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last day in amsterdam
By Dennis Batchelder 27 June 1999

tomorrow i am flying home! my flight is scheduled out of amsterdam on sunday, so i took the train here from brussels last night.

here's what i've learned today in amsterdam (sorry, no adventure this time!)

1) the city was founded by fisherman on the river Amstel. in 1612 it was granted city rights, and it's grown ever since.

2) the city has always been a haven for protestors. the pilgrims started here before they sailed for america; the hugonots, lutherans, catholics, jews, etc. all have had large contingents at various times.

3) anne frank's house was in amsterdam. she hid here with her family for two years before being discovered and sent to the concentration camps during world war 2.

4) there are over 100 canals in the city, travelling over 40 miles. the canals make "rings" around the center, and the streets radiate out. like a giant bulls-eye. there are over 1,000 bridges throughout the city, to cross all the canals. in every canal, there are "canal bikes", houseboats, and tourist boats. all boats are very low, because most bridges do not go up and down.

5) bicycles are everywhere. this seems to be the quickest way around the city. some amsterdam-ites think that bicycles are public property, and have no problem "borrowing" an unlocked one. the bikes are different than in the states - they're mostly single-speed, and all are what we call "ladies" bikes - there's no big bar going from the seat to the handlebars like the men's bikes in the states have.

6) if the dikes were to be opened, amsterdam would be under 5 feet of water. and the airport would be under 18 feet. you can imagine how important dike maintenance in the netherlands is!

7) graffiti is everywhere in amsterdam. these are the new generation of budding artists, waiting to be discovered as the next rembrandt or van gogh. some of the graffiti is quite good.

8) the dutch attitude towards sex and drugs is interesting: control it through legalization. there are at least 3 "red light districts" in the city. walking through these parts, you can find any sex imaginable. the prostitutes have their "offices" there - they sit on a chair in front of their glass door, smiling at the people walking by. i saw every color, shape, and size. when a customer finds what he likes, he goes in, the curtain is closed, and the business is transacted. then the prostitute goes back to the window. you can also find cannibis shops, and special cannibis bars for smoking it. (no, i did not "partake" of either :-)

9) the "symbol" for the city of amsterdam is st. andrew's cross, repeated 3 times. you see it everywhere - "X X X". every fire hydrant, pillar, public building, flag.

i hope you all enjoyed reading my travel emails as much as i enjoyed writing them. since i fly home tomorrow, this is my last one.



last day in amsterdam - netherlands