Amsterdam, baby!

The next stop of our Euro adventure was Amsterdam.  Once we had lugged our suitcases up the tallest staircases we'd ever seen we were free to enjoy all that Amsterdam has to offer.  Our minds were made up within the first hour that this was our dream city.  S-boy and I would happily move there and are seriously thinking of doing this one day.  Not only is their bikes everywhere but also some of the friendliest people who are so helpful as well.  
The photos that are from above are snapped from our hotel balcony.  I think everytime we were back there I was drawn to the balcony watching bikes go by!

Only the first floor up (we were on the third).

Hand-pedalled bike/wheelchair.   Wow!

Love this guy -riding in his skirt!

Nothing in Oz really prepares you for Amsterdam.  Everyone rides a bike.  They have done since they were small.  I can't describe how effortless and elegant everyone is while riding.  It is like the bike is just an extra limb, and they think nothing of chatting while riding, talking on the phone, carrying shopping or holding umbrellas.

Whole families go riding past!

Another common-place sight was dinking (one person sitting on the back rack).  What was amazing about this is at lights when the bike came to a stop, the person on the back would hop off.  Then as the lights changed the bike would pedal off with the second person running along side (I saw this happen with the girl in heels!) then jump on the back.  All this would be without even a wobble on the bike and off they would go.  Aaargh!  Something to practise at home!

Gargoyle on the outside of our hotel!

Oh Amsterdam canals. So lovely to ride along but we did see the many bikes that end up in the canal.  Such a waste. 

Here I am - ridiculously happy...

With all the bikes parked around the city, it was also not unusual to see abandoned unloved ones still locked up.  Most of the bikes parked on the street are quite plain so as not to attract thieves.  Bike theft is a massive problem.  Amsterdamers often have a good bike that they use only when they have secure parking in their workplace and home or for weekend use.

S-boy enjoyed Amsterdam just as much!

We tried to observe the riders in Amsterdam to work out the road rules.  It all seemed a bit chaotic and we couldn't work out who gave way to who.  We decided to take a bike tour in the hopes of learning the road rules and hiring a bike for the rest of our time there.  We joined Mike's bike tours.  No orientation or discussion of road rules.  It was hop on, keep up or get lost as we followed our exceptionally stoner-like bike leader around.  But in saying that we soon got the gist of Amsterdam riding!

S-boy on our tour!

Riding through Vondelpark!

Our exceptionally stoner-like tour guide...

This is the moment on the tour where we lost two people.  They never found us but did find the shop to give the bikes back.

S-boy trying out a rain cape!

Cobblestone riding fun!

Crochet bombing on the railings...

Towards the end of our bike tour we worked out that you give way while trying not to stop unless absolutely necessary.  It actually works quite well.  There are some intersections with bike lights and in those situations you just follow the lights. We were at the end stretch of our bike tour waiting at such lights.  I was at the front heading straight ahead and had started pedalling when the lights went green when I was hit by a cyclist trying to turn right.  He was a local, trying to beat me through the lights but misjudged and hit me instead.  I was just happy that I wasn't at fault and the situation was far more embarrassing for him then me.  My chain popped off tho, so I had to walk the last 100 metres to the shop.  However we hired bikes straight away.  I think we were the only ones in our chaotic tour group to do so. And besides riding is much easier when you are not trying to follow a big group about.  

We headed back to the lovely greenery of Vondelpark.

Our hire bikes.  Check out the massive chain wrapped around the stem for locking up!

We found a great cake store in Amsterdam where you can buy cake on a stick too.  YUM!

Nothing like getting waved at to join a bike bar, while waiting for S-boy I was invited to join these merry lads...

With our hire bikes we were able to hit three vintage markets in the one day, plus just generally checking out the city.  The shopping was fun and fantastic!

Some of the treasures bought from markets.  See the great bike lights I picked up for only 5 euros each!

Our hire bikes all locked up...

On our last full day in Amsterdam we rode out of the city.  Will post that blog up later.  Our visit however to what we called "the spiritual home of the bicycle" left us wanting to move here or at the very least visit again!

Pish tosh xx

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