Disclaimer: This post is overflowing with photos. And also quite long.
With that said...
Hello from Amsterdam!
We stayed in this part of the Netherlands for about two days. It was colder than I was used to --- most of Europe is colder than I'm used to, in fact, since the temperatures back home are between 75-90°F --- but the views and everything else made up for it.
Pretty occasionally leaning houses line the canals.
I'm on a beautiful bridge.
How about looking under those bridges?
Some extremely observant readers may have noticed the abundance of bikes in most of these photos. If you haven't, you can scroll back up and look. See the bikes? Good. Well, the Netherlands is Bike Country --- I have a sinking feeling I should not have capitalized that term. --- which means there were more bikes than people once upon a time. I think the ratio of bikes to people is about one to one now, though.
The guide on our Amsterdam tour waxed poetic about these two-wheeled contraptions: exercise, frugality, decreasing the amount of poisonous car fumes in our atmosphere and saving the world. Among other things.
This is all pretty good but very demeaning for people who are as imbalanced as I am.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I do not know how to ride a bike. I can drive cars with automatic (and even manual) transmission, but I can't pedal a bike without falling for more than five seconds. Some people say this impaired my childhood antics but I think I found other crazy things to do back then.
This doesn't mean everyone pedaled around the city though. There were also buses and other modes of transportation.
other modes of transportation
So what else is synonymous with Dutch culture? Aside from those wooden clogs, of course.
My sister felt we just couldn't leave the Netherlands without seeing an antique windmill. And though we missed the tour we actually wanted, we did get to see one.
This puts the phrase tilting at windmills in a new perspective. The phrase is derived from Don Quixote's fictional attempt to fight a windmill with large sails that was so much bigger than him. What was he thinking?
Meanwhile, the Engineering part of me --- you know, the part that goes to school and studies equations and stuff --- was fascinated by this early attempt at harnessing wind for power.
We also headed for Amsterdam's Flower Market.
More bikes line said market.
The place was filled with everything you'd need to grow a garden: tools, plant seeds, and even garden decor.
And of course, a flower market has flowers in it.
And carnivorous plants.
My Dad got hungry so we headed for Chinatown. This involved cutting through the famous Red Light District.
The red stop sign seems to add a nice touch.
Passing all those drug shops, garish bar signs, and glass windows with scantily clad women staring back at me was sad. I mean, is this what brings people happiness these days? Real happiness? From people I know and stories I've heard, it just seems to cause a lot of trouble, and doesn't make anyone completely happy. Yet people keep coming back, and that's the saddest thing of all.
That place reminded me of how we often look for lasting joy in the wrong places, and fail to see the all-encompassing and completely accepting arms God has opened wide for us. Either way, I'm still praying people will find how wonderful God's love really is.
Dad, Mom, & Chinatown
I've always found it unusual how every country has a Chinatown. I mean, I know it's because the Chinese seem to be scattered all over the world, but it's funny how the Chinese seem to bring a part of China with them. Many of them never live that far apart; they make a whole town. Being a Chinese myself, parts of that place reminded me of home.
We started looking for restaurants and found the one above strange. They charge you on how fast you eat and not how much. This puts really quick eaters like me at an advantage; but have they heard the word indigestion before?
Daphy, Mom, and our Aunt Ping
We ended up with steaming plates of roast duck and pillowy beds of rice. It was just like the food I often had back home. And it was cheap.
That's the tip I can give frugal people heading for Europe: eating in Chinese restaurants is so much cheaper. Even if they charge you a few euros for cleaning the tablecloth.
This is getting pretty long and I have to go somewhere, so I'll be quick.
Here pigeon pigeon pigeon.
With full stomachs, we later communed with the pigeons. They were pretty cute with their glassy-eyed stares and lack of fear toward human beings. I imagine they have never been shot at in their lives.
I also saw one of the scariest rides ever.
It was disconcerting to watch people being rolled about in that manner. And so high up too. It looked so unstable.
In short, I watched them but didn't even try to get a ride.
So that's it for Amsterdam. The post was long so I thank anyone who happened to read this far. 'Til later, everyone!
Daisy on 11/18/2007 03:44:00 PM