Amsterdam – Canal Cruise

Since I am visiting Holland for the first time, I decided to stay back for a couple of days more and do some sight-seeing. I am still at the Holiday Inn in Leiden which is about 30 minutes by train to Amsterdam, where all the tourist action starts.

Yesterday I took a boat cruise in the canals of Amsterdam.

I always wondered how people living in houses like in the picture above handle tides. As it turns out, the water level in these canals stays constant because the water is isolated from the Black Sea by means of gates and dykes. And what’s more, about 27% of Holland is under sea level. They have a system of dykes, polders and gates that has managed to keep their feet dry since 1287, when the North Sea flooded the country and created the South Sea. It took them a few centuries to pump the water out using wind mills. Amazing.


The cruise lasted for an hour and a half and we passed though the the older parts of town. These canals were actually dug out as the city expanded and have names like streets and roads. In the olden days, traders used to get goods by ships which were docked out of town. They then transported their cargo to warehouses along these canals using small boats. Most of the old houses you see in the picture above still have hoists jutting out from their front walls which were used to lift the items to the top floors. I was quite surprised to see that some of the front walls were not built plumb. Instead they were built leaning outwards so that the cargo would not damage the walls when being hoisted up.

This is an amazing picture. This is a view of seven arched bridges in a straight line. You cannot see all seven because (1) my camera is not all that good, and (2) there is another boat blocking the view.