zephyr illusions photo by donna October 1992. The view atop Chasseral, Jura Mountains looking across Switzerland to The Alps on the horizon. Fog, intensely thick, rising from Lac Bienne and stretching its fingers high onto the Lignières-Plateau de Diesse after wholly filling the valley below the plateau.

Monday, September 12, 2005

European Adventure 2005 Day 5

today was another day of exploring Amsterdam.... this time, in addition to tram and foot, i took a tourboat ride around the canals. it was pretty cool to see the waterways and the harbor while listening to the recorded tour speech describing what we were passing, but i don't think it was worth the 16 Euros it cost me. i've gotten much more enjoyment out of discovering Amsterdam by foot. wish i would have rented a bike and tooled around town rather than take the boat tour.
speaking of bikes... i think i must have improved in my usage of the complicated, crowded and confusing streets/tram tracks/bikepaths/pedestrian paths... i have not had a bicyclist ring their bell furiously at me since my first day here when i was nearly run over by a stampede of mad Dutch bicyclists :) in the last days, i only get a polite bell ringing if a bicyclist is coming behind me on the pedestrian path... sometimes, pedestrians and bicyclists share the same section of the passageways.
it is very interesting to see how the Dutch have been able to squeeze 4 distinct passageways into the narrow streets.... cars, trams, bicycles and pedestrian paths. often trams and autos share the same section of the streets.... kind of scarey to be driving on the street over the tram tracks wondering what to do if a tram suddenly appears, but it seems the locals must have an innate sense of how to avoid/handle this situation.
call me weird, but i see this sharing of the small roadways by so many different modes of travel as an indication of how adaptable and accepting are Europeans, in general, and the Dutch, in particular. it's indicative of how people here know that we are all in this small world together and we all need to share the space with others and not take more than our fair share of limited resources. dunno, just a thought that came to me today as i was walking across the busy Leidseplein. trams, autos, bikes, motorbikes and pedestrians all sharing a common space... at first glance it looks very chaotic, but in taking a moment to observe it became obvious to me that there was order to the seeming madness.

so, the big event for me today was going to a live show at the Paradiso. (that's the Paradiso in the photo) wow! how cool is it to hear a good rock band play in an old church! the band i saw is called Wilco and they were very, very good. the house really got into the show and the band responded. Wilco did 2 encores for a very pleased crowd. Paradiso is really quite a cool place. so neat to see the band on stage with stained glass church windows as the backdrop. the concert hall is rather small with a mainfloor where there is a bar on one side and the mixing board/sound engineering center on the other side of the hall opposite the stage. two tiers of balconies rise above the main floor. the outside architecture and interior of Paradiso still looks like a church with the exception of having no pews, but i did notice there are seats on the balconies. i stood beside the mixing board, trying to charm the sound engineer into plugging my iPod into his Powerbook that he was using to record the show. hehehe, he was very nice, but was unwilling to disconnect his own iPod :p
oh, and, the acoustics in Paradiso are great. so happy i was lucky enough to catch a good show at Paradiso... i've watched several of their webcasts, so it was a real treat for me to attend a live show there.
i've had such a good time in Amsterdam, i am a bit disappointed to leave already. but, i'm off to Utrecht which should prove to be quite interesting.
i just hope i have good internet connection at my hotel there. my Amsterdam hotel is real nice and the owners are very accommodating, but the internet connection here royally sucks!! i cannot believe i am paying 10 Euros per day for almost non-existant internet service. oh well, just got to learn to be happy with what i got and go with the flow, eh? don't wanna be the typical complaining unhappy American, do i? :)
hehehe, which reminds me of something cool that happened to me, again, today.... i was again mistaken for a European tourist rather than an American tourist.... it happens to me often when i travel and this pleases me very much, i must confess :) anyway, i don't know what nationality he thought me to be, but a Dutch cafe owner was telling "stupid American" jokes to the Belgians sitting at the table next to me. (hehe, i find this funny, cos don't the Dutch usually make fun of Belgians??) his jokes were pretty comical and i laughed at them, too. when it came time for me to leave, i asked for my check. lmao, the cafe owner must have taken better notice to my accent and his face reddened a bit as he asked where i was from. i suppose i should have been kind and told him that i'm Canadian or sumthin, eh? but, he handled the situation quite well... he explained to me why The Netherlands is below sea-level. it's because once upon a time a Dutchman accidently dropped a penny and it sunk into some soft soil... the Dutchman desperately began digging with his shovel trying to find it....
:D :D


  1. So you're coming to Utrecht. Looking forward to hear what you find of "my" town.. well not really my town, but i work there.

    As for the joke on the dutch penny. It is always assumed the dutch are very "zuinig" [don't know the english word], as you have the Dutch treat and stuff like that.. But why then, is it called an american party if you have to bring your own drinks and food :D

    Well.. enough about the difference. Hope you'll enjoy Utrecht!

  2. so, you work in Utrecht, Prof.? hmmm, that's cool, dunno why, but for some reason i thought you lived and worked in Amsterdam. nice to know you work in such an old town.... Utrecht is ultra-ancient even by European standards, right?
    well, i've got a great vibe from Utrecht, already. will write about it later.... i'm really tired at the moment cos i walked a lot of kilometres. lol, living up to my standards and got very lost, again. thank goodness for friendly natives who don't mind helping wandering souls find their way :)

    'zuinig', eh? hmmm, maybe it translates as something like 'thrifty'? or, maybe, 'frugal'. cos the popular stereotype placed upon the Dutch is that they wisely know how to make a penny last... which is a good trait, isn't it? :)
    lol, i've never heard of the term 'american party', but i surely understand the concept.... where i come from it's not unusual for a group of people to have a get together and everybody brings a "covered dish". this means everybody brings a special dish of food or something to drink and everybody shares with each other. that way everybody can have a complete meal, but each person has to make (or buy) only one dish. sounds kinda 'zuinig', doesn't it? :p
    hehehe, maybe the Dutch and Americans aren't very different from each other? :)

  3. No way would i live in amsterdam. Much to big for me :). Even though i work in Utrecht, i live outside Utrecht in a much smaller place. I'm not really someone for big towns...

    Well, looking forward to your stories. Keep up the great work writing your travel tales.