And today’s blog post is dedicated to Amsterdam’s canals, for they are so ubiquitous they need an entire article all for themselves. Article, hahaha, more like a collection of random rants and raves while passing by these bodies of water, I’d say! So what is there to know about this canal fascination? If you want a history lesson, there’s always Wikipedia. All I know is that there are more than a hundred canals in this city, and I think they were built more due to necessity rather than preference.
If you are coming from Schiphol and staying anywhere near the city center, you are most probably getting off or making your transfer at Amsterdam Centraal. Along the way, you will already see many of these canals if you happen to get a window seat, but the first one you’ll experience for real would be the one at Amsterdam Centraal, which I think is best seen at night. Why so? The buildings on the other side will be brightly lit, some of them in different colors. The reflection in the water is really pleasant to the eyes.
That canal I was referring to would be on your left side, by the way. And yeah, sorry for the mistake, but the first one you will actually see is the one behind the trams, with the Victoria Hotel in the background. I feel like this one is more tranquil than the other I mentioned, or perhaps it’s just because it was rather late in the evening when I first saw it. In the morning, it wouldn’t be rare at all to see people in kayaks navigating that canal. I think it is a popular way to exercise here in Amsterdam, jogging aside.
I stayed at Amstel so I had more canals to see, and wider ones to boot. I’m just about to shoot myself for not being able to snap a photo of that one close to Amstel Station. I’m not even sure if it’s a canal or an actual river. I think I was able to capture it on video, so try to check it out. It’s a really wide canal, one side of which has really tall skyscrapers as its background. This means it differs from most canals you will see here, many of which have the traditional lineup of brick houses right behind them.
That wide canal is full of activity, mostly health-conscious Dutch citizens keeping up their sexiness by jogging or kayaking. If you want to get really impressive guns, you might want to move here and paddle away! I think I also saw some benches and spots where you could linger at, but I do not recommend it in the winter because it could get quite cold.
And then there is a narrower canal close to where I stayed. I’ve noticed some of the elderly congregating here in the morning, probably swapping anecdotes about growing tulips or getting high. Sorry, I never bothered to ask because my Dutch is non-existent. Behind them is the canal where a gaggle of geese was having an early morning cannabis party. As they say, the early bird catches the weed. So I gave both the elderly and the geese a polite nod and hopped on a tram to Museumplein.
Museumplein is museum central, as I already mentioned. This means you will get less canal overload here. But if you really want more, you just have to take a stroll and you’ll find lots of canals waiting for you. One of them is right across the other side of the Rijksmuseum. Now this one is kind of special because there is a water taxi hop-on hop-off thingy which could be really convenient if you abhor walking. Stops include the old city and Anne Frank’s house.
I also loved this particular canal because the buildings lined up on the other side are all impressive and selfie-ready. This is perhaps one of the selfie hotspots of the city, what with the daunting Rijskmuseum façade behind you and then this canal right in front! I saw some benches there where you could have a good time and a good view while reflecting on random shit about your life. But then again, I suggest you do it in the warmer seasons.
Cross that bridge and you will find more canals, some of them almost intersecting if not divided by a narrow street or alley. Like I already said, every damn bridge you cross will provide magnificent views on both sides. Getting that ideal selfie here would not be that difficult at all. Beating out other tourists for a spot can be a challenge, but this is Amsterdam, and you just don’t run out of canals here unless you are really that picky.
What I also noticed is that the colorful houses also contribute a lot to the view. Otherwise, the photos would look a bit empty. The bald trees also give something extra, like an eerie sort of vibe which gives you a melancholic kind of feel. I could imagine that it would be a totally different experience during spring or fall. Wow, autumn must be one hell of an awesome time to come here. I can already visualize the vivid interplay among the many colors vying for your attention.
Toss in the bicycles frequently passing by, some random monument here and there, as well as some abandoned gondolas just dancing on the mini waves and your view is complete. Coming to Amsterdam without photo paraphernalia will be one of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever commit in this lifetime. If you want to feel like pro even if you’re not, then this is your chance, thanks to the picture perfect scenery these canals have to offer.
[AMSTERDAM] So Many Canals, So Little Time