Bikes everywhere! One of the great things about Amsterdam are the bikes. There are very few cars in the city and no traffic jams. There are 10’s of thousands of bikes. There is a sign that says, “Smart people ride bikes”. Not sure about bikes? Here’s proof:
And more proof:
That would be a parking garage two levels and about 200 feet long, filled with bikes. This is my kind of town. And while I’m at it, I have to say, the Dutch are a beautiful people. It seems like everyone here should be a model. And one more thing: NO TATTOOS. Sorry, but I don’t like tattoos and for some wonderful reason, the Dutch don’t seem to care for them much either. Either that, or it just hasn’t caught on yet, like it has in the US. But, it is never-the-less refreshing to see beautiful peeps keeping their skin, well….beautiful. Have I mentioned the blue herons? They’re beautiful too, and love dark colored cars:
And yes, we are standing 10 feet away from this guy. He doesn’t have tattoos either.
Amsterdam is all about canals. Think of the city as a clam shell with the train station at the hinge center of the clam. The streets jut out more or less diagonally from the center, as do the trams (11 of the 16 trams route from the train station out, and one traverses the clam shell left to right). The canals all divert off of the Amstel River (yes, Heineken and Amstel beer….which no one here seems to drink), traversing the clam shell in 4 arcs, each just a few blocks apart. Smaller canals parallel the tram lines. Here are a few pics:
This pic above is for my brother Bruce. He would dig what you see here: House boats that reside on the canals. Yeah, people live on these boats that are either floating, or attached to concrete pads that are at water level. Some are really cool. A tour boat comes up the middle.
The other most important architectural feature of the city is the building of the city itself. This is marsh land. Hundreds of years ago, logs were soaked in some sort of creosote like solution and laid down in the marsh to create a base. I mean alot of lumber and as long as the wood stayed submerged, rotting would not be a problem. It was covered with sand. Later, they used concrete. Needless to say, the buildings here have settled and settled and most of the old part of town is ski-wampus. Here are two pics which are hard to decipher:
Above, look how the set of buildings lean forward just beyond the Mercedes van. You can see the gap between the first building and the next building directly behind the scooter widens as it travels up toward the roof. Because each city block is solid building side by side, the leaning is usually forward toward the street. No one seems to worry about this as the settling occurred a long time ago. Here is another shot where the grey strip on the red building appears wider at the top, than at the bottom:
Once you notice this, you find yourself marveling at how crooked the whole city is. It’s quite amusing, actually.
Part 2 blog will be the artistic side of Amsterdam.