Monday, October 18, 2010

Amsterdam: A bend that's golden, something hidden and something old . . . .

On July 31, 2010, the 17th century canal ring and surrounding area in Amsterdam was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, because as they put it "the canals are a cultural heritage of  outstanding universal value”.

The half-moon shaped canals of Amsterdam plus the surrounding canal houses are: Herengracht (Gentlemen's Canal), Keizergracht (Emperor's Canal) and the Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal).   There is one section known as Gouden Bocht ("Golden Bend") (Wikipedia), which runs from Leidsestraat to Vijzelstraat that I am really looking forward to seeing.  Here, the most beautiful of all canal houses are located in this bend of the canal.  The name was given because of the great wealth of shipbuilders, merchants and politicians who originally lived along here.  Today, most of the mansions have been converted into offices or banks, but the their former elegance remains.  For example, at No. 497, I will find one of the few houses on the Golden Bend which is accessible to the Public.  The Kattenkabinet (Cat Museum) was recommended to me by Marta in one of her comments and I think it will be cool to visit. Marta also recommended the next two must see's in her comments too.  

On this trip, I'll be visiting a delightful hidden courtyard called the Begijnhof.  The Begijnhof was originally built in 1346 as a sanctuary for the Begijntjes, a lay Catholic sisterhood who lived like nuns.  In return for lodgings within the complex these women undertook to educate the poor and look after the sick.  The rows of houses that overlooks it's well-kept green include Amsterdam's oldest surviving house (no. 34).  The Southern fringe of the square is dominated by the Engelse Kerk (English Church), which dates back to 15th century.  Directly west stands the Begijnhof Chapel, a clandestine church in which the Begijntjes and other catholics worshipped in secret until religious tolerance was restored in 1795.  It once housed relics of the Miracle of Amsterdam.  

Highly influenced by AnnieNC's blog on the Churches in Venice I have really become fond of learning about and visiting the wonderful churches found in the places that I travel to.  So next I'll be visiting the Oude Kerk  which is the oldest church in Amsterdam.  It is said that Rembrandt was a frequent visitor here.  The old church is surrounded by shops, cafes and houses but it remains a calm and peaceful place at the heart of the busy Red Light District.   

Here's a few more things on my must see list, but with only 24 days left to go, I'll have to speed up my pre-trip blogging by posting the reference links here. 

Haarlem Day Trip - Haarlem (Wikipedia) is a small and quaint town recommended to me by Marta. Among the sites here is Market Square, Grote Kerk (Great Church), Frans Hals Museum.

Shopping  - I absolutely love the idea of window shopping.  Marta wrote an impressive and very helpful post covering the many shops to see in Amsterdam called Window Shopping in Amsterdam (Postcards from the Trail)

Biking (Well I gotta do it)  - Amsterdam on Two Wheels Post

Food - Indonnesian food comes highly recommended by AnnieNC, Jane, Marta & Girasoli, so I'll be sampling a dish (recommended by AnnieNC) called Rijsttafel (Rice Table) - I blogged more about it here, Amsterdam: My Food Adventures

And to whet my appetite . . .

Many thanks and appreciation to my blogging friends and fellow slow travelers, AnnieNC, Marta, Jane and Girasoli for all the helpful tips for this leg of my trip in Amsterdam. And many thanks also to Menehune, Barb, Sandra, Nancy, Anne and Maya for all the support. I can't wait to see all of these places during my time in Amsterdam.

Next up, Bruges and Berlin . . . .


  1. I would love to visit the Cat Museum! Reading this is making me want to return to Amsterdam.

  2. Hi K: The more you educate me along your way with research for your trip, the more I want to fit into your suitcase. Looks like you will have a lot of great memories, photos (please) and food (yum) along the way.

    I've had a hard time connecting at home to your website - it's probably just me.

  3. Hi Kathy, I am so impressed with your planning. I don't think you are going to suffer the "Did I miss something syndrome."

  4. Hi everyone, thanks so much for your comments.

    Hi Annie, I think you would totally love the Cat Museum. I was very happy that Marta mentioned it to me and with a little bit of research discovered that it is located in a beautiful part of Amsterdam. I'm very much looking forward to checking it out.

    H M, :) I wish I could take you along. I'm glad you like my posts. One of the things I really want to do is take lots of photos and video so I can do a really cool Youtube Travel video. he, he. Sorry about your computer connection. Its not you, sometimes I have trouble connecting to certain sites too.

    Hi Maya, LOL, nope I don't believe that I'll be suffering from that syndrome either. :)

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I only have a few more pre-trip posts to do and then it's on to packing.:) I think my clock says 23 days? eek!

  5. Hi Kathy,
    I just came across a blog with a post about Amsterdam and though you might be interested.

  6. Hi Maya, wow! thanks sooooo much for passing on the link to this great blog. I was just reading a couple of his entries and got hooked. I love the one he did on the canals. I'm going to go back and read more of his posts. Thank you so much Maya. I really appreciate it. Have a wonderful evening.


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.