“I am living in Amsterdam already 20 years and never saw THIS before! Never!”, told the worker of museum referring to the weather changes. Normally the influence of North Sea helps the dutch capital to avoid a real winter. But not this time. All the channels were frozen, which gave the city a new look, fairy and chilly.We were happy to escape from Moscow’ -30C to warmer Europe. Just in time, as we catch icy Amsterdam before it started to melt fer days later. It is difficult to find a better place for St. Valentine’s Day, than city on the river Amstel. They have love unlimited, joy non-stop and red lights day and night. But apart from this, also a lot of really interesting details to have a look at.The city of channels and bikes. Artificial water lines first appeared in 13th century and since than had been increased to 165. Talking about bikes, its difficult to remember when they first occupied the city. Nevertheless, today 600 000 bikes serves for transport needs of Adam’s 767 000 inhabitants. If you don’t believe me, try to count. I lost count after the 3rd channel and begun to notice how creative they can be. With flowers, painted, rusty, pink, old, new… But most of all I was impressed that even aged people, pregnant women and mothers with 2 children in a hight-heels ride a bike no matter what a weather is.
I notice that in Amsterdam I became a voyeur. In a good sense, I hope. Typical big windows without curtains irresistibly asked me to peep in. I swear, it was not my fault, but windows! They can really surprise, like the one with ridiculously expensive hanging light by famous designer Ingo Mauer. It was just an ordinary office.
I stopped near another window, as my geographical background couldn’t miss it. Dozen of globes were placed above flowers. If in the past huge windows had its purpose to show how reach people are without hiding any alternative goods, today they serve as a way to kick out the Jams and show off.
But I liked the most boat windows. The popular houses in Amsterdam cost a fortune, but serve as a wooden swimming home with all needed infrastructures. Outside they decorated with real garden, inside – with hi-tech, furniture by designers and flowers. Mostly tulips, typically dutch.
Later I realized that not only me is peeping here. Actually the city is all about snap look to the windows, especially if they are marked in red color. The Red lights district already became such a trend in Amsterdam as geisha in Japan. The narrowest street of Adam hides a modern sin city, where you can peep, discover, touch … but not make a picture.
Most working women in the center of Adam would change a famous say into ”the best girl’s friends are …condoms”. A typical souvenir to bring home is better get in the biggest shop for latex things “Condomerie het gulden vlies” (Warmoesstraat, 141) – the best variety is guaranteed!
Another magnet for tourist are coffeshops. The most popular one and also one of the most oldest is Bulldog. It’s too crowded, small and reminds a mushroom. A mushed room actually with a menu, where ones can choose coffee, tea, space cakes or joint. I like more another coffeshop called Rusland.
Talking about peeping, its also difficult to pass by a public lavatory without staring. They made WC with open space for legs and head. Any questions? Everything needed is hidden! I bag a pardon, but who knows how a woman should act in such a place? Feminists, where are you? Don’t you see that there are no ladies rooms in Amsterdam?
But there is a place for strange birds. They are walking proudly by narrow streets along the channels…
… they slide on the ice surprisingly.
Who would think that in Amsterdam there is also a place for homeless cats? The so-called cats barge (De Poezenboot) is the only one floating shelter for those animals. Everyone can enter the barge, support owners and enjoy the company of more than 20 cats in a tiny clean room.
From small to bigger: the variety of everything (food, cloth, souvenirs, flowers etc) I found in the area of Albert Cuypstraat in the biggest market of Europe. I am not sure about that title, but they say that every Sunday 50000 people attend it.
The color was fixed by the law and was officially called as ”Amsterdam’ green”. Also the rules dictated the tilted facades of houses. It could help to lift up furniture or coffin inside the building by an iron hook in the top.
In the past it was also popular to decorate the roofs. In the Middle Ages gables were simple and triangular. As an example, you can find very few houses from that time (15th century) in Béguinage and Zeedijk. In 16th century roofs were made like steps for erasing there a vase, in 17th century gables imitated bells, in 18 – bottles.
I must admit, that the best place to visit Amsterdam is winter and I have 3 reasons for it. First: less tourist than usually, second – trees with its leaves do not hide the details of houses and third, you can be the witness of the real miracle when channels freeze. This is definitely makes Amsterdam even more unusual. And rare tourist can forget about coffeshops and Red Light district for a while. Have a good chill out in chilly Adam!