Amsterdam, the Netherlands



offer landmark hands-down
tour Versailles make up (2)
varied suburb beat/beat/beat (2)
dam livable nationality
local display square (3)
royal palace impressive
castle mayor capture (2)
civic photo op celebrated (2)
amass show (2) rise/rose/risen
canal convey concentric
arc ensemble UNESCO World Heritage Site
drain Calvinist commission (2)
way (2) modest unimaginable
subtle escape indication
settle boast (2) sightseeing
attract architect master (3)
diary swamp destination
urban annex (2) hide/hid/hidden
planet condition claustrophobic
logo on offer unfurnished
soil exhibit on average
fine myth (2) install (2)
grass onward estimated
spirit collection






Amsterdam is hands-down Europe’s capital of bicycle riders. It’s home to an estimated nine-hundred-thousand bikes — that’s more than the population of the city center.

In 2001, the world’s first bicycle parking garage was built at the city’s central rail station.

Sean Cody has been offering individual sightseeing tours of the capital with his company, Joyride Tours, for the past seven years; naturally by bike.

Sean Cody, Joy Ride Tours: “For me, one of the most interesting things about Amsterdam isn’t just the beautiful city, but it’s also the citizens that make up the city.

It’s people from all over the world — and it actually just beat out New York as having the most variety of nationalities in any city in the world.

It’s also a very small city, so I find it quite enjoyable that it’s only about 1.6 million with the suburbs, maybe eight-hundred-thousand (800,000) in the city center. So you get this international city feel, but you’re in a very small livable, enjoyable city.”

Many of Cody’s tours start off at Dam Square, the birthplace of Amsterdam. In the thirteenth century, local fishermen damned the river Amstel, and settled in a village they called “Amsterdam”.

The square is also home to the seventeenth century Royal Palace.

Sean Cody, Joy Ride Tours: “Originally, this was not a royal palace; this was the mayor’s office in Amsterdam. And if you look at it, that’s why it’s not an impressive building. If you compare it to Versailles or Windsor Castle, it’s not impressive at all.

But originally, this was the largest civic building in Europe, and it celebrated the power of the republic.”

In the seventeenth century, Amsterdam rose to become a key center of international trade, amassing unimaginable wealth. This is when the world-famous Canal Ring area was developed.

Swampland was drained using a system of 165 canals and concentric arcs.

Today the urban ensemble is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Often the houses along the canals were commissioned by wealthy merchants.

Many were Calvinists, which is why the houses are modest in design . . . wealth was displayed in more subtle ways.

Sean Cody, Joy Ride Tours: “This black house here is a very good indication of that: it’s a very thin house, it’s quite tall, and if you look at the glass on it compared to the house right behind me, you’ll see it’s got very large windows. This was a way of showing wealth in the old days.”

Amsterdam boasts no fewer than forty-four museums. One is the Van Gogh Museum. It houses a collection of two-hundred (200) works by the Dutch artist.

Another must-see is the Rijksmuseum, the National Museum of the Netherlands. It was already a traffic friendly building when it opened in 1885.

And today, it could well be the only museum that you can ride a bike through.

It holds works by Dutch Golden Age masters like Vermeer and Rembrandt.

Sean Cody, Joy Ride Tours: “The Rijksmuseum was built around the 1800 and it’s designed by a gentleman by the name of Pierre Cuypers. And if you arrive in Amsterdam by train and you see the central train station, it’s actually designed by the same architect, so that’s why they look very similar in design.”

One of Amsterdam’s top tourist destinations lies on the Prinsenhof, The Anne Frank House. Every day long lines form outside the museum. In 2016, it attracted almost 1.3 million visitors. This is where the thirteen (13) year old Jewish girl, Anne Frank, went into hiding with her family during World War Two to escape the Nazi, and where she wrote her world-famous diary.

A tour of the secret annex conveys the claustrophobic conditions of the hiding place. The rooms are unfurnished, but there’s an exhibit of personal objects that belonged to the people who hid here.

Onward by bike through Amsterdam.

The Netherlands are famous for their cheeses, so the next stop on our tour is one of the many cheese shops in the city.

Kaashuis Tromp has all the classics on offer: among them gouda, emmentaler and edam.

Danny Brouwer, Kaashuis Tromp Cheese Shop: “The soil in the Netherlands is very good for growing really fine grass, so keeping cows is really a thing for the Dutch, and cows give a lot of milk of course and from that milk they make the cheese.

We make a lot of cheese, we eat a lot of cheese. The Dutch are on average, the tallest people on the planet, and the myth is that that’s because they eat a lot of cheese.

Sean Cody’s tour ends at a more recently installed landmark, the giant “I am Amsterdam” marketing logo is a popular photo op for visitors and one that captures the inclusive spirit of this open city.


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1. Dutch people are obsessed by luxury cars, sports cars and SUVs. Is this entirely true, mostly true, in the middle, yes and no, mostly false or completely false?

2. Everyone in the city of Amsterdam is a native Dutch. Is this right or wrong? Are the foreigners and immigrants only from other European countries?

3. Where is the birthplace of Amsterdam? How was the city formed?

4. Is the most beautiful building in the city square a cathedral? Is it the most beautiful in Europe?

5. Did the Netherlands trade with other countries or was it isolated?

6. Rich people live in opulent mansions. Is this right or wrong?

7. Are there three museums in Amsterdam? What do they display or exhibit?

8. The Dutch people are medium-height. Yes or no?


A. I have visited Amsterdam and other parts of the Netherlands. Yes or no? If yes, what did you see?

B. Are there many tourists, foreigners and immigrants?

C. What are the positive and negative aspects of Amsterdam?

D. I would like to live, work or study in Amsterdam.

E. Are there other cities similar to Amsterdam or is it totally unique

F. What will happen in the future?

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