The second day we woke up a bit late, took showers, and took it easy around the apartment for a bit. The apartment we had was very nice, well-kept, and well-stocked. The building had a large courtyard on the inside, and our apartment had a little balcony with table and chairs overlooking it.
We decided we’d go out, get some food, figure out our neighborhood a bit more, and then have some dinner later, and head out to meet Marc and Eva in the evening. I took some snaps of people going by in front of our apartment, and you can see the separated bike paths:
The way these particular paths work, is there is sidewalk, then marked bike path, more sidewalk, then the road, a median, the other side of the road, sidewalk, marked bike path, and sidewalk again. At each cross-street, there is sort of a ramped curb so that cars can drive across, and bikes can turn out of the bike path.
So we walked out and found a nice little natural grocery store near our apartment and stocked up on a few things, then came back to the apartment and made sandwiches for lunch, and ate out on our balcony.
After that, we decided to practice up for the evening, and headed out with the bikes to Oosterpark and to find an ATM to get some money out.
There’s a bit of a myth that goes around on this side of the ocean that creating separated bike paths will cause all bike traffic to move at a slow crawl. This myth will be completely erased if you ever go to Amsterdam. The only place the bike traffic moves slowly is in the very center along the canals where the streets are tiny and the space is shared with swarming pedestrians. On streets with separated paths like those above, much of the bike traffic moves quite quickly except at red lights, in which case it slows down to a walking pace (but usually doesn’t stop). We originally rented single-speed coaster brake bikes, and far from being too difficult, we found we couldn’t keep up with much of the bike traffic on them, and were more comfortable with freewheel (since that’s what we’re used to), so we swapped for 3-speed with hand brakes.
So, that evening we headed down to the center to Dam Square to meet with Marc and Eva.
One thing I was a bit surprised about is how people lock their bikes. There are so many bikes that it is completely impossible to provide parking racks for all of them. There are a lot of racks in most areas, but particularly in the center, there just isn’t space for many of them. This being the case, people just plop their bikes in any open space and lock the rear frame lock, and then wrap a giant heavy duty chain lock around the frame and front wheel. You’ll see masses of 50 or more bikes all in a square, for instance, just sitting there like this. If there is something convenient nearby to lock them to, those spaces will be full of bikes as well – fences along the canals, trees, sign posts, pretty much anything stationary might have bikes locked to it.
Anyway, we met up with Marc and Eva, and Marc took us to one of his favorite pubs for drinks – Cafe ‘t Adelaarsnest. We had a great time chatting and munching on Dutch cheese, meatballs, olives and some delicious Dutch beers.
After that, we headed off to Centraal Station to meet a friend of ours, Erika, who was coming to spend the rest of our time there with us, and Marc and Eva moved off for more drinks :)
Erika got in much earlier than we thought, so she ended up having to wait at the Centraal Station quite a while, but we finally met up with her and managed to get her back to our apartment safe and sound, including a trip on my rear rack from the Metro stop to our apartment :)
We chatted for a bit, and then headed off to sleep. All in all, a very nice day.