Aug 4, 2017

Travelogue - Amsterdam

"Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin"

-- John Green

Amsterdam has quite a few of the things that many parts of the world consider immoral or illegal. But the beauty of this is that,  if you go through the crime statistics you tend to realize that the Dutch have found a way of alternative Governance suited for them. As Rick Steves puts in one of this travel videos (The Value of Travel - A gem of a ted talk that you should watch )  , it is a different way of addressing a common problem. Indeed in Amsterdam, you run a higher risk of being knocked down by a cyclist than being a victim to a crime.  Apparently, about 15000 cycles are retrieved every year from Amsterdam's canals

The 12th century dam on Amstel river that gave rise to this teeming metropolis of modern world is a treat for tourists. It has evolved from a trading outpost to one of the most liberal cities in the world. Just like any other continental European city, the traumas of 19th century wars are evident and preserved.

"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." 
- remarked Anne Frank in her diaries during her hiding from Nazis.
Anne Frank's Statue in front of house where
she stayed during hiding

Anne Frank's house - perhaps the most visited landmark in this city - is a place that one should not miss.  It tells us the story of a brave little girl who defied great odds to leave an everlasting message to the humanity. It is perhaps the best place in Europe that one should take their teenage son/daughter to instil in them good perspectives for the rest of their lives.. Just like Berlin, Hiroshima and Dachau has taught me, Anne Frank's house reemphasises the message that there there is no glory in war. There is just suffering for the humanity. When you walk around the Jewish quarters, you stumble upon these Brass bricks known as Stolperstein ( Stumbling Stones ) with names of holocaust victims and dates  which serves as a grim reminder of the past.
Our Daughter's remarks @ Anne Frank's house

Reading Anne Frank's story - Back @ Dubai

Stolpersten (Stumbling Stones)

The liberalism which is the hallmark of Amsterdam finds its ethos in multiple places. The Heineken Experience which tells us the story of how a small company grew up to be conglomerate. A can of Heineken in Amsterdam is cheaper than a bottle of still water.  The free spirited and hippie nature of Dutch is also evident in Amsterdam Arena - the home of Ajax - the cradle of total football.  The no-14 jersey of Johan Cruyff who passed away last year is preserved in the stadium.

Vincent Van Gogh - another famous icon of Amsterdam has a large museum dedicated to him. I've to admit that I'm not a great connoisseur of art . So, I wouldn't comment much about this place. However,  judging by the numb
Number - 14 Jersey of Cruyff
@ Amsterdam Arena
er of visitors to this place, if you have some affinity towards art - you should not miss Van Gogh museum as well as the nearby Rijksmuseum

A city where the primary modes of transportation are bicycles , tram, metro and buses ;  the fitness and sports culture is essentially an integral part of youth. A powerhouse in Hockey, Football , Athletics and Swimming,  Netherlands figures quite regularly among the top 20 countries on medals per capita in Olympics

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Netherlands is how they have kept a popular city like Amsterdam not spoiling the beautiful country-side of Netherlands. 20 minutes to one hour drive from Amsterdam, you get to the quaint villages of Marken , Volendam and the famous windmills of Zaanse Schaans.   The journey towards those places cover another engineering marvel - The Dutch Dikes. Many parts of Netherlands are below sea level. The Dikes restrict sea water from flowing in and creates large volume of fresh water reservoirs and it has an interesting history in itself

 Zaanse Schans with its windmills is a UNESCO heritage site. This is actually a reconstructed version of old Dutch wind mills which was done in 1960's and 70's . Being a windy plain, these type of windmills dotted the landscape of Netherlands hundreds of years earlier. You can see one even in Amsterdam city.  Many of these were moved to Zaanse Schans to reconstruct what was once a thriving commercial centre in 18th and 19th century.

As we were not equipped with an age-appropriate , yet truthful explanation for an inquisitive 4 year old kid, we decidedly gave a miss to De Wallen and Coffee Shops :)

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