a parking space or coordinating with a tram stop.  Even as a pedestrian, you do not have the right-of-way in many situations, and if not careful, you will find yourself being run over by a cyclist.  Pay attention to the signs though, some of the smaller streets and sidewalks are pedestrian only, and you must push your bike through.

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While taking a biking break, my friend and I were approached by a photographer who liked our yellow bikes and wanted to include us in her album of the city.  This is one the resulting photos!  Photo Credit: Irene Berestovskaya – You can check out her upcoming website here:  www.berestovskaya.com

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The perfect village.

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Houseboats lining one of the main canals.

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A nice mix of building facades – I think this was around the Anne Frank House.

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Be sure to have at least one Heineken while you’re in here.  Brewed in Amsterdam, it won’t taste any better than it will within the city limits.  Eat or drink at one the cafes or bars that have sidewalk seating and dining options, as it is a relaxing way to take in the incredible amount of activity happening on the streets.

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Beautiful vegetation growing up the sides of this street-corner building.

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You could see this tower from everywhere – it serves as a good landmark to orient yourself with.

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I feel that this picture sums up Amsterdam – outdoor seating for the cafe along the canal, guy in a red velvet jacket playing a guitar, Heineken sign on the cafe, and of course a few bikes locked up on the railing.  A very relaxing and chill place.

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Some of the boats lining the canals are pretty rundown, while others are fairly new.  Here is an example of the latter.

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The Lamp post and signage are just a few examples of the things that give the city of Amsterdam an unique character.

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Once you venture out of the quaint areas around the main train station, you will notice that Amsterdam is a rather large city for how small and quiet it looks.  In this photo, you can see some of the larger, modern buildings that lie on the outskirts of the city center.

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These buildings are massive – you can find them behind the central station along the large waterway.

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