POINTS OF INTEREST
Amsterdam's distinctive defense tower began life around 1487 as the end point of the city wall. The term schreien suggests the Dutch word for wailing and as lore would have it, this "Weeping Tower" was where women came to cry when their sailor husbands left for sea and to cry again when they did not return (there's a gable stone from 1569 of a woman and a boat on the Gelderskade side). However, the word schreier actually comes from an Old Dutch term for "sharp" and because the old city wall made a sharp corner here, this is a rather more accurate derivation for the tower's name. It's also famous as the point from which Henry Hudson set sail to America. A plaque on the building tells you that he sailed on behalf of the Dutch East India Company to find a shorter route to the East Indies. In his failure, he came across Canada's Hudson Bay and later—continuing his unlucky streak—the New York harbor and the Hudson River. He eventually landed at what is now Manhattan and named it New Amsterdam. The attached VOC café has a lovely view and serves jenever and other delights. On the next floor up, there's a nautical shop for modern-day sailors.