Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Amsterdam - Canal Cruising

Date: 12th October 2015

When in Amsterdam, one must explore the country's world-famous historic Canal Ring and the best way of doing so is by taking an hour canal cruising from any boat operator available at many parts of the city. We have decided to do so as soon as we finished with a 5.5 hours guided tour to Volendam, Marken & Windmills that Ane has treat me vide online booking through Tours & Tickets travel agents. We bought the canal cruising ticket (Euro 14) from 1 of their branch outlet after the tour has ended. We were super excited as we were able to rest our leg while snapping photos peacefully.

Exploring photo enhancement with Google Picasa

As we all know, there's a related history between Malaysia and the Dutch. The Dutch came to Malacca and stayed from 1641–1825. It was the longest period that Malacca was under a foreign control. The Dutch ruled for almost 183 years with intermittent British occupation during the Napoleonic Wars. And the history of Amsterdam is intimately connected with water. Its 165 canals were created over the centuries to stimulate trade and transport and reclaim land to expand the city. They continue define the city’s landscape and in 2010 Amsterdam's canal ring has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site. 

The Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious city planning in the early 17th century. After the development of Amsterdam's canals in the 17th century, the city did not grow beyond its borders for two centuries. Van Niftrik and Kalff designed an entire ring of 19th century neighbourhoods surrounding the city’s centre, with the city preserving the ownership of all land outside the 17th century limit, thus firmly controlling development. Most of these neighborhoods became home to the working class. Taking a canal boat tour in Amsterdam is the best way to understand and to see the results of those planning as it provides a stunning backdrop to the city’s historical centre. Besides, floating down Amsterdam’s canals is one of the most memorable ways to discover the city's sights and attractions. You may agree with me if I said that everything in Amsterdam seems a bit more magical when viewed from a boat.

Most canal cruises take around an hour, in which we explored the Amsterdam's UNESCO protected canal ring and discover plenty of interesting facts about the city along the way. Apart from a straight 1 hour cruising options, there are other types of canal cruises available include a practical hop-on-hop-off services, romantic candle-lit tours, child-friendly adventures and intimate guided boat tours for smaller groups. Depending to your liking you may do so by exploring what the cruise canal company has to offer. It's not necessary for you to buy ticket in advance, as there's many outlet for you to do so on the spot. A few of the best-known operators include Holland International, Canal, Blue Boat, Rederij Kooij, Rederij Plas and Lovers. If you’d like to break up your canal cruise with some sightseeing, then the ‘hop-on hop-off’ service offered by Canal Bus is an excellent option.

Our company that day, from England

The "Lovers" boat that day is full with passengers and we got to share our table with a lovely guy and lady from England. I started of the conversation by asking whether they can speak "English" and the lady replied by saying, "Yes we are, since we are from England". Thereafter I have to explain our difficulties finding people that speak English in many parts of the European cities. It was a pleasant ride. After a while, the boat started to warm everyone as there's no fresh air allowed in. We started to remove layers by layers of our thick clothing and at the end I chose to open the window a little bit to allow fresh air coming in.

Canal cruises are one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions to explore the canal ring. As Ane occupied the window seat, I had some restriction to snap photos freely. Hence, I move to the front and seek permission from the driver to let me hang out there. He then told me that the passengers are supposed to view the cities from the glass roof not looking out through the window. But he is a nice guy really, even notified me when we passed Anne Frank's house. Anyway, for anyone visiting for the first time, taking canal cruise is indeed an excellent introduction to the city’s many sights. There are a number of departure points throughout the city and the tours are available in a multitude of languages, provided by a number of different operators. Whether it’s a one-hour tour, a hop on, hop off all-day experience, or a romantic candlelight dinner cruise, there are options for every occasion.

HOHO type which allows a passenger to hop on and hop of at their intended destination

Naturally the Canal Ring can be enjoyed just as well from the streets above the water, i.e. on dry land. Take a guided walking tour, a route map, or perhaps rent a bike and find your way through the city the native way. I would say taking bike is a perfect adventure beside boat ride. When the ride came to an end, we were glad to just walk across the road and found our self right in front of the Centraal Station, i.e. Amsterdam train station. 

I'm sharing only selected photos from what Anne and I snapped that day. While admiring the boat driver's skill, I have managed to capture the swan photos that I later edited to bring more lights and sharpen their image. Ciao for now...

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