Our first port was Amsterdam. The canals are the way to see Amsterdam, the "Venice of the North". The canal boats are covered and also have a free restroom on board; a local guide is on board to assist and tell you about Amsterdam; We went down many canals and under bridges. Some names I wrote are: Herengracht (Gentleman's Canal), Leidsgraucg, Grachterroute and Princenhaugt (Princes Canal); Leaning houses are common in Amsterdam. The city was built on wood on swamp land and the homes became water logged and started leaning to the house next to it. These are called "Dancing Houses"; Amsterdam is in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, they do not use the name Holland. There are houseboats all along the canals, these are registered and stay in the river year round. In March 2009, the canals were frozen and our guide was ice skating at that time; it was April 20 when we were there; Amsterdam has the largest bike garage (such as a car ramp) in the world, it also has the most bikes stolen anywhere in the world. Amsterdam is one of the most important commercial centers in Europe and the port is linked to the North Sea and other European countries by railways and canals. Amstel is the river from which Amsterdam took its name. It became the heart of the city after the river was dammed. From the south the river runs into town up to the town hall, near Waterloo and Munt squares then it branches off into several different streams throughout the city canals. At night, the river banks of the Amstel are a delightful place to enjoy the city lights. We went to a flower market that had lots of flowers, souvenirs and flower bulbs for sale. Amsterdam was not bombed during World War ll and so you will see old buildings.