Hitting the streets of Amsterdam

08 Apr

I realized a few weeks ago that I never wrote a proper post about our trip to Amsterdam. I shared several photos on my Weekly Project 365 recaps, but I’ve been meaning to write about the trip and something I discovered about my photography while we were there.

We decided to go to Amsterdam for a conference where my husband was presenting in November. This past fall was extra busy for me with about 30 flights in four months, traveling both for business and leisure. This was one of those trips, but for me, it was totally about leisure. For him, there was some work involved, but we certainly made the most of our free time.

We stayed at a small, but beautiful hotel in a residential neighborhood, just a few blocks from one of the main tram lines. We like these types of neighborhoods when we travel, because we prefer to immerse ourselves where the locals do. We find it more fun that way. Each morning we walked to a local café for our coffee and breakfast. It was a fun location because it was bustling with people on their way to work or simply taking an hour to meet a friend for coffee. I enjoyed watching everyone go about their business.

We went everywhere by foot or via the tram, which runs on the main avenues and streets of Amsterdam. The city is extremely walkable, but you’ll find people ride bikes….everywhere! You can’t turn any corner without seeing lots of bicycles. I loved it. It was funny to see that the smallest riders had their own seat in front while mom or dad did the pedaling. And there were lots of multi-seat bicycles on the streets, sidewalks and bike lanes. 

DSC_1074_edited-1_for blogWe made sure to do some shopping while we were there and tasted lots of Dutch cheeses in a shop downtown. We purchased a wheel to bring home, and the girls at the shop were kind enough to wrap it multiple times for our long trip home. If I lived in Amsterdam, I’d probably shop there weekly! I snapped this shot from the inside of the shop of their simple, but obviously effective (!) window display. I was lucky enough to catch someone walking in the street with an umbrella. The street lamps and lights from the surrounding shops allowed me to capture that moment, creating a nice bokeh effect.

DSC_1040On the morning of my husband’s presentation, we had to be at the university early. So, while he did his thing, I enjoyed a book and a coffee at a corner café. People were heading to work, merchants were opening their shops and stalls, and I spent a good two hours observing and reading. This is my idea of a wonderful, relaxing time. The stall across from me had a variety of bulbs and seeds for sale, and I snapped this shot as the sun was still coming up. As you probably know, tulips are a popular flower in the Netherlands. This vendor had so many bulbs to choose from.DSC_1048_for blogAmsterdam is also known for its beautiful canals. There are 165 canals and I found it fascinating to see how the city was laid out in relation to them. It was also fun to see that people still use them for transportation. While we were walking across a bridge, this man was sailing by on his boat. I wonder where he was going.

DSC_1156_for blogWe walked every day from the early morning to the late evening, enjoying the sites, the people and the autumn air. I purchased some earrings from a local designer for myself and a friend, and we visited several museums. I particularly enjoyed the Van Gogh museum (one of my favorite painters) and the Amsterdam museum (about the city and its history). Both were fascinating, but the Amsterdam museum takes the cake. I read this book before we left, and I think it really helped me enjoy the museum even more, because I was already familiar with much of the history of the “most liberal city”, as it’s often called.

The Anne Frank Museum, located in the actual home of the Frank family, was very touching. It was humbling to walk through the home where she and her family spent so much time locked away, in the darkness and fearing for their lives. The Secret Annex was more spacious than I was expecting, having housed eight people during the time her family was in hiding. But it was still very cramped, knowing that they were unable to go outside or even downstairs. After the war when Otto Frank returned to the home, he allowed for it to be turned into a museum, but he insisted that it not be furnished again to appear as it once was. However, walking through the rooms, you can still see remnants of photos Anne stuck to her bedroom wall, the wallpaper in the kitchen and the markings that showed where they measured Anne’s and Margot’s heights.

As you can see, I don’t have photos from the museums. For some reason, I prefer to walk through them, read about the history and just take it all in. I know I probably won’t look back at museum shots with poor lighting and reflective glass, so I tend to not take my camera out very often. I really prefer to photograph landmarks, people and daily life in the streets.

I think it was with this trip that my passion for street photography really began. I’ve always enjoyed people watching no matter where I am, but there was something about disconnecting from my own hustle and bustle to capture that of others. I find people intriguing. I wonder what they’re like, how their day is going, where they’re going and what they’ve been through in their lives. I enjoy watching people interact with one another (in an observant kind of way, not a voyeuristic one 😉 ). And more than anything, I’m captivated by the story that photos can tell about those I observe and the places I visit. I don’t mind getting lost in the crowd, being one of many in the streets of a large city. It’s actually one of my favorite things. Perhaps this is why we choose to vacation in large cities.

I hope to share with you my newfound love for street photography in upcoming posts and projects I have up my sleeve. As I mentioned to you before, I love to get out and explore new places with my camera. I hope to grow as a photographer and learn from the people and places I photograph.

When was the last trip you took and did you immerse yourself in areas with more locals than tourists? Do you enjoy people watching? If you are a street photographer, please share some of your work with us!


Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Photography, Travel


3 responses to “Hitting the streets of Amsterdam

  1. Mary

    April 19, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Love this post. Well written and I really like the photos!


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