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The four hour tour

18 March 2008

One of the first things one might notice when arriving in Amsterdam, especially if coming in through the main train station, is that the Dutch are certainly keen on bikes. There were tens of thousands of bikes locked up around the station and would certainly create a nightmare if you forgot where you parked your bike. Probably a nightmare even if you remembered where you parked your bike.

FYI: In a city of just over 700,000 people there are almost as many bikes. Our guide says that bikes are stolen all the time so people spend little money on the bike and a lot on the lock. Over 10,000 are fished out of the Amstel River every year. Not entirely sure how they end up in the river though…

Throughout town you see everyone riding bikes. Everyone. And, they are all riding cruisers. Apparently, you can cart just about anything on these bikes. I saw a dad riding with THREE of his children on a bike, a woman carting around a small tree, and a man swerving through with his date among other things.

We decided to take a bike tour. This was a four hour tour that started in the heart of the city and wound its way around to nearby country side and back and took in sights of all kinds.

About 30 of us rode together and it is absolutely hilarious to see grown adults on a bike and not really know what to do with it. For example, we rode around town single file and the line would split when some didn’t notice the tour turned right and would then lead the back half of the tour straight ahead instead. Crossing streets elicited honks from cars and ringing of bells from native Dutch annoyed with tourist crowding the bike paths. And, I don’t even want to mention how one of my friends blatantly ran into a pole and another simply crashed and burned for no apparent reason.

But our tour guide (from Minnesota! Not at all Dutch) jabbered on about this and that and blah blah blah and made some pretty horrible jokes over and over again. Yet, despite this, I do think it was one of the best ways to see Amsterdam and would do it again. Would probably advise some people to wear a helmet though…

They lined us up at the start of the tour in an attempt to prevent us from crashing into one another. I wouldn’t say it failed horribly, but I do wish I had video captured take off.

We rode out to a windmill in the country. It is actually a place of residence and I am sure they enjoyed the dumb tourists snapping pictures of their home all day long.

Along the Amstel River we rode. We saw idyllic country homes, rowing teams practicing, horseback riders enjoying, and some ponies.

We also stopped at a cheese farm while traveling through the ‘country side.’ It was cute little Dutch couple that showed us how to make cheese, how to make wooden shoes, and then encouraged us to buy both at the end of it all!


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