To truly feel like an Amsterdammer, one must own a bike. Sure the city isn’t very big compared to others like London or New York so walking just about anywhere is possible. Sure there’s a great public transportation system with trams, busses, and metros. But to fit in and get around easiest, a bike is a necessity. It’s been said that there are more bikes in Amsterdam than people and from what I’ve seen I believe it. They’re everywhere. In motion, parked along canals, waiting for their owners in parking lots. Yes, bike parking lots.
This past weekend my mission was clear: to complete the process of moving into the city and buy myself a bike. People have been asking me since day one when I’d be getting my own ride. Saturday was finally that day. I solicited the assistance and moral support of my expat friend. When we were both finally up and moving Saturday – around noon – we met for breakfast and walked to Waterlooplein. Every saturday there is a flea market at Waterlooplein with everything from new or used clothes, spare parts, food vendors, and a guy selling bikes. One should not question how this man comes into the possession of said bikes for that may be more information than one really wants to know.
Without asking too many questions I looked over the selection and asked what he had for under €100. He pointed out a few bikes in my price range (used of course) and I picked the one that looked the least abused. I took the bike for a little spin to test out the feel, the lights, etc and felt right at home on it. He wanted 85, I offered 70, deal was done. Well, almost. I still had to buy a lock. For 30. Yes, the lock was almost half as much as the bike. That’s just how it is here. Supply and demand and all.
So here she is, my beautiful new (to me) bike.
Now what would someone who just bought a bike want to do? Go for a ride? You got it! Sunday wasn’t quite as sunny as Saturday, but it was still a nice day bordering on Spring-like so a couple of friends and I cycled along the Amstel from Nieuwmarkt to Ouder Kerk. About halfway through the ride there’s a noticeable difference when you leave the city and enter open space. There are single family homes instead of canal houses, full size cars and SUVs instead of the teeny cars in the city, and fields. As we rode along the path, we passed rowing races as they were happening on the river and a couple of windmills. Here are some photos of the ride:
All in all, the weekend was an absolute success. I also managed to get in a trip to the Van Gogh Museum to see the Picasso in Paris exhibit, attended my first living room concert, and had a delicious Indian meal. Now I can’t wait for next weekend to get here to get back on the bike and head somewhere new.