Canals, tulips and cheese: Barack Obama soaks up the Dutch scenery

James Munto and Barack Obama.Photo: Pure Boat

Former US President Barack Obama was everywhere when he recently visited Amsterdam to speak at the Ziggo Dome.

If you were out on the canals of Amsterdam on a Sunday morning, you might have seen him on an electric boat with his friends and guards.

Pure Boats’ James Munt hosted the former president, his security team, and four friends. Mundt, who co-owns canal cruise company The voyage soon came together, along with his wife Geertje and colleague Nick Mezas, he told Dutch News.

On King’s Day they decided to go on a boat trip with some friends and asked if one of them would bring someone along. That “plus one” was someone who works on the production team for Obama’s current European tour.

“He had such a good time with us that he said he would bring Obama on board,” Mundt said. I thought, “Okay, let’s see about that,” but sure enough, he started texting me the next day.

There was just one problem. It was fully booked for a Sunday when the former president wanted to go on a tour. “But you can’t say no to Obama,” Mundt said. “We said we would make it work.”

low-key trekking

Obama’s team requested the company’s Scholevaar. This is a classic canal boat originally he built in 1912, then restored with an electric engine. Mundt and his colleagues loaded up with a platter of drinks and snacks before meeting Obama and his team for the tour that began at 11:00 am.

“By that time most of Amsterdam was out of business, so it was still pretty quiet,” Mundt said.

Mr. Obama on a boat. Photo: @eddie_amsterdam

After climbing overseas, Obama told him he was looking forward to his time off. To avoid the crowds and photographers, Munt sailed into the city’s quieter waterways.

“I think he was enjoying his anonymous time,” Mundt said. “Of course, at the start of the trip, some people were yelling and taking pictures. I took him to the east side of the zoo, past the zoo, through the plantage, a very pretty part of Amsterdam, I tried to show him as much diversity as possible.

The tour continued past the National Maritime Museum, along the Ramgracht and finally down Amstel.

curious about the city

During the tour, Mundt was able to chat with the former president for a while. They talked about what life is like in Amsterdam, climate change and how concerned the Dutch are about water management and sea level rise.

President Obama seemed surprised that the canal froze regularly during the winter months, allowing residents to ice-skate on the canal.

“I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the most famous people and public figures over the years,” Mundt said. As a person who really stood out to me, he somehow managed to keep himself strong.

culinary tour

The canal wasn’t the only tourist attraction Obama visited. Monday he spent in the tulip fields of Boemster, north of Amsterdam. He had lunch (goat cheese salad and fries) at his 1612 cafe in his Noordbeemster.

His choice of eatery on Sunday was a little more upmarket. For lunch he was at Ron Gastrobar in Ouderkerk (rijsttafel in Indonesia) and for dinner he was at De Kas in Oost, Amsterdam. don’t be a big fan of asparagus.


The big event was Monday night when Obama was interviewed by journalist and TV host Janine Abling. Evening with Barack ObamaThe tickets weren’t cheap. A simple seat in the stands was €104 and a front row seat was just over €400. A dinner and pre-party with the option to take a selfie with the former president sold for €2,750. Het Parole.

The event helped raise funds for the Obama Foundation, which seeks to inspire, empower and connect people to change the world.

for about an hour discussion, Abling and Obama talked about his presidency and family life, along with the recent impact of global climate change, gun laws in America, and AI tech like ChatGPT. He also praised Amsterdam.

“Try to appreciate what you have,” he told the audience. “You have a beautiful city.” Canals, tulips and cheese: Barack Obama soaks up the Dutch scenery

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