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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Going Dutch in Amsterdam [Toronto Sun]


Amsterdam
A view of Amsterdam. (Shutterstock)

Amsterdam likes its numbers.


One hundred and sixty-eight canals, 1,248 bridges, population of 780,559 with 600,000 bikes and just as many bulb flowers (mostly tulips) in public parks and gardens.
While it's easy to distill the Dutch capital down to stereotypes -- let's not forget the wooden shoes and legalized prostitution and marijuana -- it's harder to articulate it's sophisticated vibe.
Which is how I find myself on Prinsengracht (Prince Canal) on a rental bike from my hotel ready to experience the city like a true Amsterdammer.
I'm not off to a good start.
My rental is a brand new shiny white three-gear model with tourist-issue logos.
Most Amsterdammers ride dark-coloured single-gear utilitarian ones.
After all, they cycle virtually everywhere and the bike is about getting from point A to B efficiently, not posing on a newfangled two-wheeler.
The stretch along the DoubleTree by Hilton's promenade goes smoothly.
There's no heavy commuter traffic there.

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