Thursday, August 11, 2011

Canal Tour

Started the day with a busride to the Centraal Station where we embarked on a canal boat for a tour.  These are low, wide and long and some artistry is required to weave them through canals designed for 17th century traders.  The canals are further encumbered in places by permanently moored houseboats.

We saw all the usual monumental buildings, all looking much newer than their age, as well as the Anne Frank Haus.  Amsterdam is built on marshy soil so the houses are actually constructed on top of wooden pilings.  Some of these pilings have subsided over time, causing the houses above to lean in all directions.  All the houses are built with a projecting girder and hook at the top so that furniture can be hauled up to the upper stories.  The staircases are too narrow to move furniture through.  To help this system, the houses are intentionally built with a slight forward lean so that the upper floors project further over the street.

Navigation on foot in the city is complicated by the canals, bicycle lanes, tram lanes and of course cars and buses.  Traffic proceeds in an eery semi-silence, with bikes being the quietest and most dangerous to pedestrians, followed by what I call The Silence of the Trams and then the polite cars.  Walkers need to be on the alert.

The Dutch themselves are tall, mostly blonde and fit, no doubt from all the bicycling and dodging.

Group of leaning houses known as The Dancing Houses

Floating Chinese restaurant
Modeled  on a Chinese version built to accommodate 800 Chinese, it nearly sank when 800 healthy Dutch boarded it for opening night.

Houseboats on Prince's Canal

Stately canalside homes

1 comment:

  1. Oh man! You are bringing back some great memories! Loved Amsterdam. Could easily live there... Food there is just okay as I recall (emphasis on ham and cheese), but the city is so bustling and exciting to explore.... Lots of nice-looking gals too, I remember...!