Great Rivers of Europe Cruise
Amsterdam - Depart
Day 17 - 18
13 - 14 May 2002

Revised 15 September 2002,
Photos & Text 2002 by Len Schwer

Days 17 & 18 : Amsterdam & Depart (13 & 14 May 2002)
  We arrived in Amsterdam at about 9 AM and prepared for our guided bus tour of the city. The bus drove around the city for about an hour so we got a feel for the size of the city and the layout of the city with its three concentric canals: Herren, Kaiser, and Princen.
  We left the bus for a tour of a diamond factor and the associated stop in the sales room. I dislike these forced buying opportunities, but of course took advantage of the free toilet and coffee.
  Next we boarded a canal tour boat for a view of the city from canal level. Most of the canals are lined with house boats on each side. The parking spots for these house boats sell for about $125,000 and the house boats typically cost a lot less. Our guide said that about half of these houseboats are connected to the city sewer system, but the other half dump their raw sewerage into the canal. To mitigate this, the canals are flushed a few times a month, removing all this sewerage to the North Sea.
  Most residents travel to and from via bicycles. The city's road system is paralleled by a bicycle path system, and it is much more dangerous crossing these bicycle paths than crossing the street. Our city guide said there is a theft problem with bicycles and on average he has to buy 3 bikes a year. But most recently he purchased an old junky bike for $20 and has it for a record 7 months; he also noted that the
$60 lock was worth more than the bike it secured.
  The canal boat tour ended at the Rijksmuseum where we had a paid entrance. I followed the guide for his explanation of a few paintings, until I located the four Vermeers in this museum's collections: 1. A View of Delft, 2. A Woman Reading a Letter, 3. The Love Letter, and 4. The Milk Maid; the latter two are spectacular. I returned to the museum after lunch to spend a bit more time enjoying these wonderful works.
  Perhaps the most interesting thing about viewing these Vermeers was listening to the guides from various groups give their interpretations of the paintings, and in some cases quoting differing estimates for the total number of Vermeer paintings.
  Our city guide presented an interesting profile of the city with its tolerance for religions to condoning the use of some "light" drugs and of course the world famous red light district with its legal prostitution. He mentioned that the city controlled many apartments and provided them to residents on a sliding scale based on ability to pay.
  I road the street car to and from the Rijksmuseum without paying. The street cars have a conductor in the rear to collect fares, but on both legs of my trip that station was closed. As in the rest of Europe, the public transportation is the honor system, with periodic checks. In Germany the fine is 50e if you are found not to have a valid ticket.
Sunrise-B.jpg Trio.jpg AmsterdamStreet.jpg
Canal-A.jpg AmsterdamGables.jpg HoistBeam.jpg
Rijksmuseum-B.jpg Rijksmuseum-D.jpg TriMast.jpg

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Photos & Text 2002 by Len Schwer