Living On Water In The City On Water

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By Rahul Viz

Throughout Amsterdam’s history, ships have shaped the face of the city. In the first few centuries they were mainly small fishing vessels and barges, later they made way for the larger merchant ships and Men o’ War, but now it is mainly the houseboats which give the waters of Amsterdam their distinguishing look. There are about 2,400 in the canals and in the waters around the capital. Living on water of course has its charms and also gives a feeling of freedom, but that isn’t the most important reason for all the houseboats. Other reasons also attributed to the popularity of living on water. In the Fifties this lifestyle became popular because of the shortage of affordable houses on the main land. In those days, many skippers sold their barges to acquire larger and more modern vessels, or because the inland waterways could no longer guarantee them a living. Amsterdammers in search of dwellings were able to buy these rejects cheaply and with a little work, they could be turned into attractive homes.

The hundreds of houseboats in Amsterdam’s canals are remarkable for their diversity. No two boats are alike. One can see sturdy Rhine barges that have retained their character next to more adventurously shaped vessels painted in many colors. Sometimes the houseboat is barely recognizable as a boat; a complete bungalow of wood or brick has risen on a flat barge. Freedom on the water, it may seem, but the local authorities do have regulations on houseboats, for instance they must be fireproof.

Houseboats don’t just house people. On the Singel near the Round Lutheran Church, a catboat has been moored for years. A team of enthusiastic volunteers takes care of nearly a hundred stray cats.

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There are almost 2500 houseboats, accommodating 6000 people, moored along the canals of Amsterdam. An average boat in the older parts of Amsterdam is pretty expensive and it includes the rights to the spot. The owners have to pay tax, as well as fees for garbage service and connections to gas, electricity and water. It might seem romantic to live on a boat, but it can get cold and damp in winter if there is no central heating, and maintenance bills are high.

Boat on Water studio is house boat which is rented out to tourist. This charming floating house is a wonderful opportunity to sample living on the water in true Amsterdam style. It is located on a quiet canal near Leidseplein, in the old city center. The interior is modern and elegant, and sports a full kitchen and bathroom. Outside there is a nice terrace with lots of plants, a good place to eat, drink and relax while one watch the boats pass by – it’s quite an unforgettable experience.

Boat Prins Hendrik is a beautiful, spacious houseboat, with kitchen, living room and bathroom with shower and toilet. Television and internet connection are available. The boat has a sun roof, and on demand a private parking place is available. The boat has two bedrooms with a double bed each, and there is an extra double sofa bed. It is located near the Centraal Station in the center of the city.

It is not only adventurous but also fun to live on houseboat, even if for two days.

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