Sights and Sounds of Amsterdam Revisited

Today’s Post by Ken MacAdams

Whether I’m at home or on the road, it’s people that often find themselves the subject I’m focusing on. Our fellow time travelers interest us, their customs, their moods, their space.

Emerging from Amsterdam’s Central Station, I melded with the press of pedestrians. Soon some branched off to the Metro, others to the trams, but my destination was the Western Canals. As foot traffic thinned, I began to notice something new to my senses—an increase in the volume of bicycle traffic.

Bicyclers young and old were plying the streets, while toddlers bumped along in child seats. In this historic part of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, parking for automobiles is at a premium. Streets, often narrow and paralleling the canals, are the playground for bicycles, scooters, and pedestrians. It was along these venues I began watching the locals: A boat owner sweeping down the deck, a lady working at her home office, a young man unlocking his bicycle, all so natural, so unique!

During the afternoon I spotted a gentleman seated by a canal bridge, easel in place, laying down paints and oblivious to the foot traffic passing by mere feet from his canvas; he was totally in his zone.

With a heritage hearkening back to the likes of Rembrandt, Amsterdam has no shortage of buildings, canals, doorways, alleys, or old churches for subject matter. Unlike most Dutch masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt’s works depict a wide range of style, with subject matter ranging from landscapes, portraits, to biblical and mythological themes.

As I absorbed the wonderful sights unfolding before me, another of my senses was in high gear – smell! Strolling the canal streets of Amsterdam, you’ll frequently pass sidewalk cafes or spot people eating on the canal abutments.

Rich in international cuisine, it’s not a matter IF I would stop to eat, but when! Some of the many temptations are bakeries, wine and cheese shops, Dutch pancakes houses, coffee shops; light lunch take-away to full sit down dinner — it’s all here! If it strikes your fancy, sign on for an evening canal dinner cruise! When your feet tire of pounding the pavement, steer them to a nearby bistro, and watch the people stream by.

As Guinness is to the Irish, so Heineken is to the Dutch! Introduced in 1873, it has become the trademark beer of the Netherlands. Should sudden thirst overtake you, never fear, there’s always a cafe nearby!

As daylight softens into evening, couples gravitate towards the sidewalk cafes. Lights begin to come on along the canals, on the old historic church steeples, and on the canal boats quietly gliding by. Close your eyes, and let your mind transform you back a hundred years. After all, we’re all time travelers…



All images made with Panasonic Lumix G85, Lumix G Vario 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. POWER O.I.S