Having completed our first day in Amsterdam by walking around on our own, we thought it would be informative to go on a proper tour of the city of get an idea of the city’s history. So on the following day, we headed towards the starting point of Sandemans New Amsterdam free walking tour. These free tours are organised in many major tourist cities in Europe and past experiences have proven them to be very informative and useful. Whilst they are free, the tour guides receive their income based on tips at the end of the tour, so if the tour was satisfactory then it would be appropriate to tip the tour guide a reasonable amount.
The tour started off in Dam Square with our tour guide, Simon, telling the group about the history of Amsterdam in a nutshell and how it came to be. Eventually we headed over to the Red Light District for another history lesson. This sculpture on the ground beside the Old Church was pointed out to us. It was placed in the pavement by an unknown artist in the dead of night many years ago. To this date, it represents the women of the Red Light District and is a symbol of the city’s respect towards anonymity.
Along the tour we were also told why almost all the building in Amsterdam are slanting forwards. It was due to the pulley system built on the top of the front of each building to lift big and heavy objects into the building through the big windows. With the buildings leaning forwards, objects being lifted by the pulley system would not scrape against the wall or hit the windows on the way up.
Halfway through the tour, we were back at Dam Square and stopped for a short break to get a drink. We could go anywhere that we wanted, but the tour company has an arrangement with Coffee Company so we decided to just get some coffee there.
We also informed the cashier that we were in the tour group and we were presented with two complimentary Gouda Stroopwafels – one for each of us. These syrup waffles are a traditional Dutch snack. Delicately sweet, they’re best eaten when warm. More information on Coffee Company can be found on their Dutch website.
We continued on the tour after the short break. Another point of interest in the tour was The Begijnhof. This compound used to be a Béguinage and now serves as private dwellings. Even though it is located in the centre of the city, very near to the busy Dam Square, this compound was peaceful and serene.
The tour ended near the Westerkerk and the Anne Frank House. Pictured above is one-thirds of the Homomonument near the Westerkerk. It is a monument commemorating all homosexuals who have been subject to persecution due to their homosexuality.
The tour was really informative and rich in history. Do not be put off by this, it was not dull in the least. Simon made it funny and interesting to hear. Having been on the tours in other cities, it will be safe to say that all the Sandemans tour guides will make their tours funny, interesting and informative at the same time. The tours are really value for money as one can decide how much money to tip the tour guide at the end (if at all, but it’s kind of mean if you don’t tip after such excellent service). Readers can check out the Sandemans New Europe website to find out which cities tours are being offered in. We would really recommend going on these tours on the first or second day of a visit to a new city to get some historical background to the city and to get a rough idea of the city’s layout. One can also ask the tour guide any questions during and after the tour and they will be happy to help (for instance, we asked where we can get good Indonesian food, but that’s a story for another post).
1012 NP Amsterdam