New cities, canals, pot, and sex

The only thing I know

Is that I know nothing

    Socrates

Well some very delightful days in the cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam.  Took a bit to find our hotel as disguised as a bar and hidden away upstairs was the reception desk.  Hotel Clino a great place and only €60 a night in the center of town.  Bike parking difficult but our room was very large so we just parked the bikes in room (carrying them up the narrow spiral staircase) we were not going to use them anyway, as seems everything within walking distance.  

And most interesting as auto traffic is minimal.  Rotterdam has a population of about 700000 in the same urban area as Anchorage, (about 80 square miles), and traffic is much less, although parking would be an issue.  Even in the rain people take bikes, and they do not change clothes just work clothes on the bike( suits, skirts, heels, etc.)

We have friends who used to live in Anchorage and have purchased a canal boat here in the Netherlands and next summer intend to cruise the canals of Europe). Lyn and Eric took the train from Roermond near the Holland German border and spent two days with us, which was great  

Rotterdam central train station
central Rotterdam

 Seems on our bicycle ride we never had bad rainy weather except one very short time but when we reached the cities bad weather came in.  We went up the Euromaast tower but could only go to 80 meters due to the wind, whereas the full tower observation point is 185 meters.  It was too windy.  On a good day one can rappel from the top.  But we had a great time just walking the city, going in for coffee and beers, food, and visiting with Lyn and Eric.  

Lyn and Eric stayed the night and then the four of us hopped on the train for the 40 minute ride to Amsterdam.  (80 kilometers).  Quite a difference in cities.  Rotterdam was pretty much destroyed in World War II hence a lot of new modern architecture and sky scrapers.  Amsterdam is a city of canals with the central part built in about 1650. The buildings are 3-4 stories and next to one another, and as I understand it courtyards in the middle of the block of buildings.  The buildings were usually built leaning slightly outward to make them look larger and also to allow  the hoists built into the roof to lift furniture into the building without hitting the building.  (The furniture is taken through the windows). But the 450 years since the original have allowed for a bit of settling also on the water and sand Amsterdam is built on.   

 
  
The canals which is what the city was designed about circle the central area with usually a one way road on each side sometimes with a tram too and of course the bicycles.  Amsterdam is the city of bikes.   We took a canal tour which was great and the captain noted that the canals are 3 meters deep – 1 meter of water, 1 meter of mud, and 1 meter of bicycles.  There are usually no railing about the canals, except on the bridges.

Herengracht
 
And I have noticed often at train stations there will be two stories of bicycle parking. 

 

double layer bike parking railway station and need more parking
 
Tried to attend the Anne Frank museum but was not going to stand in the hour plus long line so contented ourselves with a picture

 

Anne Frank 1929-1945
 
Then on to the red light district.  Prostitution is legal here, controlled , taxed, the workers have a union and the red light area is also a tourist area, with “no pictures allowed” signs in front of the windows of shall we say the ladies on display.  Once in a while someone would go to the window door the lady would open it and the red curtain closed behind them.

But many stores and store fronts.  Would have liked the prostitution museum but again time constraints.  Kind of interesting such a common thing as sex has become a tourist attraction.

   
    

Road sculpture
 

And little stores all over grocery stores, souvenir shops, sex shops for specific variations, and pot shops.   

    
   
Interesting business.

Lyn and Eric departed on train back to Roermond and Jeanne and I to Rotterdam.  I am still amazed at the trains.  Even though supposedly slow still fast by U.S. Standards. 

 

one cannot even feel the cornering
 
Joost from the Andes trip came in for dinner from his village and we had a superb evening of stories and sharing.  A very good Vietnamese meal.  I will miss the ice cream for desert and the expresso to finish off the meal. A true delight.

 

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