No Tulips Without Rain, 13: The Venice of the North

July 30, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

      We set out under leaden skies for a boat tour of Amsterdam’s harbor and canals.  The ruling mercantile classes of the Dutch Golden Age ringed the city center with concentric canals and then built their narrow, handsome residences beside them.  Often, they used the upper floors of their canal houses to store trade goods.  For a century, beginning in the late 1500’s, Amsterdam became the richest and most populous city in the Low Countries.  Both the burghers’ unprecedented prosperity and the Dutch adaptation to an aquatic environment are evident in the canal neighborhoods.         In the afternoon, we and a few other passengers braved the wind in order to take a walking tour of Jordaan, a former working-class section outside the desirable canal rings.  Gentrification is altering Jordaan's politics as well as its state of repair.  Restaurants, nightclubs and boutiques are replacing laborers’ bars and union halls.  We had to dodge the ubiquitous bicycles and scooters in order to explore Jordaan on foot.  These two-wheeled forms of transportation are superior to motor vehicles in densely urban Amsterdam, with its congested streets and scarce parking.  Cyclists speed past, not only in their designated lanes, but also darting between cars idling in traffic.  An enviable network of trams and buses serves central Amsterdam.  Best of all may be the city’s water ferries, which you can ride free of charge.         Our river cruise ends tomorrow, and we are moving to a hotel for the remainder of our sojourn in Amsterdam.  Miri, HL and I bade farewell to the ship and its crew tonight.  And we took leave of our guide, who agreed to pose for yet another picture with us.  He is the one in the tulip print suit.
 


Every Fourth of May, the King and Queen of the Netherlands pay tribute to the Dutch Jews murdered by the Nazis at this quayside memorial.  Think of the gesture as you will, but the royal couple’s laying a wreath there is more of an official acknowledgement of the genocide than most European countries make.
 

 


 

A shop selling coffee and items related to brewing it in newly fashionable Jordaan.
 


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