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
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
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.