Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Notes from Amsterdam


There's a third almost-silent potential pedestrian-killer here - the trams. God know how people survive in this city.

There are billions of bikes, many of them parked inside or outside the main station. In some cases, they're placed on top of each other. So, it's little wonder that they breed. Here's just a few of them relaxing in the (very) occasional winter sun. More often bathed by the winter rain:

I'm told no one ever forgets where their bike is but I don't believe it. The two-storey building on the left is not, by the way, a car park but a bike park. Probably the multi-storey building at the back is as well. Bikes like light, hence the windows.

After passing the bikes and negotiating a nexus of cars, trams, buses and bikes in front of the station, I find that Amsterstam is a city of love. A neon sign on a bridge tells me that "I LOVE YOU" and, on the top of a building to the left, I'm advised that both God and Jesus love me. Maybe that's why I don't get hit by anyone or anything.

I pass a place called HOTEL NEUTRAL, which doesn't seem to me to be the most enticing name I ever saw. Perhaps it's for those very modern ungendered folk who don't want to be either male or female.

This, astonishingly, is a shopping centre. But it must have been something else - a department store? - before it was converted. As I was about to take this foto, some Dutch royal - possibly ex-Queen Beatrix - drove past in a motorcade. We waved at each other, of course.

As everyone knows, this is a city of canals. And quite beautiful they are, too. Even in the winter rain and wind. Here's the obligatory foto, taken with freezing hands:

And here's an old boat I particularly liked:

The choice of international restaurants is wide here. Looking for as Asian option, I lucked into a little place called NOOCH, where I had a superb Balinese chicken. See my Tripadvisor review, which I'll write/I wrote at the airport today.

There are also plenty of cafés, of course. I only realised the one I'd chosen was a hated Starbucks when the guy in front of me was having his name written on a styrofoam cup. So I promptly left and went next door. And had the choice of a croissant made with butter or with something else. Which is an offer one never gets in Pontevedra. It's all pig fat there, in case you didn't know.

Finally . . . Here's a discarded champagne cork in a puddle of rainwater in Haarlem's main square. A fitting symbol of my departure from this lovely large town/small city.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

A Dutch comedian already observed long long ago (we're talking the 70s here, I believe) that there are two kinds of pedestrians in Amsterdam: the fast ones and the dead ones.

The building that now houses the unlikely shopping centre used to be the central post office until the 1980s.

Lastly: do you really want to tell me you went to Amsterdam and did not go and get drunk (like Winston Churchill) in its very oldest, most charming and most typical Proeferij called 'Wijnant Focking'?? Even though I told you to? Why go through the trouble of traveling, I wonder, if all you do is wonder around ugly streets taking even uglier snapshots of rusty iron and the insides of neon cafés they have back home as well???


Colin Davies said...

I will be going back for evertything I missed. But hopefully not in your disreputatble company.

Colin Davies said...

And an Iranain comic - or me - said that about Tehran decades ago. The quck and the dead.

Suzan Yahsi said...

I've told you it used to be a postoffice!

Alma Patist said...

Colin!! Why didn't you let us know you were around the corner. Amsterdam is 25 minutes by car from us. Anyway, when do come back - know that you have a place to put your bags down, a decent bed, breakfast, lunch and dinner - on the house!!