12.08.2007 -17 °C
Saturday, June 23
57° and cloudy
Breakfast: Fruit, cereal, roll, O.J., coffee
7:30AM Packed our carry-on clothing, etc. and waited for “Pink 2” - our departure order - to be announced over the speakers.
8:15AM Early departure from our planned 9:00AM meeting for our reserved taxi.
9:15AM Our taxi arrived and we left for Amsterdam. This was a comfortable ride to our Swissotel, arriving at 10:00AM. Rooms would not be ready until afternoon. We were located in the center of the city at Dam Square. There was intermittent rain, as we walked along the crowded streets. We had time for a pizza before returning the the hotel and found our room 231 ready - nice accommodations with a large room, plenty of windows to view the neighboring Burger King and other shops below. We also had a convenient key-card use for the elevator and our room.
Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands, located in the south of the province North Holland. The city was founded in the late 12th century as a small fishing village at the mouth of the river Amstel. The name Amsterdam literally means Amstel dam. Population: 743,027. It is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands and one of the most important cities in Europe. It was very crowded this weekend.
1:15 - 2:15PM Time for some rest.
2:15 - 5:00 We took a canal cruise (1 hour) and saw numerous, permanent house boats - some with adjacent decks and flowers. Merchants, traders, bankers, ship owners built their houses in the city. Amsterdam grew five times bigger within a century, and the canal houses from that time form the today's city landscape. Most of them are single, narrow town houses. We noted a number of the buildings having hoist beams projecting from the top gable area. We were told that these were hoist beams, used to unload furniture through the windows, as there was not enough space to haul them up the narrow stairways. "Gable" refers to the front apex of a roof. It disguised the steepness of the roof under which goods were stored. In time, gables became decorated with scrolls, crests, and even coats of arms. We traveled a number of canals and passed under many bridges.
5:30PM Stopped at KFC for chicken wrap, fries and Pepsi. This, like all the other eateries, was very crowded on this weekend.
More walking. At Dam Square we came across several street performers, who knew how to gather a crowd and demonstrate their specialties: juggling, unicycle, hand tricks, a Houdini-type escape from a straight jacket. It was all very entertaining.
Walk today: 3.9 Miles