While on a business trip in Europe, I met my daughter in Amsterdam. Kateri is studying in Dublin for the semester and it had been 4 weeks since we had seen each other; it was quite a happy reunion! It was our first time in Amsterdam and despite the rain, we saw quite a bit of the city, enjoyed some good food and made plans to return.
Before the visit, my knowledge of the city was limited to what I read in Anne Frank’s Diary or The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
What I didn’t expect was the extensive number of bicycles in the city and the infrastructure supporting cyclists. On a nighttime boat cruise, I was astounded to hear that over 600,000 bicycles filled the streets of Amsterdam! I’ve since done a bit of research and learned that there are actually closer to 800,000 and that is 4x the number of cars. Even though it seems like there is a bike for every citizen, theft is still a problem with roughly 50,000 stolen each year. Watch this funny video to know more.
While I had no trouble driving in Amsterdam, there was limited road space as compared to many other European cities – cars are definitely below bikes and trams in level of importance! And while parking can be found, you need to watch-out for the unwritten parking rules. I received a parking ticket for not having paid my monthly fee – seems I parked in a residential area. That’s my rented Volvo, obviously NOT parked in what I thought were the only no parking spaces.
Both Kateri, her friend Margo and I are training for upcoming full or half marathons so we spend the first few hours of the day on Sunday putting in the miles. Kateri and Margo are both running their first marathon in the city of the first marathon – Athens Greece – in November. The girls ran 16 miles and I ran 11. We finishing just before the downpour. Amsterdam is such an accessible city, I had no fear running along the streets despite not knowing my way back to the hotel. After the many miles and being nearly run over by a cyclist, I decided we earned a brunch treat. Food is always a way to enjoy someplace new – and a great respite from the rain.
Thanks to the following sites for some fun facts about Amsterdam.