The sun was shining brightly on the morning of Friday, April 27th, but my mood was just a little gloomy. I had met so many wonderful new people and had such a great time with them aboard the Magnifique III that I really hated for it to come to an end.
I can’t begin to give the Bike-Boat Tours a better recommendation than STUPENDOUS! The whole package was absolutely wonderful. Super-Duper great and friendly guides, (a big Thank YOU to Arie & Tami!), comfortable and classy accommodations, scrumptious food prepared by an obviously well-trained chef, a friendly and helpful Skipper and Crew, and activities and bike routes that more than satisfied. I really enjoyed the informative talks that Arie provided about the culture and customs of his native Netherlands whenever we stopped somewhere in a small village or another place of interest. The information he provided really was an added bonus. The whole trip came together so nicely and so smoothly. I highly recommend this company; Boat-Bike Tours. They not only met my expectations but definitely exceeded them!
I grabbed one of their catalogs to start dreaming about another trip in the future. I’m definitely thinking it would be a great way to see parts of France next!
I lingered after breakfast saying goodbye and fare-thee-well to new friends from Canada, Sweden, the US, and Germany which I made the acquaintance of on this great trip.
But although I lingered, it soon became time was for me to gather up my belongings and greet a taxi to head back to Amsterdam city and leave the docks; I did so reluctantly…
However, I was in for yet another delightful day because it just so happened that it was yet another national holiday in Holland – King’s Day! I didn’t plan it that way – really – but was delighted that it was working out in this manner. I didn’t even know about King’s Day until that morning!
King’s Day is the annual Dutch national holiday in honor of King Willem-Alexander. There are celebrations throughout the Netherlands, however, the most popular destination is Amsterdam where an average of 700,000 visitors join 822,000 locals in the world’s largest street party.
6:00 am marks the start of the ‘flea market’ all over town – a street market where half the population sells their bric-a-brac, used clothes, and crafts for next to nothing. Where? Everywhere people live. You’ll find anything from broken toys, second-hand clothes, fantastic bargains on musical instruments, electronics, software from a bygone era and everything else under the sun. It’s just one big flea market on every available space on sidewalks city-wide!
In addition, throngs of people lining the streets and canals wear orange, the national color (after all, the Queen hails from the House of Orange). Take ‘throngs’ literally – particularly in the city’s center where you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with other revelers.
Before I joined the party, my taxi safely delivered me to my next hostel, Stayokay Zeeburg, on the east side of town.
The place was hoppin’, and everyone inside was getting checked in, dressing up in orange and making plans to have a great day. This looked like yet another nice hostel.
I put my stuff in my room, rented a bike from the hostel and headed out into the city in the late morning. It was an absolute madhouse everywhere with people wall-to-wall. Luckily, I happened upon Oosterpark near the Troopenmuseum where I could ride to my delight along the pathways without a lot of people; about the only place in town that wasn’t crowded! Phew!
Then I rode over to the zoo. In the plaza, there was a special flea market set up just for kids to sell their wares. I enjoyed watching the kids run and play while I sipped a cup of coffee and munching on an absolutely delicious macaroon.
After that nice break, I got back on the bike and started heading toward the main canal near the Hermitage Museum and spotted this interesting building along the way. Amsterdam is such an interesting town. It’s full of really old Dutch buildings, but, just around the corner or right next door, you’ll see something modern, like this one. The city is full of poignant juxtapositions and it’s refreshing. Very eclectic.
Eventually, I made my way to the Hermitage Museum on the Amstel, found a spot along the wall bordering the canals and watched the throngs on boats partying away and having a grand time.
As I watched the thick traffic of boats, I was amazed no one ran into each other as they navigated their way.
After a while, I spotted a spire on the skyline of rooftops and worked my way toward it. It is the Zuiderkerk.
According to Wikipedia: “The Zuiderkerk (“southern church”) is a 17th-century Protestant church in the Nieuwmarkt area. The church played an important part in the life of Rembrandt and was the subject of a painting by Claude Monet.
It was the city’s first church built specifically for Protestant services and was constructed between 1603 and 1611. The distinctive church tower, which dominates the surrounding area, was not completed until 1614 and contains a carillon of bells built by the brothers Hemony, installed in 1656 along with four bells which ring monthly.
French Impressionist painter Claude Monet painted the church during a visit to the Netherlands. Three of Rembrandt’s children were buried in the Zuiderkerk, which is very near to Rembrandt’s house. According to local legend, Rembrandt painted the Night Watch at the church because his own studio was too small. However, the story is highly disputed and most likely untrue.
The Zuiderkerk was used for church services until 1929. During the final (1944-1945) winter of World War II, known as the hongerwinter (“hunger winter”) in the Netherlands because food was so scarce, the church was in use as a temporary morgue because people were dying faster than they could be buried.”
After leaving the church, I noticed the day was beginning to wane and I needed to get back across town before it got dark navigating my way through the crowds of people well into the party mode. I also noticed I was getting pretty tired after a long, exciting week.
Attitude of Gratitude ~ Life is full of wonderful surprises and I feel grateful for the ones that cross my path serendipitously.