Wednesday, June 27, 2018

From the Water

Yesterday was bright and sunny and seemed like a perfect time to explore Amsterdam by boat. The hour long cruise with Flagship boarded right behind the Ann Frank House  and was very reasonably priced. (We opted for a less expensive cruise where the price didn't include beverages - with teens along, we wouldn't have sampled the  Captain Morgan's anyway...)

Viewing the city from the canals was fun. It was delightful to sit in the sun and ride for a while.  I loved the "dancing houses." See how they look a little off? Hundreds of years ago the buildings were built on wooden piles driven down into swampy soil. Over the years they've settled and now they all lean at slightly different angles. Sometimes newer buildings are purposely built to lean so they fit in with the buildings on either side.

This is one of the narrowest canal houses in Amsterdam. At just about two meters (about six feet) wide it saved the owner quite a bit in taxes. Back when these buildings were built, the taxes were based, in part, on the width of the building. Typical canal houses are about five to seven meters wide (about 15 to 20 feet.) Since the taxes were based on the width of the building on the canal, they often get wider in the back. 

The Wadorf-Astoria hotel is in the high-rent part of Amsterdam. See how much wider the buildings are? These people weren't too worried about taxes, and could show off their wealth. Actually, the hotel is the entire block of buildings - they've been connected on the inside. They can't alter the facade of the buildings since the canal district is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

One of the neatest things we saw was along the Reguliersgracht (gracht is Dutch for canal.) It's a special spot because if you line up your camera just right, you can see seven bridges. There is another spot, where you can supposedly see 15 different bridges while standing atop one of them. Maybe we'll try to find that spot another day...

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