Man on bicycle with flowers and dogs.


by Eve Andersson

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Amsterdam is a city of enchanting canals, charming architecture, liberal attitudes, and ubiquitous bicycles. It is a delightful city to visit -- to walk around and absorb the atmosphere or to enjoy a meal at one of the many outdoor cafés.


Amsterdammers are avid bicyclists, so experienced and/or confident that they can be carrying passengers, chatting on the phone, and holding bags of groceries simultaneously while pedaling. Most bicycles are single-gear, often old and rusty. Bicycles are a natural, seamless part of people's daily lives, so much so that people ride in any kind of clothing, never donning helmets or, heaven forbid, padded cycling shorts. This phenomenon may explain Amsterdammers' svelteness.

A few of the photos below contain bicylists with their dogs (if you look closely, there are two dogs in the photo at the top of this page, too). The first bicycle below is a "Just Married" bike.

Just Married bicycle. Bicyclist with dog in basket. Bicyclist with dog.  Jordaan district. Bicyclist pulling dog. Graffiti and bicycles, Centrum district. Bicycle on bridge.  Stallstraat, over Kloveniersburgwal, Centrum district. Bicyclist with kids. Bicyclists, Dam Square, Centrum district. Bicyclist holding umbrella.  Dam Square, Centrum district. Colorfully dressed woman riding bicycle.  Bridge over Singel canal, Centrum district. Bicycle decorated with flowers. Bike parking lot near Centraal train station.

Architecture and Canals

The city center contains many canals, both wide boating thoroughfares as well as smaller, more intimate waterways. Streets teem with closely-packed houses, many of which are tall and narrow, often quite old (17th century) and sometimes tilting forward over the sidewalk or leaning into neighboring houses. Houseboats are common to see on the canals, and some look quite comfortable, with patios and elaborate gardens.

Building on Leidsestraat at night, Centrum district. Barefoot woman enjoying the sun by a canal.  Leidsegracht, Jordaan district. Houseboat with interesting mailbox.  Prinsengracht, Jordaan district. Zuiderkerk (Southern Church), viewed from Staatstraat, Centrum district. Houseboats, Centrum district. Building with red shutters and Manzano Restaurant.  Rozengracht, Jordaan district. House built in 1627 on Spuistraat, Centrum district. Building built in 1735 on Korte Reguliersdwarsstraat, Centrum district. Spuistraat, Centrum district. Buildings on Singel street, Centrum district. De Blauwe Pan (The Blue Pan), Westerstraat, Jordaan district. Munttoren (Mint tower), viewed from Kalverstraat.  Centrum district. Church at Spui and Singel, Centrum district. Heron. Egelantiersgracht canal, Jordaan district. Blauwbrug (Blue Bridge), Centrum district. Buildings on Singel street, Centrum district. Drawbridge on Staalstraat, over Kloveniersburgwal, Centrum district. Damrak, Centrum district. Dock with flowers, Singel canal, Centrum district. Singel canal, Centrum district. Houseboat with furniture on top, Prinsengracht canal, Jordaan district. Kees de Jongenbrug, Jordaan district. Restaurant with floating outdoor patio.  Egelantiersgracht canal, Jordaan district. Canal and houses, Red Light district. Canal in Centrum district, night. Duck with ducklings in nest built on tire.  Egelantiersgracht canal, Jordaan district. Waag (Old Weighing House).  Red Light district. Centraal train station. Amstel canal, Centrum district. Bridge across Nieuweherengracht at Amstel canal, Centrum district. Amstel canal at night, Centrum district. Koninklijk Paleis (palace), Dam Square, Centrum district. Building on IJ river. Caf?e Jaren.  Kloveniersburgwal, Centrum district. Opera house.  Centrum district. Prinsengracht canal at night, Jordaan district. Building on Stadhouderskade, Centrum district. Houseboat.  Prinsengracht, Jordaan district. Restaurant boat.  Prinsengracht, Jordaan district. Douwes Fine Art, with blossoming trees. Stadhouderskade, Museumplein. Fo Guang Shan He Hua temple, a.k.a. Zeedijk Tempel, Red Light district. Back of Oude Kerk, Red Light district.

