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Canals and Bicycles

I hate admitting I’m wrong.

In my first blog, I called Copenhagen the city of canals and bicycles (and perhaps bicycles in the canals).

How young and foolish I was.

This past weekend, I had the chance to visit one of my close friends from college in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

Now this – this is truly the city of canals and bicycles.

The bicycles:

I have never seen so many bicycles in my entire life before. Copenhagen’s dedicated bike lanes couldn’t hold a candle to the sheer volume of bikers, pedestrians with bikes, and unattended bikes littering the streets. In fact, there are almost twice as many bikes as there are people in the city.

In recent years, the city of Amsterdam embarked on a project to remove waste and debris from the canals.

They were able to extract more than 15,000 bikes from the city – in just the last year alone.

This city quite literally has “bicycles in the canals.”

The Gardens

We had the good fortune to be able to visit the Tulip Gardens in Keukenhof, a short 30-minute bus ride away from the city.

Let me just say, wow. I’ve never been a huge flower guy, but there was much more to the tulip gardens than just the flowers. They were combined seamlessly with beautiful architecture that complemented the vibrant shades of each arrangement, from a small Japanese-style zen garden to the hedge maze. This garden was more about the way they were arranged in intricate patterns, each one designed by its own artist.

Even the huge crowds that were there could do nothing to deter the sights. The weather was warm. The sun was shining. The breeze was blowing. For a moment, it was easy to believe that this was what paradise would look like.

But outside of the canals, bicycles, and the gardens, I was lucky to be toured around by my friend, who is a local and showed us the cultural, more residential parts of the city. The Jordaan and 9 Stratjes areas of the city offered a more grungy part of the city untouched by tourists.

One of the best parts of Amsterdam was the food. Not just the abundance of warm, caramel-coated stroopwaffels, but cuisine in every way, shape, and form was abundant with flavor. I’ve never had such amazing Thai food, nor such a beautifully crafted bao bun meal platter. Pictures are, of course, below.

Above all, though, it was a great chance to spend time with two of my closest friends from Rochester. It felt unfathomable to me that we had met and become so close in a small town 3,600 miles away, and met up across the world to share such a fun experience.

As heartbreaking as it is, the semester is coming to an end, but one of the positives is having the chance to see the people whom I haven’t been able to see in so long. Having a reminder of home serves to keep you grounded, and as Amsterdam was the last trip outside of Denmark that I had planned, I come back ready to explore as much of the city as I can in these last two weeks.


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