It was another beautiful bright sunny day when we woke up on Sunday. Breakfast in the hotel was really expensive, so while I was still waking up, Tim set off to try and find the Spar supermarket we'd seen next to Sloterdijk station. He came back reporting that our hotel is actually so close to the station that you can almost see the sign from there. It seems that on Saturday we had taken one wrong turn compounded by another and ended up taking a very long and involved route before we eventually managed to find it!
After breakfast we took the brief train ride to Centraal station and set off to explore Amsterdam. When we stepped outside the station, and the first thing we saw was this view of the IJ waterfront.
Consulting the map showed us that this meant we had come out of the wrong side of the station. When we walked around to the correct side, we immediately had a view which was a little less industrial
We didn't have a definite plan for where we wanted to go, so we set off down one of the streets, attracted by the pretty red and white patterns on this building.
We soon found ourselves on a little street alongside a canal with some very crooked houses.
Crooked houses seem to be a theme in Amsterdam.
We walked along the canals for a while....
...and ended up outside the Royal Palace.
In the same square as the Royal Palace is the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), which although it is called "New" was originally built in the fifteenth century, before being destroyed by fire in 1645 and rebuilt in a more Gothic style.
Across the square from the Royal Palace is the National Monument, which commemorates deaths in the Second World War.
Just around the corner we found this building, which looked very impressive although it turned out just to be a shopping centre.
We began exploring the little side streets in the old town...
...and at one point found ourselves in a pretty covered passage (alongside a Primark!). It had little sculptures on the wall which seemed to represent things that were typically Dutch (the nearest one in the photo is a clog).
Eventually we came to Amsterdam's main street, Damrak. It was crazily busy but there were some really beautiful buildings.
We probably should have found this street a lot earlier, as it leads straight down from the station, whose facade we could now see when we turned around and looked back.
One of the most impressive buildings on the street is the Beurs van Berlage, which used to be a thriving commodity exchange in Amsterdam.
These days it is used more as a concert and exhibition hall.
After a while we left the main street behind...
... and tentatively turned down one of the side streets. We didn't want to stray too far into the Red Light District, but we did want to see the Oude Kerk (Old Church) which now has the misfortune to be situated in it.
Luckily the church was quite easy to locate from its spire.
We strolled down one of the nearby canals, taking care not to be mown down by the ubiquitous bicycles.
This gave us a good view back towards the Old Church.
We were starting to feel pretty hungry by this point, so we stopped off at a little cafe for lunch. We both ordered a cheeseburger and it's a bit of an understatement to say that Tim was impressed when it arrived with an accompaniment of his favourite food: crisps!
After lunch we decided to take a stroll around the Grachtengordel, the ring of canals around Amsterdam's city centre.
There are so many canals that we quickly lost track of which one was which. Some were fairly small and narrow.
Others seemed a bit wider and grander.
Every so often the canals would intersect with each other and there would be a criss-cross of little bridges.
The canals were all lined by beautiful houses. It wasn't hard to see why this area is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The really crooked houses were definitely my favourites
We must have walked along the canals for several miles and were getting pretty tired in the heat, so eventually we decided to head back to the hotel for a while to cool off.
In the evening we had arranged to meet up with two other Esperanto-speakers who are currently living in Amsterdam for a drink. We ended up having quite a few drinks as we sat discovering our common dislikes of certain other Esperanto-speakers, before it got too chilly to sit outside any longer and we needed to head back to the hotel.
Overall we had a great first day in Amsterdam and were relieved to see that it really is a lot more photogenic than Eindhoven We're looking forward to seeing more on Monday!