Sunday, 29 September 2013

Going Dutch

Jean devised a walking tour which we followed today.  We started on the Herengracht.  First, we went looking for West India House, the headquarters of the Dutch West India Company, but we couldn't find it.  Along Brouwersgracht, we saw old warehouses that have been turned into expensive apartments.  

Soon, we passed under the Noorderkerk, or North Church, where we found a lively market.  We kept walking, all the while the scenery staying very much the same.  In fact, you could easily get lost in Amsterdam. Everywhere you go, Elm trees line the canals, crude old bikes by the million are chained to railings along the canals and on the bridges, boats and barges sail along the canals contentedly, and it doesn't change wherever you go.  

All the while you really have to have your wits about you.  When crossing the street, it's easy enough to watch out for cars, and motor bikes' engines always herald their approach.  But push bikes blend into the periphery.  You don't hear them coming, and you could easily collide with one.  Along the Keizersgracht, a slow-moving horse and cart annoyed drivers behind, and then push bikes behind the drivers decided to use the footpath.  I nearly became a casualty.

At one point, we found ourselves again on the Prinsengracht, the site of the Anne Frank House.  I realised that Ann's hiding place was and is in the shadow of a tall church that offers views far and wide.  I could see what Ann missed out on, being cooped up at the end of summer.  Going for walks along the canals like we were doing, the sun glistening in the water.  She would have liked that.

Along the Herengracht, we saw wealthy people's houses, saw the Museum Willet-Holthuysen, decorated in the style of Louis XIV.  We finished up on the Amstel River.  Around here are plenty of barges and houseboats.  

On the river Amstel are many house boats and barges...
The Skinny Bridge is on the Amstel.
Amstel is also the name of a Dutch beer.
The market beneath the Noorderkerk

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