We got to Amsterdam yesterday, after a really enjoyable stay in Alkmaar and a great ride almost 100% on bike paths along the country side and little towns into Amsterdam, Centraal Station.
Alkmaar, the cheese city, is about 33 miles north from Amsterdam. We missed the Friday cheese market but you can see one of the cheese vendors in the market in one of the pictures. By now we are experts on finding our way in The Netherlands via the biking scavenger hunt. Even coming into Amsterdam we were in the countryside up until the last kilometer. Once we crossed the canal into Centraal Station with a free ferry, a sense of bicycle chaos and tourist invasion came upon us. We did not have a hotel reservation but we got one at the tourist information office across the street from Centraal Station. Getting to the hotel was a little challenging, the GPS did not recognize the street name so we had to do with a paper map. Between the narrow streets, canal crossings, cars, scooters, hundreds of bicycles, pedestrians, and let's not forget the trolley tracks, it was a miracle we made it without falling or crashing into something (I was really close). Our hotel was thankfully a few blocks away from the centrum, it is near the museums on a quiet street. We changed clothes and went for a walk, in the old centrum, red light district, market place, all very new to us and intense. Both Steve and I agree we prefer the small cities out of the tourist's path, but Amsterdam is a city to visit at least once. Today we went to the Rembrandt and Van Gogh museums and traveled the city by bike, having coffee and lunch along the way in different outdoor cafes. It is really fun for me to feel entitled to ring my bell and make people move out of the way, and cars wait patiently behind me while riding on a narrow street. Tomorrow we will have an interesting celebration for Steve's birthday, yes it is August 1st and he will be 53... a year older than me. We will travel by train to Copenhagen, it is not a direct train... we will be in 6 different trains and have to do 5 transfers with the bikes, and in a couple we have 11 minutes to make it. Next post will be on the 2nd when we and my family all meet in Copenhagen for a fun family week and wedding celebration.