Holland is one of the flattest countries on the planet, making it ideal for bicycling. The Dutch have far more bicycles than automobiles. Everywhere you go in Holland you’ll see people getting around by bike. In Holland bikes are given a status accorded few modes of transportation. Bike paths exist next to every major road through the countryside into the center of the big cities. You can explore all of Holland by bike if you choose. For the Dutch it is not just a recreational sport, it is a primary means of transport to work, school, even the market. Bikes typically have either a basket up front, or dual panniers on the rear. These come in handy not just for school books or groceries but are often used for children, animals, plants, you name it!

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The Jordaan

The Jordaan District of Amsterdam is very popular with artists and students, sort of a Greenwich Village. Built during the early 19th century boom days it was an area for low income workers to live. Neglected for decades, it was scheduled to be demolished in the 1970s to make way for new development, when the neighborhood came together and protested the plan. Now the area is being restored as yuppies take over. The Jordaan is mostly residential with cafes, restaurants, antique shops, and bookstores. The small amount of traffic in the area makes it very quiet and pleasant to stroll around.

Vincent Van Gogh

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Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear
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Cafe Terrace
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Van Gogh’s Bedroom At Arles
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Sunflowers, 1888
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The Starry Night, 1889
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Van Gogh Face to Face:
The Portraits
Without a doubt the most famous Dutchman these days is Vincent Van Gogh. He’s so popular it seems no one can get enough of him, including the Dutch, who pay homage to him by painting walls and kiosks in his style. This famous painter whose short life was full of much self-inflicted misery is one of the best known and loved artists of all time. He… Continue reading

Amsterdam’s Cafes

The Cafe scene in Amsterdam is the primary social milieu for meeting friends. Apartments are so small that most gatherings are held in a favorite cafe. In the summer, everyone sits outside especially when the weather is fine. Cafes attract a very diverse crowd depending upon the location, the food, and the ambience. Brown cafes have a regular crowd of older locals. Other cafes have a more trendy menu attracting a younger group. Coffeeshops attract mostly tourists by selling marijuana and hashish. No matter what your tastes, you’ll find numerous cafes that’ll interest you. The locale, the music, the crowd,… Continue reading

Canal Houses

Old canal houses are very popular in Amsterdam. Some of these narrow buildings are 500 years old. They lean at very odd angles, adding a certain charm to the city. Once taxes were assessed by the size of the frontage, forcing the thrifty Dutch to build their homes very narrow. Some canal houses are barely wider than the front door! Amsterdam now has strict regulations prohibiting new construction in the historic area (practically the whole central city). So ongoing renovations keep the houses livable. Restored canal houses can be worth millions of dollars.

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