Begijnhof

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamStatue-4059

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamStatue-4059

This statue is located in one of the oldest inner courts in Amsterdam called Begiijnhof.  The court is home to the English Reform Church of Amsterdam and the Begijnhofkapel, a hidden church of Amsterdam.  Most of the other buildings are private homes, and there is also one of the two remaining wooden homes in Amsterdam since they were outlawed after a fire.  Read below for an explanation of these chapels along with some photos!

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Our Inn, Durty Nelly’s, one upped London’s hostel on the breakfast side of things. If was similar to St. Christopher’s Inn in Barcelona, as it was cheese, ham, jams, bread, and cereal. Not too bad.

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamCanal-4029Early morning Canal shot!

Since the city doesn’t have many big attractions or monuments like in other major cities, we weren’t entirely sure what to do today. A ‘free’ walking tour left around 11:00 from the square near the hostel, so we hopped in to try and get a better understanding of the city.

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamTour-4030Our Walking Tour guide.  Lived in the Netherlands his whole life, but moved to Amsterdam after having always dreamed of living there.  Spoke perfect English!

Thankfully almost everyone in Amsterdam speaks English, so there was never any language barriers to cross. Dutch is a very interesting language, some would say not the most ‘romantic’ of other languages with a lot of harsh sounds. Our guide tried to explain a few pronunciations to us, but as a western, it was very difficult.

Amsterdam is a largely Protestant populated city, so we learned of the 152 churches, a very small number are catholic. Initially many of the churches were used to repent the sins of the sailors stopping in the city, since its beginnings it had prostitution, drugs, and other sinful things. Sailors would go to a church after a night of doing what they did, and a priest or pastor would have a proclamation drafted with a specific amount of money required to repent for the sins. Since the men would be out on ships for months and have no way of spending it, they’d happily oblige to ensure a spot in heaven for themselves.

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamUSA-4055There was a carpet in the museum we swung through with a mosaic of hundreds of countries, with the USA represented above.

The Catholic Churches located in the city are all hidden. People hoping to practice their religion peacefully would convert the inside of their homes to prevent abuse from Protestants and others.

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamOutsideChurch-4069Outside Begijnhofkapel, a Catholic hidden church.

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamInsideChurch-4062Inside, the Chapel looks like a normal cathedral!

Another interesting fact about Amsterdam’s (now) legal prostitution (since 2001), women used to wear lots of layers, and it’d basically cost more for the amount of layers she was wearing because of the ‘thrill’ of undressing the woman. Now they basically wear just enough to cover themselves. Seems like a common theme among everything in life when compared to the past – insert inappropriate comment about how people are impatient and lazy now a days among other things – here.

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamNieuwmarkt-4034The Waag, located in Nieuwmarkt which is the central square of Amsterdam. This building used to be part of the gate to Amsterdam.  It has been used for odd things in the past: such as public showings of autopsies.

A unique bit about the cities architecture involves different movements in times. The city itself does a lot to ensure things are clean and safe, so a neighborhood of the city that was once home to drug dealers and addicts has been transformed into a lively street with restaurants and Europe’s first Buddhist temple built in the last 10 years or so.

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamGraffiti1-4040More interesting graffiti.

Another neighborhood that was initially a Jewish ghetto turned a vacant, crumbling neighborhood, was converted into an interesting place with crazy colors built in the 60’s.

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamNewNeighborhood-4035The tour guide was glad this movement didn’t cover the city.

Buildings look slightly slanted due to the city having been built on a swamp, and some buildings are built as if they’re leaning forwards. This is due to tight, steep stairwells that prevent moving large objects, so by having the house at an angle, objects could be hoisted up a few floors without hitting windows. Some building fronts are very small, as people used to be taxed on the width of the building. (Seen below).

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamSmallFront-4074

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamLeaning-4072 The posts on the top of buildings were used to raise items into houses.

The tour guide did a great job informing us of the city and earned his €5 tip!

April 04, 2013-AmsterdamVending-4044Literally fast food vending machines.. Only in Amsterdam.

We headed out to the airport again to catch a flight to Prague, Czech Republic departing at 19:10!

An hour and 45 minutes later, we touched down in the third country of the trip and made our way to the SG1 hostel.

Since we didn’t really eat dinner, we decided to find a restaurant to grab a quick bite. We ended up at a small restaurant down the street with a pretty unique decor. I got some Spaghetti Carbonara (Italian I know..). First time I’ve gotten it in Europe and was definitely happy with the choice.

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