Greetings from Amsterdam

July 20, 1998

The weather got nice the next day after we arrived (as far in the future as they showed for forecasts before we left, rain icons showed). Fortunately it is also starting to warm up – it felt like it was in the upper 70s today.

We've had some fantastic food; except for last night's rijsttafel (an Indonesian specialty from their colonial days), each meal has been better than the last. Admittedly, today's lunch was at a Michelin 2-star, so I'm not sure they'll continue their improvement.

In spite of our half price Entertainment coupon, the Golden Tulip Hotel seems to have given us one of their Executive rooms; perhaps because we told them we're staying for 2 weeks. Or at least we do have a large corner room "overlooking the Leidesplein," (and the Rijksmuseum) including fax machine (private number, from abroad, 31 77 323-4581; disabled when we leave and a new number assigned to the next occupant).

We did have a good view of the after-effects of a meeting of a bicyclist making a left turn and an auto going in the opposite direction. We heard the screech and thunk; the cyclist was straightening his wheel when we looked out, but that's when we noticed the crazed windshield he must have contacted, and the distraught driver. By an amazing coincidence, an ambulance was just behind them both and eventually took away the cyclist. We weren't able to determine who was at fault; there was a lot of gesticulating by the driver as to the geometry of the encounter.

Amsterdam is not a place to drive. The authorities actively discourage it; there are many vehicle-free zones (exceptions for early-morning deliveries) and a maze of one-way streets. And many of those streets that are accessible to autos border canals, which claim their share of vehicles each year. A half dozen major canals delineate the major part of the city, in the shape of concentric U's beginning at the "famous" River Ij to the north, with other radial canals crossing them at regular intervals. And marked bicycle paths further reduce the width allowed for autos. When we pick up our car for later travel to Belgium and Luxembourg, we'll head directly south to get out of the city as quickly as possible.

© Copyright 1998 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved