Until last Friday morning – and in common with most people of my generation – I thought I knew everything there was to know about Amsterdam’s canal network.
How wrong I was!
We visited Amsterdam for a couple of days at the weekend, and one of our scheduled activities was a canal excursion with the second-highest-rated boat tour in the city, according to TripAdvisor.
Our captain for the 1.5-hour trip was Hans, a laid-back dude with long hair and a charmingly inaccurate command of English – except when it came to profanities, where his knowledge was wide-ranging and comprehensive. His fruity commentary caused some embarrassment to an Australian couple who were forced to interpret on the fly whenever their 10-year-old twin girls asked awkward follow-up questions, which was often.
We learned many facts on this tour, but here are the ones that have stuck with me beyond the weekend:
– Lots of things fall into the 165 canals of Amsterdam every year: 35 cars, 100 people, and over 10,000 bicycles.
– With one exception, all of the boat captains in Amsterdam are amateurs. Hans himself is the exception.
– His favourite prostitute is the one in the far-left window in the second bordello after the bridge.
– Daring to peek at the incredible interior of the Oude Kerk will ‘burble your mind’.
– A single glance at the beautiful ‘tainted-glass window’ in the Grand Hotel Amrath will ‘blow up your brains’.
– All Dutch people prefer canal water to Heineken.
I knew none of these things before the tour, so I consider myself educated and, yes, humbled by the experience.
The message is clear. No matter how much of an expert you think you are, there is always more to learn.
Just make sure you don’t overdo it, or you risk burbling your mind!