For a change, we awoke to a beautiful clear day with blue skies and golden sunshine.

Using our 3-day pass we headed straight into town to enjoy every moment and soak it all in. We started by going straight to the Central Station by bus and then by tram, using our 3-day pass for both of these. Our reason for this was that we would be visiting friends who lived in Voorschoten, an hour’s train ride south of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Central station

Overnight, we had received an email telling us that our boat would not be docking at the originally designated dock near the station. it was to be 8kms away. This can happen at short notice but we were told by Viking that we would always be advised in advance. This time we were advised, but as that had not been the case in Basel, we were confident that this would not go wrong again. Little did we know what was to come in 2 days’ time. When we arrived at the original dock a representative from Viking cruises was there and he confirmed that we were to come to this point between 09:00 and 16:30 on embarkation day and there would be a bus to take us to the ship.

We decided to walk along the boardwalk and see what was happening in that area. We passed a pancake shop with beautiful pottery outside and then came to a very busy spot where dozens of pedestrians and cyclists, and small vehicles, were boarding and leaving ferries. We learnt that the far side the River Ij was the new area of Amsterdam and, currently, the ferry is the only means of travelling between the two parts of the city. All transport on the ferries is free of charge and some of them run for 24 hours. It has been agreed by the Council to stop cruisers docking close to the city as it causes overcrowding and has delayed the opportunity to build a bridge across the river.


Tourists on the viewing platform and having a swing
Modern buildings on the far side of the River Ij. The one on the left has a viewing platform & swings.











Port Offices near the dock
Pottery outside a pancake restaurant.











We continued on to the end of the boardwalk, in total probably about 2kms, where we could see some other boats were moored. We asked a couple of crew members and got answers including ‘don’t know that cruise line’ and ‘their boats are too long to dock here’. We decided to leave the search until we had to board in 2 days.

We walked back to the station and had a good look around that area. The building itself is majestic with a canal directly in front and the River Ij at the rear. The trams stop outside the front of the station while cars drive and park off to the 2 sides once crossing the bridges over the canal.

Small tourist boats on the canal near the station
Canal beside the station


On a wall of the station was a plaque giving information on Henry Hudson, after whom the Hudson River in New York is named. Although he was an English explorer, after completing 4 expeditions for England he completed his final one for the Netherlands, sailing from Amsterdam. Surprisingly, it was written in English. It read, “From this ancient “Tower of Tears”, Henry Hudson set sail April 4th 1609AD on the vessel “Half Moon” destined on that voyage of discovery to bring him to New York Harbour and the Hudson River.”

Plaque for Henry Hudson

We decided to walk back into town instead of taking the tram. A good way to see so much more and we did. So much fun walking up and down the little lanes and seeing the shops. We learnt that if you went to a Cafè you would get coffee whereas, going to a Coffee Shop meant that you would be serwved coffee and muffins with Cannabis. We were fortunate to find some lovely souvenirs for people at home at a couple of shops hidden from the main street, so prices were significantly better.

We had been told that we had passed the Flower Market while on the tram going to the station and it was to there that we were headed. We had walked quite a distance and were surprised that it seemed so far. We popped into an hotel where we were told that it was up this street when you get to the canal. “Is it far?” “No, just up the street.”  Well, we all have our own perception of distance. It was another 15mins walk to see these flower stalls which are set up on houseboats. The number and variety of flowers were wonderful making the walk worthwhile. One stall actually had a Strelitzia, our Provincial flower.

Flower Market stall with Strelitzia
Flower Market stall with lots of seeds









Flower Market stall for bulbs

We walked a little further as we had heard a commotion not far up ahead. We found a demonstration just breaking up in a square, which I have now found was Dam Square, but could not find out its purpose. One person said that he thought that it was in support of women’s rights in Afghanistan, but that was all. In the centre of the Square is the Cenotaph or war memorial.

Cenotaph in Dam Square

Across the road from where we had turned off the main street, was another magnificent building, the Magna Plaza, a new shopping mall. We didn’t go into it but there were plenty of people who did.

Magna Plaza

We walked to the end of the street where we came to the main transport street of the city and took the bus to Museum Square. Located there were the van Gogh, Stedelijk or Urban, 2 for diamonds, one for watches and a couple of small ones, all in close proximity of one another. Further down the road was the concert hall and as we passed people came pouring out, clearly after a show.

Coster Diamond Museum
van Gogh Museum
Stedelijke Museum
Concert Hall entrance
Exit to the Concert Hall

Fortunately, there was a bus stop right there, so we didn’t have to walk any further and returned to the hotel after a wonderful day.