Art and Monuments

The triangular monument below is the Homomonument, which "commemorates all homosexual men and women who have been, or are still being, persecuted and murdered by government regimes who denounce their very existence," according to its web site. The shape represents the triangular patches homosexual men were required to wear in Nazi concentration camps.

Homomonument, Centrum district. Castigatio. Sculpture of woman punishing two criminals.  Kalverstraat, Centrum district. "Dat rosa mel apibus in liefde bloeiende" (something about blooming love). Egelantiersgracht canal, Jordaan district. Couple on Bench, Nieuwmarkt, Red Light district. Tante Leen, Manke Nelis, Johnny Meyer, and Johnny Jordan.  Landsgracht, near Prinsengracht, Jordaan district.

Snake painting on building, with bikes in front.  Spuistraat, Centrum district. Building with BOOM painted on it on Spuistraat, Centrum district. Rabbit graffiti.  Red Light district. Graffiti.  Spuistraat, Centrum district. Casino on Oudezijds Achterburgwal and Oude Doelen with painting by Harold Thornton.  Red Light district.

Red Light District

Among the historic buildings and canals in the Red Light district of Amsterdam, one readily encounters legal prostitution, sex shops and shows, and drugs. These things can also be found in other areas of this tolerant city, but not at such concentrated levels.

Bananenbar, Red Light district. Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum, Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Red Light district. Adonis Cinema, Red Light district. Alien using drugs, storefront, Centrum/Red Light district. Magic mushroom sign, Centrum/Red Light district. Sculpture of hand and breasts embedded in sidewalk.  Red Light district. Prostitutes.  Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Red Light district. Women dressed in schoolgirl clothes, corner of Prins Hendrikkade and Nieuwendijk, Centrum district. Cannabis College on Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Red Light district. The Flying Dutchman.  Casino on Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Red Light district.


Absinthe.    Absinthe is an intense, green, anise-flavored spirit, with a rocky history. It was banned for much of the 20th century in many countries, including the Netherlands, because of its reputation for causing madness (a harmful chemical called thujone is present in small quantities). Its effects have now been shown to be no worse than other kinds of liquor, and it is now legal in most countries. It is popular in Amsterdam.

The photos below were taken in a dimly-lit, absinthe-serving bar. No tripod was used, giving the photos an absinthey feel.

Bar with absinthe. Bar with absinthe. Bar with absinthe.
Bar with absinthe. Bar with absinthe. Bar with absinthe.


These provide a practical, albeit immodest, way for half the population to get some relief.

Urinoir (completely exposed outdoor standing toilet).  Centrum district. Urinoir (partially exposed outdoor standing toilet).  Centrum district. Urinoir (outdoor toilet) sign.  Red Light district.

Agriculture and Plant Cultivation

Despite the Netherlands' small land area, it is the third largest agricultural exporter in the world. Dairy and tulip farming are particularly prevalent. Cannabis seeds can be found at the Amsterdam flower market or in shops throughout the city. I know not what the man in green velvet, below, intends to grow in his new planter.

Cheese. Cheese. Nieuwmarkt, Red Light district. Cheese. Nieuwmarkt, Red Light district. Lots of Cheese. Cheese.

Man holding planter.  Jordaan district. Tulip seeds, Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market), Centrum district. Cannabis seeds, Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market), Centrum district. Cannabis starter kit, Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market), Centrum district.

North of Holland

Zaanse Schans is an "open-air museum" with historic windmills and houses and a clog factory. The nearby towns of Volendam and Marken are almost unbearably cute.

Clogs. Windmill. Windmill. Windmill silhouettes.

Houses and a mini-canal. Volendam viewed from Markermeer (a large lake in Northern Holland). Houses. Zaandijk, viewed from Zaanse Schans. Sheep.

Eve Andersson (


Great Photos!

Hi Eve,

Thanks for sharing your visits throughout the world! These photos are really great. I especially liked the moving bike ones, but then I'm biased, you know I love biking =). Although if I had to pick a favorite, I would go with the "dock with flowers" one.

I'll make sure I'm tuned for your next adventure. Hugs,

-- Pete

-- Pedro Liska

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