Possibly one of the funnest cities in the world. Geez the Dutch sure know how to live. Good food, home of the Apple Cake (at Winkel 43 in the Jordaan), lax/progressive (depending on which side of the fence you live on) marijuana laws. Everyone is just so super chilled out. And it’s not just the adults. It’s the kids too.
Leave your car at home and forget about public transport! Grab yourself a bicycle. Sometimes it was just fun while we sat looking out our apartment window, with a steaming morning coffee from the cafe (not the coffee shop), and watch workers, parents dropping kids off to school and daycare, university students and the world generally pass by on 2 wheels. It’s a unique sight. No fancy road bikes here. Just your standard, fixed-gear, black bicycle, rain or shine.
I’ve seen bicycle road rage in Sydney, and you’d think you’d find it in Amsterdam where there are thousands(!) more cyclists. But it’s not there! Not even when you’re a nitwit tourist not used to riding on the right hand side of the road, unfamiliar with routes, who has right of way and Dutch road rules. Everyone just tolerates tourists. Personally I think all tourist bikes should be a different colour – like a bright orange or bright red – so that locals know to watch out; sort of like an L-Plate on a car when learning to drive.
Amsterdam has great bike lanes. They are clearly marked. And they are clearly used by 100’s of other cyclists. Safety in numbers! As Amsterdam is so flat, it is easy to get around by bike without even needing to be that fit. You do need some nerves though as others whoosh past confidently in singles or doubles, or squeezing between parked cars and moving cars. The biggest challenge is keeping your wheel from buckling and possibly tipping you over when you ride over the cobbled roads through areas like the Jordaan along those beautiful 17th century canals. Still, it is one unique experience!
What a beautiful park. So well laid out and such an easy ride. Perfect for the kids to careen around without fear of being hit by a car. Most people seem to go around in one direction so it’s even less likely of there being an accident. Channelling my inner Julie Andrews, pedalling confidently along the wide avenues beneath the cool shade of the trees, it felt very #drinkwithjamandbread.
Out of the city
If you’re looking for unique – where else can you ride on top of a dyke? We took the free ferry north out of the city and rode through some very pretty lands, starting from Noord up to Holysloot, across to Broek in Waterland, then back down to the ferry. There are various routes depending on how far you want to ride. We managed about 25kms with our 9yo. At times the winds coming off the sea make for a tough(er) ride, but there are plenty of places to stop for a break, cup of tea, snack, herring.
Undoubtedly, one of the most memorable European things you can do, heart in mouth and all.
**Highly recommended bike hire – MacBike, various locations | http://www.macbike.nl