Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam was where my first cruise ended and my second cruise began so that left me with plenty of time to walk about on my own and savor the sights, sounds, and smells of this city known for its canals and bridges, art museums and monuments, architecture and cozy alleys, food and drink, bicycles and more bicycles, and, yes, its Red Light District. Since there are books and blogs and travel sites aplenty about Amsterdam, I will leave the facts and figures to them and simply share a few thoughts and a range of photos.
Central Train Station
In Memory...Bronze squares in the sidewalk in front of the home of Jews who were deported and sent to Auschwitz
In Memory...An Eternal Flame to remember those who were deported and killed in the concentration camps
I arrived on a cold, grey morning, but left on a sunny afternoon and was, once again, reminded how the weather can greatly affect the way one sees a place. Hundreds of canals meander in and out of the city, framed by lovely old homes with intriguing facades of gabled roofs and hoisting beams that were used for the raising and lowering of goods and furniture. The homes along the canals are narrow because tax was measured by the width of your abode, except for the “Gentleman’s Canal” from Prinsengracht to Herengracht where the very wealthy lived; their homes were wider as paying taxes was not a problem…these were also the people who bought the Rembrandt and Vermeer paintings to cover their walls.
Amsterdam’s history, like so many cities in Europe, knew joy and sorrow, victory and defeat. In the early days, the Black Death, water and fire were its citizens’ greatest fears and in the 1930’s and 1940’s it was Hitler and the Nazi army. Amsterdam of the 21st century is a reflection of all that came before with hints of what is to come. Whether one chooses to get around by foot, bicycle, or tram, there will be surprises at almost every turn and, definitely, something for everyone.