A sunny Saturday in Amsterdam – our last full day in the city – and Amsterdam teems with humanity. There are tourist by the bus, train, and bike load but there are also a great number of rowdy stag parties roaming the streets. There are hen parties too although they seem more likely to hire a boat and sail along the canals playing dance music. I did see a boat full of women and a boat full of men pass in front of our apartment. When they met they all hooted and hollered at one another. Then the men’s boat turned around and chased the women’s boat. A few minutes later I saw the men’s boat sail by again on their orginal course.
Since we enjoyed bicycling so much on Thursday (especially Peter) we hired bikes again. It was much busier at Mac Bikes today but since we knew how to manage the bike locks already we were out of there pretty quickly. Today we rode to the east side of the city. Along the Amstel River, Susan spotted a canalside cafe and so we stopped for a mid-morning snack at Cafe de Jaren. We enjoyed the views and coffee and Peter covered himself in honey.
We pedaled on past the Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Garden) and Susan suggested we go in which was another brilliant idea. Much of our botanical sightseeing was lead by a peripatetic toddler. Peter insisted on wearing his bike helmet and enjoyed playing in the stream in the greenhouse and picking up gravel from the paths in the gardens. We saw many cool things including the world’s oldest potted plant and colorful butterflies.
A visit to Amsterdam must include seeing an old windmill, so we rode on to De Gooyer Windmill. It dates to 1725 and is the closest windmill to the Amsterdam city center. It’s also adjacent to a brewpub I wanted to have lunch at, but sadly the brewpub was closed. There was a nice cafe beneath the windmill where we ate lunch instead. We rode back to the apartment for nap time passing old wharves of the Dutch East India Company that have been converted to residences. Peter also requested another playground stop.
While Peter and Susan napped, I paid a visit to Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic). This is a 17th-century canal house with the top three floors converted into a Catholic church used from the 1660′s to 1880′s when Catholicism was officially illegal in Amsterdam. The lower floors are an interesting look into the life of an Amsterdam merchant family. The church itself is undergoing restoration but the history geek in me enjoys seeing floorboards lifted up and layers of paint peeled away. While in the area I walked around the Oude Kerk dating to 1306 and Sint Nicolaaskerk which replaced Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder in the 1880′s when Catholic worship was legal again. I also saw “Little Venice” which is the only place in Amsterdam where the water goes right up to the houses like in Venice.
Rejoining Susan & Peter we went for a lazy bike ride and stopped at two different playgrounds for Peter to play on. Then we ate dinner at a charming little pizzeria called Il Boccalino. Back home, Susan cleaned up while Peter and I sat on the bench watching boats and passersby. A pleasant way to end our last day.