Yesterday we had scheduled a walking tour of Amsterdam and met our guide, Lee, around 2:15 with about 20 other tourists. Lee was one of, it not the best tour guide we have had on this trip. She was funny, knowledgeable and engaging. We got to meet a number of the other tourists, including one young couple that was just delightful. She was a geneticist from Milan and he was a chemist from Belgium and they met in college in the UK. It was wonderful to meet a young person studying genetics and ask her questions about how we are designed at our core.
As for the sites, we started at Dam Square and got a quick overview of the history of Amsterdam. Lee told us about how the city was settled and then asked if anyone had any problems with us going into the Red Light District, specifically looking at us. Since Noah was the youngest person on the tour she wanted to make sure we were OK with him seeing that part of the city. We were totally for it and she told Noah that he had the coolest parents in the world. We headed straight for the area of the city filled with store fronts where women were mostly dressed in bikinis. They came in all shapes and sizes and Noah wanted to take pictures to send to his friends, but we were specifically told no pictures. At one point Noah asked if he could sneak just one picture to send to his friends at home? I said no, so I guess were not that cool.
From the Red Light District we continued around the city talking about the canal system, the original gate to the city, as well as a barge pulling out bicycles from the canals. Noah did some research and found out that the city fishes out 25,000 bikes a year from the canals and our tour guide was so excited that we got to see one of the barges in action. We went to the home of the Dutch East India Company, the most powerful international corporation of the 1600’s. We also got to see some houses that are falling over because their foundations were built a few hundred years ago out of wood, and now the wood has rotted away. At the same stop Lee showed us the skinniest house in Amsterdam, which is only 2 meters wide. Finally, we saw numerous churches and other landmarks, including the last stop, the Anne Frank House. We have tickets to visit the Anne Frank House later today. I know it will be a powerful experience for all of us.
We walked back to the apartment, which was only a 45 minute walk. Compared to many of the other cities we have stayed in, Amsterdam is very small and manageable by foot. The best way we have found to really see a city is by walking it. We have walked more on this trip than the past 5 plus years combined. It has been very enjoyable getting that much exercise and seeing different cities from the street level. When we got home we cooked some dinner and called it a night.
Now it’s time for me to head into town for a lunch meeting with a social entrepreneur I met through LinkedIn and then meet up with everyone later for our tour of the Anne Frank House.
To a life well lived!