September 23, 2009

On To Amsterdam

We were not as excited about this canal city as other tourists might be as Adam and Isa had already introduced us to the smaller Belgium canal communities of Bruge and Ghent and we had been utterly charmed by them. Still, like all old European cities, it would take weeks to absorb the elaborate and beautiful architectual detail.

Aside from the detail work, the central, old section of Amsterdam can easily be explored by foot in a couple of days though we found the walking a little difficult. Bikes have fairly wide designated lanes while the pedestrian walkways are often narrow. As well, there was so much construction and renovation work that we were often squeezed into rather tight walking spaces. The brick or cobblestone "sidewalks" often had uneven surfaces - charming, but hard on the feet! We often noticed sidewalk heaving. A young chap in a pub told us that sidewalk repair was a never-ending process in the city. Street crossings are a real challenge. At intersections, we had to first cross the bike lane (bicycle bells ringing with sharp impatience if we stepped out too soon!), the tram section with tracks, and finally the car lane.

We stayed at The Bridge Hotel on the Amstel Canal and couldn't recommend it more highly for a stay in the city. The rates were modest compared to other hotels and if the interior was also slightly more modest with older furniture, they made up for that with a pleasant breakfast room and a wide selection of breakfast food included in the price. The staff provided excellent service and the room was spacious, with a balcony overlooking the canal and a swan to grace the vista!

The morning commute certainly does not resemble one in North America! For one thing, there are thousands of bicycles and they are stalled as often here with bridges being lifted over canals to let waterway traffic pass underneath as they are at traffic lights!

We poked through the flower markets along the Singel Canal and found tulip bulbs for Isa and some with Canada clearance certificates to take back to Rachael and Derek but no Dutch bulbs for our own garden. Deer eat tulips but not daffodils and they had none of the latter cleared for export.

We saw an unusual sight one morning on the way to Rijksmuseum (magnificent Rembrandts though, alas, two of their four Vermeer's were on loan) when we came upon a large fountain with about six inches of soapsuds covering the water surface and dogs taking a romp in the foam. Is this a local, extremely elaborate dog bath or the result of a dog owner tired of trying to bathe his pooch at home?

Ooster Park with its resident heron:

1 comment:

movita said...

Derek LOVES tuplips. We planted a mere six bulbs a couple of weeks ago, and I know he's dying to have more!