I had known Amsterdam had a lot of parks, but I wasn’t expecting the areas outside of the official parks to be so well planted.

Amsterdam canal

Amsterdam’s famous flower market was pretty but not as busy as I thought it would be.  We were clearly off-season.

The flower market is famous for being ‘floating’ but it seemed fairly fixed on concessions that half hung over the water.

flower market amsterdam

I was also surprised by how many houseboats had decked out their outsides with plants and patios.

houseboat amsterdam

houseboat gardens

We took a canal bout tour which we enjoyed (especially the children).  We were told that there are 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam.  You need a permit to dock a houseboat and they are hard to come by.  The inside of many of the houseboats looked quite modern.  If you would like an inside tour of a house boat,  check out the home of an English ex-pat living in Amsterdam on Apartment Therapy.  Below, are photos of one particularly bedecked houseboat located across from the Anne Frank Museum.

We also wandered around the Jordaan which is a trendy neighbourhood filled with boutiques and cafes.  We were told the Jordaan was originally built for the working poor in 1612  and the word is probably a corruption of the word ‘jardin’ in French.   Many of the streets in the area are named after flowers.   So, it’s not only the Americans who think (a) putting a French word on something instantly makes it seem posher than it is and (b) housing developments with names from nature are an inoffensive way to name streets in a newly-built neighbourhood.

jordaan street

We also discovered that behind the pretty facades of the houses, there were beautiful not-so-secret courtyards for the benefit of the locals.  For example, across from the Noorderspeltuin (a large playground) was the courtyard of the buildings on the Karthuizerstreet.

Yes, we did a tour of the playgrounds of Jordaan, as well.  This family-oriented map came in really handy in finding our way around the Jordaan.  We placated our children with snacks and playgrounds before we could convince them to continue sightseeing.  We even found a playground with chickens and a lone rabbit being kept on-site!  The playgrounds were also well-planted and charming.  My children really liked the wicker tunnels.

We went to Amsterdam at the end of September.  I can only imagine how pretty the city must be in spring!