Monday, March 6, 2017

Weekend Diversion To Amsterdam

We made a quick weekend trip to Amsterdam, using a budget offer, and I will made a few comments.

Canal Bridge 
Amsterdam, like most of the world, has changed a lot since my first visit in 1974.  The economy has taken off and the city has grown to be massive.  The effect seems to be that many of the original families that lived in the center have moved away to be replaced by the nuovo rich, much like Venice and even San Francisco.  
Huge Cheese Wheels
The Dutch Are Famed for Great Cheese
The center of the old city is frequented by the young tourists, some of whom just want a glimpse to see if there really are prostitutes in windows and marijana shops galore. Between these and the  souvenir shops one can still find cheese shops that offer a tasting before you buy.  

Where have all the hippies gone?
 In 1974 the famous Dam Square had some 25 hippies smoking grass without being prosecuted and a few tourists being what tourist do.  Today a gathering of hundreds visit the square each hour while the smoking of dope is in the coffee houses.  I felt overwhelmed by 35 year olds crowding the square while folks my age sat on benches and people watched.  Hundreds surrounded a guy who could pull his whole body through a tennis racket while balancing a large glass ball on his head.  This was a nice break from another type of circus we see in Washington.

We made a nice morning of it in the Van Gogh Museum, where one can see the painting left by the great painter to his brother after he passed on at a young age.  Many of these were stored under the brother’s bed, now hanging with gold frames on the museum walls.     Did you know the Dutch pronounce his name with a coughing sound at the end?  Not the usually hear "owe" sound....

Windmills of Holland

We made a follow-up visit of the R. Museum with a plan concentrate on Rembrandt, in particular his, Night Watch and other large paintings.  Those two museums made a morning it and we had lunch featuring foods whose designs and flavors came from the Dutch West Indies, a colony of Holland years ago.  I appreciate the chance to try something new, a nice change from pasta land flavors.  Another plus is a chance to try  locally made beer.  

An Enchanting Hour Cruise
If you are ever in Amsterdam, I would suggest that you take the night canal cruise.  The lights on all the canals and bridges are beautiful, plus you can look into windows and get a real look into the life style of the citizens.  Most of these windows along the canal have no curtains, and the Dutch are known to keep their windows squeaky clean.  You can also look into the boats along the canal, people are not afraid to let you look into their boat while they are dining or entertaining friends.  

For our last meal we decided to take tram 4 a ways out from the center and then look for an interesting “non tourist” place.  We do this sort of thing a lot and had good luck in Munich, Prague, and Lisbon.  What we found in Amsterdam was a Moroccan restaurant in an old church.  The food was excellent, reasonably priced, and the decor seemed a bit north African.  

Love those plates!  Mint Tea was relaxing.

It is difficult to deal with the fact that my country continues to spend a large majority of its budget on the military while countries in Europe are applying resouces to surpass our economy, provide free university to educate all its people, and a decent health care for all the citizens.  Since my first visit to Europe I can see HUGE progress, while America's roads and  bridges mirror what we think of moving forward in education and health care.  We have lost our middle class, while the Netherlands and other countries in Europe move forward.  All this with less crime, gun fatalities, and hunger.


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