BAC Bike and Barge - Netherlands 2014
April 19 - Last Day In Amsterdam
After a leisurely breakfast, we packed and checked out of Hotel Brouwer . As we were doing so, I noticed a photo behind the counter that showed the hotel owners on each side of Bill Clinton. He stayed at the hotel many years ago as a long-hair bearded student, according to the owner. He stopped there a while back to revisit, not to stay.
We struggled to get our bags down the narrow stairs and out the door. We wheeled them a half-mile to the waterfront and left them on the Merlijn, our boat for our Bike & Barge tour. We could not get into our cabin yet so we went on another walk. It was Saturday so we decided to go to a local outdoor market, the Noordermarkt. The weather was sunny and even warm in spots.
The market was huge with clothes, meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, breads, snacks, etc. we bought some really good apple pastries. After the market, we went back to the Merlijn to see what bicycle equipment they supplied. Helmets and water bottles were included, so we did not have to buy them.
Lunch was at a small cafe where Ann had a ham and tomato toast which I had a hamburger with fries. Not too bad and not the best.
We wandered around the canals and killed time until it was time to officially board our boat. Our stateroom was fairly large with two single beds, a very small closet and a cramped but functional bathroom. There was porthole where we could look out but could not open. The staterooms were at water level while the main deck was above.
We had an orientation meeting where the crew was introduced. There were 22 BAC members from various parts of the US. We followed the BAC custom of introducing ourselves.
For dinner, we had mustard soup as a starter. Pork chops, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes gratin. Dessert was cherry cake. To settle our meal, we took a guided night-time tour of parts of Amsterdam that we had not seen.
Bed time was around 11:00.
A Short Note On Amsterdam Bicycle Culture
In Amsterdam, bicycles outnumber cars at least 10 to 1 and maybe higher especially in the old part of the city. This could be a result of gasoline prices that are around twice those in the US. It could be that parking is severely limited and expensive. It could be that it is difficult to drive around all of the canals and over the hundreds of bridges. It could be that there are bicycle lanes on most of the streets as well as special traffic lights. It could be that there are huge parking garages and reserved spaces for bicycles. In any case, the city is overwhelmed by peddle power. The bicycles are mostly equipped with upright handlebars and limited gears. Riders rarely wear helmets and dress like normal people.