Egalitarianism in action
Young or old, rich or poor, white or black, gay or straight, the Amsterdamers all tend to ride traditional Holland touring bikes with a chain guard, a sturdy luggage rack, no gear shift, often only coaster brakes and a dynamo of the old-fashioned kind that has to be pressed against the front tire to make electricity for the lights.
The reason for this is that bikes are often stolen in Amsterdam (by junkies, evidently, who sell them to get a few Euros for their next fix), and if your bike looked any better than average the chances of its being stolen would rise dramatically.
The bikes you can rent in Amsterdam are mainly of this type.
Since Amsterdam is totally flat I didn't mind the lack of gears, but I did once get into a tricky situation because of the brakes. I was making a left turn, in a clearly marked bicycle lane for this purpose, when I was suddenly cut off by some sort of delivery van which I think was making an illegal U-turn. Automatically I grabbed for the hand brakes -- which weren't there! Fortunately I wasn't going very fast and was able to stop just in time with the coaster brake. But it was a bit disconcerting, nonetheless.
Second photo: Two young women on traditional Holland touring bikes.
Third photo: A man and a woman on bikes with slight variations. His is painted red, and hers has hand brakes.
Fourth photo: The young white woman has hand brakes but no lights. The black man has a light but no hand brakes.
Fifth photo: This young woman has hand brakes and a light on her bike.
Windmills, windmills, windmills... naturally, one must visit the windmills when in Amsterdam. Now, these 17th century structure & buildings were broken down & reassembled into an archetypal 'traditional' village in the late 50s so as to preserve the old way of life. ZAANSE SCHANS is where present day Dutch live in the cottages & do their daily tasks. Here, you'll get to see working windmills & the making of clogs.
Well after all those Things to do tips, if anybody believes that Amsterdam is an old city with only old buildings, that's not true and so include these photos in my general tips. Just have a look at the high rises near Amsterdam Zuid station.
When visiting Amsterdam, do...
When visiting Amsterdam, do what everyone does when they visit!!!!!
Best location is on a hotel balcony, drinking some diet coke and eating commerative biscuits from the Crown Princes wedding, and with a friend who is also in desperate need of making the business trip a little more exciting!!!!!!
.....oh and don't get so out of it you forget to put the chair back in the room....
Don't try this at home!
It is a well-known fact (or if it isn't well-known let me tell you about it now) that most people look better on bicycles than off.
It is also a well-known fact that many people, especially young women, look their very best when they are talking on their cellphones, because they are constantly smiling and reacting to the person at the other end.
So it should come as no surprise that some people get the idea to do both of these good-looking things at the same time. In Amsterdam you can see thousands of people phoning as they ride.
But if you aren't an Amsterdamer and weren't born on a bike, I suggest you ride first and phone afterwards, or visa-versa. In Frankfurt I once saw a large athletic-looking young man fall to the ground with a resounding splat because he was trying to phone and cycle at the same time.
Second, third and fourth photos: More people cycling and phoning in Amsterdam.
Fifth photo: Here's proof that even the Amsterdamers will sometimes stop and get off their bikes when they've got some serious telephoning to do. (Or maybe they've simply reached their destination and weren't finished talking yet.)