A day trip to Amsterdam

We got up just after 7am. Neither Mark nor I had a good nights sleep. We had breakfast, showered and got on our way just before 9am. The canal is well signposted and the speed limit is 9km/h. We went through two lifting bridges and tied up in Weesp. A classic car rally was driving alongside the canal and I’m sure they weren’t pleased about having to be stopped at the bridge. Holland is very tourist friendly and it was easy for us to find our way to the station and get train tickets. Our first stop was Pancakes Amsterdam for espressos. Dave and I had American pancakes with maple syrup. Mine had bananas in it. Mark had a Dutch pancake with bacon and maple syrup. It is important to remember that bicycles have right of way. The smell of dope is prevalent and the pipes etc. in the coffee shops are really stunning. We walked through the red light district and went into a few cheese shops. They are ridiculously expensive. We then walked through the flower market where you can buy bulbs of all sorts. We stopped at Het Peleis for Heineken on tap and then went to Ann Frank Huis. After that we did our shopping and walked through a residential area. The streets were less crowded but the canals were hectically busy. We then went back to the station via another shopping district and saw the massive bicycle park where you can leave your bike for a maximum of 14 days. Some look like they had been there 14 years! Mark and I popped into the chemist for mozzie spray and then we got the train back to Weesp. We left just after 16:15 and the first lifting bridge indicated there was a €3 charge at the next one. The bridge keeper rode his bicycle to meet us and handed us a clog for the payment. He also manned the next bridge. We had to cross a huge river that goes into Amsterdam. It meant turning right, going down a bit, making a u turn when clear and then turn right back into the canal. We had seen a huge container barge from the train which we had to wait for at the ‘crossing’. The locks on either side are always open and the lifting bridge on this side said if it was not manned all you had to do was push the button on the bridge. Mark could not find it and either Dave’s hooting or the camera alerted someone somewhere to push a button to open the bridge after quite a wait. We then went under a series of bridges under motorways and railway lines and one pedestrian bridge, some of which were a tight squeeze height wise. One lifting bridge works off a distance sensor and you can hear the bell sounding to warn the pedestrians and cyclists and motorists the booms are closing. On this section we saw a house built on a boat base, and a barge with a smaller barge extension. We crossed into the Amstel River and encountered rowers in training. The coaches ride along on the cycle path shouting instructions. We tied up for the night next to a cow field, 13km from Schipol and close to the motorway and train lines. It was amazingly quiet. While tying up Mark dropped his sunglasses in the canal and he jumped in and found them. He then demonstrated his Poi skills which are brilliant.  I had a cider with elderflower and mint while Dave cooked supper. The wine tonight was a bottle of Swartland Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot which was not fantastic. Supper was a simple rocket and pea salad and pasta with a fresh tomato sauce.

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