Saturday, June 8, 2013

A morning stroll in Amsterdam

We were due to go to Mellrichstadt today to visit our exchange family from last year. Unfortunately my sister brought a flu bug along with her when they visited and passed it on to Marianne. It has really hit her hard.

But first some strawberries that we bought at the Landesmarkt supermarket. They were the most beautiful strawberries I can ever remember seeing and they taste as good as they look. The reason is here. Scroll down a bit.

My sister Clare is still here while her husband Ric goes to a conference in Utrecht and so brother and sister set out to conquer Amsterdam.

We got off the tram at the Amstel River which runs through the city. As you would expect, Amsterdam gets its name from the river as does the beer.

A set of locks.

Houseboats line the smaller canals. There are approximately 2400 families that live on of them in Amsterdam.

The Avon lady drives this in Amsterdam.

A street where the gables are adorned with a hook.  The hook is there to enable residents to pull large, bulky objects up and into a window at the appropriate floor.  Most homes in Amsterdam have narrow, steep, often winding staircases that make it difficult to bring large, bulky objects upstairs.

Some of the living spaces on the houseboats are quite large. A standard barge is approximately 5 meters wide.

This barge even had stained glass windows.

Many of the barges have hookups for water, sewer and electricity.

Solar power. It makes sense on a barge. There is even a company in the UK that sells a totally solar powered barge that can travel up to 100 miles per week. It doesn't sound like a huge distance but let me tell you from experience that 14 miles per day is pretty good going when your average speed is about 2 - 3 mph.

Another of those narrow houses on the corner.

Blokes repairing the bricks in the footpath.

So why have I taken three photos of this particular location? The answer is at the end of the blog.

This is such a massively heavy looking building. Clare found out more information about it here.

The carillon at the top of Mint Tower (Munttoren).

Window display of Delft China.

We then walked down the Bloemenmarkt which will get it's own blog here.

If I had a few dollars more, I could buy my clothes here. Clare and I had a discussion about what we would do if we won a lotto. It was agreed that my standard of dress would not improve even if I was flying across the Pacific at the front of the 747.

If you wander around long enough, you come across interesting things. We were looking for the Begijnhof and managed to find an outdoors book market.

One vendor was selling boxed sets of opera records in good condition at one euro each. I could have built quite a nice collection at that price. 

Earlier this year I ripped all of my classical CDs to be stored on a hard drive where it takes up about 400gb for over 1000 of them. I use a program called JRiver to organize it all and when I hook it up to my stereo I can order up any of my music using my phone or PC. It has changed how I listen to music because I am discovering music that I forgot I had. Most music organizers such as ITunes are useless for classical but JRiver is at least usable though there is vast room for improvement.

It took us quite a while to find the Begijnhof since we didn't realize that it would be behind a door. Take the time to read the Wiki link to get a sense of what this special place is about.

My sister Clare in the hallway leading to the inner court.

Even though there was a tour group present you could sense how peaceful this place was.

Just as I took the photo an older woman came out of one of the houses so it presumably is till in use today. Most of the courtyard is restricted to resident's use only.

If like me you wondered if there was any connection with the song 'Begin the Beguine', you can read about it here.

Stripping old paint is a pain in any country of the world. He was doing a great job with a heat gun and a scaper.

We then searched for the Civic Guards Gallery which seems to be part of the Amsterdam Museum. We did not manage to find it.

I'm not sure that we really found if but we did find this Mokum Museum cafe where we had lunch, a bowl of pea soup with mint.

One wall of the courtyard was lined with these exhibits. It looked like at night when the courtyard was closed, the little doors could be closed to protect the displays.

It was lovely sitting there in the peace and quiet. Much better than trying to eat lunch on one of the busy streets.

Just above where you pay at the cafe was this rusted bicycle.

Since Marianne is not keen on venturing into the red light district, I persuaded Clare that I wanted to haunt. When I first arrived in Amsterdam in 1974, the local Tourist Office room finding service put me in a hotel right in the center of this district.

To be honest, in daylight, you would scarcely know that much was going on though there were a few windows and doors with scantily clad damsels in attendance. Business was slow.

The hotel was directly across the canal from an old church that was being restored. I decided that this was not it.

Eventually we found the church and there still was a hotel there.

We then went west towards the Jordaan district where Marianne and I walked a few days ago. We walked by some of the same canals but also some others that were definitely not on the regular tourist beaten path.

This house boat was huge.

Amsterdam used to have a reputation for dog poo. This was the first I had seen in hours of walking and this was in a non tourist area.

A quiet residential area by a canal. We had walked a long way and we were both happy to get on to a tram and return home.

The answer to the location question is 007. James Bond (Sean Connery) enters this building at Reguliergracht 36 to meet Tiffany Case (Jill St John) in Diamonds are Forever. I think it is one of the better Bond films unlike Quantum of Solace and Skyfall which are the worst. I hate digital effects which are totally unconvincing.

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