Apr 17, 2009

The local bicycles. Red of course ...

On Good Friday the journey from Calais to the Dutch hotel was tiring, but the food and accommodation more than made up for that. On Saturday we had a restful couple of hours on a boat travelling along the canals just outside Keukenhof - then visited the bulb fields and gardens - which are beautiful and have many hoardings extolling the Dutch connection with the USA. I didn't realise that the expression 'Yankees' comes from the Dutch, Jan (John) Kees (baboon). Not a terribly nice term I guess.
Travelling to Vollendam proved interesting if not a little eerie. We journeyed along a 19 mile length of roadway constructed from reclaimed land. The road was around 20 feet wide and only a couple of feet above the water on either side of us. The eerie part came in when we stopped halfway across and took in the view - water in every direction! God help the Dutch if sea levels rise.
In Amsterdam, on Sunday, the canals were atmospheric as were the buildings - the Venice illusion was strong. Back on dry land, I could not believe how many bicycles were parked up around the city - thousands of the things, in all shades of colour and age. Interestingly, despite the free use of Cannabis, the riders appear to obey the traffic signals - unlike some of the cyclists in this country. Again, I didn't realise that the title Coffee House (with an English spelling) signified where the drug is available - as opposed to Cafes where it apparently isn't. Anyway, we gave the spliffs and 'space' cake a miss, but not so the red light area. The streets are narrow and, behind the glass panelled doors, women, and I gather men, too, ply their trade. A range of bodily shapes and sizes are in evidence, but all are licensed, have regular health checks every six months and pay tax on their earnings. My wife, Jill, was shouted at by one woman for having her video camera open. Whether the lady concerned thought Jill was going to film her I don't know. Maybe she hadn't told her family what her real occupation was and didn't want it revealed on Utube.
Easter Monday saw us in Brugge, but not for long as Calais beckoned.

4 comments:

boxofficegirl said...

Ooo, that red light area is something else. We only dared go in daylight hours which didn't seem to affect trade at all.
Did you make it to Anne Frank's hiding place?

john white said...

We did see it from the canal trip -at least I hope I've got that right. The guide's accent was a little hard to understand and we had a screaming child kicking the seat behind us. I think it was sea sick!

annie kelleher said...

the dutch were the first to settle new york city... thats why the original name was new amsterdam...and a lot of the old names throughout the city and its neighboring environs reflect that....the dutch didn't stick though... although isn't it funny how yankee did? :)

john white said...

I found the details on the Hudson River - the areas of New York and the early days of the Dutch settlers a fascinating read. I think it was all the more interesting because I didn't expect to see that information in the gardens.