Saturday, 30 June 2007

Amsterdam Postcards Redux

DSC_8747I’m in Amsterdam once again for another meeting with our friends at RAVU. Like the last time, it is raining in Mokum. While Angie, Ollie, and I have come to know the Amsterdam scene well, Karen had never been before. We looked forward to showing her the sights of the city. We kicked off our tour of the city with a beer and a snack at Dam Square. Angie got friendly with our table-neighbors when she raised her umbrella (while under the canopy) and hit the lady next to her. None-the-less, we settled in and enjoyed our refreshments.

As per my usual practice, I was up at dawn to wander the streets to see what I could see. DSC_8759I was surprised by how crowded Amsterdam had become. I guess it was the start of the high season for tourists. Even at 5:00 in the morning there were many people wandering the streets, still drunk and still drinking. As you can see, garbage from over-night revelry was everywhere. I say ‘kudos’ to the city cleaning crews, who usually managed to clean things up just in time for the shops to re-open at 9:00.

DSC_8765 One constant in Amsterdam seems to be photo exhibits. On my last trip, there was the exhibit for the 2007 World Photojournalist Awards. This time was Steve Bloom’s exhibit “Spirit of the Wild” outside the Westerkerk. His photos are phenomenal. Click HERE to go to his home page a take a look for yourself.

Angie and I tried to repeat our York trip with a trip to Rotterdam, however the late nights and miserable weather conspired against us and we didn’t get to see much other than the inside of the train. Since Angie’s birthday is coming up on July 4th, we were joking about her age and I kept singing the commercial jingle “I’m a big girl now” over and over. I guess this sensitized me to little girls walking with their parents and I caught these two at obviously different life stages (and different dependencies on their parent).

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DSC_8803Back in Amsterdam, the sun came out and I met up with Ollie and Karen, who were on a shopping mission. I toured around the flower market. I think there was every flower known to man on sale there, if not in bloom, then certainly in seed or bulb form. I noticed that while many take in the canal boat cruises offered by tour operators, others rent small boats to tour around in. I was amused by the contrast between the multitude of bicycles and the reception offered by the flower vendors. There were “no bikes” signs everywhere. It was quite warm and many people were enjoying an ice cream, sitting on the steps watching people go by.


A few streets away from the flower market, near one of the museums, I took in this display about the different kinds of trees in Amsterdam. Local school kids had completed small exhibits to go with the facts about the trees, which made it quite interesting.


Angie had met up with Karen and Ollie for a beer (or two) in De Wallen (the red light district). I'm guessing everyone knows why it is called the 'red light district'? Of course it is because the 'working ladies' have red lights outside their windows to indicate their profession, but I have no idea why the colour used is red, but Wiki has some background here.

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Anyway, I tracked Ollie, Angie, and Karen down and we headed out for a bite to eat back near the hotel. Karen borrowed my camera and took a few shots of the scenery. Here is a great shot she took of the crowded alleyway near where we were eating.


Seeing a sunset in A’dam was new to us (it has always rained before) and it was interesting to see how everything looked so different. The contrast in light lent itself to the more modern buildings of Amsterdam. I found this one a bit odd, though, with the way every floor was a walking way or gantry leading to an external fire escape.


There are more photos from this trip and you can see a slide show of them HERE, although they are buried in with my other shots of Amsterdam and you won't get to the new ones until the end. (Hint, try using the file locater at the bottom of the show to advance to the shots you want to see)

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